Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 4 News List

African Union head blames violence on climate change

Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

Tackling climate change in Africa could help resolve multiple problems ravaging the continent, from violence to drought and refugees, the head of the African Union said on Friday.

The mix of global warming with economic woes and political conflicts keeps peace from taking hold, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the union’s new chairman, said at Chatham House, an international think tank.

“There is a link between climate change and prosperity, as well as peace, on the continent,” Mahamat said in French with an interpreter.

“Africa is among the least polluting continents, and yet it is the continent that suffers most,” he said.

Mahamat, a former foreign minister of Chad, was chosen to chair the 55-member, Addis Ababa-based organization in January.

In Africa’s arid Sahel region, south of the Sahara, drought and desertification, along with a young population prone to immigration, allow problems such as terrorism and trafficking to “thrive,” he said.

Yet Africa’s huge population of young people could provide a “demographic dividend” benefiting the region, as long as young people could be encouraged not to leave, he said.

About 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are at risk of hunger due to recurring droughts, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says.

Eastern and southern Africa were particularly hard hit by the El Nino weather pattern that brought catastrophic heavy rainfall, flash flooding and landslides last year.

“We want to solve the dilemma, the irony of the situation in the sense that we have a continent that is potentially rich and yet people are very poor,” Mahamat said.

“Africa has not been able to create and realize the prosperity that it was looking for, and above all Africa is marginalized on the international field,” he said.

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