By - Adedoyin Shittu
“2018 was a devastating year for millions around the world but life will only get worse and not better in 2019” said Bob Kitchen, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Vice President for Emergencies. This is not encouraging news to usher nations around the world into the New Year especially African nations. The International Rescue Committee’s emergency response experts have ranked the countries most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe next year. While there are 21 countries on the list, 6 African countries have been ranked in the top ten by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to be at risk of human catastrophe.
Conflict in African is fueled by resources control and in regions where there is not much to steal, there is absolutely no problem. It is no surprise that Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan are in the second and third place respectively after Yemen.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
DRC, a country in the heart of Africa is one of the richest natural resources countries in the world. The country is home to the world’s largest reserve of coltan, used in mobile phones and electric cars, as well as significant quantities of the world’s copper and cobalt, as well as diamonds, gold and many other mineral resources.
Since it independence from Belgium in 1960, the country has never known peaceful transition and had been fraught with violence and conflict because everybody want a piece of Congo.
Over four million Congolese have fled their homes due to a vicious conflict, making it the largest displacement crises in Africa. Also the Ebola outbreak in DRC is now the worst ever in the country as over 500 have been confirmed with the virus and more than 330 persons have died of the virus.
As Congolese step into the New Year, they are faced with a bleak future and can only hope for a change of fortune as the New year will bring a change of government, though many report that the December 30th presidential election was marred with irregularities.
Another country riddled with tragic conflict is South Sudan. Since its segregation from Sudan in 2011, the country has barely known peace. South Sudan, a country rich in oil but it is rated as one of the least developed regions on earth as a result of decades of civil war in the region.
The country has been plagued by armed conflicts that are marked by widespread sexual violence, forced displacement and food security. Though it is hard to give a figure to the death toll, it has been estimated that the conflict has left more than 383,000 people dead and another 4 million displaced. A quarter of a million children are at imminent risk of death due to severe undernourishment.
Despite this conflict, South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian workers. It has been declared the most violent country for aid workers for the third straight year. More than 100 aid workers have been killed since the civil war broke out in 2013. This has impacted humanitarian aid as aid workers are forced to evacuate or are unable to work in certain areas because of ongoing conflict. Even if there is no escalation in fighting, a significant proportion of South Sudanese will struggle to get enough food in 2019 because of inflation and famine caused by the civil war and also because of hostility towards aid workers. If the peace deal holds between the two major battling ethnic groups in the country, localized conflict will likely continue to displace tens of thousands of civilians, given the threats to their safety from the activities of armed groups.
Central African Republic (CAR)
Central African Republic (CAR) is another African nation that has experienced an upsurge of violence and conflict since its independence from France in 1960. The country was plunged into turmoil when Muslim rebels seized power in the majority Christian country.
The country is rich in diamonds, gold, oil and uranium, yet it has one of the world’s poorest populations. It is reported that two third of the country population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The crisis in the nation has left thousands of children trapped within armed groups, and thousands more subjected to sexual violence.
Today over 1.5 million CAR children need humanitarian assistance while almost 643,000 persons are internally displaced. It is projected that 43,000 more children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2019.
Nigeria, the “supposed” giant of Africa takes the number eight position on the list as countries at risk of humanitarian catastrophe in 2019. The oil rich nation experienced a lot of communal violence between local farmers and herdsmen especially in 2018. Also the nation experienced brazen attack from militant group “Boko Haram”, even towards the country security officers. These persistent attacks have left over 2 million persons internally displaced and more than 230,000 person seeking for refuge in neighbouring countries.
More death was recorded by the militant group in the last months of 2018 and they have succeeded in sacking communities and terrorizing security personnel’s.
It is predicted by the IRC that violence could intensify in 2019, triggering more displacements and exacerbating food insecurity for millions of Nigerians.
Also, as the nation gathers momentum towards the election in February 2019, it has been predicted that the event might trigger more violence and displacement of persons.
Ethiopia made the 9th position in the IRC list. Though the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came into power in April 2018 has embarked on a sweeping reform programme designed to transform Ethiopia; endemic ethnic tensions, decades in the making present a persistent challenge.
Ethiopia has endured years of drought and water scarcity, now added to the burden is outbreak of violence in Southern Ethiopia between ethnic groups. This has led to more than a million persons fleeing from their home this year alone without anything. Many have sought refuge in shelters and schools wherever they can, even in unpleasant conditions therefore raising fear of an outbreak.
According to the United Nations, over 8 million people are in need of food assistance in Ethiopia.
Politics in Ethiopia appears to be on the brisk of political crises as a result of reforms introduced by the Prime Minister and it seems the likelihood to remain volatile in 2019 seems high. This will continue to fuel conflict along ethnic lines thereby sparking major displacements. Food insecurity will also be compounded if the drought and poor harvest persist.
Somalia takes the 10th position on the IRC “ill-fated” list. After decades of poverty, drought, famine, conflicts, armed violence and political insecurity, the country finally made progress and contained the armed insecurity issue “al-Shabaab” and also managed to avert famine. However the consequence of the instability and insecurity coupled with persistent natural disasters has left over 2.6 million Somalis internally displaced and 870,000 registered as refugees.
Food insecurity seems to loom in 2019 as a result of failed rainy seasons. Also Somalia will likely remain unstable and conflict-affected throughout 2019. However a major Al-Shabab resurgence is unlikely to occur in 2019.
Other African nations in the IRC list include Niger, Cameroon, Libya, Mali, and Sudan.
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