Institute for International
Cooperation and Development Studies

Talking to EITB, the Hegoa Institute researcher, iker zirion landaluze, details some of the international conflicts presently underway

Date: 2022 March 15

In this EITB interview, which took place on the 11th of March this year, iker zirion landaluze describes some of the international conflicts currently happening, and gives some figures regarding people obliged to flee from their homes because of them. According to the UNHCR, there are over 80 million displaced persons in the world. 26 million of these people are refugees present in other countries, of which half are aged under 18.

Different sources identify between 20 and 40 conflicts around the world, including areas of significant socio-political tension as well as armed conflicts, and the majority of these wars are occurring in Africa. At present it is not correct to say that the number of refugees caused by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine (2.5 million refugees, as of 11 March 2022) is a figure that has not been experienced since the Second World War. The Syrian conflict, for example, caused 6.7 million refugees. However, it is true that this number of displaced persons in the Ukraine has happened in just two weeks, and it is very likely that the number will increase.

This doctor in the field of International Studies, lecturer in Public International Law at the University of the Basque Country, and researcher with the Hegoa Institute of Development and International Cooperation Studies, has explained to Radio Euskadi’s Boulevard that in all armed conflicts "there are more internal displaced persons than refugees". In fact, it is important to refute the idea that refugees make their way to the rich global North, since the figures show clearly that people fleeing conflict tend to move within their own countries or remain in neighbouring countries.

According to UNHCR figures from last year, in the case of Palestine there have been 5.7 million persons displaced to neighbouring countries since 1948; in the case of Afghanistan, the figure is 2.6 million people who have fled the country, while there are 3 million internally displaced persons; for the Yemen, one of the conflicts with the lowest levels of media attention, there are 20 million people in need of aid, 4 million displaced persons inside the country and 200,000 refugees outside it. In any case, it is crucial to remember that behind each number is "a person, a life project destroyed by war".

Another of the conflicts that remains active in the world, although one that is often rendered invisible today, is the one taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). iker zirion points out that instability in the region began with the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and in just 3 months more than 2 million refugees arrived in the east of the DRC. This country has 5.7 million internally displaced persons and 1 million refugees abroad, and has 500,000 refugees from other countries within its borders. This dynamic (being at the same time an emitter and a receiver of refugees) is a characteristic of some African conflicts.

Questioned about whether Putin will be judged for war crimes, he has stated that this is unlikely to happen, because "even if there were a change of government, Russia would not want to deliver up Putin". In any case, thanks to the media and social media, proof of all that is happening in the Ukraine is being compiled, and it remains to be seen whether the International Criminal Court will issue a warrant for his arrest. "People committing these kinds of crime know that they will have to pay for them," concluded the lecturer in International Public Law and Hegoa Institute researcher.

You can listen to the interview by following this link.