Set yourself up for 2024 with this selection of 2023 reports and our editors’ thoughts on how each will inform continuing challenges in humanitarian aid.
With the Israeli assault on Gaza well into its third month as the new year begins, dip into our on-the-ground and first-person reporting. As the international community reconsiders engagement with the Taliban, take a look at how Afghan women are navigating Taliban restrictions. Kenya is considering sending UN peacekeepers to Haiti, where we spoke with three Haitian women who survived sexual abuse at the hands of gang members. You’ll also find coverage from Sudan and on climate and humanitarian issues; a podcast discussion about the lucrative business of war in Yemen; a couple of gloves-off conversations on aid diversion and fraud, and more.
Andrew Gully - Managing Editor
From first-person accounts by journalists and doctors under fire in southern Gaza to early warning on the emerging humanitarian and security crisis in the West Bank, our reporting has covered dozens of different angles and settings in just the last three weeks of conflict, and will continue to do so into 2024. Our coverage has concentrated – as ever – on the humanitarian impacts: on-the-ground video reports on how civilians are coping with dwindling food, medical care, and shelter; looks at efforts to provide aid even as the bombs keep falling; and analysis of the practical and ethical concerns facing policymakers and aid professionals.
Ali Latifi - Staff Editor and Correspondent, Asia
With discussions around the need for international aid organisations and foreign governments to engage with the Taliban only set to intensify in 2024, women’s rights under the Islamic Emirate – and specifically their ability to work and help other women and girls in need – will once again come under the spotlight. In this report, several women who work for and run NGOs in different parts of the country explain how they are securing exemptions from the Taliban’s restrictions, offering examples of how Afghans are finding ways to stand up for their rights and function despite restrictions.
Daniela Mohor - Latin America Editor-at-large
On 26 January, the High Court in Nairobi is set to decide whether Kenya can lead a UN-approved international policing mission to try to quell gang violence in Haiti. In addition to killings and abductions, rape is being used by gangs to control territory and instil fear. Victims have little support and no functioning police or justice system to reach out to. This report follows three Haitian women as they sought help after being sexually abused, confronting myriad obstacles to both physical and mental recovery along the way. It’s a path an untold number of women and girls may face in 2024, as gang violence continues to spread out from the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Eric Reidy - Staff Editor and Reporter, Migration and Special Coverage
Since 2015, the EU has sought to reduce irregular migration by tightening security at its external borders and leaning heavily on third countries to adopt policies that severely regulate travel toward the continent. That is precisely the approach the EU doubled down on when its 27 member states agreed on 20 December to a new pact on migration and asylum. This article deftly explains why – in addition to contributing to deaths, human rights violations, and suffering – that approach will likely be expensive and ineffective at reducing the number of people who arrive at Europe’s borders as they seek safety and opportunity.
‘Everybody’s hiding their skeletons’: A gloves-off conversation on aid diversion and double standards
Irwin Loy - Senior Staff Editor and Reporter, Policy
Part of The New Humanitarian’s role is to foster difficult conversations; aid diversion may be as uncomfortable as it gets. Fraud and diversion are a reality in emergency response, but they're rarely discussed openly. In this “gloves-off” conversation, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, aid leaders spoke openly about their experiences reporting fraud, double standards, and fear of scandals. A follow-up episode of the What’s Unsaid podcast asked: What if talking about diversion could actually improve aid? How the aid sector handles diversion matters more than ever in 2024. Money is tight, elections are coming up in key donor countries, and there’s growing scrutiny. High-profile fraud or diversion scandals in Ethiopia and Somalia saw aid upended or frozen in 2023, which increased hunger and even led to starvation deaths. Humanitarians may continue on the same path – or they may drag the issue out into the open, learn to live with the discomfort, and perhaps find another way forward.
Philip Kleinfeld - Staff Correspondent and Editor, Africa
Few journalists have been more committed to documenting the impact of Sudan’s war on the Darfur region than Ahmed Gouja. Born and raised in the Darfuri town of Nyala, and a reporter and human rights monitor since 2011, Gouja has contributed a series of in-depth articles and powerful videos to us since conflict erupted in April between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In this first-person story, Gouja describes how war has impacted his family and friends in Nyala, looks at community groups leading humanitarian and ceasefire efforts, and calls on fellow Darfuris to speak louder than the men carrying guns. This reporting is sadly only gaining resonance going into 2024, as atrocities continue and the RSF’s capture of a key town raises questions about its ambitions beyond Darfur.
Will Worley - Staff Editor and Reporter, Policy
The humanitarian and climate policy spaces are becoming more closely entwined, as evidenced by the unprecedented focus on humanitarian issues at COP28. Events in Dubai covered topics ranging from displacement to powering crisis response with renewable energy. The New Humanitarian was in Dubai, and this report on the summit’s first-ever Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace Day gives a good indication of where the main climate-humanitarian policy trends are headed. Key among those in 2024 will be the launch of the loss and damage fund, so it’s also worth checking out this second piece exploring the main trends and tensions around that.
Marthe van der Wolf - Podcast Producer
Hisham al-Omeisy’s insightful interview on the conflict in Yemen is a must-listen. He touches on a point many would rather ignore: the lucrative business of war. Despite the many rounds of peace talks, which have entered a new phase heading into 2024, this aspect is standing in the way of finding a lasting solution. And while all of this is happening, let’s not forget Yemenis are facing economic hardship and aid cuts at the same time. For more on all that, look out for the launch in the coming months of our Yemen Listening Project.
Melissa Fundira - Podcast Producer
In the midst of the world's fastest growing displacement crisis, Sudan’s emergency response rooms (ERRs) showed the world what a responsive, agile, and locally led humanitarian response could look like. As war broke out in April, this decentralised network of mutual aid groups filled the vacuum when the UN, international donors, and INGOs struggled to access parts of the country. This unique, behind-the-scenes podcast episode looks at how an ERR volunteer and a UN humanitarian officer are attempting to forge an unprecedented collaboration between mutual aid groups and the international humanitarian system. How that collaboration develops will only be of more import in 2024, as the crisis in Sudan is expected to deepen.
Josephine Schmidt - Executive Editor
“We’re just caught in the middle,” Falmata told our reporters from the crowded displacement camp where she has been living after being burned out of her village in northeast Nigeria multiple times. The findings of this in-depth investigation with VICE News add to a growing body of evidence – including earlier work by Reuters, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch – that suggests rights violations by the Nigerian military are both ongoing and systematic in its long conflict against Boko Haram insurgents. Satellite images and testimonies suggest routine violations of international humanitarian law, and growing tensions between the military and aid workers. For the region’s 8.3 million people in need, 2024 may not look especially bright: the conflict continues even while the regional government is pushing to shut down displacement camps.