Upon the end of the cold war, it was believed that the world would be free of major conflicts created by competing ideologies. However, the 21st century has seen an array of new challenges like terrorism, ethnic conflicts, civil wars, and special operations warfare. Despite a reduction in casualties compared to previous centuries, the humanitarian crisis still persists.
Syrian civil war
According to UNHRC, around 5.6 million people have been registered as Syrian Refugees.
Before the conflict, in March 2011, some pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern part of Deraa. These protests were largely influenced by the popular uprisings in the surrounding countries like Libya, Egypt etc.
However, in Syria the president Bashar al-Assad, responded with a brutal crackdown. The uprising eventually became a civil war and subsequently got worse with the emergence of militant groups like Al-Qaeda.
Furthermore, the president resorted to cruel measures and used “barrel bombs” on the population and chemical weapons were used to weaken rebel-occupied territories, which claimed millions of lives.
More than 1.4 million people were displaced
United Nations has described this conflict as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”. The destruction of this carnage is often compared with the genocide of Rwanda, 1994.
In 2003, two rebel movements merged; both endorsed the idea of greater autonomy in the Darfur region. Igniting the whole conflict which was described as the genocide of the 21st century by the US. Al-Fashir airport was attacked by rebels.
The attack took the regime by surprise. Furthermore, the Sudanese government supported the Arab militia – Janjaweed, which started the ethnic cleansing against the civil population of Darfur. This cost 3,00,000 lives and displaced around 2 million people. It was only in 2008, with the joint efforts of the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force, that the region restored some social order.
In 2003, the US along with coalition forces, particularly from the United Kingdom, initiated a war on Iraq. Based on the thought that Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction or was in the process of making them.
The war unfolded in two phases; first, the short conventional war in which major combat operations took place within a span of a month. The other phase, which claimed thousands of lives, was the insurgency that continued for years.
The War against Boko Haram
Causalities- around 350,000 in Nigeria since 2009 according UNDP
Since 2009, Boko Haram an Islamist militant group in Nigeria, has launched a series of attacks in the eastern parts of Nigeria. In response, the Nigerian government started a military operation. Boko Haram killed police officers, committed a number of jailbreaks, attacked civilians across Nigeria, and kidnapped 300 school girls in 2014.
Although their control over the territories has been reduced, they are still able to conduct deadly attacks.
Causalities- around 111,000 according to UNAMA
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States has launched air attacks against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, after they have refused to hand over terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Soon the Taliban regime lost control.
In 2014, after the US-led combat mission had officially ended, the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces were faced with several challenges, including the Taliban’s continued attacks in rural districts as well as major cities. Although, it was resumed in 2017.
Recently, when US President Joe Biden ordered the US military forces to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban started to capture territory across the country.
Causalities- over 50,000 according to UNOHCHR
Ukraine’s crisis began in November 2013 with protests in the streets of Kyiv. The protests were in response to the decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych not to accept the deal for greater economic integration with the European Union.
After the brutal crackdown by the state, demonstrations broke out and the conflict escalated. In 2014, Russian troops took control over Ukraine’s Crimean region. Apart from shelling, Ukraine has been reporting a number of cyberattacks since the conflict started in 2014.
Recently, Russia launched a full-fledged military invasion into Ukraine in February of 2022. The fighting has already escalated the humanitarian crisis in the region, killing over hundreds of people and forcing a significant amount of people to flee.