A banner hangs on the side of a building bearing the message: 'Leave no-one behind'
Credit: Rasande Tyskar

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a humanitarian agency, publishes an annual list of the world’s most neglected crises – highlighting those “whose suffering rarely makes international headlines, who receive little or no assistance, and who never become the centre of attention for international diplomacy efforts.”

It recently published its list for 2022 – analysing the crises that received the least attention. All are in Africa and Latin America: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Mali, Sudan, Venezuela and Cameroon.

Sudan’s inclusion on the list is notable because the research for the report was done in 2022 – before the outbreak of violence between the military junta and the rebel Rapid Support Forces that has killed thousands and displaced millions since April.

Already in 2022, a third of Sudan’s population required aid amid a political and economic crisis and the impacts of climate change, according to the NRC, but less than half of the required funding was received. What’s more, the country was hosting over a million refugees from other countries, many of whom have now had to flee again.

There was a spike in coverage of the crisis after the outbreak of war this year. Data from Google Trends, which gives an indication of how much the search engine’s hundreds of millions of users are following a topic, shows that searches for “Sudan” rose quickly in April. But by May they had more or less returned to previous levels, even though the conflict and accompanying atrocities are far from over. By contrast, searches for “Ukraine” remain elevated nearly 18 months after the war began.

The UK has created no safe passage for refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan. Home Secretary Suella Braverman suggested that those wanting to seek asylum in Britain could present themselves to the UN Refugee Agency for resettlement, but such a scheme doesn’t exist. Neighbouring countries, particularly Egypt and Chad, are hosting hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees alone, with the potential for instability to spill over.

The UK and other governments could and should be doing so much more, from creating asylum routes to providing humanitarian aid and engaging in serious diplomatic efforts. But far from that, the UK has actually cut aid to many of these neglected crises in recent years.

“None of these countries is neglected by accident,” the report authors write. “The powerful response to the suffering inflicted by the war in Ukraine has shown that neglect is in fact a choice. Where there is the will, political action can be impactful and swift, funding vast, and media coverage extensive.” Humanitarian compassion cannot be based on geopolitics. While there is a limit to what we can do as individuals, we urge our readers to keep learning about these crises and pushing for action wherever possible.

This article is a preview from New Humanist's autumn 2023 issue. Subscribe now.