Nigeria Ranked Among Countries Most Likely to face Humanitarian Catastrophe in 2020

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Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Nigeria and Venezuela have topped an annual watchlist of countries most likely to face humanitarian catastrophe in 2020, with war, droughts, flooding, disease and restrictions to humanitarian access all having major impacts on civilian populations, the IRC found.

Nigeria Ranked Among List of Countries Most Likely to face Humanitarian Catastrophe in 2020
©JOI LEE/AL JAZEERA

Watchlist 2020 is dominated by countries that are experiencing internal conflict. Nigeria has risen into the top five in part because of escalating conflict and resultant humanitarian need both in the northeast and elsewhere in the country, particularly the northwest.

The northeast is currently witnessing a major humanitarian crisis, with high levels of food insecurity, a cholera outbreak and large-scale displacement.

There are also just over two million IDPs in the northeast as of November 2019 and 243,000 Nigerians have fled the northeast to neighboring countries, particularly
Niger and Cameroon (UNHCR).


Nigeria’s Outlook for 2020

Conflict activity has been rising in the northeast throughout the second half of 2019 alongside increasing constraints on humanitarian access.

This suggests that humanitarian needs will continue to grow in the region in 2020 and that the ability of humanitarian actors to respond will be even more limited.

Moreover, conflict in the northwest may continue to escalate, particularly if links start to emerge between bandits in the northwest and armed groups active in the Sahel, which could trigger a more significant humanitarian crisis.

Perennial issues like communal conflict in central Nigeria as well as seasonal flooding will further compound the situation in Nigeria.


“2019 was a devastating year for civilians caught in crisis worldwide,” said IRC president and CEO David Miliband.

Nigeria Ranked Among List of Countries Most Likely to face Humanitarian Catastrophe in 2020

Six of the top 10 countries most at risk are in Africa , with nearly all nations in the Sahel – from Mali in the west to Sudan in the east – somewhere on the 20-strong watchlist, the report says. The list is also dominated by nations experiencing internal conflict, with only Venezuela – which ranks in the top 10 – to not be experiencing major conflict, the IRC found.

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Top 10 Countries Most Likely to face Humanitarian catastrophe in 2020

Rank Country
1 Yemen
2 Dr Congo
3 Syria
4 Nigeria
5 Venezuela
6 Afghanistan
7 South Sudan
8 Burkina Faso
9 Somalia
10 Central Africa Rep.

Other Countries on the Watchlist

Rank Country
1 Burundi
2 Cameroon
3 Chad
4 Ethiopia
5 Iraq
6 Libya
7 Mali
8 Myanmar
9 Niger
10 Sudan

Across the globe, the scale of need in 2020 is … likely to stretch resources beyond their limit. It’s vital that we do not abandon these countries when they need us most, and that governments around the world step up funding to these anticipated crises before more lives are lost – and the bill for humanitarian catastrophe rises.”

IRC president and CEO David Miliband called on the international community to act “before more lives are lost”.

As humanitarians, we can prevent the dying, but it takes politics to stop the killing,” he said.

But to truly address these challenges, it is vital that the international community, led by the UN security council members, take long-term approaches, re-engage their diplomatic muscle to prevent and resolve conflict and reinvigorate their support of international humanitarian law and accountability for those who violate it.

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Otherwise, the consequences of these humanitarian crises – massive displacement, women and girls at risk of violence, widespread hunger, demolished health systems, a lost generation of children with no chance of education – offer no hope of abating.”



Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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