Middle East, Karabakh, Sudan… new conflicts shake the world

The war in Ukraine continues to make international headlines, more than a year since Russia invaded. Several further major conflicts have erupted across the globe since the beginning of the year. Among the deadliest is the one that has struck the Middle East following the attacks by Hamas against Israel on 7th October 2023.

The United Nations intervenes in several countries, where populations are experiencing crises as well as conflicts.

Middle East: deadly Hamas attacks and Israeli military operation

On 7th October, 2023, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a massive attack against Israel, killing hundreds of Israelis and taking many civilians hostage.

Israel subsequently announced a total siege on the Gaza Strip and launched air strikes on the territory. As of 16 October, UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestine refugees estimated that over one million people – almost half the total population of Gaza – have been displaced.  Nearly 400,000 are taking shelter in UNRWA schools and buildings, most of which are not equipped as emergency shelters.

The UN and its humanitarian partners are striving to meet urgent needs, despite the intensity of the bombardments and the closure of Gaza, which limits the ability of staff to deliver aid.

UNRWA currently has 13,000 national and international staff, most of them refugees themselves, in Gaza and nearly 4,000 in the West Bank. In addition, hundreds of employees continue working for other UN agencies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to the Gaza Strip. The UN recalled that the total siege of Gaza is prohibited by international humanitarian law.

Karabakh: exodus of Armenians

Car carrying items in the border town of Goris in Armenia © WHO/Nazik Armenakyan

In September 2023, a flare-up in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region led to thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing to Armenia.

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region has persisted for more than three decades, but a ceasefire and subsequent Trilateral Statement was agreed almost three years ago by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, leading to the deployment of several thousand Russian peacekeepers.

Following the recent escalation of hostilities, more than 100,000 refugees arrived in Armenia in less than a week. The UN, in collaboration with the Armenian authorities and partners on the ground, is providing assistance to the refugee population. The UN has launched a $97 million appeal to meet the urgent needs of Armenian refugees and local host communities.

Sudan: war and hunger destroy the country

Refugees fleeing conflict in Sudan seek shelter under a tree in the village of Koufroun, in neighbouring Chad.
Refugees fleeing conflict in Sudan seek shelter under a tree in the village of Koufroun, in neighbouring Chad. © UNICEF / Donaig Le Du

Sudan has been plunged into chaos since armed conflict broke out between two rival military factions on 15 April, 2023, mainly in the capital Khartoum and in Darfur. The conflict has escalated and spread, causing a humanitarian tragedy, threatening to destroy the country and destabilise the region.

Sudan is now the country with the highest number of displaced people in the world, with at least 7.1 million people having been driven from their homes. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that it needs a billion dollars to support people fleeing the war.

The ongoing conflict could spread, with serious consequences for food security. More than six million Sudanese are threatened by famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

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