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Displaced by violent conflict: the world’s most neglected crises are in Africa – six essential reads

A woman walking between makeshift shelters and tents made with reeds and canvas.
A camp for displaced persons in Burkina Faso, May 2024. Fanny Naoro-Kabré/AFP via Getty Images

The Norwegian Refugee Council recently released a report highlighting the 10 most neglected displacement crises in the world in 2023. Nine of the 10 countries are in Africa – the only non-African country on the list is Honduras in central America.

Neglect, according to the council, is characterised by a lack of media coverage, inadequate humanitarian funding and insufficient international political attention. The report covers those forced to flee their homes.

Burkina Faso tops the 2024 report for a second time in a row. It’s followed by Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali and Niger. Rounding off the top 10 are South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Chad and Sudan.

At The Conversation Africa, we’ve been working with academic experts to highlight the severe insecurity, massive displacement and urgent need for international and regional support in these countries. Here are some essential reads we’ve published.

Displacement crisis

The central African region hosts one of the largest communities of internally displaced persons in Africa. The countries in the region include Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the DRC. Long-running conflicts and armed rebellions have led to the region’s instability. The main organisation providing assistance is the UN refugee agency. However, in a pattern seen for at least three years, the agency’s budget for the region remains insufficient. Cristiano d'Orsi highlights the urgent need for a coordinated and sustained international response.


Read more: 7 million internally displaced people live in Central Africa – they need more support


Regional instability

Armed groups like Boko Haram have been operating in the Lake Chad Basin for more than a decade. The region, which includes Niger, Cameroon and Chad, faces severe security challenges and many of the 30 million people living here need humanitarian assistance. More than 11 million have been displaced by conflict and need aid. Modesta Tochukwu Alozie proposes some solutions for a region whose population is expected to double in the next two decades.


Read more: The Lake Chad Basin is a security nightmare. 5 guidelines for finding solutions


Decades of neglect

Thirty years of violence in the DRC have left a trail of death, destruction and displacement. In recent months, however, a rebel insurgence in the eastern region has placed neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda at the centre of country’s conflict. According to Jason Stearns and Joshua Z. Walker, donors and UN peacekeepers are providing humanitarian aid, but doing little to address the emerging conflict dynamics. They explain why resolving the DRC crisis requires less hypocrisy from foreign donors, and an approach that prioritises the lives of civilians.


Read more: DRC-Rwanda crisis: what's needed to prevent a regional war


Military takeover

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and depends on foreign assistance. It’s also located in one of the most unstable parts of the world – the Sahel region, which is characterised by terrorism, banditry and trafficking. However, following a military coup in July 2023, the landlocked country of 25 million people lost significant aid contributions. This has since resulted in a deterioration in security, economic development and people’s wellbeing. Olayinka Ajala unpacks the long-ranging implications of the military takeover in Niger.


Read more: Niger has cut military ties with the US: why this is bad for the Sahel’s security


Escalating conflict

Sudan was on a bumpy transition to democracy after the 2019 uprisings ousted long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir. But this came to a halt in April 2023 with the outbreak of a civil war. Hostilities have since spread beyond the capital Khartoum and revived long-simmering violence in Darfur. Around 25 million people – half of Sudan’s population before the war – are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The war is creating a volatile environment beyond Sudan’s borders, as May Darwich explains.


Read more: Sudan: the longer the conflict lasts, the higher the risk of a regional war


Precarious peace

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 but remains extremely poor and underdeveloped. The country is reliant on oil exports for public revenue. This oil has to pass through Sudan to reach export markets. However, Sudan’s ongoing war poses a serious threat to Juba’s development efforts and an already precarious peace process. John Mukum Mbaku puts these risks into context.


Read more: War in Sudan puts South Sudan in danger too: the world’s youngest nation needs a stable neighbour


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