An assessment by experts at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has placed Nigeria fourth on its list of countries most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe in 2020, coming ahead of war-torn Afghanistan.
Yemen topped the list for the second year in a row, followed by DRC and Syria.
In a press release IRC said the countries on the list have changed little since last year, demonstrating the collective failure of the international community to resolve the root causes of these humanitarian disasters. Democratic leadership and financial support, it said, are key for these.
Restrictions on humanitarian access and disregard for International Humanitarian Law, the committee said, “are major concerns across all Watchlist countries and could significantly undermine the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to these crises and meet growing needs”.
The IRC said, it would have operated in the 20 Watch list countries for an average of 15 years, and in six of them for over 20 years, highlighting the protracted nature of these catastrophes.
The statement by Hope Arcuri of IRC Global Communications reads, “Nine of the 10 countries in the top 10 are experiencing major conflict. Nearly all countries in the Sahel region, from Mali to Sudan, are on Watchlist 2020.
This reflects the impact of rising conflict – driven by militancy and competition for resources as well as increasing droughts and flooding possibly related to climate change.
“Disease outbreaks are a major concern in many Watchlist countries. The Ebola outbreak continues in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (number two on the list) and presents a threat to several other countries on the Watchlist.”
The further said, “Cholera is present in several more, including Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
In many Watchlist countries, prolonged armed conflict has damaged health, sanitation and other infrastructure, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks.
Venezuela’s economic collapse has had similar consequences.
“The IRC is responding to the crises in all of the countries on the Watchlist (with the exception of Sudan, where the IRC is now registered and moving forward with the re-launch of humanitarian programmes), helping people to survive, recover and gain control of their lives.”
In order of risk, top 10 countries most at risk of experiencing the worst humanitarian crises over the coming year: Yemen, DRC, Syria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Somalia and CAR.