Sahel: environmental crisis in Mali | The Journal of North Africa


Extreme weather events in central Mali are making life even more difficult for people in this conflict-ridden region, the ICRC chief warned this week. Robert Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ended a three-day trip to Sahel state on Wednesday, which included a visit to a camp for the displaced in the unstable center. He told AFP that residents of central Mali face the “double challenge” of climate change and gun violence. “Much more unpredictable, much more frequent and much more extreme weather events, floods and droughts, make their lives and livelihoods much more difficult,” Mardini said.

Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first erupted in the north in 2012 and has since claimed thousands of lives among the military and civilians. Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN soldiers, the conflict engulfed central Mali and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali has become one of the most violent hotspots of Sahel-wide conflict, where attacks on government forces and ethnic killings – often sparked by land disputes – are common. “Water resources, grazing areas are dwindling in Mali,” Mardini said. “There are more tensions between pastoralists and farmers. The ICRC is helping by integrating climate change into its aid programs, for example by distributing drought-resistant seeds to farmers, he said. Mali, a vast former French colony of 19 million inhabitants, is one of the poorest countries in the world.

UN members on Sunday began a 13-day meeting in the Scottish city of Glasgow with the aim of continuing actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and channel aid to poor countries vulnerable to the weather.



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