Suffering In Silence 2019

The 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2019


In 2019, countries across the world were rocked by activists, demonstrating the potential for anyone to become or support a changemaker. Global movements have increasingly gone viral, spreading messages more quickly and widely than ever before.

Whether it was people participating in the #trashtag challenge, a Swedish teenager driving a revolution of the climate emergency or a massive wave of people protesting from Khartoum to Santiago to demand change from those in power – the outcomes were felt online and offline.

With so many people taking to the streets, what about those who remained silent? And with global trends in the spotlight, has the world also paid more attention to under-reported crises? In 2019, over 51 million people suffered in 10 crises away from the public eye. Meanwhile, a stock photo of an egg became the most-liked post on Instagram with almost 54 million likes. Although for the average person on earth, life is better today than ever before, around 2% of the global population (160 million people) will require US$28.8 billion in humanitarian assistance to survive. This is a fivefold increase of needs since 2007.

With CARE’s fourth global Suffering In Silence report, we are starting to see a trend of certain countries annually remaining on the list of the most under-reported crises. While we expanded the analysis in 2019 by including Spanish and Arabic online media coverage (in addition to English, French and German), the results are surprisingly similar to previous years: 6 of the 10 crises had already appeared in the ranking at least twice in the past three years; 9 of the 10 crises take place on the African continent. They range from drought to displacement, conflict, epidemics and food insecurity.

In order to address these recurrences, we need to ask: what are the factors that contribute to the silent suffering? The duration of a crisis may play a role, along with its effect on, or how it is affected by, international geopolitics.

The European Commission defines a forgotten humanitarian crisis as a severe and protracted humanitarian situation in which people receive little to no international aid. In addition, there is a lack of political will to end the crisis as well as a lack of media attention, meaning the crisis develops beyond public perception.

As a humanitarian organisation, CARE works tirelessly to deliver aid in places that are off the public radar. 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 individuals to politicians and media representatives, have a political and moral responsibility to pay attention to crises that are neglected. Each one is one too many.

Suffering In Silence serves as a call for the global community to speak up for people in crises who are otherwise forgotten. The aim of this report is to analyse those crises that, though affecting many, have received little of the world’s attention while acknowledging that each emergency is unique in its causes, needs and complexity. Finally, the report also addresses the question of how to ensure better global attention to humanitarian situations, outlining seven ways to shine a light on forgotten crises.