- Haiti and Venezuela are the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that the IRC identified in the Emergency Watchlist, which highlights places where humanitarian crises are expected to deteriorate most in 2023.
- Hunger is one of the main risks ahead as it is estimated that at least 4.7 million Haitians and 12.3 million Venezuelans are food insecure.
New York, NY, January 24, 2023 — In the Americas, Haiti and Venezuela are the countries at highest risk of worsening humanitarian conditions over the year ahead, according to a recent report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), but there are other emergencies in the region to keep an eye on, they warned during a webinar on Tuesday.
In the 2023 Emergency Watchlist, the IRC pointed to chronic violence, climate change and economic turmoil as the main drivers of humanitarian needs worldwide. In the case of Haiti and Venezuela, at least 5.2 million and 7 million people live in need of humanitarian aid respectively, and the IRC identified three particular risks linked to these drivers:
- Hunger, tied to poverty. In Haiti, where food price inflation is around 30%, 4 in 10 Haitians (or 4.7 million) are facing crisis or worse (IPC 3+) levels of food insecurity, meaning they have to skip meals or make other impossible decisions to survive. In Venezuela, and despite a slight economic recovery in 2022 after a 10% GDP increase, food price inflation still was 131% by the end of July, leading to at least 12.3 million Venezuelans being food insecure.
- Conflict caused by non-state armed actors. With the capital, Port-au-Prince, under the control of multiple gangs, Haitians face deepening threats to their safety as rates of kidnappings, rape and indiscriminate killings are all increasing, leading to more than one thousand fatalities from January to July 2022. Urban violence and insecurity have been appointed as the main causes that have led over 155,000 Haitians to displace within the country.
- Higher risks to public health in relation to climate change and weakened systems. Recent climate shocks, ongoing infrastructure damage after the latest earthquake, as well as the reduced access to drinking water and sanitation services, and major accumulation of waste derived from insecurity leave Haitians with low coping capacity as they experience the first cholera outbreak in three years. Suspected cholera cases in Haiti went from 1,700 in October 2022 to 22,563 in early January 2023, resulting in 1,561 confirmed cases and 457 deaths to date. In Venezuela, preventable and treatable diseases pose a threat, especially since public health services are severely strained and medicines are inaccessible for 9.3 million people.
Julio Rank Wright, Regional Vice President for Latin America at the International Rescue Committee, said:
“The crises in Haiti and Venezuela are protracted challenges that are shaking the whole region but, as conflict escalates around the world, competing priorities are draining the attention they get. These countries, however, are not the only places facing risks in the near future: many people in northern Central America and Mexico encounter threats to their safety every day and struggle to cover their most basic needs.
“As crises deepen, challenges to deliver aid arise. There are gaps in the support and resources allocated by the international community, with Humanitarian Response Plans historically being underfunded or non-existent for certain countries. We call on world leaders to robustly invest in humanitarian work in Latin America that prioritises collaboration leading to concrete funding commitments and a harmonised response.”
In addition to Haiti and Venezuela, during the webinar the IRC drew attention towards other areas in the region:
- Northern Central America, where drivers of humanitarian crises have been heavily felt in recent years: climate change has forced almost 1.3 million people to displace internally since 2020 and it’s still the direct cause of economic decline and food insecurity, leading to 15 million people experiencing hunger in 2021.
- Mexico, a country dealing with internal displacement, which continues supporting asylum seekers expelled from the U.S. while receiving almost 250,000 asylum requests in the last two years.
Read and download the full 2023 Emergency Watchlist.
Notes to editors
1. Key IRC recommendations:
- Break the cycle of crisis by fixing the broken international response to the hunger crisis with reforms to famine and malnutrition responses, investing in national responses to stop the slide from fragile to failed state, and funding frontline responders.
- Protect civilians in conflict by re-establishing the right of civilians to aid via an independent organisation on humanitarian access, combating impunity by suspending veto power in the UN Security Council in cases of mass atrocities, and empowering women in peace and security efforts like peace negotiations.
- Confront shared global risks by breaking down the climate-humanitarian divide, pandemic-proofing the world with a Global Health Threats Council to hold the international community accountable for preventing future pandemics, and striking a new deal for the forcibly displaced and those hosting them who are providing a global public good.
2. The IRC is responding throughout Latin America: delivering a population-based response to the Venezuela crisis in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as well as through local partners in Venezuela; supporting people at risk in northern Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) and along the main migration corridors in Mexico, from the southern to the northern borders. Additionally, the IRC is preparing to launch an emergency response through local partners in Haiti, which will promote cholera prevention, mobile health services for internally displaced people and support for gender-based violence survivors.
3. In 2022 the IRC issued a set of recommendations to foster a comprehensive response to the crises in Latin America, including: the need for donors and host states to reach concrete commitments on humanitarian financing, responsibility sharing, and a framework for the harmonisation of migration and humanitarian policies across the region; that UNHCR, the United States and the World Bank utilise their convening powers to engage additional donors—including the European Commission and G20 governments—to rethink the approach of the responses; and the incorporation of lessons learned from multilaterally-supported and funded compact initiatives from other regions.