Afghanistan is currently suffering what has been described as the world’s single largest humanitarian crisis. After America’s abrupt withdrawal and the Taliban’s subsequent takeover in August 2021, the people of Afghanistan have been subject to both severe poverty and a terribly oppressive government. An estimated 318,500 Afghans were displaced in the middle of 2021 as a result of destructive warfare. Even worse, 23 million Afghans are in acute food insecurity, and 8.4 million are in emergency level food insecurity (UNHCR). According to the UN, over 1 million Afghan children will face malnutrition this year, and the Taliban will not do anything to provide appropriate aid. The Taliban has continued to employ child soldiers, and, since their takeover, have overseen a great increase in child marriage, child labor, and the sale of children. The Taliban has also deprived women and girls of their livelihood and individuality by banning them from secondary and higher education, forbidding them from being out in public without covering their entire body, and ceasing their eligibility to receive driving licenses. Additionally, the brewing rivalry between the Taliban and other extremist groups like ISIS-K poses an even bigger threat to ordinary Afghan citizens, as the country could once again serve as the theater for horrific warfare and mass civilian death.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions. The population of Ukraine is now subject to an imperialist power that has shown no regard for civilian life and is openly engaging in war crimes. The Russian army has caused tens of billions of dollars of damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure and is leaving the country unrecognizable, with power stations, railways, roads, and thousands of other buildings being the target of Russia’s mass bombing campaign. The ongoing warfare has drastically harmed the wellbeing of Ukrainian families, who have been splintered by the required conscription for all adult males and are at the mercy of Russia’s indiscriminate bombing. According to the UN, around 7.7 million people are internally displaced, and this number will undoubtedly grow as the conflict perpetuates. Additionally, there are an estimated 13 million people who are stranded in war zones, and the World Food Program has approximated that 1 in 3 households in Ukraine are food insecure. Russian soldiers have also participated in systematic, widespread sexual violence and horrific torture. Since Russia’s initial invasion on February 24, over 4,000 civilians have died in Ukraine, though, according to the UN Rights Office, the actual number is likely much higher.
Syria has been torn apart by warfare for over a decade, mired in endless proxy conflicts between the U.S. and Russia and between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Syrian people are victims to massive infrastructure collapse, poverty, and famine. The Syrian Civil War began on March 15, 2011, and since then, according to the International Rescue Committee, it has spawned 6.9 million refugees and asylum seekers and caused 6.8 million more to go internally displaced. The UN reported that there had been over 350,000 verified deaths as a result of the war in September 2021 (the number is actually much higher), and such mass death has devastated the mental health of innocent Syrian civilians. As stated by the BMC Psychiatry, a study conducted in 2019 found that, “61.4% of Syrian refugees met the DSM-5 symptom criteria for probable PTSD.” The 14 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid are not only experiencing the physical effects of crippling impoverishment (according to the UN, 80% of Syrians are below the poverty line and 60% are food insecure), but are also hurting from the mental toll of the seemingly never ending warfare. What is most terrible is that European countries have offered much more hospitality to Ukrainian refugees than Syrians, with many of them welcoming Ukrainians with open arms even though in years prior they charged people assisting Syrian and North African refugees with human trafficking and aiding illegal immigration.
After becoming a nation in 2011, South Sudan quickly entered a civil war that would last seven years. With more than 60 tribes, ethnic divergences within the nation catalyzed brutal atrocities, creating massive famine and displacing millions of people. 8.3 million people continue to face severe food insecurity as a result of terrible climate shocks. Climate change has catalyzed an increased frequency and severity of flooding and drought, massively devastating farmers’ ability to cultivate their land. Additionally, the violence of the civil war disrupted regular farming cycles and post-conflict deforestation has significantly degraded soil quality. Currently, about 82% of South Sudan’s population, according to the World Bank, is enduring poverty, and economic stagnation is rampant. According to the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview, there were 1.36 million internally displaced people in the country as a result of the civil war and its lasting consequences. And, despite the war’s ending, violent conflict between ethnic groups and blatant human rights violations continue to occur. Regular civilians simply cannot get back on their feet because of the country’s sheer political and social instability, and women in particular are abhorrently marginalized. The UN states that half of all South Sudanese women are married off before they reach 18 and are constantly in danger of being assaulted and raped.
Venezuela is one of the most unstable countries in the western hemisphere due to economic collapse, the absence of a health care system, and political instability. A UN report in March 2019 estimated that nearly 94% of Venezuelans live in poverty, as evidenced by the country’s large amount of business closures; the World Food Programme has reported that 1 in 3 Venezuelans are food insecure, reflecting the country’s severe hyperinflation, as the price of the basic food basket has skyrocketed. Such economic hardship is compounded by Venezuela’s lack of health care infrastructure, which has catalyzed a reintroduction of once suppressed diseases like cholera and malaria. To make circumstances for civilian families worse, Venezuela is rampant in violent crime as a result of social turmoil, keeping civilian families constantly in danger of armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder. In fact, Venezuela has the highest per-capita murder rate in the world as a result of poorly enforced gun control and violent law enforcement that regularly commits extrajudicial killings. Additionally, Venezuela’s criminal justice system is essentially nonexistent, with the overwhelming majority of crime in the country going unpunished regardless of severity. The UN reported in August 2021 that more than 5.9 million people have had to flee the country, and that number will only increase as the political situation continues to deteriorate.
The Rohingya people of Myanmar suffer at the hands of an ongoing ethnic cleansing by the Burma government. Nationalist Buddhists have persecuted the Rohingya, triggering a mass exodus from the country. Those who remain face systemic discrimination and the possiblity of torture and unlawful arrest. Tens of thousands of the Rohingya have been killed and raped by Myanmar’s brutal military, who, to uphold their administration (which was established during a coup in Februrary 2021), have also engaged in the extrajudicial killing of thousands of other civilians through air strikes and heavy weaponry. The UN has reported that at least 1,500 people have been killed amidst civilian protests against the new government, with police officers being directly ordered by the militarist regime to beat and shoot protestors. There are currently around 800,000 internally displaced people in Myanmar according to the UN as a result of the military’s deliberate killing of civilians. Additionally, almost half of the country’s population is below the poverty line and, unfortunately, will remain in that position until something is done to address the country’s underdeveloped infrastructure and low quality health care.
Mali is rampant with violence from radical Islamist organizations and ethnic militias. The destructive conflict is compounded with the fact that Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The World Food Programme reports that poverty currently affects 78.1% of the country’s population, and the UN reports that 6.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Mali’s lack of infrastructure has allowed deadly diseases like malaria to thrive and cultivated a perfect environment for Jihadist groups to rise. One of the biggest terrorist organizations in the region is the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which operates in multiple countries in West Africa but is most active in Mali. At the end of 2021, there were around 350,000 internally displaced people in Mali largely as a result of these armed militant groups, who have killed and raped indiscriminately. Many of these people also left in response to devastating floods, droughts, and crop pests, reflecting the country’s vulnerability to climate change. At the end of 2021, the UN reported that around 1.2 million people were in need of emergency food assistance as a result of Mali’s most severe drought since 2016. Far too many children have been stunted and malnourished as a result.
Central African Republic
Since 2012, the people of the Central African Republic have been subjected to a violent civil war between the current government and rebel militias. It also suffers from terrible poverty and has been unstable since its decolonization in 1960. The UN reports that 3.1 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, and in the 2018 Human Development Index, the country ranked second to last, with 79% of the country living in poverty. The World Food Programme also reports that around 2.1 million people are food insecure, and the sheer lack of infrastructure and sanitary facilities has allowed for diseases like tuberculosis and malaria to spring up and plague the population. These circumstances are dramatically worsened by the ongoing war, which continually destroys what little infrastructure there is in the country and is constantly displacing civilians from their homes. The UN estimates that around 700,000 people (with nearly half of them being children) have been internally displaced in the country as a result of the warfare, as innocent families try to flee the environmental and infrastructural devastation the warfare is leaving throughout the relatively small nation. The country’s government has always been in disarray between all the periods of military rule and coups, and this political instability is caused by ethnic and religious divide. There are 80 ethnic groups and two primary religions (Christianity and Islam), and these divergences power the country’s inability to establish a cooperative democracy.
Every Eritrean between 18 and 50 has to endure forced military conscription and forced labor in what is blatant slavery. The totalitarian government imposes harsh restrictions on the people of Eritrea, and these constraints are only worsened by the nation’s poor socioeconomic conditions. There is no freedom for the average Eritrean, with expression, opinion, press, and religion heavily restricted and regulated by the government. Unfortunately, many Eriteans would not have an alternative life to lead without this compulsory service because of the fact that more than 66% of the population lives below the poverty line and about half of the population does not have access to a clean water supply (Borgen Project). The Eritrean government’s focus on investing in military has kept the country behind other nations in terms of infrastructure. The country is currently suffering a drought in the same vein as Somalia, and, as a country heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, the population is put at risk of major food insecurity. The UN estimates that 66% of the population is unable to obtain adequate food, and that number could increase as climate change makes droughts more frequent and more harsh.
Since 1990, Somalia has been tormented with civil war and terrorism. The severe political instability and pervasive crime and kidnapping are far too dangerous for civilians to remain in, especially with the constant threat of horrific car bombings in Mogadishu. UNDP statistics show that the current poverty rate in Somalia is 73%, and the country’s infrastructure remains tremendously underdeveloped. At the end of 2021, the International Rescue Committee reported that around 3.5 million Somalis were experiencing acute food insecurity as a result of the country’s terrible drought, which is ongoing and is being described as its worst in 40 years. At least 2.9 million people are internally displaced as a result of the climate disaster, and around 2.3 million Somalians are facing severe water shortages according to the UN. Somalia’s geographical location keeps the country constantly at the threat of cyclones and floods, and since the country has no infrastructure to support its citizens in the aftermath of such disasters, Somalians have to constantly be on the run. Additionally, terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab plague the country’s cities and persistently kill and bomb citizens. America in its attempts to air strike such groups has also killed citizens as “collateral damage,” making essentially no place in Somalia immune from catastrophe.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The eastern DRC features over 100 armed groups vying for power, displacing millions of innocent Congolese people. No infrastructure in terms of education or health care is present, allowing for no end to the cycle of poverty. The UN reports that there are currently over 27 million Congolese people experiencing acute and emergency food insecurity (the most in the world), with 2.4 million children under 5 being severely malnourished. There are also around 5.6 million people internally displaced as a result of natural disasters and political instability. The country’s poor housing is constantly at risk of destruction by volcanic eruptions and landslides, and harsh droughts and floods catalyzed by climate change constantly damage annual agricultural yields. Multiple groups in the country fight over control of land, minerals, and other economic resources, and this tribalism fuels terrible atrocities, including the use of child soldiers and slavery. The country is also notorious for its treatment of women, demonstrated by the disgustingly high amount of women raped hourly and targeted genocide by militias. Though there is no country-encompassing war currently taking place in the Congo, there are constant skirmishes between all of the different militias, and civilians are constantly the victims, intentionally or not. Just this year, in the eastern DRC, a militia claimed the lives of at least 60 innocent people.
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 46.1% of its population living below the poverty line according to the UN. It houses over 700,000 internally displaced people, as they flee the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique headed by the Jihadist group al-Shabaab, which seeks to implement Sharia law across the region. As people flee this threat, they find it hard to prosper in Mozambique itself because of the country’s tremendously underdeveloped infrastructure and its corrupt government which has become wrapped in money laundering scandals and bribery. Hosting barely any health facilities and commonly stocking out of necessary medication, Mozambique has allowed multiple diseases like malaria to rage on and plague children. Mozambique is also one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, as its long coastline next to the Indian Ocean provides no resistance to increasingly devastating cyclones and subsequent flooding. El Niño conditions can also cultivate perfect climate for extensive droughts, which easily threaten the lives of a population that already has around 1.9 million people highly food insecure.