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Climate Change Crises Under-reported By Mainstream Media

GENEVA, Switzerland

Some very large humanitarian crises, particularly those related to climate change, have received relatively little public attention because of dwindling news budgets in media.

International aid organization, CARE, launched its third annual report February 21 on the 10 most underreported humanitarian crises in 2018  “Suffering in Silence III", pointing to “crisis fatigue” as a cause for lack of recognition. Citing statistics developed by the Aurora Humanitarian Index survey where “61% of respondents from 12 countries said that there were too many humanitarian crises to keep up with in the world today. More than half felt that they always heard the same stories and that coverage focused on the same countries all the time.”

In most of the humanitarian crises covered by the report, climate change plays a major role. Deteriorating environments also cause vulnerabilities that make it harder for people to be resilient to humanitarian crises. This adds to the growing body of scientific evidence that the global climate crisis undermines sustainable development and causes human suffering.

CARE observes that its activities in these crises are focused on ensuring access to water, building water systems and providing sanitary assistance.

CARE and media monitoring partners examined over 1 million online articles largely in English, French and German and compared this information with information derived from ACAPS (a Norwegian NGO), Reliefweb and its own data. To filter the information, CARE chose “countries in which at least one million people were affected by natural or manmade disasters. The result was a list of 34 crises that were analyzed and ranked by the number of online news articles mentioning each.”

The report demands better coverage, outlining eight steps to help shine a light on forgotten crises. The suggestion sare directed to governments and policy-makers, the media, aid agencies and the general public.

“Not only are the people who live in the world’s poorest countries most vulnerable to climate change, but they are also the least equipped to address its increasing impacts,” says Sven Harmeling, CARE’s Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience. “Media must not turn a blind eye to such crises and the role of climate change. Stronger media attention can also help push decision-makers everywhere to take the far-reaching actions that the climate crisis requires. Governments must step up efforts to protect and financially support those negatively affected, particularly women and girls, as well as quickly transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy.”