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.
Escalating attacks on communities in North West Nigeria by criminal gangs, including mass kidnappings of school children, exploit the limited security sector presence in the region.
Global warming is contributing to more and extended heat waves, a tripling of droughts, a quadrupling of storms, and a tenfold increase in flooding in Africa since the 1970s—exacerbating security threats on the continent.
Conflict remains the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Africa, imperiling over 100 million people.
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.