North Korea tops list of ‘most underreported’ humanitarian crises of 2017

A stunted North Korean child stands with a shovel in shrivelled corn field in a disaster-hit part of the country (Credit: Reuters/Tim Large).

AID organisation CARE Australia today, January 23, issued a new report highlighting the 10 most underreported humanitarian crises of 2017.

The report, Suffering in Silence, found the humanitarian crisis in North Korea received the least media attention globally. While much media focus has been on nuclear brinkmanship, the humanitarian situation in the country has been overlooked.

Other crises that rarely made headlines were those in Eritrea, Burundi, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Vietnam, the Lake Chad Basin, Central African Republic and Peru.

“We know that a single photo can shake the world’s consciousness and galvanise the global community into taking action,” said Rachel Routley from CARE Australia’s Emergency Response Unit.

“But the majority of people affected by humanitarian disasters suffer in silence, far away from the world’s cameras and microphones. These crises might not make media headlines but that doesn’t mean we can forget about them.”

More than 1.2 million global online news sources were monitored as part of the research, with the analysis focusing on 40 specific natural disasters and conflicts that each affected at least a million people.

Commenting on the report, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the media played a vital role in drawing public attention to forgotten and neglected crises.

“Despite the tragic consequences for the lives of millions affected by conflict and displacement, the gap between humanitarian needs and available funding continues to exist,” Mr Grandi said.

“The outlook for 2018 is grim, as the political will to resolve conflicts and address the root causes that are driving them – poor governance, growing impoverishment, inequality and climate change, is weak. Political leaders must step up and shoulder responsibility for tackling today’s forgotten crises.”

Violent conflict was a key factor in many of the crises highlighted in the report, and most are expected to continue throughout 2018. The UN estimates $22.5 billion will be required to help 91 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid in 2018.

Last year, CARE directly reached more than 14 million people through humanitarian response work. To support CARE’s responses to global emergencies go to