MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) – Drought, flooding and the shrinking Lake Chad, partly caused by climate change, are fueling conflict and migration in the region and need to be better addressed, a report released on Thursday said.
The international human rights group Refugees International has called for the issue to be at the center of the high-level international conference to be held in the Lake Chad basin next week in Niger’s capital, Niamey.
The report revealed that natural resources dwindling due to adverse weather conditions increase tensions between communities and displace people. He said about 3 million people were displaced and 11 million more in need of humanitarian assistance.
“For too long, insufficient attention has been paid to how climate change is fueling violence and displacement,” the report’s lead author, Alexandra Lamarche, told the Associated Press. “International responses to the Lake Chad basin crisis focused specifically on the presence of armed groups.”
The 13-year insurgency of the Boko Haram extremist group and other militant groups has destabilized the Lake Chad basin and the wider Sahel region. The basin is shared between Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Mabingue Ngom, Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Department, said the Lake Chad region is facing “more than just a climate and ecological crisis”. “It is a humanitarian issue that touches peace and regional development.”
The United Nations weather agency warned that the Lake Chad basin is “particularly vulnerable to climate change-related extreme events such as floods and droughts,” and that “extreme events will likely become more abundant, causing more frequent droughts and floods, leading to food security and general security in the region.” ”
Lamarche noted that the commune of Logone Birni in northern Cameroon is particularly vulnerable to increasing violence as climate change worsens.
“The struggle for access to natural resources (at Logone Birni) has forced 60,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring Chad in late 2021,” Lamarche said.
The Lake Chad basin in western and central Africa covers 8% of the African continent and is home to 42 million people whose livelihoods revolve around livestock, fishing and farming, according to figures from the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
The UN environment agency states that Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% in 60 years, and that climate change is a major contributor. Irrigation, dam construction and population growth were also blamed.
The tentative agenda for next week’s summit, seen by the Associated Press, suggests that the “adverse effects of climate change” will come to the fore as part of peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts.
Lamarche said the conference was “an excellent opportunity for international donors to commit to long-term solutions to address the link between climate change, violence and displacement in the region.”
The meeting in Niamey will be the third high-level summit in the lake basin.
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