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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

7 crises to keep in mind in 2023

In 2022, the EU and its Member States were among the leading donors of humanitarian aid in the world.

Last year brought unprecedented humanitarian challenges, mainly driven by climate change, the war in Ukraine, conflict, and disease. And the number of people in need keeps growing in 2023 – according to the UN, more than 339 million people will require humanitarian assistance this year.

Here are 7 key crises in the world to watch closely this year, to which the EU will continue to provide humanitarian and civil protection assistance.

1. Africa: under-reported crises

Woman holding a child on her arms.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Eduardo Soteras Jalil)

Key fact: In 2022, the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises were all in Africa.

From Niger and Chad to Zimbabwe and Zambia, the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises during 2022 were all on the African continent. Hundreds of millions of people are internally displaced due to conflict, or have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Droughts and other extreme weather events, and the repercussions of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, have resulted in food insecurity, which has particularly affected Africa.

Millions of children are chronically malnourished. Maternal mortality rates are very high. Climate-related disasters are escalating.

2. Afghanistan: displaced persons and severe food crisis

Father and son walking in a desolated landscape.
© Kern Hendricks for Danish Refugee Council. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Key fact: 28 million people are expected to require humanitarian assistance.

Due to decades of conflict, recurrent natural hazards, and a sharp economic decline, more than 5.7 million Afghans and host communities in 5 neighbouring countries need support.

To help 6 million citizens that survive on less than 1 meal per day, the EU humanitarian aid focuses on food security, health care, and nutritional support.

In 2022, the EU allocated more than €174 million in humanitarian support to aid organisations operating in Afghanistan and the region.

3. Ukraine: endangered lives and severe infrastructural damage

Aid worker seen from behind looking at damaged buildings.
© European Union, 2022 (Photographer: Lisa Hastert)

Key fact: 5.9 million people internally displaced and millions without access to basic needs.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world, forcing millions of people to leave their homes.

The ongoing war endangers the lives of civilians and causes severe damage to housing, water and electricity supply, heating, and public infrastructure such as schools and health facilities.

So far, the EU has allocated €485 million for humanitarian programmes in Ukraine. The funding will help provide food, water, essential household items, health care, emergency and winterised shelter, and education actions.

4. Yemen: growing hunger and scarce healthcare services

Child standing in the desert, on the background their tent and a camel.
© Solidarités International/Abudllah Al Jaradi. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Key fact: 23.4 million people need humanitarian aid and 17.4 million face acute food insecurity.

Millions of Yemenis are displaced, destitute, and hungry. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, compounded by increasing food and fuel prices, collapsing public services, economic crises, and natural hazards.

The country’s public health system is on the verge of collapse, leading to recurrent epidemic outbreaks and transmissible diseases. There is a need to increase aid, improve humanitarian access, and address the political and economic drivers of the crisis.

5. Venezuela: deep economic, social and political crisis

Girl and boy sitting on a bed while watching television.
© European Union, 2020 (photographer: S.Castañeda)

Key fact: Around 18.7 million people require food assistance.

Venezuela still shows a severe scarcity of food, water and essential goods, compromising the daily lives of a large part of the population. Since 2016, the European Union has allocated €315 million in emergency humanitarian aid for Venezuela.

More than 7.1 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015. Inside the country, 90% live in poverty, according to Encovi. The EU considers the displacement of Venezuelans in Ecuador and Peru as a “forgotten crisis”.

The assistance to refugees and internally displaced people focuses on emergency medical services, food assistance, the provision of legal information and support, protection initiatives (specifically against gender-based violence and human trafficking), education in emergencies, and shelter.

6. Syria: unparalleled suffering and humanitarian needs

Aid worker talking with women and a child.
©WeWorld/GVC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Key fact: 14.6 million people in Syria require assistance.

Food prices in Syria are rising while food availability is decreasing, with almost 2/3 of Syrians facing food shortages. Russia’s war on Ukraine has further raised prices, leaving 65% of the population food insecure.

Over 3 million people are internally displaced, and 8.2 million vulnerable people need life-saving aid. Since the crisis started in 2011, the EU and its Member States have mobilised more than €27.4 billion to support the most vulnerable Syrians.

With needs greater than ever, the EU also supports the UN’s humanitarian air services, which facilitate the delivery of aid and the transport of humanitarian staff to areas with limited access.

7. Climate related disasters: rising wildfires, floods, and droughts

Firefighter plane in action.

Key fact: 2022 had one of the worst wildfires seasons.

The fire risk is expected to increase due to climate change leading to massive fires that cost lives and burn areas that take longer to recover fully.

In 2022, the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre answered 11 calls for assistance during the wildfires season.

When national response capacities are overwhelmed by fire intensity, Member States and participating states show solidarity by sending assistance in the form of firefighting planes, helicopters, and firefighting teams.

Image: © French Ministry of the Interior (photographer: Jose Rocha). All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Woman carrying a water tank walking in front of her makeshift shelter

Key fact: More frequent due to climate change.

Floods are the most common and most costly natural hazards in Europe. It is expected to see a higher flood risk and greater economic damage in the coming decades.

In many West African countries, floods have increased dramatically with severe economic impacts.

The EU supports preparedness initiatives in disaster-prone countries, such as Nigeria, to help vulnerable people better prepare for and reduce the impact of recurring natural hazards.

Image: © European Union, 2022 (photographer: Abdul Majeed)

People putting goods on a camel.

Key fact: Causes millions to leave their homes searching for water, food, and medical aid.

In Somalia, over 7 million people are currently affected by drought – almost 50% of the population.

1.1 million Somalis have fled their homes and now live in unsanitary makeshift camps with limited access to assistance. They joined the 2.9 million people that were previously displaced by conflict and extreme weather events.

In 2022, the EU allocated €79.5 million for humanitarian projects in Somalia, mainly responding to the ongoing drought.

Image: © European Union, 2022 (photographer: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

Story by Pilar Gianni Rodríguez and Jaime Camacho García, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 18/01/2023