Climate change makes Lake Chad fertile territory for extremism, experts say after Boko Haram massacre of up to 2,000 people.
As more evidence of destruction wrought by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria emerged on Thursday, experts highlighted the role of climate change in fomenting extremism.
Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International showed 3,700 buildings had been destroyed in the towns of Baga and Doron Baga. That reinforced estimates that up to 2,000 people had been killed in attacks by the extremist group. The Nigerian government claimed the death toll was just 150.
Meanwhile, slumping oil prices raise the threat of further instability in the country, which gets around three quarters of its revenue from oil exports.
Luc Gnacadja, former UN desertification chief and Benin environment minister, told RTCC the depletion of Lake Chad had helped create the conditions for conflict.
“From outside, we can easily read it as just a religious fight, when actually it is about access to vital resources,” he said.
In much of northern Nigeria, Muslim herders are in competition with Christian farmers for dwindling water supplies.
Boko Haram’s stated goal is to create an Islamic state – although its victims have included Muslims as well as Christians.
“The so-called religious fight is a layer above those conflicts around resources,” said Gnacadja. “It is not just about Boko Haram, but in the Sahel belt you will see it is almost the same challenge in Mali and in Sudan.”
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