Burundi last made headlines in the European press in the summer of 2023: ten of its nationals, players of the junior handball team, then took advantage of the world championship being held in Croatia to compete. flee to Belgium and ask for asylum there. Apart from this incredible story, this landlocked country in the African Great Lakes, whose per capita income is the lowest in the world, does not receive much media attention, even though it recurrently faces climatic events. extremes with the resulting needs for assistance.

In 2023, torrential rains and floods linked in particular to the overflowing of Lake Tanganyika have led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people and reduced the livelihoods of more than 10% of the population, the vast majority of whom are rural. However, over the first nine months of the year, 54 times more articles were devoted to Prince Harry’s book, The Substitute, by online news sites than to the humanitarian situation in Burundi, according to the count published Thursday, January 11, by the non-governmental organization CARE, in a report on the ten least publicized humanitarian crises in 2023.

Crises identified by the organization from the database of the online media observatory Meltwater and which are all located in Africa. This includes Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Zambia and Burkina Faso, a country where more than 2 million people have left their homes to flee violence.

130 million people in humanitarian emergencies

While at the global level, humanitarian needs are reaching historically high levels due to the multiplication of conflicts and the consequences of climate change, this media underexposure has direct consequences on their support by international solidarity. In Burundi, only a quarter of needs were covered by international funding mobilized by the United Nations. In a global context where, for the first time since 2010, donations granted by States to humanitarian action have decreased.

The war in Ukraine and, since the attacks of October 7, that led by Israel against Hamas in the Gaza Strip further overshadow the tragedies experienced on the continent. In its appeal for funds for 2024, the picture drawn up by the UN does not fail to remind us that Africa remains the epicenter of humanitarian crises. Of the 26 countries for which the United Nations is requesting the mobilization of 46.4 billion dollars (42.2 billion euros), fourteen are African.

Nearly 130 million people are considered in a humanitarian emergency situation out of 300 million worldwide. The most massive crises are concentrated in three countries: Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the population in precarious situations due to wars and natural disasters varies between 20 million and 26 million depending on the State. .

The origin of these crises most often refers to a cocktail of causes. Conflicts, like the one that broke out in Sudan in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Bourhane, and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR) of General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, said “Hemetti” remains the most immediate driving force, throwing millions of civilians onto the roads fleeing the fighting.

Conflicts and climate shocks

The American NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC), however, notes in its analysis of countries to watch in 2024 that armed conflicts and vulnerability to climate change are increasingly converging factors in the emergence of crises. “They are increasingly occurring in the same regions and at the same time. More than half of the conflicts triggered since 1995 have occurred in countries most exposed to global warming and least able to adapt to it,” she underlines.

Of the 20 countries where the NGO fears a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in 2024, fourteen are in this situation, among them eleven are African: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Nigeria, Central African Republic, DRC, Sudan, Sudan South, Ethiopia, Somalia… “The lack of investment in remote regions where the survival of populations depends on agriculture and livestock increases the consequences of climatic shocks. In the central Sahel for example, the areas neglected by the central powers during the colonial and post-colonial period are today those which suffer the worst effects of climate change,” the study continues.

In 2024, after three years of record drought, experts are concerned about the consequences of the return of the El Niño climatic phenomenon on the Horn of Africa where significant flooding is already observed. But IRC also does not forget to mention the multiplication of coups d’état, and the very low levels of governance in countries plagued by serious humanitarian crises to explain this disproportionate weight of the African continent in this dark global assessment.