Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

France, US agree UN draft on anti-jihadist Sahel force

June 20, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | President Emmanuel Macron visited French troops in northern Mali in May as Paris sought to overcome US reservations about backing an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – France and the United States have reached agreement on a draft UN resolution that would pave the way for the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region, diplomats said Tuesday.

A vote at the UN Security Council could take place as early as Wednesday on the draft resolution that welcomes the deployment but does not give it full UN authorization, according to the agreed text seen by AFP.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — which make up the G5 — agreed in March to set up a special counter-terrorism operation of 5,000 troops for the Sahel region.

 Image result for Sahel, Africa, map

France had requested that the Security Council authorize the force in a first draft text circulated two weeks ago that would have given the G5 troops a UN mandate to “use all necessary means” to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling.

The United States however had opposed UN authorization for the force, arguing that it was not legally necessary and that the mandate was too broad and lacking in precision.

The new draft resolution “welcomes the deployment” of the G5 force “with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel region” and drops a provision that invoked chapter 7 of the UN charter, which authorizes the use of force.

The United States had argued that a simple statement welcoming the regional force would have been sufficient, but France insisted that a full resolution was needed in line with a request from the African Union.

France carried out a military intervention in Mali in 2013 to drive out jihadist groups, some of which were linked to Al-Qaeda, which had seized key cities in the country’s north.

Although the Islamists have been largely ousted from the north, jihadist groups continue to mount attacks on civilians and UN forces in violence that has engulfed parts of central Mali.

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16 killed in double suicide attack in NE Nigeria

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A white sheet covers the bodies of some of the victims of the double suicide bombing in Dalori Kofa village in northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI (NIGERIA) (AFP) – At least 16 people died in a double suicide bombing near a large camp for people made homeless by years of Boko Haram violence, Nigeria’s emergency services and locals said Monday.It was the biggest in a series of weekend attacks.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the attack took place at about 8:45 pm (1945 GMT) on Sunday close to the Dalori camp in Kofa village, near the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Regional NEMA spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said a first attack by two female suicide bombers had been thwarted by security personnel who stopped them getting into the camp.

“Two other female suicide bombers also detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people,” he said in a statement.

Earlier tolls given by local people said at least 12 or 13 people had been killed but Abdulkadir said three of the injured had since died of their wounds.

“The 16 does not include the bombers,” he told AFP.

Dalori is about 10 kilometres (six miles) southeast of Maiduguri and is one of the largest camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the remote region.

There are nearly 50,000 people in the two Dalori camps, with Dalori 1 housing some 35,000 and Dalori 2, which was targeted in the bombings, sheltering around 10,000.

Boko Haram has previously tried to target the camp: at least 85 people were killed in January last year when insurgents rampaged through communities near Dalori.

– A bloody weekend –

The latest attack is the most deadly in Nigeria since June 8, when 11 people were killed in a rare combined gun and suicide attack in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

Also at the weekend, Boko Haram attacked Gumsuri village, 20 kilometres from Chibok, killing five people late on Saturday, locals said.

But they were fought off by local vigilantes who engaged them in a gunbattle.

“The vigilantes got the upper hand. They killed 12 attackers and apprehended six others,” said Bitrus Haruna, a vigilante from Chibok, whose account was corroborated by a community leader from the town.

“The Boko Haram gunmen were not lucky. They were confronted by the gallant vigilantes who killed 12 of the attackers and arrested six of them.”

Then on Sunday, Boko Haram jihadists killed three soldiers in an ambush near Wajirko village, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Maiduguri, a local vigilante said.

Last weekend, gunmen killed eight members of a civilian militia force assisting the military in the Konduga area not far from the Dalori camp.

The spate of bombings underlines the threat still posed by the jihadists, despite official claims they are a spent force.

Since the start of Boko Harm’s uprising in 2009, at least 20,000 people have been killed since and more than 2.6 million made homeless, many of whom are facing severe food shortages or starvation.

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12 Killed in Suicide Bombings in Northeast Nigeria

June 19, 2017

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Authorities in northeastern Nigeria say 12 people are dead after suicide bombing attacks not far from the city of Maiduguri.

Police spokesman Victor Isuku said Monday that the attacks were carried about by five female bombers in Kofa, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Maiduguri.

The first attack killed several people near a mosque, while five others were killed in a house.

Last late year Nigeria declared that the Boko Haram extremist group had been crushed but attacks continue, often with young women strapped with explosives to carry out suicide attacks.

Many of the young women are believed to be among those abducted by the jihadists, who have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

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19 June 2017 – 13:19BY AFP
Camp Dalori is about 10 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri.

Camp Dalori is about 10 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri.
Image: AMINU ABUBAKAR / AFP

At least 16 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks near a camp for those made homeless by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said on Monday.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the attacks took place at about 8:45 pm on Sunday close to the Dalori camp at Kofa village, near the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

NEMA northeast region spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said two female suicide bombers tried to get into the camp but were thwarted by security personnel.

“Two other female suicide bombers also detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people,” he added in a statement.

Earlier tolls given by local people said at least 12 or 13 people had been killed but Abdulkadir said three of those injured and taken to hospital had since died.

“The 16 does not include the bombers,” he told AFP.

Dalori is about 10 kilometres (six miles) southeast of Maiduguri and is one of the largest camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the remote region.

Boko Haram has previously tried to target the camp: at least 85 people were killed in January last year when insurgents rampaged through communities near Dalori.

Residents were shot and their homes burned down while female suicide bombers blew themselves up among the crowds of people fleeing the violence.

The latest attack is the most deadly in Nigeria since June 8, when 11 people were killed in a rare combined gun and suicide attack in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted the strategic city, particularly its outlying communities, IDP camps and the city’s university.

The bombings and sporadic hit-and-run attacks underline the threat still posed by the jihadists, despite claims from the authorities they are a spent force.

Gunmen killed eight members of a civilian militia force assisting the military on June 11 in the Konduga area, which is on the same road as the Dalori camp.

At least 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2009 and more than 2.6 million made homeless, many of whom are facing severe food shortages or starvation.

UN Security Council: France seeks support for African anti-terror force despite US veto threat

June 18, 2017

AFP

© Pascal Guyot, AFP | French soldiers from Operation Barkhane, near Timbuktu, Nigeria on March 9, 2013.

Text by Alexander HURST , Françoise MARMOUYET

Latest update : 2017-06-18

Will the UN Security Council succeed in passing a resolution to create a joint counter-terrorism force by five countries in Africa’s Sahel region? The project, in large part conceived and supported by France, faces steep resistance from Washington.

Mali’s foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, urged the Security Council on Friday to adopt a French-backed resolution to create an anti-terrorism force composed of 5,000 soldiers from five countries (Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Mali, known collectively as the G5 Sahel) located in the swath of dry plain that lies south of the Sahara desert.

The region has been home to two intervention forces, France’s “Operation Barkhane” and the UN MINUSMA mission, since 2013, when France intervened to dislodge jihadist groups from Mali after their advance threatened to reach the nation’s capital, Bamako. However, groups linked to al Qaeda and Boko Haram remain active in the geographically expansive area.

While saying that Mali had made progress towards peace and stability, Diop criticised MINUSMA for a “defensive posture which has given freedom of movement to terrorist and extremist groups”.

Indeed, whole sections of the Sahel remain outside the control of French, Malian and MINUSMA forces, all of which are regular targets of sometimes deadly attacks. Nearly half a decade into its emergency intervention in the region, France is seeking to shift more responsibility for fighting terror groups to African militaries.

“We think that we should call on (the G5 states) in this mission, because security for Africans will ultimately only come from Africans themselves,” underlined the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Thursday while in Nouakchott, in Mauritania.

In February, the leaders of the G5 Sahel announced the creation of a combined force—under a French draft resolution, it would target drug dealers and human traffickers who finance terror groups, as well as jihadist organisations.

“This joint force is an indispensable initiative, it’s a very effective way to operate. Without it, I don’t see how France can draw down Operation Barkhane. It’s important that African forces take greater responsibility, because Mali’s forces are very capable,” Serge Michailof, a Sahel specialist and author of “Africanistan” told FRANCE 24.

Resistance from the US

The European Union has committed 50 million euros to fund the initiative, which comes with an estimated price tag of 400 million euros. Financing the multinational force has become one of the sticking points between Paris and Washington, which has provided logistical and intelligence support for French and African anti-terrorist action in the region.

“Barkhane was only supposed to last for a few months, and now it’s been ongoing for five years,” noted André Bourgeot, director of the CNRS, a French public thinktank and research institute. “Regional instability and terrorism are international problems and it’s understandable that France would want to share some of the costs,” he added.

However, the proposal to fund the multinational force through the UN comes at the same time as the US is seeking to cut $1 billion from its contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget. Diplomats say the Trump administration, which has urged its NATO allies to increase military spending and do more to combat terrorism, doesn’t want to add a new mission that would increase costs.

“There is strong resistance from the US because they are afraid of the future budget implications if the resolution is adopted. The American portion of the UN’s peacekeeping budget is already more than 28%, they don’t have any desire to dig into their wallets,” a UN diplomat said on condition of anonymity when contacted by FRANCE 24.

American officials say their concerns are about more than just costs, and that they have doubts about the ability of African forces to be an effective bulwark against terror groups. Some have disputed the necessity of UN authorisation, because the force already has the approval of the countries in whose territory it would operate.

Washington’s threat to veto the resolution comes in a context of increasingly isolationist positions and pullback from global initiatives by the Trump Administration—in particular its decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change.

Nevertheless, France is betting that ultimately the US won’t veto a counter-terrorism proposal when it comes to a vote. Bourgeot pointed to the relative isolation of the United States on the resolution, which “is supported by the European Union, the African Union, and even the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres himself”.

Boko Haram attack on Nigerian city of Maiduguri kills 14 people, say police — Six month after government said the terrorists were “defeated”

June 8, 2017

Reuters

An attack by Boko Haram jihadists on the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri killed 14 people and wounded 24 others, police said on Thursday, the first official toll.

Maiduguri is the epicenter of the eight-year fight against Boko Haram which has been trying to set up an Islamic State in the northeast, and has been largely free of violence for the past two years.

The fighters attacked the city’s suburbs on Wednesday night with anti-aircraft guns and several suicide bombers, said Damian Chukwu, police commissioner of Borno State, of which Maiduguri is the capital.

“A total of 13 people were killed in the multiple explosions with 24 persons injured while one person died in the attack (shooting),” he told reporters.

Several buildings were set on fire but the military repulsed the fighters after an hour, he said.

Aid workers and Reuters witnesses reported explosions and heavy gunfire for at least 45 minutes in the southeastern and southwestern outskirts of the city. Thousands of civilians fled the fighting, according to Reuters witnesses.

The raid comes six months after President Muhammadu Buhari said Boko Haram had “technically” been defeated by a military campaign that had pushed many jihadists deep into the remote Sambisa forest, near the border with Cameroon.

A young girl was wounded by a stray bullet after Boko Haram militants invaded Maiduguri

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram’s campaign to establish a caliphate in the Lake Chad.

basin. A further 2.7 million have been displaced, creating one of the world’s largest humanitarian emergencies.

Despite the military’s success in liberating cities and towns, much of Borno remains off-limits, hampering efforts to deliver food aid to nearly 1.5 million people believed to be on the brink of famine.

(Reporting by Ola Lanre; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Photos:

http://saharareporters.com/2017/06/07/gunfire-erupts-maiduguri-boko-haram-militants-raid-city

Nigeria’s Buhari absent on second anniversary as president

May 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent president at the ballot box

ABUJA (AFP) – 

Nigeria’s ailing president was glaringly absent on Monday as his deputy marked their two years in power, with no word on the head of state’s health three weeks after he went on indefinite medical leave.

Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy Yemi Osinbajo were sworn into office on May 29, 2015, two months after securing the first opposition victory against a sitting president in Nigerian history.

But their election pledges to defeat Boko Haram Islamists and tackle endemic corruption have been overshadowed, first by economic recession and increasingly by speculation about Buhari’s health.

The 74-year-old former military ruler spent nearly two months being treated for an undisclosed illness in London in January and February.

He left for a fresh round of treatment in the British capital on May 7 and has not been heard from or seen since.

Rumours swirled that he may send a pre-recorded message to the nation for Monday’s public holiday.

But Osinbajo said only in a speech: “I bring you good wishes from President Muhammadu Buhari, who as we all know is away from the country on medical vacation.”

He ended by asking for people’s “continued prayers for the restoration to full health and strength and the safe return of our president”.

– Elephant in the room –

Buhari’s health — and his ability to lead — has increasingly overshadowed politics in Nigeria, particularly in the last three weeks because of the lack of update.

Presidential aides told reporters at a briefing in Abuja last week that they would not even answer questions about it.

But Buhari did not attend a G7 summit in Sicily last week, although he was among several African leaders invited. Osinbajo went in his place.

During his time in London earlier this year, they insisted Buhari was “hale and hearty”, despite his increasingly frail appearance, and had to counter rumours he was terminally ill and even dead.

Buhari himself admitted on his return to Abuja in March that he “had never been so sick” and had undergone blood transfusions.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, missed a succession of cabinet meetings, Friday prayers and his grandson’s wedding.

Aides again insisted he was working from his private residence on doctors’ orders.

As well as political uncertainty, despite the formal handover of powers to Osinbajo, Buhari’s illness has triggered an earlier-than-usual jostling for position for the 2019 election and talk about succession.

– ‘Democracy Day’ –

May 29 — known as “Democracy Day” for the date civilian rule was restored in Nigeria in 1999 — has typically been used by the government of the day to run through a checklist of its achievements.

Osinbajo was no different, pointing to successes in weakening Boko Haram jihadists in the northeast and the release, rescue or discovery of 106 of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls held by the group since 2014.

Buhari was last seen in a photocall with 82 of the girls just before he left for London.

Osinbajo also outlined progress tackling security threats from militants in the oil-producing south, and conflict between farmers and herdsmen in central states.

He also reaffirmed the government’s determination to root out corruption and vowed no let-up against suspects.

He acknowledged the economy had been “the biggest challenge of all”, because of sustained low global oil prices that cut government revenue, leading to a weakened currency and higher inflation.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy on paper, has been in recession since August last year.

Osinbajo pledged to “build on the successes of the last two” years until the end of their time in office.

“Our vision is for a country that grows what it eats and produces what it consumes. It is for a country that no longer has to import petroleum products, and develops a lucrative petrochemical industry,” he said.

“Very importantly it is for a country whose fortunes are no longer tied to the price of a barrel of crude, but instead to the boundless talent and energy of its people, young and old, male and female as they invest in diverse areas of the economy.”

Is Islamic extremism on the rise in Africa?

May 28, 2017

Extremists are increasingly shaping the image of Islam in Africa. But despite warnings that Islam is becoming increasingly conservative in Africa, experts say Islam is becoming more diverse as a whole.

Somalia Al-Shabaab fighters (picture alliance/AP Photo/F. A. Warsameh)

Over and over one reads the same disturbing reports: In Somalia, members of the al-Shabaab militia cut off the hands of two alleged thieves. In the capital Mogadishu three solders were killed while trying to diffuse a bomb. Meanwhile in West Africa there are renewed clashes between the Nigerian Army and Boko Haram.

Even though their overall strength has deteriorated over the last few years, Islamic extremist groups in Africa continue to make headlines. “Groups that we call jihadists are actually backtracking, or have suffered heavy military defeats,” Göttingen anthropologist Professor Roman Loimeier told DW. But they clearly still have the potential to carry out devastating attacks. And although violent Islamists make up only a fraction of the overall Muslim population in Africa, they represent broader radical trends in Islam.

Approximately 43 percent of all Africans consider themselves Muslim and the continent has a reputation for religious tolerance. According to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, “Islam in West Africa has evolved somewhat differently from the Middle East, having been influenced by pre-existing African traditions. It is characterized by tolerance and nonviolence.”

The Great Mosque built of mud, founded in the 16th century (picture-alliance/Tuul/Robert Harding)Many countries in Africa are well-known for their religious tolerance due to their diverse traditions

Failed states ideal breeding grounds for extremism

But has this reputation changed? Anthropologist Abdoulaye Sounaye from the Leibniz Center of Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO) says there has been a rise in radical Islamic groups in Africa since the 1990s.

“Radical Islam has become even more important in political, cultural, social and even economic life,” Sounaye told DW. However not everybody who adheres to conservative Islam is longing for power, or supports the use of violence.

One of the main reasons for the rise of conservatism is the ongoing political and social crises in many African states. Following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, the wave of democratization also reached many parts of Africa. Long-time rulers and military dictators eventually responded to ongoing pressure to establish proper democratic systems. But many of these new democracies suffered under rampant corruption, mismanagement and confidence in the state system.

This in turn created a space for more radial religious thought. “Salafism is a revolutionary idea which can be attractive to certain social groups like young people or women who reject the state,” says Sounaye. And in some cases where the state failed to protect and support its people, these groups offered help. Sounaye refers in particular to the so-called “prosperity gospel” of Salafist groups.

“They have, for example, raised money for all sorts of projects: schools, colleges, hospitals and so on. These social services have provided Salafi organizations in the region with a platform to become popular.”

Their popularity is also made possible thanks to generous donations from rich Islamic states like Saudi Arabia. The kingdom follows a strict interpretation of the Koran known as Wahhabism. Such donations allow conservative African Islamic groups to finance mosques, charities and even spread their message using the media sector.

A diverse religion

However, experts like Loimeier point out that Islam in Africa is not necessarily seeing a rising trend towards conservatism, as a number of other more progressive movements begin to emerge. “Muslim societies and Islam in sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more diverse,” he says, “there is a wide range of reform movements among Sufis, which focus on making their faith more transparent and encouraging women to go to school.”

But the Loimeier also warned of the potential for Islamic extremist groups to emerge alongside Boko Haram, Ansar Dine or al-Shabaab – especially in authoritarian states. “In these countries, Islam has become a symbol of rebellion which is on the side of those who have been oppressed or unjustly treated – an ideal foundation for the beginning of a radical movement.”

He says Ethiopia may be one to watch. “The regime has made a few regrettable mistakes in the last few years. Radical groups are ready to emerge and could be given significant support by the population if the situation does not improve.”

http://www.dw.com/en/is-islamic-extremism-on-the-rise-in-africa/a-39001070

Funding shortfall hits starving in NE Nigeria: UN

May 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Phil HAZLEWOOD | The Boko Haram insurgency has left tens of thousands of people dependent on food aid

LAGOS (AFP) – 

Lack of funding is forcing aid agencies to cut feeding programmes for starving people in northeast Nigeria, the UN said Thursday, warning of growing pressure on resources as refugees return.

The World Food Programme last week said nearly two million people were living on the brink of famine in the remote region, which has been devastated by Boko Haram violence since 2009.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5.2 million people could need life-saving food aid in three northeast states from June to August.

OCHA said a massive funding shortfall had “forced some organisations to review plans and targets and in some cases reduce food distribution for the upcoming critical lean season”.

That “might negatively affect some of the progress made so far”, it added in its latest situation report.

“This, paired with recent nutrition assessments indicating deteriorating nutrition levels in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (states), is putting increased pressure on food security and nutrition responders,” the agency said.

– ‘Looming famine’ –

Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has killed at least 20,000 people in northeast Nigeria and forced millions of others from their homes.

Lack of security, plus restrictions on travel and trade, have hit agriculture in a desperately poor region dependent on subsistence farming and fishing.

That has led to food shortages and driven up prices.

The UN says Nigeria needs $1.05 billion this year to fund vital humanitarian projects including food and healthcare provision, clean water, sanitation and education.

But on Tuesday it said the plan to tackle “the looming famine” was only about 20 percent-funded at $24 million.

“We need to do more, we need to do it quicker and we can always do better,” said the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Peter Lundberg.

Lundberg called the situation in the northeast “Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis” and said funding was “pivotal” as Nigeria faces up to the aftermath of the conflict.

Aid agencies working the region have stepped up their efforts with the approach of the rainy season, which sees already hard-to-reach rural areas cut off by flooding.

Makeshift dwellings are threatened with damage from heavy rains while the risk of disease — especially malaria and water-borne conditions such as typhoid and cholera — increases.

– ‘Precarious state’ –

Nigeria’s government had wanted to shut camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in and around the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, by the end of May but was forced to abandon the plan.

Humanitarian agencies say camps elsewhere in Borno are facing increasing pressure because of the return of refugees from neighbouring Cameroon.

More than 6,000 people have registered with the immigration service since early April; 1,500 arrived in the first two weeks of May and 2,500 more are expected in border areas in the coming weeks.

“Returnees are arriving in areas where aid partners may not be fully prepared to provide assistance due to lack of presence and funding”, said OCHA.

“The conditions in return areas are very poor and camps are overcrowded. The situation continues to deteriorate with serious protection implications.

“The returnees are in a precarious state, lacking all basic life necessities, including shelter, food and water.”

Security also remains a persistent problem, with regular suicide and bomb attacks, despite military claims the militants have been weakened to the point of defeat.

Earlier this month, Britain and the United States warned that foreign aid workers were at increased risk of kidnapping in border areas where people are most in need of help.

by Phil HAZLEWOOD

 

Trump commits $300 million to fight Africa famine

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | South Sudan has declared famine in parts of the country, saying a million people are on the brink of starvation

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – 

US President Donald Trump told Pope Francis on Wednesday he was committing more than $300 million (270 million euros) to help prevent or tackle famine in Yemen and several countries in Africa.

Trump, meeting the pontiff for the first time, said he had “renewed” the US “commitment to fighting global famine”, with the United Nations warning that about 20 million people across Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk.

The UN has described the situation as the biggest humanitarian crisis in its history, but donor funding is falling far short.

It appealed earlier this month for $4.4 billion, but said less than a third had been raised.

“As he (Trump) relayed at the Vatican, the United States is proud to announce more than $300 million in anti-famine spending” for the area, a White House statement said.

His announcement came just a day after the US State Department laid out plans to put “America first” and slash Washington’s budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent.

The deepest cuts will hit foreign assistance programmes and contributions by the world’s largest economy to international organisations like the United Nations and its global peacekeeping budget.

China, DR Congo most affected by new displacements due to disasters in 2016: report

May 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | China tops the list of new displacements due to disasters, with 7.4 million people driven from their homes

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – More than 31 million people were displaced in their own countries by conflict, violence and disasters in 2016, with China and the Democratic Republic of Congo among the worst affected, a new report by a monitoring center said Monday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo had a spike of 922,000 new displacements caused by conflict last year, more than Syria with 824,000 and Iraq with 659,000, said the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Disasters displaced three times more people than conflicts, with most of the 24 million people affected hit by sudden-onset weather hazards such as floods, storms, wildfires and severe winter conditions.

China tops the list of new displacements due to disasters, with 7.4 million people driven from their homes, followed by the Philippines (5.9 million), India (2.4 million) and Indonesia (1.2 million).

These displacements are expected to increase in the future as the impact of climate change becomes more acute, said the report.

Jan Egeland, the head of the NRC, said the shocking figures show the need to focus as much on people displaced inside their countries than on refugees who flee across borders.

“Internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one. It is urgent to put internal displacement back on the global agenda,” said Egeland.

Afghanistan ranked fourth in terms of displacement caused by conflict, with 653,000, followed by Nigeria with 501,000 and Yemen with 478,000.

Of the 6.9 million people driven from their homes due to conflict, 2.6 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Internal displacement is overshadowed by the current global focus on refugees and migrants, said the monitoring centre.

More aid was spent last year on refugee resettlement than in the countries where the crises began, it added.

There was a total of 40.3 million people displaced by conflict and violence in their countries by the end of 2016 — a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000 and has increased sharply over the last five years.