The war between Russia and Ukraine was already monopolizing attention even before Vladimir Putin invaded the neighboring country’s territory. Faced with the biggest conflict on European soil since the Second World War, newsrooms around the world, sheet they even mobilized all their efforts to cover the conflict, which has been going on since the early hours of February 24th.
With bombings in civilian areas, thousands dead and more than 2 million refugees, the war eclipsed other serious crises that continue to unfold. Áureo Toledo, professor of International Relations at the Federal University of Uberlândia, says that, this time, “the size and type of engagement of the powers are different”, which would explain the greater emphasis on the conflict in Eastern Europe.
“Now there is direct military engagement by Russia, greater possibility of a large-scale conflict and nuclear powers on both sides,” he says. “And these now-overshadowed conflicts take place in the global south, in commonly overlooked regions like Africa, Asia. The conflict in Ukraine exposes that.”
Therefore, the sheet summarizes the situation in other countries experiencing serious military crises.
The withdrawal of American troops from the country, followed by the rapid resumption of power by the Taliban after 20 years, in August of last year, pushed the country into a new moment of economic and social crisis.
A report by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, released in February shows that half of the estimated 40 million Afghans need help with basic needs such as shelter, food and heating during the harsh local winter. The number of refugees in the country is estimated at 2.6 million.
Toledo points to the Taliban’s presence in the Afghan crisis as an example of what he called the economy of war — a common element in other disputes, sustaining the prolonged war scenario at various scales.
“There are indications that the Taliban had a budget in the billions of dollars. The group played a role in the drug economy, helped to sell production. It was a terrorist group, dangerous, but it had functions in the region,” he says. “The Taliban came to control, during the period of the insurgency, about 80 health units, from clinics to hospitals, which employed people, served the population. This is part of the war economy, which helps us understand the longevity of the crisis.” , it says.
Toledo recalls recent clashes between Taliban soldiers and Pakistani forces on the border, a potentially dangerous situation overshadowed by the Ukrainian conflict and which still has the presence of the Islamic State Khorasan. An Afghan and Pakistani branch of the extremist group, the faction claimed responsibility for the March 4 attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar that left more than 60 dead.
After 11 years of confrontation, the country remains divided between areas occupied by the government of Bashar Al-Assad, by forces opposing the dictator and by the Syrian Democratic Forces (FSD), mostly made up of Kurds and supported by the United States until 2019, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew US troops from northern Syria. Turkey is also part of the conflict, precisely to fight the FSD, which demand parts of Turkish and Syrian territories.
The Islamic State once dominated a large swath of Syrian lands, but today it does not control populated areas. Its militants, however, continue to remind those involved in the fighting that they can still cause damage, with attacks in areas dominated by other forces. In late January, the jihadist group attacked a prison under FSD control and left dozens dead.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the year 2021 recorded 3,882 people killed by disputes in the country, of which 1,558 were civilians, 383 children among them. The huge figure, however, is the lowest since the start of the war, according to the organization.
Compared to previous years, the struggle today is in fact more stabilized from a territorial point of view, with more than half of the country under the control of the Assad regime, supported by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Stage of the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN, Yemen is also experiencing a war whose interests involved go beyond its borders. The resignation of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi forced by Houthi rebels in January 2015 was responded to by attacks by a Saudi-led coalition with US support. The Houthis have the support of Iran and Iraq.
According to a 2022 UNHCR report, 8 out of 10 Yemenis are below the poverty line.
The war has intensified in recent months, and January was one of the worst in terms of civilian casualties. On 17 January, the Houthi rebels showed that the conflict could spill over into countries in the region and droned on Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, killing three foreign workers at an oil industrial facility. The coalition responded with bombings in the following days, leaving at least 70 dead in a single attack.
The city of Marib has been the scene of the main duels nowadays. The last major center controlled by the Yemeni government has the biggest oil fields in the country.
Regarding the 11 days of attacks between Israel and Hamas in 2021, the situation in the Palestinian territories is less serious. However, the UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, stressed on the 23rd that the scenario in the Gaza Strip is one of “fragile calm”.
Wennesland says Hamas’ dominance, combined with restrictions on movement imposed by Israel in the area, is “bringing up a generation that has experienced multiple wars and humanitarian crises and has little prospect for a better life.”
Between January and February, 205 Palestinians were injured and six died, including two children, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank during protests, police operations and other occurrences. On the Israeli side, 9 civilians, 2 children among them, were injured by Palestinians in isolated episodes of violence.
The Ethiopian conflict pits the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TLPF), in the north of the country, against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who won the Nobel Peace Prize before the country descended into armed disputes.
Although the government released political prisoners and said it would initiate peace talks, the civil war continues and expands to the regions of Afar and Amhara, neighboring Tigra, in the north of the country.
Between November and February, the UN recorded 304 deaths and 373 injuries as a result of government bombing in the region. The TLPF retaliated and hit civilian areas. According to the Ministry of Health, at least 2,000 health facilities, including 36 hospitals, were partially or completely destroyed by the rebels.
The military junta that overthrew the government of Aung San Suu Kyi completed a year in power on the first of February and saw an explosion leave 2 dead and more than 30 injured in a demonstration in favor of the army. Thus, the regime extended for another six months the state of emergency under which the country was already living.
Estimates from the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data Project (Acled) indicate that clashes and the junta’s repression left about 12,500 dead through January. Opposition groups maintain resistance in a scenario that now takes on the contours of armed conflict.
The year 2021 was another one of the deepening of the Haitian social crisis, which has lasted decades and is mixed with the country’s own history as an independent nation – the poorest in Latin America. In July, then-president Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in his home, just days after he had named the seventh prime minister in four years of government.
In addition to political instability, Haiti is experiencing increasing police and gang violence. “Armed criminal groups control the economy and the lives of millions of children, women and men,” said Helen La Lime, the UN’s special representative in the country. “The indiscriminate use of kidnappings, murders and sexual violence to terrorize the population to extend territorial control is abhorrent.”
Currently, as La Lime told the UN Security Council in February, 4.9 million people (43% of the population) need assistance.