Climate change will accelerate humanitarian crises worldwide in 2023, adding to the issues created by armed conflict and economic downturns, according to a study by the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The agency, based in New York and led by former UK politician David Miliband, flagged that the number of people in humanitarian need has skyrocketed in the last decade, approaching 339.2 million versus the 81 million seen in 2014.
Climate change is among the key factors accelerating humanitarian emergencies, the IRC noted, even though the 20 countries on its emergency watchlist - like Haiti and Afghanistan - contribute just 2% to global CO2 emissions. The IRC also flagged the need to "proactively invest in climate change prevention and mitigation."
Meanwhile, food insecurity is already rife due to growing conflict as well as the economic crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic, it said. The economic turmoil from both the attack and Covid-19 have disrupted supply chains, international trade, and food and fuel prices, all of which drive food insecurity globally — and particularly in Watchlist countries.
Watchlist countries have experienced armed conflict for an average of 12 years: conflicts devastate the infrastructure, livelihoods, and services upon which communities depend to withstand shocks. Climate crisis and record drought are significant reasons why Somalia and Ethiopia are on this year’s Watchlist. Still, the years of conflict devastated the capacity of both countries to withstand shock, pushing them to the top of the list.
‘“2022 has shown that the role of climate change in accelerating the global humanitarian crisis is undeniable,” reports noted.
Every year for the past decade, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) crisis response teams have analyzed swathes of quantitative and qualitative data to uncover the countries most at risk of humanitarian conflagration in 2023.
The countries on the 2023 Watchlist are home to just 13 percent of the global population. Yet, they account for 90 percent of people in humanitarian need and 81 percent of those who have been forcibly displaced. This is primarily related to the war between Russia and Ukraine, pushing Ukraine onto the Watchlist for the first time since 2017. The IRC launched an emergency response to the war in February 2022, working with local partners in Ukraine, Poland, and Moldova to reach the most vulnerable by providing essential items, cash assistance, improved access to health care, and safe spaces for women and children.
A record 340 million people need humanitarian aid this year, and 100 million have been forced to leave their homes, according to the study entitled “Emergency Watchlist 2023."
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