Africa’s displacement crises keep going ignored

Africa’s displacement crises keep going ignored

By Luke Vargas   
A camp for internally displaced persons in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina
A camp for internally displaced persons in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina

Support for humanitarian crises is supposed to be need-based, but the Norwegian Refugee Council says that's not always the case.

UNITED NATIONS – The world’s most neglected displacement crises are all in Central Africa, according to a new report issued by the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Instability-driven mass migration in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Burundi has been largely neglected on the world stage, despite its severity.

“We are looking at three criteria: the lack of media attention, the lack of economic support and the lack of political will.”

Tiril Skarstein is the head of media at the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“Even though economic support to a humanitarian crisis is supposed to be given based on needs and needs alone – that’s the humanitarian principle – in reality we see that if you are struck by the wrong crisis, so to speak, you may receive less assistance than other people.”

Skarstein says that’s particularly so in Cameroon, where close to a half-million people are displaced amid worsening armed conflict.

“We have seen brutal killings, burned-down villages and massive displacement and this has been met by deafening silence, basically, by the international community. There is no media attention, very little political mediation initiatives, there has been very limited international humanitarian support and there is not enough countries speaking out against the attacks on civilians happening there.”

Elsewhere, in places like Palestine, a lack of familiarity with the crisis isn’t the problem.

“A lot of countries with a political interest in Palestine, but unfortunately we see that these big powers are putting their interests first and not the interests of the civilian population.”

The U.N.’s Palestinian aid agency will hold its yearly fundraising summit on the same day later this month that the Trump administration gathers supporters of its controversial Mideast peace plan. Because of donor fatigue and U.S. funding cuts, the agency says it could run out of money as early as July.

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