2020 was a year no one predicted. With the mother-of-all crises rocking every corner of the world, affecting virtually every country and city on earth, COVID-19 up-ended life as we knew it. Over a million lives have been lost, millions of jobs have been wiped out, extreme poverty has risen and economies have stalled.
As governments in the West struggled with high death tolls, numbers of infections began to rise elsewhere on the globe. When spring came around, the Black Lives Matter protests reverberated around the world, a global call for justice, equality and decency. The inequalities of countries traditionally deemed ‘developed’ were exposed. We learned that we are all interdependent; our lives and wellbeing are intertwined with the lives and wellbeing of others.
But some things remained the same in 2020. Now in its fifth year, our report continues to highlight the world’s most under-reported humanitarian crises. Although there are new entries on the list, the ranking continues to be dominated by crises in Africa. The Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mali and Burundi have appeared on the list across multiple years, yet the people in these countries don’t get sufficient media attention. The combined news coverage on these 10 crises was less than that of entertainer Kanye West’s bid for the US Presidency, or the Eurovision Song Contest. Further to this, these 10 crises received 26 times less attention – in terms of online news articles – than the launch of PlayStation 5.
For millions of individuals, COVID-19 has simply made a bad situation worse.
In mainstream news reporting, it is the global pandemic that has dominated headlines. Once its potential for widespread infection and health system chaos was understood, countries – and their media – turned their focus inwards; on protecting citizens and prevent ing the virus from spreading. But as we’ve learned in 2020, humanitarian crises don’t respect borders, race, religion or global pandemics. For the people surviving in these crises, COVID-19 is simply an additional threat to a host of others – from the global climate crisis; to deadly diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV; to the unavailability of food and clean water; to conflict, violence and abuse. For millions of individuals, COVID-19 has simply made a bad situation worse.