Middle East: Facing the impact of climate change and armed conflict

Woman picking up rubbish in a landfill Woman picking up rubbish in a landfill Mumtahina Tanni / Pexels

Armed conflict in the Near and Middle East makes the humanitarian effects of environmental degradation and climate change worse.

The pattern of humanitarian needs throughout the Near and Middle East is being exacerbated by the combined effects of climate change, environmental degradation, and persistent armed conflict. An example is represented by Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, in which warfare and violence have an impact on the safety, way of life, health, and mobility of the local population. The issues related to environmental degradation add to the difficulties caused by the perennial state of tension in the area. 

Among the repercussions of the convergence of armed conflict, environmental degradation, and climate risks, we can list a flood in an informal settlement for internally displaced persons in Taiz, Yemen, which triggered a significant increase in internally displaced persons and cross-border; frequent dust storms which lash Baghdad, Iraq, forcing people to seek medical attention and forcing schools to close; the development and worsening of pollution in Aleppo, Syria, as a result of conflicts. 

“Making Adaptation Work”, a new policy paper by the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the Norwegian Red Cross, details the humanitarian effects of conflicts and climate change, and discusses what adaptation strategies are emerging to deal with the combined impact. 

According to the policy brief, developing community resilience to climate and environmental risks in places affected by armed conflict, or its legacy, are important goals to mitigate the negative effects of these occurrences; asking for immediate collaboration between players in the humanitarian, development, climatic, environmental, and state sectors to assist people affected by armed conflict and violence in coping with the short-, medium-, and long-term effects of climate change and the deterioration of the environment. 


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by Chiara Cacciatore

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