Sahel (Africa) violence could drive more refugees toward Europe

FILE- In this April 15, 2022 file photo, malnourished children wait for treatment in the pediatric department of Boulmiougou hospital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The U.N. is warning that 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region face severe hunger in the next three months. Two U.N. agencies are citing the impacts of war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, climate-induced shocks and rising costs – and warning that people may try to migrate out of the affected areas. (AP Photo/Sophie Garcia, File)

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the U.N. refugee agency says “Europe should be much more worried” that more people from Africa’s Sahel region could seek to move north to escape violence, climate crises like droughts and floods and the impact of growing food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called for more efforts to build peace in the world as conflicts and crises like those in Ukraine, Venezuela, Myanmar, Syria and beyond have driven over 100 million people to leave their homes — both within their own countries and abroad.

UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, on Thursday issued its latest “Global Trends” report, which found over 89 million people had been displaced by conflict, climate change, violence and human rights abuses by 2021. The figure has since swelled after at least 12 million people fled their homes in Ukraine to other parts of the country or abroad following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

This year, the world is also facing growing food insecurity — Ukraine is a key European breadbasket and the war has greatly hurt grain exports

The African Union, whose continent relies on imports of wheat and other food from Ukraine, has appealed for help to access grain that is blocked in Ukrainian silos and unable to leave Ukrainian ports amid a Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea.

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