Humanitarian needs to rise in 2023 fueled by over 100 armed conflicts worldwide: ICRC

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With over 100 armed conflicts across the world today, the humanitarian needs of several countries will continue to deepen into 2023, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

From Ukraine to Afghanistan to Somalia, humanitarian needs continue to rise. This is particularly crucial because millions of people in conflict zones rely on humanitarian assistance and are in need of greater support to save their lives and avert further suffering, the Red Cross said in a statement.

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“There are more than 100 armed conflicts in the world today,” said ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric.

“The civilian suffering caused by these conflicts, combined with a worsening climate emergency and rising food and energy prices, will make 2023 a year of vast humanitarian need.

“The global community must ensure that no conflict is left behind, or we risk many crises fading into obscurity at great cost to human life.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine has wreaked havoc on global food and energy prices. The impacts of these price shocks were felt across the world, but nowhere near as much as they were felt in communities impacted by violence and armed conflict.

For instance, the ICRC’s market price monitoring saw food staples rise by 45 percent in Ethiopia and over 30 percent in Mali, Afghanistan and Somalia throughout 2021.

The ICRC is appealing for $2.9 billion to fund its work in 2023.

The Red Cross said it expects the humanitarian situations in Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Afghanistan, Syria, Haiti and Ukraine to worsen significantly next year.

Millions of people affected by the Russia-Ukraine war are facing the coldest months of the year with limited heat and water after attacks on critical infrastructure.

The most vulnerable people, including children, the elderly, injured, and people with disabilities are likely to suffer the most, the ICRC said. Not only are they the most impacted by the elements, but also the ones with less means to find alternative sources of heat and water.

Abdulahi Hassan, 3, walks at the Kaxareey camp for the internally displaced people in Dollow, Gedo region of Somalia, on May 24, 2022. (Reuters)
Abdulahi Hassan, 3, walks at the Kaxareey camp for the internally displaced people in Dollow, Gedo region of Somalia, on May 24, 2022. (Reuters)

Drought and conflict in Somalia will mean increased hunger, especially on the youngest. Since 2021, the ICRC noticed an 80 percent rise in the number of malnourished children admitted for treatment in its Baidoa-based stabilization center, where it also recorded a 30 percent increase in mass casualty events.

Though fighting has now halted in northern Ethiopia, the humanitarian needs left in the wake of two years of brutal armed conflict are acute. Teams from the international humanitarian body have resumed moving assistance into Tigray by land and air.

The economic situation in Afghanistan is also worsening. The ICRC said that at 33 of the hospitals it supports in the country, child malnutrition cases are already 90 percent higher than in 2021.

A girl sits with women wearing burqas outside a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan October 5, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
A girl sits with women wearing burqas outside a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan October 5, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)

Meanwhile, at an ICRC-supported children’s hospital in Kabul, the number of children under five being treated for pneumonia has risen 55 percent this year, versus the same period in 2021.

As for Syria, more than 11 years of conflict have left much of the country’s critical infrastructure, including its water network, damaged, reducing its water supply by almost 40 percent.

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