The humanitarian crises in Haiti and Venezuela that have subjected millions of people to hunger, violence and disease could worsen this year if more relief funds are not released, aid group International Rescue Committee (IRC) said on Tuesday.
It is estimated that 4.7 million Haitians and 12.3 million Venezuelans face food insecurity.
“The crises in Haiti and Venezuela represent protracted challenges that shake the entire region, but as conflicts intensify around the world, competing priorities are draining the attention they receive,” said IRC regional vice president Julio Rank Wright. .
Haiti was ranked 9th on the IRC’s 2023 emergency watch list, below South Sudan and Burkina Faso and one notch above Ukraine.
The IRC estimated that at least 5.2 million Haitians are in need of humanitarian aid and that around 40% of the country’s citizens are forced to skip meals.
Gangs have become de facto authorities in parts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021.
Violence has displaced more than 155,000 Haitians within the country alone, the IRC said, while cholera infections have resurfaced, with more than 22,000 suspected cases registered in January.
The IRC said it is developing a response plan with local partners to combat cholera, provide health services and support survivors of gender-based violence.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the IRC said that health services are overloaded and medicines are inaccessible for some 9.3 million people after years of sky-high inflation and political crises.
It is estimated that 7 million Venezuelans have emigrated in recent years.
The IRC also said that climate change had displaced nearly 1.3 million people in northern Central America, exacerbating poverty and hunger.
The organization also expressed concern for Mexico, which has received nearly 250,000 asylum applications in the past two years and continues to support migrants expelled from the United States.
Mexico is the only country in the region mentioned by the IRC on Tuesday without a humanitarian response plan under UN guidelines, making action and coordination to offer assistance difficult.