(Photo: World Vision)
What was the world like in 2013 for the planet's most marginalized and vulnerable communities?
1. Syria's Civil War
Now entering its third year without an end in sight, the Syrian civil war has displaced hundreds of thousands. Currently, 2.3 million people have been forced to flee the country, and in the process have been overwhelming receiving countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Despite the conflict's length and scope, fundraising on behalf of Syria has proved a challenge for relief organizations — it took several years for Christian humanitarian organization World Vision to raise just $1 million.
2. Relentless Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In a two-decade long conflict that barely registers on the American consciousness, two million people have fled their homes, livelihoods, and families due to relentless conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. No more explicitly can the toll of the violence be seen than in Congolese children; 170 children out of every 1,000 Congolese children die before the age of five, and the majority of these are lost in their first year of life. In 2013, 60 percent of Congolese families went hungry, resulting in more than one million children suffering the effects of under-nutrition.
3. Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines
Just six weeks after the strongest tropical storm ever recorded made landfall in the Philippines, 3.6 million people have lost their homes, businesses and loved ones. Over 6,000 people lost their lives, not only at the hands of the storm, but also due to the inadaquacy of the Filipino leaders. A damning Wall Street Journal article published last month shows that this inadaquacy came when the Filipino government used a "term for the storm that wasn't widely understood," and when they "grossly underestimated the havoc the storm would wreak, stocking far too few supplies for a city to survive on in an emergency."
"That failure of imagination, combined with residents' skepticism that the storm would be worse than any of the other 20 or so that lash the scattered archipelago every year, had a deadly and devastating impact."
4. Ongoing Lack of Access to Clean Water
Roughly 10 percent of the world or 780 million people, lack access to clean drinking water—leaving communities susceptible to chronic malnutrition and diarrhea, a disease that kills an estimated 1,600 children under five daily. A lack of accessible clean water also has social consequences and keeps thousands of children, especially girls, out of school because of the manual labor required to bring water to the family.
5. Child Labor Trafficking
While a recognition of the horrors of sex trafficking has penetrated the Christian social issue conversation in recent years, forced labor trafficking remains an understated issue. More than 115 million children are excluded from the education system and instead forced to work often physically and psychologically dangerous agriculture, mining, quarrying, fishing, factories and sexually exploitative jobs.