Unprecedented crisis in West Africa: Nearly 9 Million displaced by conflict and climate change, warns International Rescue Committee (IRC) on World Refugee Day

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is raising the alarm for the escalating humanitarian needs of nearly 9 million people in West Africa who are currently displaced due to increasing violence, insecurity, and extreme weather events. People have often become displaced multiple times, exacerbating their hardships. On World Refugee Day, the IRC alerts that urgent action is needed to address the specific challenges presented by this compound crisis of armed conflict and climate change.

Across the world, changing climate has exacerbated existing challenges. Sixteen countries are caught in the intersection of climate vulnerability and armed conflict, representing a staggering 44% of people impacted by natural disasters and 79% of those in humanitarian need. One in four of those countries are in West Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. These communities often lack the resources to adapt or recover, bearing the brunt of climate-induced displacement.

Countries in West Africa are particularly vulnerable to sudden onset events such as floods, alongside ongoing issues like land degradation, water scarcity, and coastal erosion, which have increased in occurrence and severity due to the adverse effects of climate change. In 2022, for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, climate-related disasters caused almost as many internal displacements as conflicts: In Nigeria, most internal displacements were caused by disasters last year. The country experienced the worst floods in a decade, resulting in 2.4 million people displaced—the highest number of people displaced owing to disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa in the past ten years.

Modou Diaw, Regional Vice President for the IRC in West Africa, says:

“Conflict remains a primary driver of displacement, but over the last few decades, climate change has significantly impacted migration decisions across West Africa. The overlap of conflict and climate disasters underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and coordinated responses to break the cycle of climate change and armed conflict, and to increase humanitarian access and funding that supports resilience and adaptation to climate change.

The IRC is working to address the root causes of displacement, by enhancing resilience to climate shocks, and ensuring sustainable development are critical to mitigating the crisis by providing specialized support and protection services, including the safety, well-being, and rights of displaced women and girls, for access to violence prevention and response services, psychosocial support, and livelihoods assistance. ”

Since 1991, the IRC has partnered locally in West Africa to empower people in crisis to survive and rebuild their lives. The IRC’s regional office for West Africa is based in Dakar, Senegal, and supports six country programs in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone as well as a project-specific office in Monrovia, Liberia.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee (IRC) .

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