Climate Change will fuel Humanitarian Crisis in 2023

Armed conflicts, climate change and economic difficulties will accelerate humanitarian crises around the world in 2023, according to a study by the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC).

According to the Emergency Watchlist 2023 by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), 2023 will be the year that “will put individual and collective limits to the test”. “Global geopolitical competition” and “the breakdown of international security and governance systems” will make it impossible to face the challenges posed by war, inflation, energy and food crises or climate change.

The agency, based in New York, assured that the number of people with humanitarian needs has skyrocketed in the last decade, going from 81 million in 2014 to 339.2 million by 2023 and the number of people forced to flee their homes rose from 60 million in 2014 to more than 100 million today.

Climate Change 2023 -International Rescue Committee puts together the Emergency Watchlist. Image: International Rescue Committee

Major driver of the crisis: armed conflicts

The three most important drivers of the crisis, according to the IRC, are armed conflict, climate change and economic inequalities.

Violent conflicts account for 80 per cent of humanitarian needs. In many cases, civilians are the ones who suffer. Without exception, all 20 countries on the list suffer from armed conflict. Climate change is exacerbating humanitarian emergencies in many of the most vulnerable countries and economic chaos, and poverty.

20 countries at risk of humanitarian situation

In its “Emergency Watchlist 2023” report, the IRC ranks the 20 countries most at risk of a deterioration in their humanitarian situation over the coming year.

These states in crisis are, in order of greatest risk, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Haiti, and Ukraine. The Central African Republic, Chad, Lebanon, Mali, Burma, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela.

The study indicates that the gap between humanitarian needs and financing has been growing to the point that the global deficit as of November 2022 amounted to 27 billion dollars.

Climate Change 2023. No of people in need of humanitarian assistance worldwide in 2023. Image: International Rescue Committee

“Donors are not responding proportionally to humanitarian needs and, therefore, funding is growing,” said the NGO created in 1933 at the initiative of renowned German physicist Albert Einstein, to help people persecuted for Adolf Hitler’s racial policies.

“And the result is that communities affected by the crisis are unable to access the services they need to survive, recover and rebuild their lives,” he added.

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Climate change

Climate change is rapidly accelerating humanitarian emergencies, the IRC said, despite the fact that the 20 countries on the list bear little responsibility for the matter, contributing only 2% of global CO2 emissions.

Conflicts are increasing, both in duration and extent, destroying the systems and services on which communities depend, the study noted. And the economic crisis, sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, is deepening food insecurity.

Climate Change 2023. The length of conflicts is getting longer. Image: International Rescue Committee

“Haiti enters the top 10 on the Watch List as political instability, gang violence, rising food insecurity, disease outbreaks and climate crises fuel a rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis,” IRC warned.

For the first time in history, Haiti recorded at least 19,000 people facing the worst and most catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2022 and projected to continue through 2023. In addition, the IRC said cholera cases are “likely” to continue growing as the country grapples with its first outbreak in more than three years.

Economic conditions

As for Venezuela, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) maintained that “economic conditions will continue to drive the needs, including food insecurity, of many Venezuelans despite a slight economic recovery in 2022.”

Food inflation slowed from 1,500% in September 2021 to 131% in July 2022, but remains the third highest rate in the world after Zimbabwe and Lebanon. The IRC estimates that 12.3 million, two out of every five Venezuelans, are food insecure and 2.1 million are potentially severely food insecure.

Migration

“Migration is expected to continue until 2023, albeit at a slower rate,” the study warned. According to the UN, some 7.1 million Venezuelans have left their country due to the prolonged economic crisis. The vast majority of them remain in Latin America, although 60% do not have access to basic services, food and formal employment.

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