If you don’t post it, did it really happen? In the age of social media and 24-hour news cycles, this question has become a mantra for many. What we read, see or hear manifests in reality. What we do not catch on screen or online does not seem to exist. The sad truth is that disasters and crises made reality look grim for over 132 million people worldwide in 2018, whether we heard about it or not. More than a quarter of them listed in this report suffered in silence, away from the spotlight.
The globe is scarred by violence and disasters. Climate change caused by fossil fuel emissions is hitting harder with every passing day. Yet, some crises receive less media coverage than others. Displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo rivals that of Syria but has received far less attention. In the Central African Republic widespread starvation has set in, which has gone largely unnoticed. And while the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti hit the headlines, the food crisis in 2018 barely made international news.
Why is this? Crisis overload, lack of media access, funding woes – there are many reasons the world chose to look away in 2018. The media plays a crucial role in how the public, aid workers and international organisations respond to emergencies and human suffering. However, dwindling news budgets pose a major threat to foreign correspondence.
In a recent survey conducted by the Aurora Humanitarian Index, 61% of respondents from 12 countries said that there were too many humanitarian crises to keep up with in the world today. More than half felt that they always heard the same stories and that coverage focused on the same countries all the time. People also continued to get it wrong when it comes to the countries most affected by humanitarian crises and assumed that developed countries host the most refugees: in fact over 80% of the world’s refugees live in developing countries.
This is the third consecutive year that CARE publishes its report “Suffering In Silence”. It serves as a call for the global community to speak up for people in crises who are otherwise forgotten and to help them overcome hardship. The aim of this report is to highlight those crises that, though large, have received little public attention. In the final section, it also addresses the question of how to ensure better coverage, outlining eight steps to help shine a light on forgotten crises.
As a humanitarian organisation, CARE works tirelessly to deliver aid to places that are difficult to reach. Getting support to the people who need it most is harder still when the world pays them little attention. Those with a voice in public, from media representatives to politicians, have a political and moral responsibility to respond to crises that are mostly off the radar. Each one of them is one too many.