The ongoing conflict between farming and herding populations in Nigeria exemplifies how climate change can intensify conflict between communities and place certain populations at increased risk of mass atrocities. Nigeria is pioneering a new initiative to change how it raises animals for food and other products. If successful, this system could serve as a model for other countries also threatened by farmer-herder violence related to climate change.
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In April 2017 the Early Warning Project launched a new set of questions through a public opinion pool to crowdsource questions on atrocity risk around the world. Since then, 317 participants have cast 7,025 forecasts in response to questions asking about mass killing risk in 16 countries that the project has identified as high risk.
For the third year in a row, Sudan and Burma rank among the three countries at greatest risk of experiencing a new episode of state-led mass killing, according to the Early Warning Project’s annual rankings released today.
On March 11, Nigerian officials announced that a coalition of West African security forces had occupied 36 towns in northeast Nigeria previously held by Boko Haram, the Nigerian militant group. Earlier the following week, Nigerian security forces also claimed control of Bama, a town in northeast Borno state strategically located along the road between Maiduguri, the state capital, and the Nigeria-Cameroon border. The coalition’s territorial gains are the latest display of military strength by troops that, until recent months, have been unable to stem Boko Haram’s attacks against civilian and military targets in northeast Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and southeast Niger.
We tend to think of mass killing as something that states do, but states do not have a monopoly on this use of force. Many groups employ violence in an attempt to further their political and economic agendas; civilians often suffer the consequences of that violence, and sometimes that suffering reaches breathtaking scale.