May 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Armed conflict, climate change fan Africa’s refugee crisis

East Africa remains the place of origin for most African refugees, with the region having spawned more than five million displaced people in 2020, a new report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reveals.

Terrorism, armed conflict and extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, storms and locust plagues have devastated livelihoods in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region, leading to large-scale displacement of people.

The Conflict Escalates Crisis

The situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit millions of migrants in East and Southern Africa.

According to the IOM World Migration Report 2022 , a Increase in terrorist attacks in parts of southern and eastern Africa remained a major reason for displacement.

Al-Shabaab attacks in Somalia and armed operations against militant group trei People continue to be displaced from their homes.

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“In northern Mozambique, violent attacks by Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama have led to a sharp increase in displacement. By the end of 2020, conflict and violence in Mozambique had resulted in over half a million displaced persons, the fourth-highest number of new conflict displacements globally this year,” IOM said.

In South Sudan, the vigilante conflict in 2020 went continued, despite a peace agreement that has restored some degree of stability.

In the Horn of Africa, the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia has claimed thousands of lives and led to internal and savage conflicts in Tigray and neighboring areas Afar and Amhara areas.

An estimated 1.7 million people had been displaced by conflict and violence in Ethiopia by the end of 2020, the third-largest number in the world after the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Syrian Arab Republic. Thousands fled the country due to the violence, many of them in neighboring Sudan.

Globally, an estimated 281 million people lived in a country other than their country of birth in 2020, accounting for 3.6% of the population.< /p>

East Africa continues to be both a destination and a place of origin for some of the world’s largest refugee populations.

In 2020, South Sudan was the place of origin for the fourth largest refugee population. largest number of refugees worldwide with over two million, just behind Afghanistan with 2.8 million refugees. Syria topped the list with 6.8 million people, followed by Venezuela with 4.9 million refugees.

The Covid-19 pandemic worsened the plight of the refugees.

It exploited xenophobia in southern Africa, scapegoating migrants while movement restrictions led to a significant decline in migration and mobility.

Uganda, for example, the country with one of the largest refugee populations in the world, ended its “open door” policy for refugees and asylum-seekers in early 2020.

According to the IOM report, thousands of migrants were left stranded without work in the region, while those abroad lacked the opportunity to return home as countries closed their borders. According to the IOM, migration from the region to Europe has declined, while the number of migrants from the Horn of Africa via Yemen to the Gulf States fell by 73 percent in 2020.

Thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa returned returned from Yemen with the help of smugglers after losing its income, while others were unable to leave due to the closure of the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border.

Refugee camps

The pandemic conditions worsened for people living in overcrowded refugee camps and in remote areas far from government health facilities, with irregular migrants and asylum-seekers excluded from many Covid-19 testing, treatment and mitigation plans.

“ They have faced a range of challenges, including poor or no access to testing and treatment, while at the same time struggling to maintain physical and mental health nd maintaining social distancing, which made them particularly vulnerable to contracting Covid-19,” the report said.

< p>However, some countries took in migrants, such as refugees and asylum-seekers in their Covid-19 related health measures, including vaccinations.

Intra-regional migration of workers in East and Southern Africa has increased over the years, driven by regional economic communities such as the East African Common Market Protocol, the Transhumance Protocol, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

West and Central Africa is where most migrants moved in search of work. However, the lockdown restricted movement, leading to a nearly 50 percent drop in migration at key transit points.

Sahel conflicts

People have been displaced in the central Sahel, Burkina Faso includes , Niger and Mali – due to increasing violence due to factors such as competition for natural resources, underdevelopment and poverty.

Violence over access to natural resources has been particularly exploited by non-state armed groups in rural areas.< /p>

“Intercommunal violence in rural areas, including farmer-herder conflicts related to transhumance, has also exacerbated an already difficult humanitarian situation, while the impacts of climate change, such as unpredictable weather patterns and record heat waves, have exacerbated communal Tensions and violence,” the report notes.

Across Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, sch an estimated 1.9 million people have been internally displaced, while thousands have died from violence.

In central and western Africa, climate change has contributed to prolonged droughts and unpredictable rainfall, affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ land-use patterns, and contributing to conflict and subsequent displacements.

“In 2020, more than two million people lived in Africa. 18 countries in the subregion were hit by storms and floods, resulting in the destruction of livestock, land and goods, and continued food insecurity contributed,” said IOM.

Heavy rains displaced 279,000 people in the DRC and 116,000 in Cameroon.

Climate change has also increased existing tensions between communities over restricted access to water and rangeland, particularly in the middle belt of Nigeria and on the border between Burkina Faso and Mali.

“West and Cent ral Africa have also seen increasing displacements due to violent extremism. In the Lake Chad basin, including Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, extremist groups such as Boko Haram have increased their attacks and kidnappings of civilians while recruiting more children,” IOM said.

New extremist groups have done so emerged by exploiting underlying ethnic hostilities, poverty and lack of government control in some rural areas, while others expanded by forging links with regional or international groups, aided in part by smugglers and trafficking networks along porous borders.

< h3>Migration to Europe

In addition, new coalitions of armed groups in Central Africa have destroyed the lives of many people. In the Central African Republic, one in four of the country’s population was either a refugee or an internally displaced person.

North Africa continued to be an important transit point for migrants from other parts of Africa trying to find their way to Europe.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in migrant arrivals in Europe on both the Central Mediterranean routes (mainly from Libya and Tunisia to Italy) and the Western Mediterranean routes (mainly from Morocco and Algeria to Spain), whose number from 41,000 to almost 77,000.

“The harrowing journeys via both routes resulted in many deaths, and in 2020 alone more than 1,500 migrants from West and North Africa were killed en route to Spain, Malta and Italy reported dead or missing at sea,” IOM said.

Many migrants rely on the services of smugglers to bring them to Europe, to and from North Africa. For example, those trying to enter Libya from countries in sub-Saharan Africa are smuggled mainly through Niger, Mali and Algeria, or through Sudan and Chad.

North Africa remains a country of origin and Destination of many refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), with conflict and violence playing a major role in displacement.

In 2020 there were more than 278,000 IDPs in Libya. While a ceasefire signed in October 2020 has led to a drop in hostilities, over a million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance.