Y will there be “a before and after the war in Ukraine” in terms of welcoming exiles and refugees around the world? The question deserves to be asked as more and more NGOs warn about the response of developed countries to the humanitarian crises unfolding on other continents, particularly in Africa. Indeed, beyond capturing a large part of the humanitarian aid destined for Africa, the war in Ukraine – which is only exacerbating an already fragile situation – is beginning to have significant humanitarian repercussions.
In addition to the number of lives at stake, the protracted war is effectively putting in the background many other ongoing conflicts or crises. The region is suffering from climate change which is affecting crops, drought is hitting entire regions, not to mention the insecurity linked to the presence of jihadist groups and the consequences of the Covid pandemic crisis combine to further weaken many countries. Results: the region has 6.7 million displaced people and 1.6 million refugees. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the ten “most neglected” crises of population displacement are for the first time all in Africa, the organization says in a report published on Wednesday 1er June, in which experts worry about the consequences of the war in Ukraine on the continent.
The “dead mile” law
The NRC publishes an annual list of the ten “most neglected displacement crises”, based on three criteria: the lack of political will of the international community to find solutions, media coverage and funding for humanitarian needs. The ranking for 2021 “testifies to the chronic failure of decision-makers, donors and the media to address the conflicts and human suffering on this continent”, deplored the secretary general of the NGO, Jan Egeland, quoted in a communicated. While a large proportion of African countries are usually included (eight out of ten in 2020), 2021 is the first year that “all ten are in Africa”, according to the report.
Several factors explain this state of affairs, in particular the so-called “death-mile” law. In other words, the further the crises or conflicts are from the West, the less they arouse interest and empathy there. The NGO draws a parallel with the war in Syria, which began to mobilize when Syrian refugees began to arrive at the gates of Europe, and the subject made headlines in the media.
The case of the DRC
Like the previous year, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), “a textbook case of neglect, appearing in this list for the sixth time in a row”, underlines the NRC, comes first, with 5.5 million of displaced people, particularly in the northeast of the country. “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises of this century, yet those inside and outside Africa who have the power to change this are turning a blind eye to the waves of brutal and targeted attacks against civilians that shatter communities,” according to the NGO. The northeast of the DRC is plagued by inter-community tensions and conflicts, with a dramatic increase in attacks on camps for the displaced since November 2021.
In West Africa, Burkina Faso, which now has more than 1.75 million displaced people, particularly in the north of the country plagued by jihadist attacks, arrives in 2e position, ahead of Cameroon, South Sudan, Chad, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi and Ethiopia. ” The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the huge gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for millions of people who suffer in silence in these crises on the African continent that the world has chosen. to ignore,” says Egeland. ” This isn’t just unfair – this bias also comes at a huge cost. Lives that could have been saved are lost. Conflicts are allowed to turn into protracted crises and dash the hopes of generations of people for a better future. »
And that’s not all. Hunger is on the rise in most of these countries, due in particular to the worsening of their food situation “by the rise in the price of wheat and fuel caused by the war in Ukraine”, warns the NRC. Russia and Ukraine together account for about 30% of world wheat production. The fear of a major food crisis is particularly felt in Africa where in many countries, a mostly poor population is directly hit by the rise in prices – which the States cannot curb for lack of financial resources – when the inhabitants are not not directly threatened by millions of famines, as in the Horn of Africa, subject to a terrible drought.
“In addition, several donor countries are deciding or considering reducing their aid to Africa to redirect funds to Ukraine and the reception of refugees in their country,” he said. . This is the case, for example, of Denmark, which decided to reduce its funding by 40% in Mali.