Suffering in Silence: Are climate emergencies out of sight and out of mind?

A young girl and her baby sister at a camp for refugees and displaced people in Chad, just 15 kilometres from the border with the Central African Republic

CARE has launched its fourth annual analysis of the most under-reported humanitarian crises in the world.

We have ranked the natural disasters and conflicts that have affected a million people or more and yet received the least worldwide media attention in 2019.

The crises range from drought to displacement, conflict, epidemics and food insecurity.

In many cases, climate change is a key driver of the crisis – or is making an existing crisis worse.

Sally Austin, CARE International’s Head of Emergency Operations, says:

We’re seeing increasing linkages between the effects of man-made climate change and the longevity and complexity of humanitarian crises. The majority of crises ranked in our report are partly a consequence of declining natural resources, increasing extreme weather events and global warming more broadly.

The top 10 most under-reported crises of 2019

Suffering in Silence - Madagascar - graphic
Madagascar – Impacted by the human-made climate crisis, over 2.6 million people affected by drought
Suffering in Silence - Central African Republic - graphic
Central African Republic – A brutal conflict in the heart of Africa, about 2.6 million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance
Suffering in Silence - Zambia - graphic
Zambia – On the front of climate change, an estimated 2.3 million people in the country in urgent need of food assistance
Suffering in Silence - Burundi - graphic
Burundi – Instability fueling a humanitarian crisis, 1.7 million people chronically struggle to feed their families
Suffering in Silence - Eritrea - graphic
Eritrea – Fleeing drought and repression, half of all children under five stunted as a consequence of malnourishment
Suffering in Silence - DPR Korea - graphic
DPR Korea – Hunger behind locked doors, around 10.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance to meet their food, health, water, sanitation and hygiene needs
Suffering in Silence - Kenya - graphic
Kenya – Trapped in the middle of floods and droughts, more than 1.1 million people live without regular access to food
Suffering in Silence - Burkina Faso - graphic
Burkina Faso – A silent humanitarian catastrophe, around 5.2 million people – more than a quarter of the population – affected by the escalation of violence in Central Sahel
Suffering in Silence - Ethiopia - graphic
Ethiopia – A vicious cycle of disaster, hunger and displacement, about 7.9 million people suffer from a serious level of malnutrition, particularly pregnant and lactating women, infants and the elderly
Suffering in Silence - Lake Chad Basin - graphic
Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Chad, Niger) – Armed conflict, displacement and hunger, nearly 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance

The amount of media coverage about crises not only affects public awareness – it also has direct impacts on the lives of crisis-affected people, not least on the level of aid funding available and the amount of assistance that affected people receive.

We also need to join the dots between global action to reduce emissions before it is too late, and the need for increased funding and support for the people most affected – especially people and communities in the countries least responsible for global heating. Sally Austin says:

The increased public attention for the global climate crisis is encouraging, but we must ensure that the conversation is not limited to the Global North and much-needed transformations there. It is shocking to see how little media reporting there is about human suffering related to global warming in the South, the lack of political action to address this injustice, and solutions applied to ease the burden for communities.

More about the Suffering in Silence report

More than 2.4 million global online sources were monitored in English, French, German, Arabic and Spanish. To filter according to scale, we chose countries in which at least one million people were affected by natural or man-made disasters, according to data by Reliefweb, ACAPS and CARE’s own data. The result was a list of 40 crises that were then screened using the media monitoring services of Meltwater Group for the time period of January 1 to November 15, 2019 with relevant keywords to describe the crises. Suffering in Silence ranks the top 10 crises which received the least amount of online media coverage.

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