1. Home
  2. Global

Which humanitarian stories pulled in the most readers in 2021?

Our top 12 most popular articles of the year.

We wish we didn’t have to write the stories that became our most popular in 2021. Yet this was another year when the world’s attention was drawn to our beat, as humanitarian crises old and new drew global attention – however briefly.

Since we cover under-reported countries and topics before and after they are a flash in the news pan, it’s no surprise that some of our coverage only really takes off with a wider audience when humanitarian emergencies break into the mainstream. This was particularly the case with our Haiti coverage predating the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and for our analysis of the escalating situation in Israel and Palestine.

The majority of our most popular articles for the year, however, were stories only we would report on: centred on forgotten crises, or on aid policy and practice. Wouldn’t it be nice if next year’s most popular article featured the huge gains made in tackling global hunger? We live in hope…

(Compiled by TNH Product and Engagement Editor Whitney Patterson.)

A sign blocks a city street indicating a local lockdown – in the background of the image, a figure lies sideways on a bench.

As hunger rises, Philippine authorities take aim at critics

Soaring food prices, rising hunger: Lockdowns, disasters, and a stumbling economy squeeze food supplies amid another coronavirus wave.

A woman wearing a face mask stops to get her temperature checked.

Haiti still awaiting first COVID vaccines, as cases surge

After initially refusing AstraZeneca doses due to blood clotting fears, the government now finds its rollout stalled by delivery delays.

A clandestine Nigerian government programme is reaching out to senior jihadist fighters in the bush to encourage them to abandon their goal of building a caliphate by force of arms, and to defect. (Still taken from an ISWAP propaganda film)

Nigeria’s secret programme to lure top Boko Haram defectors

The jihadist conflict in the northeast is stalemated. But is forgiving some of the worst killers the right way to bring peace?

A man is carried by two medics through a street.

The risk of another Israel-Palestine war

Can calls for calm stop a spiralling situation?

A few of several people through the back window of a car that is shattered with a bullet

Oxfam faces new misconduct allegations in Iraq

New Oxfam misconduct claims in Iraq surface. Where will it end for the charity, and what does it mean for other NGOs?

Ethiopian refugees at Um Rakuba camp in Gedaref state, Sudan, 11 December 2020.

UN accused of mismanaging Tigray refugee response

Leadership failures have left tens of thousands of refugees at risk of abuse, diplomats charge.

New sex abuse claims against aid workers in Congo

Claims of sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo are more widespread than previously reported, a new investigation finds.

Why aid volunteers need to learn some humility

Jetting off to help orphans in a far-flung country may seem like a good look. It often isn’t, and it can do more harm than good.

A number of people line up in front of a health centre, their backs facing the camera

South Africa’s daunting COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The government target is to vaccinate 40 million people by the beginning of next year. Here’s why that’s such an ambitious goal.

A young girl drinks out of an orange plastic cup on the left hand side of the image, while of the right hand side the blurred outline of a figure fills the foreground

New Yemen aid fund is flush with cash, but short on details

The Famine Relief Fund has money to spend in Yemen, and fast. Who’s behind it, and where’s the cash coming from?

A close-up picture of a pile of shoes on a dirt road.

How do you end banditry in Nigeria’s northwest?

Zamfara is at the centre of Nigeria’s bandit industry – time is running out to prevent the criminals from completely taking over.

Women walking out of a compound in the northern town of Kaya after speaking to The New Humanitarian about how they were solicited for sex while trying to get food aid.

Sex-for-food aid allegations in Burkina Faso

Eight accounts in one town may be the tip of the iceberg, and show what little priority has been given to preventing sexual abuse in the response.

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.