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Humanitarian crisis in Africa rising on civil strife and climate change

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The humanitarian crisis affecting several African countries is unlikely to subside amid climate disasters and armed conflicts that have escalated in the continent, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an international charity, said Thursday.

George Readings, director of the global crisis at IRC, said Africa remains an epicenter of the climate crisis and civil strife that have worsened the fragility of nation-states, destroying livelihoods of civilians and worsening poverty. “The climate crisis and armed conflicts are intersecting in Africa,” Readings told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, adding that eight out of ten countries in the IRC’s 2024 Emergency Watch List are in Africa. According to Readings, climate change has fueled resource-based conflicts in Africa while elevated debt levels, governance lapses and unconstitutional changes of governments threaten the continent’s long-term stability and growth. He added that armed groups have surged in countries grappling with a dire humanitarian situation even as external support dwindles amid competing priorities from multilateral donors.

The IRC’s 2024 Emergency Watch List provides a comprehensive assessment of the 20 countries across the globe at greatest risk of new humanitarian emergencies. Despite accounting for about 10 percent of the world’s population, these WatchList countries, the majority in Africa, represent 86 percent of all civilians facing humanitarian needs globally. In addition, these countries represent about 70 percent of displaced persons and those grappling with worrying levels of food insecurity and abject poverty.

Joyce Mogane, the IRC deputy regional director for East Africa, noted that as civil strife and climate disasters escalate, civilians can hardly access basic services like clean water, sanitation and health. Mogane said that Horn of African countries affected by conflict and extreme weather events have limited capacity to address high levels of malnutrition and communicable diseases including cholera. She emphasized that home-grown conflict resolution initiatives coupled with increased adaptation financing will be key to tame the humanitarian crisis affecting some Horn of African nations.

Linda Ogallo, the climate information services expert at the Nairobi-based Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), stressed that investing in early warning and resilience programs could minimize resource-based conflicts in the region.

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