Germany held the 56th Munich Security Conference this past weekend to discuss various security concerns facing Europe and the world. Disappointingly, there were hardly any African delegates present at the conference and not a single head of state, a fact made more distressing as the threat of terrorism continues to grow in the Sahel and elsewhere on the continent. African children are overwhelmingly the most impacted by armed conflict, according to a report by Save the Children, which found that at least 170 million children are living in war zones in Africa and the Middle East.
For Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the lack of attention paid to Africa by the international community is worrying. He lamented the lack of African voices at the conference who could help shape the security discussions taking place there. “When something happens in the Sahel, unless it affects the flow of migration toward Europe… Europe is not particularly concerned about it,” Smith said to Deutsche Welle.
Germany, for its part, made a forceful case for greater efforts to address security issues in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pressed for stronger initiatives against Islamist terrorism in Africa, saying, “The Sahel is a key region for Europe, for example, when it comes to migration or the threat of terrorism. That is why it is so important that Germany remains committed there, militarily as well.”
Another topic of discussion at the Munich Security Conference was the threat of climate change, in particular the fact that the Darfur conflict and subsequent genocide in western Sudan was triggered in part by the adverse effects of climate change. As of March 2019, more than 4.2 million Africans have been displaced due in part to climate change-driven conflicts. The World Bank has committed to providing $53 billion over the next three years to Africa, with special attention given to the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa, and the Lake Chad Basin.