Crisis Watch 2016

millions on the move

Displacement around the world continues to reach record levels, as millions risk their lives for safety.

More than 60 million people were displaced in 2015

An estimated 42,500 people were on the move every day

Crises around the world drove displacement throughout the year:

An average of 50 Syrian families are forced to flee

More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country.

Of the more than 1 million refugees who fled to Europe this year, the vast majority are Syrians escaping a brutal civil war. Multiple peace talks resulted in world leaders pledging to proceed down a path toward a possible cease-fire by the new year. Without an end to the violence, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon will continue to receive more Syrian refugees.


8.2 million Iraqis—nearly 25 percent of the country’s population—require some form of humanitarian assistance.

Violence and conflict linked to the capture of territory by extremist groups, as well as the counterinsurgency launched by the Iraqi government, have impacted nearly all aspects of Iraq’s economy and society, from education to health services, threatening any hope of stability.

Displaced people in Ukraine would fill Madison Square Garden 55 times
2 million displaced in South Sudan

The number of Nigerians displaced from their homes has quadrupled since 2014.

Many may be shocked to learn that Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terrorist group. In Nigeria, more than 2.2 million people have been displaced. Although the country’s president ordered the military to crush the group by the end of the year, such a goal is becoming increasingly unrealistic, and many more civilians will get caught in the crosshairs as violence continues to spill into neighboring countries.


In less than a year, the number of people in Yemen who need humanitarian aid has doubled.

Prior to the ongoing civil war between a Shiite Muslim militia and government loyalists, Yemen was one of the world’s most underdeveloped countries with 10 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. That number is now at 20 million as airstrikes and embargoes have left people without access to vital services. Last month’s unprecedented cyclones displaced an additional 18,000, making the situation in Yemen all the more severe.

Displaced people in Ukraine would fill Madison Square Garden 55 times
Coverage of Waziristan has been quieter than Iraq

The Rohingya are one of the largest stateless groups in the world.

The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority living in Myanmar, are the largest stateless group in the world. Some 25,000 people fled deadly persecution in the first three months of 2015 alone, boarding dangerous boats operated by smugglers who often abandon them, leaving thousands stranded for days without food or water. Though the recent election has brought a sense of optimism to the people of Myanmar, that is unlikely to end the longstanding Rohingya persecution.


One in three Libyans are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Four years after the revolt against former Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi, rebel groups are now fighting each other for political control and power over the country’s valuable oil reserves. Meanwhile, extremist groups are adding to the problem by attempting to capitalize on the chaos. The armed conflict and political instability has affected more than 3 million people across Libya, restricting access to critical services.

Displaced people in Ukraine would fill Madison Square Garden 55 times
Coverage of Waziristan has been quieter than Iraq

Nearly 215,000 Burundians have fled the country since April.

Confirming last year’s concerns for the potential outbreak of violence and displacement, political tensions erupted in Burundi in 2015, forcing hundreds of thousands to escape to neighboring countries. More than half are children under the age of 17. The majority of the displaced have fled to Tanzania, making the Nyarugusu refugee camp the third largest in the world.


More than 800,000 people arrived on the shores of Greece by sea in 2015.

Amid frigid temperatures and choppy seas, Greece continues to see thousands of refugees attempting the perilous boat crossing from Turkey every week. Refugee arrivals surged during October to more than 210,000—double the number in August. Roughly 91 percent of those arriving are from the top 10 refugee producing countries in the world, with an estimated 57 percent fleeing war in Syria.

Displaced people in Ukraine would fill Madison Square Garden 55 times
Coverage of Waziristan has been quieter than Iraq

Three years into a largely forgotten crisis, the number of displaced in CAR approaches 1 million.

The Central African Republic descended into sectarian conflict in March 2013 when Seleka Muslim rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize. Even with the presence of United Nations peacekeepers and efforts by national security forces, waves of violence afflict large parts of the country and have forced more than 900,000 to flee their homes. Legislative and presidential elections are scheduled to take place at the end of December, with the potential to further inflame political and sectarian tensions.

South sudan

More than 2.3 million people have fled their homes as a result of continued violence in South Sudan.

Despite the peace deal signed in August, tensions are stirring among ethnic groups with renewed fighting in the north of the country, particularly in southern and central Unity state. Over recent weeks, violence has spread to Western Equatorias and aid workers attempting to deliver critical aid continue to face hurdles and threats. Humanitarian needs as a result of the sustained conflict continue to rise. In just the last year, South Sudan’s food insecurity increased by 80 percent.

Displaced people in Ukraine would fill Madison Square Garden 55 times
Gang violence, border closures and presidential politics could put millions more at risk in the year ahead.


Political and economic insecurity puts Zimbabwe at risk of crisis.


  • The uncertain future of President Robert Mugabe poses a potential outbreak of deadly violence.
  • Severe economic problems have left more than 1.5 million people in desperate need of food.
  • A combination of political and food insecurity makes the country vulnerable to a serious humanitarian crisis.

El Salvador

More than 324,000 people have been displaced in 2015 due to gang violence.


  • There were more than 4,200 homicides this year with 911 murders in August alone.
  • Intergang violence is the main cause of death, and little hope remains that local authorities will be able to curtail organized gangs.
  • Escalating gang violence will likely cause more unaccompanied minors to flee the country.


Border closures across Europe could mean a surge of refugees in need of humanitarian aid within Serbia.


  • Selective admission restrictions in November have already left many stranded.
  • Continued closures may push the most vulnerable to take more dangerous routes into Europe.


Forthcoming elections could ignite existing ethnic tensions.


  • The political and security environment across the country has significantly deteriorated due to Taliban resurgence.
  • Drawdown of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, along with the new government, has increased country’s vulnerability to extremists.
  • Potential for terrorist groups to prosper will likely cause further mass displacement.

Democratic republic of the congo

Presidential politics expected to drive greater humanitarian need.


  • There are strong indications President Joseph Kabila will not step down when his term ends in 2016.
  • Political instability is rising across the country, with an increase in antigovernment demonstrations.
  • Any attempt to delay planned presidential elections will likely result in political violence.

occupied palestinian territories

As political violence ensues, support grows for a new intifada.


  • Over the past several months, there has been an increase in political violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Hamas leadership has called for an uprising, similar to past intifadas.
  • Recent polling suggests that unhappiness with the current political, social and economic situation could indicate strong support for such an uprising.