Watchlist 2020 highlights the countries where the IRC assesses there to be the greatest risk of a major deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the coming year.
The countries on Watchlist 2020 have changed little since last year, underscoring both the protracted nature of many of these crises and collective failure of the international community to resolve their root causes. In many cases, constraints on humanitarian access contribute to the already precarious conditions of Watchlist 2020 countries.
Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Nigeria and Venezuela are Watchlist 2020’s Top Five crises. These five countries were also featured in the Top Ten of last year’s Watchlist.
Yemen tops the IRC’s Watchlist for the second year running, reflecting the impact of the country’s prolonged and internationalized civil war. While there are some positive signs that diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict may be taking root, these are yet to translate into a major reduction in humanitarian need. Yemen’s top ranking indicates the persistent risk of further deterioration of the humanitarian situation due to renewed conflict or constraints on humanitarian action.
There are three new additions (Burkina Faso, Burundi and Chad) to this year’s Watchlist. Four countries have dropped off since last year (Bangladesh, Mexico, Nicaragua and Pakistan). This year’s Watchlist has 20 countries on it, one fewer than in 2019. These changes reflect both the IRC’s evolving analysis and the changing situations in these countries.
Burkina Faso is a new addition to not just the Watchlist as a whole but also to the Top Ten. The IRC deployed an emergency team to Burkina Faso to respond to the rapidly intensifying conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation in early 2019 and is now establishing a new country program.
Countries on Watchlist 2020 disproportionately host populations in need of hu-manitarian assistance and are among the states least equipped to respond to new crises or sudden deterioration in crises.