Caritas Serving in Africa’s “forgotten crises” as Bigger Aid Follows the Media: Official

Karam AbiYazback, the Regional Coordinator of Caritas North Africa and the Middle East at a training workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa

The more a crisis is highlighted by the media, the more likely it is to attract global aid, a Caritas official has said, noting that the humanitarian arm of the Church has distinguished itself for remaining committed to supporting those suffering in some of Africa’s crises that are not receiving a lot of press coverage.

Karam Abi Yazbeck, the Regional Coordinator of Caritas North Africa and the Middle East (MONA) highlighted the war in Sudan, in South Sudan, in Mozambique, and in Somalia as some of the world’s “forgotten crises”. He said that Caritas has maintained an active presence in all these places, and is helping people back to their feet.

However, lack of funds stands in the way for the charity arm of the Church as it seeks to provide aid in these places, Karam told ACI Africa on the sidelines of a training workshop that was conducted by Caritas Internationalis (CI) in Nairobi last week.

He said that the situation is made dire as bigger aid agencies focus their attention on what is in the limelight, forgetting the harsh realities that still exist in countries where conflicts are no longer news.

“There is a problem in Somalia and in many other African countries. Most of these have now become forgotten crises. Crises in Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and in South Sudan are being forgotten. Sometimes people follow the media,” Karam said.


He added, “Not all aid agencies are swayed by the media. As Caritas, we still provide support in these forgotten crises regardless of where the media shines the spotlight. We still have projects in Somalia, in Mozambique, in Syria, and many other places that appear to be forgotten. But in general, the huge amount of global aid will follow what the media is reporting.”

“When attention was in Syria, other crises were forgotten. Attention later went to Europe as the violence in Ukraine escalated.  Most recently, funding organizations have been following the earthquakes in Morocco, Turkey and the floods in Libya. Today, the attention has been drawn to the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank. This shift in attention affects the crises that are no longer ‘under the limelight’. It also affects the kind of humanitarian aid that can be extended in these forgotten conflict areas,” the Caritas MONA official said.

He expressed concern about the ongoing war in Sudan’s capital Khartoum between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), noting that the war had plunged the country and its neighbors in a humanitarian dilemma.

“The conflict has been going on for a very long time and am not sure it will end any time soon,” the official who is based in Beirut, Lebanon said of the violence that has reportedly led to an estimated 9, 000 deaths. Additionally, over 5.6 million people have been forced to flee from their homes.

He added, “Besides the war itself and the internal fights, we are all witnessing this huge impact on the civilians. The humanitarian situation is terrible. The number of injured people continues to rise. The internally displaced people continue to increase.”

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“We have refugees that have crossed over to our region now, especially in Egypt. Others are scattered in different neighboring countries. In any humanitarian crisis, it is the civilians who suffer. They ate leaving home unsure of where they are going and they lack the basics including food. Unfortunately, this is a global crisis. Sudan, in particular, has a series of previous problems,” he said.  

Karam acknowledged the presence of Caritas in Sudan who he said are trying to do their best to provide relief to the victims. 

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.