A record 274 million people worldwide were in need of humanitarian aid last year, and more than 84 million across the globe have been displaced from their homes, according to an annual report published by the humanitarian group CARE International.
The report, produced jointly with international media monitoring service Meltwater, highlights the 10 countries that received the least media attention in 2021 despite having at least 1 million people impacted by climate disasters or unrest.
“There is deep injustice at the heart of it. The world’s poorest are bearing the brunt of climate change – poverty, migration, hunger, gender inequality and ever more scarce resources – despite having done the least to cause it,” CARE International UK CEO Laurie Lee said in a statement.
“Add COVID-19 into the mix and we see decades of progress towards tackling inequality, poverty, conflict and hunger disappearing before our eyes,” he said.
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In Zambia, food insecurity runs rampant. Like many countries in southern Africa, Zambia has been severely impacted by prolonged drought, and, with 1.2 million malnourished people, it has some of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.
About 60 percent of the nation’s population is living below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. Families headed by women face even higher rates of poverty, despite the fact that women produce roughly 60 percent of Zambia’s food supply, according to the report.
In Ukraine, 3.4 million people were in need of assistance and protection in 2021 after eight years of armed conflict. Of that number, 68 percent were women and children, and 38 percent were elderly people.
According to the report, Malawi is “one of the countries where the full impact of the climate crisis can already be felt.”
Extreme weather events like droughts, floods, and landslides are commonplace, and show no sign of letting up over the next few years, resulting in infertile soil, destroyed harvests, and severe famine.
Meanwhile, in Central African Republic, or CAR, just under half the population face food insecurity and more than 700,000 people have been displaced – more than half of them children. The country has been rocked by an ongoing civil war that had exacerbated food scarcity, though a fragile ceasefire agreement was signed in October.
In Guatemala, two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day, and about 38 percent of the population faces food insecurity. Guatemala is also considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, according to the report, and 3,500 people were killed there in 2020 alone.
South of Guatemala, in Colombia, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic recession that has exacerbated food insecurity for some segments of the population. Nearly 7 million people were dependent on humanitarian aid in 2021, a sharp increase from the prior year, when 5.1 million Colombians needed assistance.
In Burundi, extreme weather events, widespread hunger, and political unrest have made 2.3 million people there reliant on humanitarian aid. A total of 50,000 people in Burundi were affected by flooding in 2021, and 20,000 were forced to leave their homes.
The climate crisis is also negatively impacting the people of Niger, which is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, according to the CARE report. Prolonged drought and recurring floods have devastated the country, with nearly 3 million people reliant on humanitarian assistance. More than 1.8 million children are dependent on nutritional aid, and more than 45 percent of children 5 years old and under suffer from chronic malnutrition.
In Zimbabwe, more than a third of the population, or 5.7 million people, lack sufficient food. Its agriculture-based economy has been decimated by disasters like floods, storms, and droughts, and 6.8 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.
Finally, in Honduras, hurricanes, floods, and drought are causing considerable crop loss, according to the CARE report. Climate disasters have also displaced nearly 1 million people – the highest of any Latin American country.
About a third of the population faces food insecurity and the country is one of the most dangerous places on earth for women, according to the report. Many people in Honduras eventually leave for the U.S.
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