The Russian passenger plane which crashed on October 31, 2015 adds to a history of deadly accidents involving the Boeing 737 series. An Egyptian charter flight crashed into the Red sea shortly after take-off from Sharm el-Sheik airport. Russia’s security chief, Alexander Bortnikov insists that the plane was downed by a planted bomb given traces of explosives found on debris from the plane. The conclusion is that the bomb could have been smuggled on board the flight due to a compromised security system at Sharm el-Sheik airport.
The trail goes from Sharm el-Sheik to Paris, the City of Lights. Terror returned to Paris for a second time with a series of terror attacks in 2015. On Thursday November 12, 2015 ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
It is noteworthy that the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram which continues to ravage Northern Nigeria has pledged allegiance to ISIS. This may not directly give leverage to either group due to the geographical distance between them, but it intensifies regional security concerns because of Nigeria’s economic relevance. The highest fatality of Bokom Haram’s attacks was in January 2015 on Baga town, Northern Nigeria. An estimated 2,000 people were killed in that single attack.
The district head of Baga community in Nigeria said most of those killed were children, women and the elderly who couldn’t take cover when Boko Haram drove into Baga with rocket propelled grenades. These repeated violent attacks have triggered a humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. There is an estimated 24,500 refugees in Minawoa camp for Nigerian refugees in the far North East corner of Cameroon (European Commission for Humanitarian and Civil Protection fact sheet). In 2014, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, drawing attention to the threat of the violent Islamic group. Yet, this isn’t a narrative about deadly terror groups or the burgeoning desire by ISIS or Boko Haram to establish caliphates in their regions of operations.
This is a story about the environment, poverty, but most of all, people. Desertification in Northern Nigeria causes a loss of livelihood for many. Mass migration from the arid planes of the North down to the Middle Belt region of Nigeria informs the rise of violent social conflicts. Rising unemployment (and not just in Nigeria at that), sees to the frustrations and despair of what should be, a young working class demographic. The story is much the same in the Sahel region of Africa.
Poverty drives migration from North Africa to Europe where young Africans struggle with integration into stratified European societies. This feeds profound disaffection in young migrants who often fall prey to religious extremism.
UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, at the first ever formal UN debate on violent extremism noted that,
“Young people drive change, but they are not in the driver’s seat”.
The number of suicide bombings in the world surged in 2014 in the Middle East with a staggering 2,750 killed, according to estimates from the International Institute for National Security Studies program on terrorism and low-intensity conflict.
The bombings against ISIS targets in Syria continue with retaliatory attacks from Russia, France and the coalition forces. However, the underlying issues demand a focus on climate change.
Climate change contributes to poor crop yields and the spread of diseases informs poverty in poor communities across but not limited to Africa. A 2015 World Bank report, Shock waves: Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty, estimates that more than 100 million people could be driven into poverty by 2030.
John Roome- Senior Director for Climate Change at the World Bank Group notes that,
“We have the ability to end extreme poverty even in the face of climate change, but to succeed; climate considerations will need to be integrated into development work. And we will need to act fast, because as climate impacts increase, so will the difficulty and cost of eradicating poverty.”
The challenge remains the effective reduction of poverty in Africa with countries like Nigeria and the DRC set to represent more than a quarter of total poverty in Africa. Rapid population growth in Nigeria as an instance will inform rising poverty levels by some 20 million and question Africa’s most populous nation’s chances at achieving SDG 1.
The World Bank report further argues that;
‘Climate impacts will affect agriculture the most, a key sector in the poorest countries and major source of income, food security, nutrition, jobs, livelihoods and export earnings. By 2030, crop yield losses could mean that food prices would be 12 percent higher on average in Sub-Saharan Africa. The strain on poor households, who spend as much as 60 percent of their income on food, could be acute.’
The challenges are apparent but not much can be said about sustained efforts by African Governments to implement macroeconomic policies that actually benefit its poor. However, the picture is not entirely dismal with some countries like Mauritania, Gambia and Seychelles making progress towards achieving SDG 1. A whole lot needs to be achieved on the longer term to lift African’s out of poverty and the inextricable link between climate change and economic growth cannot be overlooked. Africa needs to awaken to this reality or the trail from Sham el-Sheik will lead on.
“The report (Shock waves: Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty) demonstrates that ending poverty and fighting climate change cannot be done in isolation – the two will be much more easily achieved if they are addressed together,” –Stephane Hallegatte, senior economist at the World Bank