Australians’ news consumption rose dramatically in 2020 as COVID-19 swept the globe, but a new analysis from the aid agency CARE has revealed the 10 humanitarian crises which received the least media coverage.
Topping the list is Burundi, a densely-populated African country where around 11 million people occupy land less than half the size of Tasmania. An ease in political turmoil saw many Burundian refugees return home in 2020, increasing demand for already scarce farmable land. The country has the highest rate of chronic malnourishment in the world, and floods and other climate-related disasters have worsened the hunger crisis.
Closer to home, the UN estimated more than 4.6 million people in Papua New Guinea — more than half the population — were in need of humanitarian aid. The country has so far avoided a significant outbreak of COVID-19, but is battling tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria epidemics, as well as the reintroduction of polio in 2018.
CARE Australia CEO Peter Walton said: “While COVID-19 dominated headlines in 2020, for many people around the world, the pandemic is just one more crisis they have to battle through.
“Consequently, 2021 will bring enormous humanitarian need. Almost a quarter of a billion people are predicted to require assistance. That’s a near-40 per cent increase on 2020, which is the sharpest rise we’ve ever seen.
“Governments in wealthy countries have understandably been boosting spending at home, and it will be important that they also boost their international aid budgets. As this pandemic has shown us, the wellbeing of everyone in the world is intrinsically connected — no one is safe unless everyone is safe.”
CARE’s analysis covered more than 1.2 million online news articles in English, Arabic, French, German and Spanish. 45 humanitarian crises — each affecting at least 1 million people — were tracked for media mentions. The 10 crises which received the fewest mentions are included in CARE’s report.
As well as Burundi and Papua New Guinea, the 10 under-reported crises span Guatemala, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, Madagascar, Malawi, Pakistan, Mali and Zambia.
In contrast, the launch of the PlayStation 5 received 26 times as much media coverage as all 10 humanitarian crises combined.
The combined coverage of the 10 crises was also less than that of entertainer Kanye West’s bid for the US Presidency, and the Eurovision Song Contest.