By Sola Ogundipe
New analysis by experts from the International Rescue Committee, IRC, has ranked Nigeria as the 4th most at risk country for humanitarian catastrophe in 2020 after Yemen ,the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria. Nigeria was ranked 8th in the previous analysis for 2019.
The latest ranking by the IRC emergency response experts showed that other countries on the top 10 list are Venezuela (5th), Afghanistan (6th), South Sudan (7th), Burkina Faso (8th), Somalia (9th) and the Central African Republic, CAR (10th).
In a statement released Tuesday, the IRC observed that Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Venezuela are Watchlist 2020’s top five crises, all five of which ranked highly in the 2019 list, demonstrating collective failure of the international community to resolve the root causes of these humanitarian disasters.
According to the statement, nine of the 10 countries in the top 10 are experiencing major conflict.
“Nearly all countries in the Sahel region, from Mali to Sudan, are on Watchlist 2020. This reflects the impact of rising conflict – driven by militancy and competition for resources as well as increasing droughts and flooding possibly related to climate change.
“Disease outbreaks are a major concern in many Watchlist countries. The Ebola outbreak continues in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (No. 2 on the list) and presents a threat to several other countries on the Watchlist.
“Cholera is present in several more, including Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. In many Watchlist countries, prolonged armed conflict has damaged health, sanitation and other infrastructure, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. Venezuela’s economic collapse has had similar consequences,” the statement noted.
Countries on the list disproportionately host populations in need of humanitarian assistance and are among the states least equipped to respond to new crises or sudden deterioration in crises.
The top 10 produced nearly three quarters of the world’s refugees and over half of those in need, yet their appeals for humanitarian funding in 2019 were nearly 40 percent underfunded on average.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, said, “2019 was a devastating year for civilians caught in crisis worldwide. Truly the Age of Impunity has arrived. 70.8 million people are displaced worldwide. Armed conflict, growing disregard for international humanitarian law amidst a crisis of global leadership means the dangers in 2020 are growing not receding.
“Across the globe, the scale of need in 2020 is also likely to stretch resources beyond their limit. It’s vital that we do not abandon these countries when they need us most, and that governments around the world step up funding to these anticipated crises before more lives are lost — and the bill for humanitarian catastrophe rises.
“As humanitarians, we can prevent the dying, but it takes politics to stop the killing.”
Most of the humanitarian crises have been characterised by similar themes. The restrictions on humanitarian access are a major concern across all Watchlist countries and could significantly undermine the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to these crises and meet growing needs in 2020.
There are “very high” or “extreme” obstacles to humanitarian access in all of the top five countries and in 14 of the 20 Watchlist countries.
Countries appear on the Watchlist because the IRC’s analysis suggests they are at high risk of experiencing events that, given the existing vulnerability of the population and/or the country’s limited response capability, could trigger a humanitarian crisis.
The countries were selected, scored and ranked by means of a multi-stage process of quantitative and qualitative analysis by experts.