Originally published in ISPI’s policy brief
No region is more plagued with violent conflicts than Africa. The presence of more than 11 peacekeeping missions composed of nearly 50,000 strong UN and AU peacekeepers in areas such as Darfur, Abyei, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as thousands of western military forces in Djibouti, are evidence of some of Africa’s many peace and security challenges.
The collapse of Somalia in 1991 and its continued fragility; Somaliland’s declaration of independence;21years of civil war in Sudan; the crises in Darfur since 2003; and the independence of both Eritrea and South Sudan, followed by ensuing border disputes, demonstrate the violent nature of Africa.
In addition, atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in some Eastern and Central African countries; civil war in the Great Lakes region; and border wars in many African countries, involving new states such as Eritrea and South Sudan and their older neighbours such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, have disrupted the livelihood and development of inhabitants in border areas. The recent devastating Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, terrorist attacks in the Sahel region and North Africa, election related violence and unconstitutional changes of government in more than 20 African countries, and drug trafficking as well as organized crime, including arms proliferation, constitute Africa’s major peace and security threats. Maritime security in the Gulf Aden and Gulf of Guinea are on the rise, and insecurity at sea is a direct reflection of “onland” instability.
Coup attempts still seriously threaten Africa. In addition to recent coup in Mali, on 26 December 2011, high officials of Guinea Bissau, including the Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff, faced assassination attempts and the Chief of Staff is the safety of European Union delegation compound. Similarly, July 2011, the residence of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé was attacked. Africa has faced grave famine due to drought and difficulties in distributing aid, particularly in the Horn of Africa and West Africa. More than 12 million people, mainly in Somalia, are in need of humanitarian food assistance . Such drivers and aggravating factors pertaining to conflict often result in population displacement . Poor socio-economic and environmental conditions as well as armed conflicts have resulted in a significant increase in refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).