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‘Militants exploit growing competition for water, land’

By Thomson Reuters Foundation - Apr 20,2017 - Last updated at Apr 20,2017

A boy pushes water containers along a street in eastern Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday (Reuters photo)

LONDON — Climate change threatens to increase instability around the world as extremist groups such as the Daesh terror group and Boko Haram exploit a scarcity of water, food and land to control populations and boost recruitment, a Berlin-based think tank said on Thursday.

Countries already experiencing unrest or negative effects of climate change were most at risk but seemingly stable regions could also be affected by a combination of climate change, rapid urbanisation and increasing inequality, Adelphi said in a study.

"Already vulnerable areas could get pulled into a vicious cycle, leading to the rise of terrorist groups who will find it easier to operate, with consequences for us all," said Lukas Rüttinger, author of the report, in a statement.

Climate change has been drying up the Lake Chad region, fuelling increased competition for land and water in an area where an insurgency by Boko Haram has uprooted more than 2.4 million people, the report said.

In Syria, violence and instability created a "perfect breeding ground" for militants who have benefitted from the conflict to recruit new members and were using water as a weapon of war to deprive populations of the valuable resource, it said.

Water sources have been repeatedly damaged during Syria's six-year-old war. 

With the worsening impact of climate change, some states would increasingly struggle to provide services and maintain their legitimacy — leaving militants to take advantage of a power vacuum to gain local support, the report said. 


Boosting development, strengthening governments and reducing the impact of climate change by boosting the ability of communities and farmers to quickly recover from natural disasters would reduce the threat of extremist groups, the report said.

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