Impact of Conflict in Africa
Although Galtung J. (1967) explains that conflict can either have a positive or negative effect depending on the way it is managed. Positive conflict can be explained as a conflict that leads to relatively permanent peace after negotiation between the involving parties, while negative conflict is the conflict that generates or degenerates into another conflict or violence. However, there is no doubt that active conflict in Africa has led to serious damage and consequences to the continent.
Conflict has been a human tragedy in Africa. It has been responsible for more death and displacement than famine or flood. For the last three decades, it no secret that the scale and nature of warfare have directly affected the lives of many millions of Africans, such as the 800,000 lives lost during the Rwandan Genocide. Furthermore, the Armed Conflict Location and Data Project (2015) in the first two months of the same year, states that ten states accounted for 99% of conflict deaths on the continent. Nigeria suffered 4600 deaths, Cameroon 930, Sudan 700, Somalia 630, Niger 500, Democratic Republic of Congo 233, South Sudan 207, Burundi 161, the Central African Republic 100, and Mali 86.
Africa also has the highest level of internal displacement in the world and some of the largest refugee flows, the majority from countries in conflict. In 2000, almost eleven million people in Africa were internally displaced. This is an increase of two million during the past year and is the second consecutive increase in two years, after five years in which the numbers remained relatively stable (Global Report on Internal Displacement, 2017).
During the late 1990’s up to 2005 Sudan, Angola, the DRC and Congo Brazzaville account for most of this increase. In 1999, thirteen African countries each had 100,000 or more displaced persons, compared to eight such countries at the start of the decade. Internally displaced persons now outnumber refugees by a ratio of three to one. Taking refugees and internally displaced people together, 14 million people in Africa are uprooted (Global Report on Internal Displacement, 2017).
Economically, Africa’s development is threatened by conflict. Armed conflict has become one of the most important causes of poverty in Africa, leading to displacement of people, and the destruction of communities’ livelihoods. The effects of war cut across all levels of the economy down to the level of the household. War has a direct and immediate economic impact through the physical disruption it creates, denying access to land, key resources or markets. Some of the effects of conflict are less tangible. Insecurity is the least conducive climate for domestic savings and internal or external investment. Nor is the impact of war limited to the area of conflict. War damages regional infrastructure, markets and investment confidence across a wider region. The regional spread of conflict jeopardises stable and successful countries.
The Research Institute determined that African countries had suffered production losses of up to 45% (in Angola). Average production losses through conflict were 12%. War also seriously affected growth in the agricultural sector by 3% per annum. War has therefore been responsible for increasing the gap in food production for large parts of Africa and in some countries created a substantial requirement for imported food and food aid.
War has seriously damaged Africa’s infrastructure. Roads, rail, ports, airports, electricity, water supply, sewers and telecommunications have all been affected. During war there has been a dearth of investment in and maintenance of infrastructure. Over the past twenty years Africa has lost over fifty per cent of its transport infrastructure, many of the losses due to conflict. This loss has both an immediate and a long-term impact on African economies. In immediate terms, it increases impoverishment. For example, South Sudan has almost no viable road network because of years of civil war. This severely harms the livelihood of the population, who are dependent on trading cattle for cereals as their means of survival.
Pattison (2010) defines intervention for humanitarian purposes as “forcible military action by an external agent in the relevant political community with the predominant purpose of preventing, reducing or halting an ongoing or impending grievous suffering or loss of life.” It focuses around the notion of human security. This is the concept that the protection of individuals is more important than the national security of the state. The primary purpose of humanitarian intervention is to end human rights violations within the state in which it takes place and prevent the humanitarian crisis from escalating further.
However, Miller (2005) defines intervention as requested or imposed unilateral or multilateral actions by external parties conducted in relation to an ongoing process between parties. Intervention assumes one of three forms: actions by external nation-states in pursuit of policy objectives or favourable conditions to achieve those objectives; actions taken to uphold internationally accepted values or laws; or efforts to alter the dynamics or outcomes of a process under way.
Miller (2005) further describes that the first type of intervention is widely understood as the unprovoked interference by one nation-state in the internal affairs of another. Such intervention is normally unilateral and coercive and includes an array of examples, such as military force, covert operations, dissemination of propaganda, or cultural domination. The principle of non-intervention that has historically helped to define international relations generally deems such actions to be illegitimate. Recent developments in humanitarian
intervention have, however, had the effect of condoning and in some cases encouraging external parties to become involved in the alleviation of suffering of peoples within a nation-state, geographic area, or region. In such cases, moral or legal concerns (such as protection of human rights) may overshadow other factors (Miller 2005).
The second type of intervention, humanitarian intervention (and of which I am going to concentrate on in this paper) is a tool available to the international community and is particularly encouraged where human suffering occurs at the hands of a host government or where the state system is unwilling to address such conditions. In cases where a nation-state is simply unable to relieve trauma and suffering, humanitarian intervention is often requested by the authorities in power (Miller 2005).
Impact of Conflict in Africa