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Climate change is fueling recruitment into armed groups

Jessica Caus and Siobhan O’Neil

Created 02/22/2021

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COVID-19 has been a boon for armed groups who have exploited the pandemic to attack enemies and grow their ranks. Now, they increasingly have another unlikely ally to promote their agenda: climate change.

Research has repeatedly highlighted how climatic shifts contribute to fragility and undermine livelihoods and new data shows how this has created conditions that are conducive to the growth of armed groups.

Media reports suggest that numerous armed actors are already working to exploit climate-related crises — from Islamic State cutting off water access to facilitate attacks or displace people or the Taliban retaking territory racked by drought and famine. While the interest of armed groups to take advantage of climate-driven hardships has not been in doubt, whether their efforts had been successful in drawing individuals into these groups has not been backed by much evidence.

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