Climate change a contributor to Darfur crisis, says U.N. report

A United Nations Environment Program report says brutal conflicts in Sudan are tied to the effects of climate change, including severe drought. Competition over scarce resources, including water, timber, oil, and land, could spark more fighting unless the issues are addressed, says the report: “Ignoring these environmental issues will ensure that some political and social problems remain unsolvable and [are] even likely to worsen.” In war-torn Darfur, an estimated 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been left homeless by a conflict that began in part as an agricultural skirmish over water supplies. Even in refugee camps, water shortages are now a source of strain. While programs are emerging to replant trees and manage resources, they are overshadowed by violence and desperation. “The consciousness of the world on the issue of climate change has to change fast,” says Muawia Shaddad of the Sudan Environment Conservation Society. “Darfur is just an early warning.”