As many as the residents in the Netherlands, roughly. Or like the combined population of Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Finland. As for its magnitude, the severe drought hitting the Horn of Africa and affecting more than 18 million of its people may end up being the worst in the last 50 years.
As the lights dimmed on the 8th World Water Forum on Friday 23 March 2018, the international community is urged to continue to pay the utmost attention to today’s climate-induced humanitarian crises that are affecting much of our world more frequently and more severely.
Two plights, both sunk into oblivion: climate change and humanitarian crises are two of the most neglected tragedies currently affecting Africa far and wide. In February FAO, the UN specialised agency for food and agriculture, declared that nearly 224 million Africans are suffering from malnutrition because of climate change and conflicts. Lately, the number has increased by over 20 million.
The war that has been ravaging South Sudan since 2013 has forced 3.5 million people to flee their homes: 1.7 million escaped to other countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda) and 1.9 million sought refuge in other parts of the country. Figures from UNHCR (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees) are terrible. And even more so when you think that behind those numbers are personal tales of violence, exhaustion, uprooting, family strife and, above all, poverty.
The complex impacts of climate change on human mobility have gained increased attention, but an invisible and growing number of people are also being displaced – paradoxically – by the very measures taken in the name of addressing it.
In the last forty years the Lake Chad Basin has hosted one of the gravest humanitarian crises on the African continent.
The Italian G7 (26–27 May) takes place during momentous times for international politics. Many Heads of State and Government meeting in Taormina are new to the forum, and some of them hold radically different views. On top of that, France and the United Kingdom are in the midst of their national electoral campaigns, while Germany goes to the polls in September. Italy has approached its 2017 Presidency with realistic goals and by keeping a cool head.
“Fragile - Handle with care”: this very well could be the imaginary bumper sticker for the topic of climate change when it arrives on the G7 table in Taormina. Usually, climate change issues do not lead to serious international frictions (even though they trigger harsh discussions during the annual climate talks under the UNFCCC umbrella), but this time is different. The suspense is high and the actors involved should use all diplomatic means available to bring about some results without losing face.