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The Top 5 Most Ignored Humanitarian Crises

By Mark Leon Goldberg

26 August, 2010
UN Dispatch

The sluggish international response to the Pakistan floods emergency is actually not all that sluggish, at least compared to these humanitarian crises. Introducing the five most under-funded and ignored humanitarian crises:

1) Iraqi Refugees

The invasion, occupation and subsequent civil war in Iraq war caused one of the biggest refugees crises in recent history. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are 1.7 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria and Jordan. There are another 1.5 million Iraqi IDPs. The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released its regional response plan for Iraqi refugees in January. The appeal called for $367 million to support the refugees. So far, though, only 17.9% or $65 million is funded. The United States has contributed $17 million to the fund.

2) Guatemala -- Tropical Storm Agatha

Remember Tropical Storm Agatha? Not many people outside of Central America do either. Nearly 200 people were killed when the first storm of the hurricane season made landfall in Guatemala on May 31. The storm caused extensive damage--most dramatically, it opened up a 200 foot deep sinkhole in the middle of Guatemala's capital. To make matters worse, the storm hit just a day after a major volcanic eruption.Thousands were displaced. An international appeal was launched. The international appeal was ignored. Today, only $5 million of the $15 million has been donated.

3) Uganda

A 20 year civil war in Northern Uganda largely ended in 2006. Still, 400,000 2 million people remain displaced and [nearly 2 million] reliant on humanitarian aid. The so-called "consolidated appeal" for Uganda warned that the humanitarian gains achieved since the cessation of hostilities is in danger of unraveling "due to diminishing humanitarian programming that is unmatched by a significant increase in recovery programs." Only $64 million of the $184 million appeal has been received.

4) Central African Republic

The civil war may have ended in Northern Uganda, but the same group responsible for the destruction in Uganda has reconstituted itself, this time in Central African Republic. Attacks on border villages by the Lord's Resistance Army has left at least 50 villages burned or emptied, according to the UN. But they make up only a relatively small portion of the nearly 200,000 IDPs in CAR. The country also suffers from being in a terrible neighborhood and has suffered from the spill over effects of both the Darfur conflict and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In fact, over 18,000 refugees from the DRC fled to the Central African Republic last year alone. But despite all these needs, funding for humanitarian operations in CAR remains critically low. It is the fourth most under-funded crisis in the world at $53 million received out of a requested $144 million.

5) Civil Unrest in Kyrgyzstan

In June, the UN launched a $96 million emergency appeal following an anti-Uzbek pogrom in Kyrgyzstan. 100,000 people were displaced in a very short period of time, most across the border to Uzbekistan. Now, they are returning and in need of assistance. Many homes were destroyed livelihoods lost. To date, the UN has received 35 million, or 36% of the total funding needed to care for the humanitarian needs of the displaced.