7 conflicts to watch in Africa in 2017

Friday, 27 January 2017 11545 Views 24 Comments
7 conflicts to watch in Africa in 2017

The world has roughly 3 million refugees; two-thirds of which hail from and are hosted by African countries this is based on the most recent reports by the UNHCR (Wilhelm, 2016). It doesn’t also come as a shock when you catch one off-guard and ask them which are the most war-torn countries in the world; half of those on the list would be African countries. This is true of a list released by the World Atlas (worldatlas.com) when apart from the obvious Iraq and Syria – 5 African countries made it to the list (C.A. R, Somalia, Nigeria, S. Sudan, Republic of Sudan) of the most war-torn countries in the world.

From this general fact, I’m trying to point out that the world is going through a rather tumultuous phase in comparison to the past decades. From a looming refugee crisis as noted above to spread of terrorism; the sharp increase in the number of wars and conflicts over the recent years shows that we are becoming completely incapable of coping with the consequences they bring. As one author noted that, “… our collective failure to resolve conflict is giving birth to new threats and emergencies. Even in peaceful societies, the politics of fear is leading to dangerous polarization and demagoguery…”

World Leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos came up with a list of causes including: the rise to power of a growing number of politicians that seemed to be more focused on domestic issues than in recent years. Indeed, the theme of this year’s annual conference in Davos is responsible leadership. Second, the interplay between the financial crisis that overshadowed 2007-2014 and politics especially as more insurgent groups are seeking to solely take charge of the existent sources of income such as oils mines etc. Similarly, extreme weather conditions that led up to water crisis, major natural disasters and the rise of resource based conflict alike was on the list as one of the contributors of conflict.

Truth is the world has become exceedingly fluid and lacks predictability. The multipolar scene displays characteristics of narcissism and selfishness, coupled with strong institutions opens for mischief. Therefore, in a bottom-up world, it is becoming close to impossible for all the actors to contain local conflicts which ultimately spark larger fires this is the case of Libya.

Well enough of the global scene, back to our very own continent. This list of 7 conflicts to watch in 2017 in the continent some which had already raised eye-brows last year and some which are becoming of major concern this year.


  1. Lake Chad Basin Conflict

Lake Chad, home to about nine million people and looming humanitarian crises has been overtaken by Boko Haram who have been on a rampage, slaughtering people and burning people out of their homes. The lake Chad basin which comprises of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad has transformed the outlook of terror and extremist groups in the region. Not only has the extremist group identified with larger well known such as ISIL but it has brought new light having been successful in recruiting women and children suicide bombers who attack softer targets and in turn also unleash even larger raids.

International leaders and policy analysts have paid so much attention in the abduction of the women and young girls by the same however, leaders are asking for us to address the root causes of this conflicts which include Environmental degradation, poverty, under-development and negligence by relevant authorities especially towards the marginalised communities.


  1. South Sudan

South Sudan, the youngest country has had a hard time lifting off in the continent. The country which went full on offensive towards the end of 2013 has been at war since. Having caused immense pain and losses since then the war seems to be unending and there are speculations that its morphing into a fully-fledged genocide. The conflict that was originally caused by the dismissal of Riek Machar from his vice president sit by President Salva Kiir. This decision that later led to Machar being forced out of the country has left his supporters feeling underrepresented. Countless failed negotiations have enforced that power is the only solution to power. The international response has been underwhelming, with the UN unable to come to an agreement on a potential arms embargo.


  1. Sudan

The republic of Sudan has had intermittent civil wars since the 1950’s. The conflicts have been sparked by political, economic, religious and cultural marginalisation of the peripheries by the government in Khartoum.  This has led to the grave human rights violations as well as crimes against humanity such chemical attacks against her citizens especially in the regions near Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. With the government cutting access to journalists seeking to share the stories from those areas.

The country has also been at logger heads with South Sudan over border and oil rich regions. As is the conflict is not ending anytime soon.


  1. Ethiopia

The country is half way through it 6-month state induced social media freeze. Ethiopia over the last year has faced civil unrest in the Oromia region. The Oromia’s who are  marginalised and underrepresented have been protesting since November 2015 and grave human rights violations have then been committed by the government such as the killing of nearly 800 protestors since. The protestors are becoming vigilant with their stance and even though there has been calm the government should not be disillusioned and this year might bring with it more tension and conflict.

  1. Cameroon

Cameroon has been a victim of spill-overs from its neighbouring countries over the last few years, mostly from CAR. With endemic corruption and a bounty of resources, the country has been relatively peaceful. However, recent months have seen an onset of tension in the country. The first resulting from the infiltration of Boko Haram in the country as they seek to spread across the larger Lake Chad basin. Heavy-handed responses have been used such as ongoing screenings and massive detaining.

Earlier this year however there have been reports of internal wrangles between the French and English speaking parts of the country. The southern which is mainly dominated by Anglophones has been going though internet blackout, this has struck and sparked protests across the country especially from Anglophonic teachers, lawyers and students over alleged bias in favour of Francophone.


  1. Democratic Republic of Congo

President Joseph Kabila’s determination to cling to power beyond the second term limit has spark sporadic tensions in the country. His leadership much like those other countries in conflict in Africa; his leadership has been tainted by endemic corruption and an absolutist leadership which means that once he steps down he loses everything. Although on the eve of the New Year the Catholic Bishops announced that a deal had been reached but the president is yet to sign the deal. With a violent past and an obvious difficulty in letting go of this position; we would be best to hope a peaceful year.


  1. Burundi

Burundi has seen on-off conflict since its independence. However, tensions sparked in April 2015 after the coup upon the president’s decision to run for a third term. Since then the situation has been deteriorating ever since. The conflict is mainly due political and social issues that have seen the mass killings (genocide) of nearly 300000 people since the early 1990’s. The conflict has remained largely political and has seen the assignation of political leaders and activists across the country.








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