Millions of people in extreme poverty and distress are being “neglected and self-sufficient,” a charity has warned after a new report highlighted the humanitarian crises that received the least media coverage worldwide in 2021.
While the world focused its attention on the disasters that unfolded in Afghanistan – the most reported crisis last year – Disasters in mainly African nations went largely unnoticed by the global media.
Of the 1.8 million online articles analyzed last year, 512 covered the issues of hunger and poverty from weather-related disasters in Zambia, making it the most underreported crisis in the world, according to the humanitarian group Care International.
By comparison, the charity found nearly 92,000 online articles about actress Ben Affleck and singer Jennifer Lopez dating again, and more than 362,000 reports about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Top 10 underreported global humanitarian crises in 2021:
1. Zambia – 1.2 million people living with extreme hunger (512 articles)
Ukraine – 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid (801 articles)
Malawi – 17 percent of the population severely malnourished (832 articles)
4. Central African Republic – Nearly one third of children do child labor (1,459 articles)
Guatemala – Two-thirds of the population live on less than $ 2 (£ 1.50) a day (1,644 items)
Colombia – 4.9 million people live under the control of armed groups (2,136 articles)
7. Burundi – 2.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid (2,265 articles)
8. Niger – More than 45 percent of children are malnourished (2,774 articles)
9. Zimbabwe – 200 Percent Increase in Gender-Based Violence (2,803 Articles)
Honduras – Nearly one third of the population suffers from food shortages (3,920 articles)
This was stated by Chikwe Mbweeda, Care International’s country director in Zambia I that reporting on humanitarian crises “must not and should never be selective”.
“It makes me very sad and worried that we have a situation of an order of magnitude that is not being reported,” she said from Zambia’s capital Lusaka.
“It is a neglected society that has been hit by the crisis, which is left to itself.”
More than one million Zambians are living with extreme hunger, which has been exacerbated by prolonged periods of drought, the effects of climate change, the Covid pandemic and poverty.
Nearly 60 percent of Zambians live below the international poverty line of $ 1.90 (£ 1.40) a day, and disasters, including floods between December 2020 and February 2021, rising corn prices and parasites such as the African migratory grasshopper and fallow deer, contributed to acute food insecurity.
Care International, in collaboration with the media monitoring service Meltwater, analyzed online media reports in five languages between January and September last year on countries where at least one million people were affected by conflicts or climate-related disasters.
In its report published on Thursday, it found that six of the 10 most underreported global crises were in Africa.
Ukraine, the only European country on the list, came in second after the report found 801 online articles reporting on the armed conflict that has raged in the eastern part of the country for more than seven years.
So far, more than 14,000 people have died in the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, while about 3.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid – two thirds of them women and children.
About 832 articles were recorded about the “forgotten” crisis in Malawi, which is often hit by extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods and droughts.
Chikondi Chabvuta, Malawi’s Southern Africa advocate for South Africa, said: “It is really shocking that one million people in Malawi now suffer from extreme food insecurity, but there is almost no reporting on it in the international media.
“The climate crisis is hitting people here earlier and much harder than the people of the global north.”
Other crises that struggled to make headlines include the civil war in the Central African Republic, drug gangs fighting for control of land in Colombia and the rising gender-based violence in Honduras, where a woman is killed every 29 hours.
Mbweeda said global coverage was important as it could help put pressure on governments to “proactively respond to a crisis”.
She added: “Information is critical and it helps with early response.
“Let the people see what the effects are, and make sure our call to action builds awareness.”