Photo: Sowda Omar

What to Watch for in 2020

Which countries will you be hearing more about this coming year?

Though a new year holds the promise of a fresh start for many, 2020 promises to be an extraordinarily challenging year for some. Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria are just a few of the countries where communities will face an uphill battle to survive. What are the challenges? What are the needs? Most importantly, what can we do together to alleviate the suffering of those affected?

Burundi

Photo: International Medical Corps

Burundi, which remains among the poorest countries in the world, is highly vulnerable to economic shocks, epidemics of disease like cholera and malaria, and climate-induced disasters.

Why are we concerned?

The local health system is weak and limits people’s access to basic services. Currently, some 70% of the entire population have malaria. The risk of cross-border transmission of the deadly Ebola virus from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo is high. Lack of food and malnutrition are widespread. And much of the population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities, leaving them vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps trains local healthcare professionals, community-based health workers and community leaders, teaching them how to prevent and cure disease. We provide medical services, treat malnutrition, address food security, prevent and treat gender-based violence, and are working to educate people about Ebola and how to prevent its spread.

Cameroon

Photo: International Medical Corps

Recently, there has been a resurgence in violence in Cameroon’s Far North Region. Violence throughout the Lake Chad basin has resulted in some 486,000 people becoming either internally displaced or being displaced from their country to live in Cameroon. Armed attacks, abductions (including of children), and looting and destruction of goods and infrastructure have led to physical and psychological trauma. Families have been separated and people have lost their livelihoods.

Why are we concerned?

Lack of access to basic health, water and sanitation services, as well as poor vaccination coverage, are likely to lead to disease outbreaks. Conflict and malnutrition are widespread, and instances of gender-based violence are high.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps, which began working in Cameroon in 2008, reaches rural and underserved areas through local staff, who provide basic primary and secondary healthcare, nutrition support, gender-based violence prevention and response services, child protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene services. We’re also working to strengthen local health systems by training skilled birth attendants and other healthcare providers.

Central African Republic

Photo: International Medical Corps

One of the world’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic has been plagued with bouts of political turmoil and unrest since it won independence from France in 1960. Recent conflict and violence have forced one-quarter of the population from their homes. The humanitarian situation is expected to worsen, with violence against civilians and aid workers continuing.

Why are we concerned?

More than 1 in 3 people don’t have enough to eat, and an estimated 375,000 need emergency food assistance just to stay alive. The lack of essential services has contributed significantly to the resurgence of epidemics such as Polio and yellow fever that had previously been eradicated. And violent conflict has affected nearly the entire population, with women and children suffering most.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps has been providing lifesaving medical relief in CAR, especially in remote, underserved areas of the country, since 2007. Our teams provide emergency medical care and surgeries for conflict survivors. We also deliver healthcare, nutrition screenings, treatment for acute malnutrition and community education — including training in remote areas to raise awareness of and help prevent gender-based violence, and to advocate for the safety and protection of children and youth.

Chad

Photo: Emile Oliver

Chad is facing a complex humanitarian crisis resulting from chronic poverty, low social and economic development, and the effects of climate change. Thousands of refugees have poured into Chad to escape conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic. The ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin — comprising parts of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon — has created internal displacement in Chad as well as an influx of refugees seeking safety from violence.

Why are we concerned?

Chad struggles with the drought and food insecurity that is affecting the entire region. Health and nutrition needs continue to surpass the capacity of the local health system. And the weak health system has resulted in increased outbreaks of malaria, cholera and measles.

What we’re doing

Since the start of our work in Chad in 2004, our services have reached an estimated 180,000 people per year, including internally displaced persons, Sudanese and Central African Republic refugees, and host-community members. Through a network of health centers, mobile medical units and a hospital in the Lake Region, we deliver essential services, including primary and secondary healthcare, nutritional support, and maternal and child health services. In all of our programs, we partner with local communities and provide training to help them develop the capacity needed for long-term recovery.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Photo: Lambert Coleman

The situation in DRC is one of the most long-standing and complex humanitarian crises in the world. Violent conflict, epidemics and natural disasters compound high levels of poverty and weak public infrastructure and essential services.

Why are we concerned?

Almost 240,000 people in DRC were vaccinated against Ebola in 2018 and 2019, yet the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history remains uncontained and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to violence in the region. Almost 16 million people need humanitarian assistance, and at least 4 million do not have enough to eat.

Photos: Lambert Coleman

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps began working in DRC in 1999, and has since helped more than 2 million people with a variety of services. Most recently, our staff in DRC has been implementing fighting Ebola along the conflict-ridden eastern border of the country, where it manages an Ebola Treatment Center and Ebola Transit Center. We have constructed nearly 100 screening and referral units (SRUs), supporting efforts to provide 1.1 million screening since the beginning of the outbreak in August 2018. We also are conducting community engagement and education about the disease, and have trained more than 1,700 health staff in infection prevention and control. We also have ongoing, non-Ebola programs in DRC that include providing primary healthcare and nutrition services, and gender-based violence response and prevention.

Ethiopia

Photo: International Medical Corps

Ethiopia hosts a large and growing refugee population that has been forced to flee armed conflicts in neighboring countries, including Somalia and South Sudan. Regional violence has also displaced large numbers of Ethiopians inside the country.

Why are we concerned?

Drought has left some 3.7 million people without enough to eat. Eight million people rely on some form of humanitarian assistance for their well-being. And, despite progress, Ethiopia still has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates.

What we’re doing

In its work to strengthen the local health system, International Medical Corps delivers services targeting infectious diseases, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, gender-based violence response and prevention, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene. We also provide livelihoods training and support that fosters livestock ownership.

Iraq

Photo: International Medical Corps

Years of armed conflict, sectarian violence and political instability have forced nearly 10 percent of Iraq’s 37 million people from their homes — often more than once. International Medical Corps was among the first international NGOs to establish lifesaving humanitarian programs in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 war.

Why are we concerned?

Currently, more than 4 million people need humanitarian assistance, including Syrian refugees, internally displaced Iraqis, and a large and growing number of those returning to the country after the conclusion in late 2017 of major military operations against the Islamic State.

What we’re doing

Since 2014, our efforts have focused on meeting the needs of Syrian refugees and conflict-affected Iraqis in northern and central Iraq, where we provide healthcare, gender-based violence response and prevention programs, and mental health care.

Jordan

Photo: Clara Long

Jordan, which shares its northern border with Syria, hosts more than 650,000 Syrian refugees — roughly 9 percent of Jordan’s population.

Why are we concerned?

Nearly 80 percent of Syrians in Jordan live outside of camps. With job opportunities limited and much of what they owned lost in the war, Syrian families often struggle to make ends meet. As a result, 93 percent of Syrians in Jordanian towns and cities are living below the poverty line, uncertain of if and when they will return home, as the Syrian war grinds on with no end in sight.

What we’re doing

Our staff in Jordan implements programs across the country, covering urban areas as well as responding to the needs of refugees in Zaatari and Azraq camps. Our programs in Jordan provide healthcare (including two major hospitals, with a neonatal intensive care unit), nutrition, mental health, psychosocial support and child-protection services.

Lebanon

Photo: Rima Bakri

More than one-quarter of the Lebanon’s population is made up of refugees — an influx that has left public services severely overstretched and that has deepened poverty levels. Civil unrest, economic instability and regional insecurity make an already difficult situation worse.

Why are we concerned?

More than half of Syrians, and 10 percent of Lebanese, are extremely poor — living on the equivalent of just a few dollars a day. Some 3.3 million people need humanitarian assistance to ensure their well-being.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps is providing support to displaced Syrians and other vulnerable communities, including Lebanese and Iraqis, by providing primary healthcare, community health outreach, mental health services, and gender-based violence prevention and response services.

Mali

Photo: International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps arrived in Mali in 2013 following political instability and a coup d’état that caused mass displacement and the disruption of many public systems, including healthcare. Since then, needs have only increased.

Why are we concerned?

Violence and insecurity have spread from the north to the central and western regions of Mali, leading to a surge in internal displacement. The number of internally displaced people quadrupled — from 38,000 in 2018 to 187,000 as of September 2019. A lack of essential services means that 3.6 million people need humanitarian assistance to assure their well-being.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps works with some of the most affected communities in Mali, supporting more than a dozen health clinics and two health centers by providing primary and secondary healthcare, nutrition services and protection activities aimed at preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Following the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, we’ve also been strengthening Mali’s surveillance, information and reporting systems for infectious diseases with epidemic potential.

Nigeria

Photo: International Medical Corps

Ten years of conflict and violence between government forces, Boko Haram and other non-state armed groups have devastated communities in northeast Nigeria. The crisis has been characterized by forced displacement and grave violations of civilians’ human rights and dignity, including killings, sexual violence and abduction.

Why are we concerned?

The deteriorating security situation has decimated social and economic infrastructure and disrupted essential services. Some 7.7 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance, more than 80 percent of them women and children.

What we’re doing

We have worked in Nigeria since 2013. Our staff continues to support polio eradication and deliver nutrition, gender-based violence response and prevention, and water, sanitation and hygiene programs in some of the most affected areas.

Pakistan

Photo: International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps has worked in Pakistan since 1985, when we began training young Afghan refugees to return to their communities and provide basic healthcare in places that medical professionals had fled following the 1979 Soviet invasion. In 1999, we extended our training to the Afghan refugee population in Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Why are we concerned?

Pakistan is plagued both by ongoing instability and by recurrent natural disasters that uproot families from their homes and destroy livelihoods. People internally displaced by conflict who are now returning to their homes face a shortage of food as well as ongoing violence and a lack of viable livelihoods.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps is currently addressing gender-based violence and providing mental health and reproductive health support, both for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and for vulnerable Pakistanis.

Somalia

Photo: International Medical Corps

Despite making progress after decades of brutal internal conflict, Somalia continues to experience climate-related shocks, particularly drought and flooding, that exacerbate humanitarian needs and undermine community resilience across the country. ISIL and Al-Shabab remain active, and fighting and political conflicts between the country’s states and its national government continue to affect civilians, public services and humanitarian efforts.

Why are we concerned?

The effects of drought, flooding and displacement, in addition to ongoing fighting between government security forces and insurgents, have left an estimated 4.2 million people (27% of Somalia’s population) — more than half of whom are children — in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2019, extreme weather conditions caused widespread crop failure and a decline in livestock productivity, rapidly increasing food insecurity.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps delivers health, nutrition, and gender-based violence response and prevention programs in Mogadishu, Abduwak, Balambal, Galkayo and Jowhar.

South Sudan

Photo: Patrick Meinhardt

Following decades of internal violence that devastated infrastructure and essential services, and caused mass casualties and displacement, in 2011 South Sudan became the world’s youngest country. But internal clashes continued, and civil war erupted again in 2013. The cumulative effect of years of prolonged conflict, chronic vulnerabilities and weak essential services has left 7.5 million people — more than two-thirds of the population — in need of humanitarian assistance.

Why are we concerned?

The prevalence of conflict-related sexual violence remains high. Food insecurity reached record levels during 2019, while inadequate access to basic services, including healthcare and clean water, continued to drive humanitarian needs. South Sudan has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates — a statistic made more tragic by the fact that about 75 percent of all child deaths in South Sudan are caused by preventable diseases, such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. Health facilities are poorly equipped and staffed, making them unprepared for health risks, such as outbreaks of infectious disease, including measles and Ebola.

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps has been working in South Sudan since the mid-1990s. Today, our staff is helping the country prepare for and defend against the Ebola virus, should it make its way across the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, we’re providing health services, maternal healthcare, mental health care and nutrition services, as well as community education to improve health and reduce disease. We also support three midwifery schools, where men and women study for two years to become midwives. We’ve graduated 426 midwives and 120 nurses since 2011.

Sudan

Photo: International Medical Corps

Once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, Sudan split into two countries in July 2011, after the people of the south (now South Sudan) voted for independence. In 2019, Sudan’s regime of nearly three decades was removed, leaving the country with a transitional government that is supposed to last three years. Today, tribal conflict and inter-communal violence in Darfur continue to severely affect civilians, especially women and children.

Why are we concerned?

Malnutrition rates are high across the country, with some 2.4 million children acutely malnourished. Essential services are also deteriorating. Medicine imports continue to fall, and effective distribution of drugs and medicines to clinics and hospitals is a major challenge. Water, sanitation, education and protection systems and services are similarly weak and worsening. In addition, Sudan is experiencing concurrent outbreaks of water- and vector-borne diseases, including cholera, malaria, dengue, Rift Valley fever and chikungunya.

What we’re doing

We currently support 88 health facilities across Sudan, delivering such essential services as disease treatment and prevention, reproductive healthcare, health education, immunization and child healthcare. We provide nutrition services to children under five, as well as to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and support water, sanitation and hygiene programs to prevent disease and support good health. In many of the sites where we operate, we are the only provider of primary healthcare or nutrition services, making us a key partner to the Ministry of Health.

Syria

Photo: International Medical Corps

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile due to political instability and conflict now in its ninth year. The UN estimates that 6.1 million Syrians continue to be internally displaced and have exhausted their capacity to cope.

Why are we concerned?

Some 11 million people in Syria must depend on lifesaving humanitarian assistance, due to ongoing hostilities, destruction of civilian infrastructure and lack of essential services. Many people living in camps face a lack of food and limited access to basic services, including safe drinking water and sanitation facilities

What we’re doing

International Medical Corps has been helping those displaced in and around Damascus since the start of the conflict. Our team provides emergency response services for people fleeing violence, as well as healthcare, health facility support and mental health care.

Yemen

Photos: International Medical Corps

Yemen’s civil war, now in its fifth year, is driving residents of the Middle East’s poorest country deeper into misery. The UN has declared Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 24 million people in need of assistance. The security situation remains highly volatile, with the rising cost of food and fuel continuing to contribute to overall instability.

Why are we concerned?

Yemen was already struggling to control communicable disease and chronic malnutrition when the current conflict broke out in March 2015. Today, the level of need in Yemen is staggering. Nearly 80 percent of the population requires humanitarian assistance and protection. Two-thirds of the population — more than 20 million people — are hungry, and 36 percent of the population is malnourished. Nearly 250,000 Yemeni people have died since 2015, including 100,000 as a direct result of combat and 130,000 from hunger and disease.

What we’re doing

In this challenging environment, International Medical Corps is providing services in areas of Yemen with some of the most pressing humanitarian needs, even though widespread damage to existing infrastructure and the ongoing conflict has restricted access to many areas. We provide healthcare, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as training in these areas.

Zimbabwe

Photo: International Medical Corps

Decades of political and economic instability have decimated Zimbabwe’s health system. Recently, challenging weather conditions have significantly affected the lives and livelihoods of people in Zimbabwe, especially in the southern region, where food insecurity and malnutrition rates are some of the highest in the country.

Why are we concerned?

The economic situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated drastically over the past year. The recent rainfall was among the worst on record, characterized by significantly below-average rainfall, with drought conditions throughout most of the country. Food production is down, fuel prices are up and the most basic foods are more costly than what many poor households can afford, when they are available at all.

What we’re doing

Since we arrived in 2009, we have delivered quality health services, nutrition and food-security programs to people in need, and reduced the spread of waterborne diseases by increasing access to clean water and by improving hygiene practices. We also provide maternal and child healthcare, as well as training to strengthen the local health system.

Though the world can be a difficult and dangerous place, we are all connected by our common humanity. This belief — the believe that we can help each other, that we can create hope where there is none — is what drives our 7,000+ staff members around the world, as they help their fellow humans recover and rebuild tattered lives. Now that you know some of the most pressing crises of 2020, will you join us and help the people who need you?

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International Med. Corps

International Med. Corps

International Medical Corps relieves the suffering of those impacted by conflict, natural disaster and disease by delivering medical relief and training.