Africa's Lake Chad could fuel new migrant crisis: UN

2015-11-08 09:46


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Brussels -A perfect storm of drought, poverty and armed conflict in Africa's Lake Chad basin could fuel Europe's migrant crisis if world leaders fall short at two crucial summits on migration and climate change this year, a UN official warned.

The two-day EU-African summit in the Maltese capital Valletta which begins on November 11 and the UN COP21 climate conference in Paris at the end of the month must tackle long-festering problems in the region, Toby Lanzer, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told AFP this week.

Both summits address key issues which are keenly felt by countries in the drought-stricken Lake Chad basin, where 2.5 million people have been displaced, some of whom have already crossed international borders to escape the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, he said.

"Asylum seeking, the refugee crisis, the environmental crisis, the instability that extremists sow - all of those issues converge in the Lake Chad basin," Lanzer said.

"So there's a very compelling reason why the international community needs to step up and do more."

The world must help Lake Chad basin countries Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon to not only end the militant scourge but also tackle the effects of climate change, he said.

Vast expanses of the lake have dried up and deprived people of their livelihoods of fishing, livestock farming and trade, he added.

'Going pear-shaped'

Britain, France and the United States already work with the four regional countries to tackle the instability caused by Boko Haram.

But there are growing concerns the unrest could spread due to potential links between Boko Haram and like-minded extremists in places like Libya and Mali, Lanzer said.

Added to that, economic development and jobs are also badly needed for the region's burgeoning youth population who have few opportunities outside drugs and gun-running, people-smuggling and joining rebel groups.

"It's quite striking that... all the ingredients of this (are) going pear shaped.

"It's not only the fact that people are very poor: the fact there is instability, the fact there is tremendous environmental degradation, it's further compounded by a demographic situation," he said, citing the example of the Sahel where the population is seen growing by up to 150 million people over the next three decades.

With so many problems, it was time for the world to act, "to nip things in the bud" to prevent the situation from deteriorating.

The expected EU announcement in Valletta of a 1.8 billion euro trust fund for Africa, "is a very concrete and welcome step," he said, expressing hope that other countries such as the United States would join the effort.

"Valletta is a very important moment. It is a call to action for all of us," he added.

Read more on:    un  |  chad  |  migrants

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.