The war between Russia and Ukraine is having an enormous mediatic resonance in the Western world – as it should be. Some people argue that the importance that is being given to this event is too high compared to the attention towards other, longer-lasting conflicts. It is actually not like that: we simply feel it closer to us for different reasons that do not only include the geographical position, but also, for example, the fact that we are in front of two big, developed countries, just like the ones we live in, and the fact that we feel this conflict as really threatening our peace, too. War in Europe refers to a far past that has been followed by decades of peace, trust and collaboration between countries: we can’t conceptualize yet a possible end to this stability.
Therefore, as rational human beings, we tend to fear this conflict more than others. However, it is important to give some space also to the other armed conflicts around the world that nowadays may be sometimes passed in the background.
Every year, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) identifies 10 conflicts or crisis situations around the world that could get worse in the short period. In 2022, the countries where important changes in the conflict dynamics have verified are Ethiopia, Yemen, Sahel, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Haiti, Colombia and Myanmar. Here we have a short update on the current situation in these countries.
Ethiopia: The conflict between Ethiopia and the northern Tigray region (the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, TPLF) resulted in the highest levels of political violence in Ethiopia in 2021 since the end of the Ethiopian-Eritrean War in June 2000. In November 2021 the conflict turned one year, a year spent between violence against civilians and insurgencies. There are no peace deals yet between the regions and the conflict is predicted to continue for a long time, even if the Ethiopian government managed to regain some territory.
Yemen: March 2022 marks the eighth year of war in Yemen, started when the country’s capital was taken by the Houthi-Saleh alliance and the Saudi launched a military campaign against them. It seems like a unified Yemen is no longer possible due to its high level of fragmentation. In 2021 there has been a decline in the number of political violence events, but, despite this, the number of deaths increased in the same year due to more violent offensives. Both the conflict and the humanitarian crisis among citizens are not likely to stop in the nearest time.
Sahel: The Sahel region has seen a worsening of the political violence events in 2021 with expected growth in the current year. The conflict mostly affects Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where important instability problems can be identified, driven by a jihadist insurgency in the area. The center of the conflict moved from Mali to Burkina Faso, where the number of organized political violence events doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. Still, Mali reported an increasing in the number of deaths, also between citizens. The situation is likely to worsen in the course of 2022.
Nigeria: The instability grows both in the North, due to a long-running Islamist insurgency and military events, and in the South, with the Biafra separatist rebellion. In 2021, the country reported a huge increase in the number of organized political violence events and a consequent increase in the number of fatalities.
Afghanistan: After the recovered Taliban control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the overall level of political violence fell, but violence towards civilians never stopped. In particular, victims have been ethnic and religious minorities, women, and members of the forms government.at the same time, conflicts continued with the armed resistance against the Taliban and the enduring Islamic State insurgency.
Lebanon: In 2021, Lebanon has been classified by the World Bank as a country hosting one of the world’s three worst crisis since the mid-19th century. The UN reported that over three quarters of the population fell into poverty. These elements of crisis drove increasing demonstrations in the country, mainly peaceful, but also armed clashes have verified.
Sudan: With a military coup on the 25 of October, 2021, the beleaguered civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was arrested, causing violence events and demonstrations across the country. On the 21 of November, he was reinstated into office, followed by a series of weak negotiations with the military, until the establishment of a cabinet of technocrats approved by the military forces, that led to numerous protests with violent and also fatal consequences. Even after Hamdock’s resignation on 2January 2022, protests to take out military involvement from politics have continued.
Haiti: In 2021 the levels of armed clashes and violence against civilians have increased compared to previous years, as well as gang activities and anti-governments manifestations born from the frustration following by the deterioration of security in the country. Violence is unlikely to stop in the course of 2022.
Colombia: In November 2021, the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) turned five. However, the risk of rising violence targeting civilians continues, due to the failure of completely implement the peace agreement. In 2021, fatalities following violence against civilians increased. The situation may only get worse in 2022 if significant reforms are not going to be implemented.
Myanmar: On 1st February 2021, the military forces took the power in the country, a coup that led to several demonstrations in opposition. The military response has been violent and led to a high number of civil deaths and tortures. Consequently, communities started to army themselves to gain some protection.