Climate crisis, conflict, violence affecting Horn of Africa: UN

THE United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Friday said that the complex interplay between climate crisis, conflict and violence is affecting the Horn of Africa.

“The Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing first-hand the complex interplay between the global climate crisis, conflict and violence, with the most vulnerable people across the region suffering the effects,” UNOCHA said in its situation statement issued on Friday.

“The region has more than 8.1 million internally displaced people, and hosts more than 4.2 million refugees, most of whom were forced to flee their homes due to violence and conflict but are now also contending with severe weather”, it added.

In Ethiopia, drought and violence have overlapped in key regions, including Oromia and Somali region.

In Somalia, climatic shocks may exacerbate recruitment by extremist groups, according to a recent report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), according to UNOCHA.

“Many of the areas hardest-hit by floods in South Sudan, including in Jonglei and Upper Nile, have been conflict hotspots in recent years, meaning that people were already in desperate need before this latest shock,” the statement read.

Nearly 22.8 million people are severely food insecure, 6.7 million people in Ethiopia, 3.1 million in Kenya, 2.1 million in Somalia, 4.5 million in South Sudan, 5.8 million in Sudan and 600,000 in Uganda.

According to UNOCHA, the numbers are likely to increase from the beginning of 2020 until the peak of the season around the middle of the year, when the full impact of drought, floods and violence in 2019 will be felt.

It also stressed that “rising food and nutrition insecurity may force families to adopt negative coping mechanisms, including school drop-outs and early marriages.”

Noting that humanitarian actors are adapting, innovating and supporting action to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change across the region, UNOCHA, however, stressed that “these efforts will take time, and in the interim, urgent and life-saving action is required.”

It also indicated that heavy rainfall and flooding have impacted Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, affecting nearly 2.8 million people, displacing tens of thousands, and destroying large swathes of crops.

“While the unusually heavy rains in 2019 have primarily been driven by a strong-positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the broader climate crisis means that extreme weather events are likely to be the new normal in the Horn,” according to UNOCHA.