Portrait of a woman resting her head in her hand, surrounded by colourful fabrics.
"My biggest worry as a mother is that my children are hungry, and I don't have enough food to feed them," said Mariam, a displaced mother now living in Kongoussi, Burkina Faso.

Once again, Burkina Faso is the world’s most neglected crisis

Published 03. Jun 2024
For the second year in a row Burkina Faso is the world’s most neglected displacement crisis, according to a new report from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The normalisation of neglect is exacerbating needs and deepening despair.

The annual list of neglected displacement crises is based on three criteria: lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention, and a lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives compared to the number of people in need. The crisis in Cameroon is listed second, having featured on the list every year since 2018. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Niger follow in this grim ranking, meaning that for the first time all three countries in the central Sahel are among the top five most neglected crises.

“The utter neglect of displaced people has become the new normal,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of NRC. “The local political and military elites disregard the suffering they cause, and the world is neither shocked nor compelled to act by stories of desperation and record-breaking statistics. We need a global reboot of solidarity and a refocus on where needs are greatest.”

This year’s list represents a continued race to the bottom. Scores that would have placed a country third on last year’s list leave it outside this year’s top ten. Across all three metrics we have seen a deepening of neglect, most starkly in the ongoing reduction of humanitarian funding. The lack of international support and attention is further compounded by the insufficient media freedom in many countries featured on this list.

In 2023, the shortfall between humanitarian appeals and money actually received amounted to $32 billion - $10 billion higher than in 2022. That vast deficit meant 57 per cent of needs remained unmet. Whilst the funding gap is large, it is far from impossible to close. If each of the five most profitable listed companies worldwide contributed just five per cent of their 2023 profits, the funding gap could be matched in a second.

“We urgently need investment for the world’s most neglected crises. These investments must be made both in the form of diplomatic initiatives to get warring parties to come to the negotiating table, as well as funding commensurate with needs from donor countries,” said Egeland.

“Critically, we need those economies not contributing their fair share of global solidarity to step up.”

Far from the media spotlight, the crisis in Burkina Faso further worsened since topping the list last year. Violence killed more people and forced civilians to flee more times in 2023 than in any year since the conflict began in the country in 2019. Up to two million people are trapped in 39 blockaded towns across the country, leaving hundreds of thousands cut off from aid.

“We have not received any assistance for a long, long time. In periods like this, when we do not have anything else to cook, I go and pick leaves and boil them in water. This pot will feed more than 10 people in my family. This week we have only eaten leaves most days,” said Asseta, a displaced mother now living in Kongoussi, north Burkina Faso.

“It is becoming increasingly hard to reach people in desperate need in Burkina Faso. Roads are too dangerous to use due to frequent attacks. The minimal air service that exists cannot get anywhere close to meeting the scale of needs, and is also prohibitively expensive. It’s critical that donors and humanitarians continue to prioritise areas that are out-of-sight and ensure they do not become out-of-mind,” said Egeland.

Facts and figures:

  • Each year, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) publishes a list of the ten most neglected displacement crises in the world. The purpose is to focus on the plight of people whose suffering rarely makes international headlines, who receive no or inadequate assistance, and who never become the centre of attention for international diplomacy efforts. The report is available here.
  • The neglected displacement crises list for 2023 analyses 39 displacement crises based on three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention, and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives. Full details on the methodology can be found in the report.
  • The full list in order this year is: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, Honduras, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad and lastly Sudan.
  • Burkina Faso has appeared on this list for the previous five years. It ranked first in last year’s report, second in 2021, seventh in 2020, and third in 2019.
  • Cameroon ranked 7th in 2022, 3rd in 2021, 2nd in 2020 and topped the list in 2019 and 2018.
  • DR Congo topped the list three times (2021, 2020 and 2017). It ranked second on the list in 2022, 2019, 2018 and 2016.
  • Sudan ranked 10th on the list having ranked 4th in 2022 and 7th in 2021.
  • The total funding to the Burkina Faso humanitarian response plan was $347 million USD in 2023, of the $876 million USD requested – making the response just 39.6% per cent funded (OCHA).
  • Conflict caused people to move 707,000 times (internal displacements) in 2023, a 61% increase from 2022 (438,000) (IDMC). There are around 2 million internally displaced people in the country. The number of Burkinabè refugees and asylum seekers jumped from 60,000 to 150,000 between December 2022 and December 2023 (UNHCR).
  • Up to 2 million people, including 1.3 million people in need, are living in blockaded areas, unable to access aid regularly (FONGIH and 2024 HNO).
  • The number of people killed in Burkina Faso doubled last year with over 8,400 deaths (ACLED).
  • The gap between the total humanitarian appeals by the UN and partners and the money received amounted to $32 billion in 2023 - $10 billion higher than in 2022. This means 57% of needs were unmet (OCHA). The pre-tax income of the world’s 5 most profitable companies as as follows: Saudi Aramco (247.43 BN USD), Apple (114.3 BN USD), Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) (100.3 BN USD), Microsoft 95.02 (BN USD), and Alphabet (Google parent company) (78.78 BN USD). This totals 635.83 billion USD. 5% of each of the companies' profits is equal to 31.8 BN USD (Statista).


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