Countries across Africa continue to struggle with decades-long crises, economic turmoil, and the devastating effects of climate change. Peace treaties, humanitarian aid, and accountability for violations of international law—have been weakened or dismantled.
Haiti: Gang violence and climate change combine for chaos
Armed gangs regularly take control of distribution routes, causing shortages of basic goods and fuel. Rising prices make it increasingly difficult for people to afford to buy the food they can access
Extreme violence and gross human rights abuses, including mass incidents of murder, gang rape and sniper attacks, have sharply increased in Cité Soleil on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, creating “a living nightmare” for thousands.
It paints a picture of how people are being harassed and terrorized by criminal gangs for months without the State being able to stop it. It can only be described as a living nightmare,” Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.
The G-9 gang has spread terror by using snipers, who indiscriminately kill anyone who enters their field of vision, the UN report said, adding that on average six people are killed each week by snipers.
The gang blocked access to the neighborhood, thus controlling the entry of basic necessities such as food and health services. Unsanitary conditions have been exacerbated, leading to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera.
Meanwhile climate shocks and the first cholera outbreak in three years strain critical health and sanitation systems. Haiti is particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters as a result of ecocidal policies, a lack of sufficient disaster preparedness, and geographic location. Haiti’s political system has been equally susceptible to shocks, suffering from corruption, foreign exploitation, and political interference constantly throughout its long history.
Burkina Faso: Armed group activity invites instability
The situation in Burkina Faso grows increasingly dire as armed groups intensify their attacks and seize land. Tensions among the country’s political factions have contributed to the instability. Members of the armed forces seized power twice in 2022 alone.
A growth in the number of vigilante groups has added to the violence. Further expansion among these groups could increase political instability.
As much as 40% of the nation is currently under the control of armed organizations.
Humanitarian help is constrained despite the urgent requirements due to violence and a lack of finance. In the north of Burkina Faso, some settlements are almost shut off. One of the greatest food inflation rates in the world, the price of food has jumped by 30%.
South Sudan: Climate change compounds the legacy of civil war
South Sudan’s civil conflict finished in 2018, but the country is still recuperating. Localized combat has diminished, yet it is still common. One of the world’s most fragile nations is this one.
People find it more and more difficult to get food and basic supplies as a result of climate disasters such catastrophic floods and droughts.
More South Sudanese people than ever before—7.8 million—will face crisis levels of food insecurity in 2023. Despite severe flooding, destroyed crops and disease outbreaks, funding shortages forced the World Food Program to suspend part of its food aid in 2022.
Conflict across the country also threatens civilians and humanitarian supporters. South Sudan consistently has the world’s highest level of violence against aid workers, hindering their ability to reach people in need.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Decades-long conflicts escalate
Over 100 armed groups fight for control in eastern Congo, fueling a crisis that has lasted for decades. Citizens are often targeted. After nearly 10 years of dormancy, the M23 armed group launched a new offensive in 2022, forcing families to flee their homes and disrupting humanitarian aid.
Major disease outbreaks–including measles, malaria, and Ebola–continue to threaten an already weak healthcare system, putting many lives at risk.
Conflict remains the key concern in Congo, especially as tensions escalate and M23 takes control of more land.
Political unrest is rising as the country prepares for elections. Leaders have been accused of inciting and supporting conflict to win over constituents. Despite peacekeeping efforts, violence against aid organizations may increase before the vote.
Ethiopia: Drought and conflict torments tens of millions
Ethiopia is heading toward its sixth consecutive failed rainy season, which could prolong a drought already affecting 24 million people. At the same time, various conflicts across the country are disrupting lives and preventing humanitarian organizations from delivering aid.
While a November 2022 peace deal may hold and offers hope for an end to the conflict in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, 28.6 million remain in need of humanitarian aid.
The humanitarian response to the drought in Ethiopia is insufficiently funded, even more so than in East African countries facing a similar crisis. If humanitarian groups can’t deliver resources in a country that is badly affected by aid funding shortfalls, Ethiopians will starve as they are hit by drought and rising food prices.
If the peace deal unravels, humanitarian needs will increase even more.
Somalia: A catastrophic hunger crisis
Somalia is facing an unprecedented drought and hunger crisis. People have already lost their lives to starvation, and the country is on the brink of famine.
This is no “natural disaster.” Human-caused climate change has increased the frequency and severity of droughts. Decades of conflict have eroded Somalia’s ability to respond to shocks of any kind, destroying systems and infrastructure that would have provided a guardrail against the current crisis.
For instance, with its food production decimated by climate change and conflict, Somalia’s dependence on imports has proven disastrous—over 90% of its wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine.
Somalia, like Ethiopia, experiences its sixth consecutive failed rainy season in 2023. High global food prices driven by the war in Ukraine make it even harder for families to eat.
Humanitarian organizations have limited ability to reach people in areas controlled by non-state armed groups. There are even reports of one group destroying food deliveries and poisoning water sources.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian response in Somalia remains severely underfunded.