The spread of the coronavirus in Africa is intersecting with the continent’s population displacement crisis. Protecting displaced persons and migrants will be key to reducing the overall rates of transmission.
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Conflict and repressive governance have resulted in record levels of forced displacement as well as economic migration in Africa. These population movements, in turn, are generating new revenue streams for militant extremist groups and criminal networks.
Africa’s humanitarian crises have continued to worsen in 2017. Twenty million Africans have been displaced from their homes and 44 million are acutely food insecure.
A spike in political violence since mid-2016 has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since its decades-long civil war with Sudan.
A snapshot of Africa’s displaced populations reveals that 71 percent of Africa’s 18.5 million displaced persons are from 5 countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo), and while much of global attention has focused on refugee migration into Europe, two-thirds of Africa’s dislocated population are internally displaced.
The ongoing forced displacement of a third of the population and a conflict-driven food crisis threatening more than half of all South Sudanese underscores the grave human costs of the country’s destructive politics.
Africa continues to experience expanding and record levels of forced displacement—a result of predatory governments, political fragmentation, and violent extremist groups.
The integration of justice initiatives within conventional security efforts can mitigate conflict, improve societal resilience, and build a stronger culture supportive of the rule of law.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
Idriss Déby’s death is an outcome of the ongoing instability perpetuated by his regime. The subsequent military coup d’état led by the late president’s son risks deepening political violence in this geographically strategic country.
The lack of legitimacy and accountability are at the root of many of Africa’s armed conflicts, reflecting an inability of these political systems to accommodate participation, contestation, and power-sharing.
Acute food insecurity in Africa has increased by over 60 percent in the past year and threatens to widen further as the effects of COVID-19 exacerbate other drivers such as conflict and political mismanagement.