The Sahel in turmoil: political instability, resource conflicts and migration [CRG Drylands]
Han van Dijk (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Cyrus Samimi (University of Bayreuth)
Environment and Geography
David Hume, LG.11
Thursday 13 June, 16:15-17:45

Short abstract:

Since the outbreak of civil conflict in Mali in 2012, political instability in the entire Sahel has increased. Many conflicts are framed around ethnicity and religion but in reality centre on natural resources and the relations between migrants and autochthones but are disguised as matters of religion or ethnicity.

Long abstract:

Over the past years years political instability in the Sahel has increased. Conflicts between migrants and autochthones are on the increase. These conflicts are often phrased in terms of religion, extremist Islam and ethnicity. However the root causes go much deeper than this, and are related to population growth, climate change and bad management of conflicts. Yet these factors have been there for a long time. What are the factors that may explain the sudden increase in these conflicts over the past 5 years? What are the reasons for these ruptures in social and political relations? How are they related to contemporary issues such as increasing migration, the emergence of Islamic extremism and local militias and external and regional military interventions? What is the role of framing by governments and social media of specific population groups as associated with Muslim extremism? Or do we need to address underlying factors such as increasing population density and resources scarcity resulting from climate change and environmental decline?