10 Humanitarian Crises to Know About in 2022

A humanitarian crisis is considered to be an event or events that threaten the health, safety or wellbeing of a large group of people. Humanitarian crises can be caused by war, natural disasters, famine and/or disease outbreak. Humanitarian crises have devastating physical, psychological and social consequences for children. 

While the world's attention is on Ukraine, we must not forget about the humanitarian crises impacting children around the world. ⁠

From Somalia to Venezuela, conflict, food insecurity and climate change have created a need for humanity's urgent attention. 

1. Afghanistan 

The collapse of the economy and the ongoing fallout from last year's drought have triggered an unprecedented food crisis in Afghanistan.

The majority of families have lost some or all of their incomes and are unable to afford the rising cost of food, and as the war in Ukraine increases the cost of commodities around the world, there's a risk that the cost of living in Afghanistan could rise even further.

The foreign aid that once propped up Afghanistan has been slow to return after governments and international financial institutions cut funding and froze Afghanistan assets in the wake of last year's transition of power.

Parents are going to tragic lengths, agreeing to sell one child to keep the other alive. As many as 121,000 children could have been exchanged across the country since August 2021. READ MORE ABOUT AFGHANISTAN.

Photo: Joan Marie del Mundo / Save the Children

2. Democratic Republic of Congo

The turbulent Democratic Republic of the Congo has endured over two decades of conflict and political instability, creating one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises

DRC has one of the world’s poorest health systems made worse by the country’s battle with Ebola, cholera, COVID-19 as well as the 2021 volcanic eruption.

Around 27 million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity. A staggering 5 million internally displaced people – more than any other African country – have fled violence, ethnic tension and conflict over land. 

Photo credit: Sami M. Jassar / Save the Children

3. Climate Change

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November represented something of a high point for youth activism, with growing assertiveness and impatience of the grassroots youth movement for which Greta Thunberg is the flagbearer.

The pledges made by world leaders in Glasgow remain unequal to the task before us, and children stand to suffer most from adult inaction in the face of unfolding disaster. All eyes will be focused on COP27 to see whether leaders can turn the “blah blah blah” of Glasgow into concrete action to secure children’s futures.

Photo credit: Hanna Adcock / Save the Children

4. Venezula

After nearly seven consecutive years of economic contraction, political instability and violence, Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis continues to intensify.

More than 5.6 million Venezuelans have fled their homes, creating the world’s second largest exodus after the war in Syria. But, unlike other refugee crises, this one is not a result of conventional war or conflict. 

The Venezuelan economy has nearly collapsed, causing spiraling inflation, unemployment and shortages of affordable food, water, electricity and health care and forcing families to flee for neighboring countries.

The ongoing political and economic challenges in and outside of Venezuela have amplified the crisis, which has been exacerbated even further by the pandemic. The growing number of COVID-19 cases continues to put Venezuelans at risk with strained health systems and rising rates of poverty while the education, food security and health situations continue to worsen. READ MORE ABOUT VENEZUELA'S CRISIS. 

5. Children Crossing Borders

More children have been forcibly displaced today than at any time since World War Two.

Between 2005 and 2020, the number of child refugees under UNHCR mandate more than doubled from four million to around 10 million. Images of children crossing borders or dying in the process have regularly moved publics and occasionally shifted policies.

With the flow of desperate families seeking sanctuary showing no sign of abating, the question in 2022 is whether children can expect to be met with rods or ropes as they journey towards safety.

Photo credit: Sami M. Jassar / Save the Children

6. Child Mortality Due to COVID-19

There have been dramatic reductions in child mortality rates over the last 30 years, falling by almost 60% cent since 1990. However, the unprecedented demands made on health services around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused diseases which were previously in decline to resurge.

Deaths from malaria, previously on a long-term downward trajectory, have increased in 32 countries since the start of the pandemic. There is a very real chance that child mortality will increase in 2022 for the first time in decades, representing a disastrous reversal for child health globally.

That said, recent breakthroughs such as the world’s first effective Malaria vaccine offer hope that advances in vaccines stimulated by the pandemic might benefit children in the long-term

Photo credit: Rik Goverde / Save the Children

7. South Sudan

South Sudan has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world with more than 90 children out of 1,000 dying before they reach the age of five.

Now, a dramatic increase in food insecurity has pushed one million children in South Sudan to the brink of starvation with no signs of slowing. 

Recent severe flooding, intercommunal violence, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and general economic decline have had a devastating impact on the region. The loss of crops, livestock, homes, and access to hospitals has pushed 6.5 million people into a severe food crisis.

8. Ethiopia

Today, the children of Ethiopia are facing unprecedented challenges. The region had been hit hard by desert locust, heavy flooding and other climate-related crises.

The conflict in Tigray has left over over 1.7  million people displaced across the Tigray region. Another 5.2 million people are in need of assistance. 

An alarming number of children are currently separated from their parents as the result of the conflict in Tigray, with many living in unsafe and dire conditions in informal camps. LEARN MORE ABOUT CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA.

Photo credit: Etinosa Yvonne / Save the Children

9.  Nigeria 

Conflict in Nigeria's northeast is escalating. The end of 2020 was marked by a horrific attack on a secondary school in northwestern Nigeria. 

Sadly, the recruitment of children by armed groups in the Sahel region has been on the rise. With health and education systems already in crisis, children are fighting to survive. 

Photo credit: Ahmad Baroudi / Save the Children

10.  Iraq

Decades of conflict and widespread violence have plagued Iraq, which is one of the five worst conflict-affected countries to be a child.

An unprecedented 3 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, about half of whom are children. 

In late 2020, the sudden closure of several formal camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Iraq forced thousands of people to live in abandoned areas among rubble and unexploded bombs. 

* Name changed for protection.

What is Save the Children's history of responding to humanitarian crises?

Save the Children has responded to every major humanitarian crisis since World War I. We are always at the ready - among the first to respond and the last to leave an effected area. 

In 2021, we responded to 103 emergencies in 80 countries and aided 18 million children in crisis.  Today, our staff are on the ground responding to emergencies and humanitarian crisis around the globe, including the deadly flooding in eastern Kentucky


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