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CWA # 749, 22 June 2022

Conflict Weekly
Heatwave in Europe, rise of the Left in Colombia and the UNHCR report on Forced Displacement

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #129, 22 June 2022, Vol.3, No.12
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI and KAS-India Office

Akriti Sharma and Porkkodi Ganeshpandian


Europe: Heatwave in Germany, Spain, France, Greece, and the UK

In the news
On 18 June, firefighters in Spain were trying to contain wildfires in different regions of the country triggered by record-breaking heat and dry conditions. According to the national meteorological agency AEMET, Spain was heading towards the hottest summers in decades. On the same day, Zaragoza recorded 42 degrees Celsius. In Zamora, 20,000 hectares of land had been burned in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range. As a response, authorities started evacuating 11 villages and 500 firefighters were deployed to contain the wildfires.

On 18 June, in France, the temperatures touched 40 degrees Celsius and a red alert was issued. According to  Meteo France, the southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz witnessed the highest all-time temperature of 42.9 degrees Celsius. In the Var region of southern France, the forest fires were burning 200 hectares of area. The schools were closed and people were asked to stay at home. 

On 19 June, extreme temperatures coupled with strong winds triggered wildfires in the southwest of Berlin. According to the German meteorological agency, DWD, the temperatures soared to 38 degrees Celsius following which villages were evacuated.

On 19 June, a wildfire broke out in central Evia, Greece's second-largest island, and due to strong winds spread to the mountainous forests of Gaia.

On 17 June, in the UK, the temperature touched 30 degrees Celsius. In Italy, there were acute water shortages due to heatwaves.

Issues at large
First, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. According to the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, extreme weather events have been increasing in frequency and will continue to increase. Additionally, the report says, events of the same nature will recur with increasing frequency. Heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts are events of the same nature related to the increase in temperature that will follow each other.

Second, the global north. The unusually hot temperatures have been recurring in regions that are unlikely to witness such weather, especially in Europe and the Americas where heatwaves and wildfires recur every season. 

Third, the changing climate. There is a strong link between the increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather with climate change. It is the cause and effect of the events like wildfires, which are triggered by heat and result in carbon emissions simultaneously.

Fourth, the impact. Such unusual weather conditions can impact human health, vegetation, water, and electricity supplies. Many regions in Italy and France had water shortages and the health ministries in the region advised people to stay at home as a precautionary measure. Wildfires harmed the wildlife in the forests and many animals were rescued by the forest authorities.

In perspective
First, the need for better preparedness. With an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, European member states need to invest in better preparedness plans as events can be highly unusual in nature. Better management plans can help in better response and decrease the damage.

Second, the vulnerable populations. The heatwave conditions can adversely impact society's vulnerable sections, including the older population, wildlife, and children. Preparedness and response measures should be inclusive of the vulnerable sections. 

Third, more emphasis on climate adaptation. Even though the net targets for emissions are achieved the changing climate will continue to manifest in the form of extreme weather events, therefore, adaptation can play a key role in managing extreme weather. There has always been less emphasis on adaptation than on mitigation and there is a need to invest more in adaptation plans.


Colombia: The rise of the Left

In the news
On 19 June, Colombians voted in the run-off presidential elections between the leftist Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez. The run-off was held following the lack of a fifty per cent majority in the first round of presidential elections held on 29 May. Gustavo Petro won the run-off elections, marking the first leftist president in Colombian history since 1810.  Upon his victory, Petro said: “We are writing a new history for Colombia, Latin America and the world.” He added: “…will open opportunity and hope for all Colombians in every corner of the national territory.”

Issues at large
First, the festering discontent with the conservative rule in Colombia. The conservatives had campaigned to focus on managing the armed conflict between the Colombian government and the various guerrilla movements in Colombia. However, there has been a marked inertia in acting upon the 2016 Peace Accords, despite the signing of agreements to end a lengthy conflict in the state. The inertia also saw the degradation of social and economic equality in the state. Upon this, the COVID-19 pandemic also worsened the economic equality with an inflation rate of 5.6 per cent, impacting more than 40 per cent of the Colombians who live below the poverty line. Other issues that widen the discontent are the increased drug trafficking, gang conflicts and the large influx of Venezuelan refugees.

Second, limited options in the elections of 2022. Hitherto, Colombians did not have a wide range when it came to choosing their leader. Despite the larger number of candidates in 2022, both the competitors were far from the conservatives. The qualitative options left to the Colombian population were still limited. Petro’s past affiliations with the guerilla movement which plagues the Colombian state and Hernandez, professing anti-corruption while being laden with corruption charges against him, indicates the desperate need for a change in Colombian governance.

Third, the largely divided campaign outlook. Petro’s campaign promised include the establishment of political and economic equality among the masses in the country. However, Hernandez’s campaign promises seemed limited. He had promised to act against the threat of obscuring of women from public life, an unsubstantiated anti-corruption call and the instituting of a state of emergency/exception. The varied nature of these campaigns highlights the contrasting views of communist to populist tendencies. The close lead between these two candidates at the run-offs holds the potentiality to worsen the existing political instability in Colombia.

Fourth, the larger leftist transitions in the region. Latin America has gradually drifted toward the leftist administrations in recent times. The run-off election and its results portray the strong preference for a fundamental change in the traditional governance of Colombia, in keeping with the regional trend. However, it is unclear whether Petro’s victory was due to the leftist ideology or the campaign promises. But ideology has played a crucial part in elections in the region, to the extent of scant attention to the campaign promises of potential presidents of the state. 

In perspective
First, the domestic and regional challenges. The victory of Petro certainly indicates a strong attempt to change the politics of Colombia by the voters. However, like his rival and predecessor, Petro faces challenges from the divided masses, owing to the historical inequality and partly due to his economic and social promises. In the post-election period, Petro will require the support of the divided masses, and ensure his conservative and populist rivals do not pose threat to his presidency. The question of ideology and re-evaluating the armed conflict which disturbs the domestic peace will needs to be looked into by the new president to instil confidence in both the guerrillas and the population, to deter internal conflict. At the regional level, Petro would have to portray the unity of his state in a region largely divided between the right and the left. Above all, Petro would have to establish strong ties with powerful and potential allies in the larger international arena.

Second, uncertain Colombia. It is evident that Colombia has taken a key step in the direction of establishing change and equality in the traditionally conservative state. However, the uncertainty remains when it comes to effective handling of the domestic challenges by Petro, which will be the key to stability and establishing the change desired by the Colombian voters.


Also from around the World
By Avishka Ashok, Sruthi Sadhasivam, Ashwin Dhanabalan, Akriti Sharma, Abigail Fernandez, Lavanya Ravi, Apoorva Sudhakar, and Padmashree Anandhan

East and Southeast Asia
China: Defence Ministry tests ground-based mid-range anti-ballistic missile
On 19 June, China’s Defence Ministry announced the successful test of a mid-range anti-ballistic missile late in the night. The Ministry issued a statement on the test of the ground-based midcourse anti-missile intercept technology and said: “The test reached its expected goals. This test was defensive and not aimed at any country.” A similar test had been conducted in February 2021; the recent test brings the total number of tests to six. The development is seen as a part of China’s initiative to ramp up the country’s research into all kinds of missiles, especially those that can destroy satellites in space and advanced nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. 

China: UN Human Rights Chief reveals that meetings with Uighurs had limitations
On 16 June, the Guardian reported the United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet’s statement on her visit to Xinjiang. Bachelet revealed that she was not allowed to meet members of civil society organizations without being accompanied by the government authorities. Earlier during her visit to Xinjiang, Bachelet had said that she was unable to meet everyone but had interacted with some people in an unsupervised manner. However, Bachelet has now revealed that there were certain restrictions on the visit. She said: “As it would be true of any high-level visit which by definition is not an investigation mission, there were limitations especially given the prevailing Covid restrictions.” 

Japan: Foreign Ministry lodges official complaint against unilateral development activity 
On 17 June, Japan’s foreign minister announced that the country had filed a protest with a senior official from the Chinese embassy in Tokyo after the Japanese navy discovered a new gas exploration platform being transported in the East China Sea. Japan called the action “China’s unilateral development of resources in the East China Sea,” an area that was agreed upon for bilateral cooperation under a 2008 agreement. The Ministry’s statement said: “It is extremely regrettable that China is proceeding with its unilateral development activity, even though it is in the west side of the equidistance line between Japan and China.” 

Japan: Defense minister troubled over China’s influence in revitalising Cambodian naval base
On 21 June, Cambodia’s defense minister in a meeting with Japan’s defense minister, voiced opposition to China’s involvement in revamping Cambodian ream naval base. When questioned about the reason behind reforming the base, Cambodia’s minister claimed that the naval base had to be revamped to mend the country’s vessels as servicing the ships abroad was pricey. The bilateral talks come in the wake of Cambodia hosting defense ministerial meeting among ASEAN states. Japan expressed its disinterest in participating in the meeting if Russia took part.

South Korea: Second indigenous satellite successfully launched
On 21 June, South Korea initiated its second indigenous satellite, Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, called Nuri, into the “orbit” from Goheung county, about 500km south of Seoul. This indicates that South Korea has all the essential technology to launch spy satellites and construct bigger missiles that can be used to counter the North Korean threat. Previously, the nation’s efforts to set out a “dummy satellite” faltered. The country seeks to conduct space probes on the moon by 2030. 

North Korea: President holds a Central Military Commission meeting
On 22 June, president Kim Jong-Un led a Central Military Commission meeting that sought to formulate policies to strengthen the nation’s defence. Since 2021, this is the first instance, a meeting of this scale is being organized and is expected to be held for a few more days. The leader is likely to discuss enhancing tactical nuclear capabilities to strike Japan and South Korea and develop the military capacity to target the US. Previously, the country has conducted nuclear tests in the aftermath of such meetings.  

Australia: Environmental group files case to stall green gas project
On 21 June, Australia’s environment organisation, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) lodged a case to block the Scarborough gas project worth USD 16 billion due to it emission of greenhouse gas and its adverse effect on the Great Barrier Reef. The environmental organisation stated that the project would foster coral bleaching by warming up the fossil fuel. The Woodside Energy Group, the pursuer of the project, will be able to continue work only after it gets authorised by the offshore energy regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority. The company stated that its project is in accordance with all environmental regulations. Although federal resources minister, Madeleine King, claimed that the project would assist in reducing emissions, climate researchers predict an increase of 1.37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide if the project takes off.

Laos: Rising inflation and low wages push workers to Thailand for better opportunities
On 19 June, according to a report by Radio Free Asia, the people of Laos were lining up in front of the ministry of foreign affairs to apply for or renew their passports. The people claimed they wanted to go to Thailand for better jobs as inflation in Laos and low wages had crippled the economy. Laos’ inflation was one of the highest in Southeast Asia, at 12.8 per cent in May. This comes as the government of Laos increased the minimum wage to USD 88 while the Lao federation of trade unions demanded an increase to USD 101 per month. 

Myanmar: Military regime rejects UN’s accusations of crimes against humanity
On 18 June, Myanmar’s military regime said it rejected the UN’s comments on human rights violations in the country. The regime accused the UN’s rights chief Michelle Bachelet of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, calling it “one-sided and unfounded statements.” Bachelet called out the regime for holding executions similar to its first executions in the 1990s. She further mentioned that under the current regime, 1,900 killings and 13,500 people had been arbitrarily arrested by the regime. 

Myanmar: India issues ID cards to 30,000 refugees in Mizoram
On 17 June, India issued identity cards to about 30,000 refugees who fled Myanmar. Mizoram’s home affairs minister Lalchamliana said: “…We have issued the cards for the safety of the refugees as well as easier identification.” This comes as Mizoram shares a 510km border with Chin State, and the crossing has been used by activists and members of the National League for Democracy to flee. India has been calling out the military regime to respect the people’s human rights and to re-establish democracy in the country.

South Asia
India: Protests against “Agnipath” spreads across the country
On 18 June, the protests against the recently approved “Agnipath” scheme for the recruitment of armed forces continued for the fourth consecutive day. Protests erupted in several states including Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Kerala. One person was killed during police firing in Telangana while protesting at the station. Several trains were cancelled and affected due to the protests. Protesters also called for a “Bharat Bandh” on 20 June which disrupted traffic in several regions across the country. On the other hand, the Indian army has announced that the first set of people recruited through the scheme, “Agniveers” will join service by 2023.

Sri Lanka: Fuel shortage results in riots
On 19 June, the military opened fire to contain riots that erupted at a fuel station in the north of Colombo. People were pelting stones and damaged army trucks which triggered the clash between the people and the military. Four civilians and three soldiers were injured in the clash. The country is witnessing an economic crisis and an acute fuel crisis. Earlier, the government announced Friday as a holiday and ordered the closure of schools and offices due to a fuel shortage. The government has deployed the military at the fuel station to contain protests and riots.

Afghanistan: Blasts in Kabul and Nangarhar
On 18 June, two people were killed and several were injured in an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul. According to the Taliban’s interior ministry, the attackers had laden a car with explosives, however, it had detonated before reaching the target. The local branch of Islamic State, ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that it was in retaliation for insults against the Prophet Mohammed. In another incident, two civilians were killed and several were injured a blast that took place in Ghani district in Nangarhar. According to the officials, the blast was due to a magnetic mine targeting the vehicle of the head of the district health department. However, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Pakistan: Four activists of the Youth of Waziristan killed in an attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
On 19 June, four activists of the Youth of Waziristan, a social organisation, were killed after unidentified men on two motorcycles opened fire on a moving car in the Haiderkhel area of Mirali tehsil in North Waziristan. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killing. Meanwhile, two people were gunned down in separate incidents in South Waziristan.

Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa
Armenia: One soldier killed by Azerbaijan forces, says defence ministry 
On 19 June, Armenia’s defence ministry claimed that one soldier was killed on the border with Azerbaijan. Additionally, they also acknowledged their forces had "fired with various-caliber firearms" at Azerbaijani military positions along the border. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani defense officials also confirmed that shots were fired in the area.

Iran: New US sanctions affect petrochemical network 
On 16 June, the US department of treasury stated it had imposed new sanctions on companies involved in a petrochemical network run by Iran. Two companies based in Hong Kong, three in Iran and four in the UAE fall under the new sanctions. The US has accused these companies of allegedly helping Iran evade sanctions by supporting its business. The new sanctions come as a pressure tactic in the ongoing negotiations of the nuclear deal. China is the biggest buyer of oil from Iran and the move is aimed to limit China’s imports. However, one round of sanctions on a few companies is unlikely to deter various countries’ oil dependency on Iran.

Syria: US air force official arrested in a blast case
On 21 June, the US Air Force stated it has arrested a member of the US air force in connection to an attack that happened in April in the Green Village of Syria. The attack wounded other air force officials. Initially, the US blamed the attack on an indirect fire or a rocket strike. However, further investigation revealed a deliberate placement of explosives at an ammunition holding and shower facility. The official taken into custody has been kept anonymous while investigations are ongoing in suspect of a possible insider attack and are currently held in pre-trial confinement. 

Lebanon: Egypt to ship natural gas via Syria to Deir Ammar power plant under new deal
On 21 June, a deal was signed in Beirut by Syria, Egypt and Lebanon that would let Lebanon obtain natural gas. Syria and Egypt will ship 650 million cubic metres of natural gas annually. The gas will be piped from Egypt to Lebanon via Syria, to Lebanon’s northern Deir Ammar power plant. Amidst crippling blackout due to gas and electricity shortages, Lebanon will now be able to add 450 megawatts to its power grid or 4 extra hours of power every day. The project was negotiated with the help of the US backing. The deal awaits World Bank approval, which agreed to finance Lebanon if the country enacts reformed to reduce waste in the power sector and boost tariff collection.

Israel: Agreement to pipe natural gas to Europe signed with EU
On 15 June, Israel signed a historic agreement with the EU where it agreed to pipe natural gas to Europe via Egyptian liquefaction facilities. The move is aimed to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russia’s oil and is part of EU’s patchwork strategy to fill the energy deficit left by Russia. The deal follows the Abraham accords which aim at normalizing ties with Israel by setting aside the issue of Palestine. Israel now aims at signing more deals with Bahrain and the UAE. 

Israel: Fifth general election held as parliament is dissolved
On 20 June, BBC reported Israel is heading towards its fifth general election in the last four years as a bill to dissolve the Knesset will be put to vote in a week. Current Prime minister Naftali Bennet will swap places with Alternate prime minister Yair Lapid. The elections have been scheduled for October 2022. Current coalition government in power was speculated to be on the brink of collapse as the prime minister’s own party quit the coalition. Hence it no longer has the majority vote in the parliament. If the vote to dissolve the parliament succeeds then the alternate prime will become interim prime minister. Naftali Bennet stated the move comes in the interest of Israel’s security.

Ethiopia: Over 200 Amhara-origin people killed in Oromo region
On 19 June, The Guardian quoted witnesses in the Oromia region who said over 200 people of Amhara ethnicity had been killed on 18 and 19 June. The witnesses and the Oromia regional government accused the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels of carrying out the attack, alleging that the rebel group failed to resist security forces’ operations. However, the OLA spokesperson dismissed these claims and accused the Ethiopian military and local militia of the offensive. On 20 June, prime minister Abiy Ahmed condemned the ethnic killings across Ethiopia, saying his government was committed to peace and security. 

Sudan: World Food Programme warns of increasing food insecurity
On 16 June, the WFP’s Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA) revealed that 15 million people in Sudan, which constitutes more than 30 per cent of the population, are subject to food insecurity. The CFSVA links the situation to the prevalence of “conflict and displacement; climate shocks; and a poor harvest in the past agricultural season.” The war in Ukraine has also affected the situation as over half of Sudan’s wheat imports come from the Black Sea region. The CFSVA also predicts that the situation will deteriorate during the lean season and therefore, as previously warned by the WFP and FAO, the number of people facing insecurity would rise to 18 million. 

Mali: UN peacekeeper killed in attack on convoy
On 19 June, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned an IED attack in northern Mali wherein a UN peacekeeper was killed. The attack took place during a UN convoy’s mine detection operation in Kidal city. Guterres said targeting UN peacekeepers could amount to war crimes and called on Mali to “spare no efforts” to bring the attackers to justice. Similarly, the UN Special Representative for Mali, who is also the head of the UN’s Mali mission, said the development “illustrates, once again, the complexity of the environment in which the Mission operates and of the security challenges it faces on a daily basis.” 

Europe and the Americas
Ukraine: Oil platform in Crimea attack, admit Ukrainian forces
On 22 June, Ukraine’s forces admitted to striking the oil platform in Crimea, in the Black Sea. They accuse that the Russian troops were using it as a military installation. The attack, on 21 June, marks the first strike against offshore energy infrastructure in Crimea since the war began. So far, seven people have been reported missing and three injured. Following the attack, the Chernomorneftegaz drilling rig is believed to be on fire over 24 hours after. 

Russia: Panic buying in Kaliningrad after Lithuania bans rail cargo 
On 21 June, following the Lithuanian announcement of a rail blockade, a sense of panic buying was observed in Kaliningrad. The ban threatens to isolate Russia’s ‘strategic Baltic enclave.’ The region has no ground connection to the mainland and relies largely on railways for trade. Kaliningrad is also home to Russia’s Baltic Sea Fleet and the arsenal of nuclear-ready Iskander missiles. The ban is likely to affect more than 50 per cent of the goods traded between the two regions. 

Russia: Lithuania warned over ban on transfer of goods
On 20 June, Russia warned Lithuania as Vilnius banned the transit of goods across its borders to its Kaliningrad enclave. Lithuania cited EU sanctions rules for blocking the movement of goods sanctioned by the bloc. Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said: "This decision is really unprecedented. It’s a violation of everything.” Russia also accused the G20 members of politicizing a meeting on global health. Russia claimed that the G20 accused Moscow’s invasion as the reason for Ukraine’s healthcare system plunging into chaos.

Europe: New WTO deal to limit overfishing hailed despite of flaws 
On 21 June, conservationists hailed the recent World Trade Organization’s (WTO) agreement to end subsidies that cause overfishing after 20 years of failed negotiations. Despite being scaled down from its original objectives, Pew Charitable Trusts, which has long advocated for the elimination of such subsidies, said the new agreement represented a turning point in eliminating a major cause of overfishing. The agreement establishes a worldwide framework that restricts financial support for high seas fishing, overfished populations, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It lays the groundwork to incorporate other subsidies by including steps to increase openness and accountability for governments over how they subsidize the sector. However, the agreement does not prohibit the use of public funds by governments to subsidize either operating expenses, such as gasoline, or capital expenditures, such as the modernization and replacement of fishing fleets' engines. These increase overfishing, favour bigger vessels, and artificially lower operational costs for the fishing sector.

France: NUPES to form the largest opposition party in the parliamentary elections
On 19 June, the new left-wing coalition New Popular Union (NUPES) is on track to become the country's largest opposition party in parliament as it is expected to win 141 seats. The bloc is led by far-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon and consists of La France Insoumise (LFI), the Socialist Party, the Greens and the French Communist Party. The Rassemblement National party led by Marine Le Pen is expected to win 90 seats in the parliamentary elections as projected by the pollster Ipsos surpassing previous projections. However, Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble failed to win an absolute majority, leaving him with no choice but to strike a compromise with the conservative Les Républicains (LR) to remain unrestricted in decision-making.

Turkey: Calls to limit the influx of refugees to Cyprus
On 18 June, the vice president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas urged Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot administration to control the migrant influx in Cyprus during his visit to the island's capital Nicosia. His call comes following the number of asylum seekers landing in Cyprus has risen dramatically, with the majority arriving in the island's separatist northern half. According to the Cypriot administration, 90 per cent of migrants enter the country via Turkey and the separatist Turkish Cypriot north, where a loosely controlled student visa system is in place. The UN buffer zone is then crossed by tens of thousands of refugees seeking shelter in the Greek Cypriot south. Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said Nicosia was working with Brussels to speed up the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers, however, a new migrant-receiving facility would require additional EU funds.

The US: China issues factsheet on challenges in bilateral relations
On 19 June, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a factsheet titled, “Falsehoods in US Perceptions of China.” The factsheet listed 21 points with detailed facts and figures relating to issues in the US-China bilateral relations. The 21 points touched on the claims of democracy, violation of human rights, the Indo-Pacific, and China’s stance on Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. The document was a response to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s speech at Asia Society which subtly underlined the US approach to China and the US perception of China as a threat. The ministry said: “With carefully calibrated language, he sought to promote the 'China threat' narrative, interfere in China's internal affairs, and smear China's domestic and foreign policy.”


Conflict Weekly Exclusive, 22 June 2022
Forced displacement in 2021: Four takeaways from the UNHCR report

A Report Review by Apoorva Sudhakar

On 16 June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released the “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2021” report. The report highlighted that 83 per cent of refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad were hosted by low and middle-income countries. Similarly, 27 per cent of the total number were hosted in the least developed countries. The highest number of refugees was hosted by Turkiye at 3.8 million refugees, followed by Colombia with 1.8 million refugees. As much as 69 per cent of the refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad originated from Syria (6.8 million), followed by Venezuela (4.6 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.4 million), and Myanmar (1.4 million).
 
The report reiterated the 2021 report on the issue wherein the UNHCR had said “the question is no longer if forced displacement will exceed 100 million people – but rather when.”
 
Four takeaways
First, the increasing refugee and displacement crises. The number of people forcibly displaced has more than doubled to 89.3 million in a decade, compared to the 42.7 million in 2012. The data shows that in 2021, 1 in 88 people were forcibly displaced against the 1 in 167 in 2012. The report is published as the world is still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which placed restrictions on people’s movements across borders. This led to an increase in internally displaced people rather than refugees in several countries. Nevertheless, the number of refugees rose to 21.3 million people in 2021, compared to 20.7 million in 2020.
 
Second, the burden on developing countries. The report says 5.1 million people displaced across borders were hosted by the Americas, of which 86 per cent were Venezuelans. However, developing regions like the East and Horn of Africa host more than one-fifth of refugees across the world. Though the data pertained to 2021, the report mentioned the response of the developed and high-income countries toward Ukrainian refugees. The stark difference in response was evident in the protection granted to the Ukrainians by the EU Member States. 
 
Third, conflict, violence and human rights violations as major drivers. Continuation or status quo of old conflicts and outbreaks of new ones remained a leading cause of displacement. Some of the latest displacements have been caused by the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray and the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. The report cites surveys which indicate that people are willing to return to their places of origin if peace is restored. Oftentimes, people are hesitant to return due to loss of livelihood and housing. However, the leading cause to flee or seek asylum remained the prolonged lack of political will to address conflicts.
 
Fourth, the emerging link between climate change and displacement. The report outlines the role of climate change in displacement. For example, the report cites data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre which said extreme events like prolonged droughts, floods, and storms led to the displacement of 23.7 million people in 2021. However, since climate-related calamities are relatively new phenomena, data on the impact of climate change on factors like poverty and armed conflict are limited. Therefore, the link between climate and displacement is yet to be established.


About the authors 
Akriti Sharma is a Doctoral Scholar at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, NIAS. Porkkodi Ganeshpandian is a Doctoral Scholar in the Center for International Politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Apoorva Sudhakar, Padmashree Anandhan, Avishka Ashok, Ashwin Dhanabalan, and Abigail Miriam Fernandez are Project Associates at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, NIAS. Lavanya Ravi and Sruthi Sadhasivam are postgraduate scholars at Christ (Deemed to be) University, Bangalore.

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