In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives on the national and global levels and being the topic at the forefront of the humanitarian agenda, a wide variety of disasters and humanitarian crises have also been experienced in various regions across the world.
According to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 235.4 million people entered 2021 in need of humanitarian aid. This means that one in 33 people are in urgent need of assistance in 2021 in comparison to the fact that this ratio was one in 45 people in 2019. Addressing this data clearly marks the increase in the number of people in need of aid.
The table on the right depicts the distribution of people in need in humanitarian crisis regions across the world as according to the Global Humanitarian Overview published by OCHA.1
|COUNTRY||# of People in Need (in millions)|
|Burkina Faso||3.5 m|
|Demokratik Kongo Cumhuriyeti||19.6 m|
|Myanmar (Burma)||1.0 m|
|Central African Republic||2.8 m|
|Northern Sudan||7.5 m|
Some of the issues that came to the fore globally in the field of humanitarian aid throughout 2020 can be summarized as follows:
Forest Fires in Australia
The forest fires that had started in Australia in 2019 and continued throughout 2020 rapidly spread over a wide area. The fires, which lasted around 240 days, resulted in great losses for all living species in the region.2
Disastrous Flooding in Indonesia
Heavy torrential rains starting in early January caused rivers to flood as well as devastating flash floods that completely covered Jakarta and surrounding areas. Floods displaced more than 4 million people, causing 66 casualties, landslides, and tons of destruction.3
Hurricane Season in the Atlantic
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts between May and November when hurricanes and tropical storms occur in the Atlantic Ocean, was the 7th most active and costly Atlantic hurricane season on record. A total of 31 storms occurred throughout the season, 13 turning into hurricanes, six of which were Category 5. More than 400 people died during the hurricane season, with the total costs of the hurricanes exceeding $41 billion.4
Flooding in Vietnam and Cambodia
In October and November 2020, Vietnam and Cambodia were shaken by 13 consecutive tropical storms that led to unprecedented flooding and landslides. As of November 2020, 235 people had died or gone missing in the areas affected by the calamity. Nearly 35,000 acres (14,097 hectares) of farmland had been flooded or damaged in the two countries, as well as at least 400,000 homes.5
The Humanity Crisis in Yemen
The longstanding humanitarian tragedy in Yemen has left millions of people in need of help as a result of years of unresolved conflicts. In Yemen, which has 4 regions actively engaged in war, 24.1 million people are in need of assistance, of which 14.3 million are in urgent need.6
Super Typhoon Goni and Typhoon Vamco
An average of 22 tropical typhoons occurs annually in the Philippines, whose regions are the most exposed to disasters in the world. Typhoons Goni and Vamco, which occurred in 2020, affected around 7.5 million people, 905,000 of which are in urgent need. At least 98 people died in the typhoons; over 250,000 homes were damaged and 350,000 people were displaced.7
Starting from the Bay of Bengal, Cyclone Amphan impacted India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar and was recorded as the most severe cyclone since 2007. The cyclone affected at least 1 million people in Bangladesh and damaged at least 2.9 million homes in India.8
On August 4, 2020, an explosion in the Port of Beirut in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, from 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate confiscated years ago affected more than 70% of the buildings in the city. At least 220 people died in the explosion that directly affected 300,000 people.9
Floods in Sudan
The floods in Sudan, a country that has become an increasing recipient of humanitarian aid due to factors including its refugee crisis, food insecurity, and conflict, further deepened the already existent humanitarian crisis. Sudan, which has 7.1 million people living with food insecurity, also hosts 1.1 million refugees. The ongoing floods in Sudan since July has caused destruction and death as well as damage to homes, crops, and infrastructure. At least 875,000 people have been impacted by flooding since October 1 in Sudan.10 Floods also increase the risk of infectious disease in the country.
Monsoon rains caused massive floods in various countries in Asia, which led to the collapse of dams, rivers flowing past their banks, landslides, and mudslides. Millions of people have had to migrate while over a thousand people have died in Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal, North Korea, and Vietnam.
Taal Volcano Eruption
Movements causing lava eruptions began to be seen on January 12, 2020 at the Taal Volcano, located in the Philippines. Due to the intense volcanic activity in the volcano located 70 km from the capital city of Manila, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology announced that it had raised the alarm to Level 4 in the region; 82,000 people were evacuated from the region.11
Humanitarian Crisis in Idlib
With the civil war in Syria having entered its 10th year, internally displaced people are continuing to migrate to Idlib, where the humanitarian crisis has intensified. 4 million people in the area need urgent humanitarian aid. However, the delivery of this aid has been affected by political developments.
As a result of thorough negotiations, the United Nations Security Council resolution, which allows international humanitarian aid from the border crossing in Turkey to reach those in need in Idlib and Aleppo has been extended for another year.