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Iraqi soldiers man a checkpoint as oil wells burn on the outskirts of Qayyarah, Iraq. Iraqi soldiers man a checkpoint as oil wells burn on the outskirts of Qayyarah, Iraq, Oct. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Marko Drobnjakovic).

Can Militant Groups Be Environmentalists?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Competition over scarce natural resources is often a key driver of the tensions that fuel armed conflict in different corners of the world. Yet in the heat of battle, environmental considerations are often relegated to afterthoughts, as smoke from burning buildings clouds the skies and toxic byproducts of munitions poison the soil and groundwater. As former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in 2014, “The environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict.”

Conflict-related environmental damage directly and indirectly affects the wellbeing of nearby civilians by threatening their health, ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. Accordingly, humanitarian organizations and experts are increasingly recognizing the need to address the environmental dimensions of conflicts—not just among nations, but among nonstate armed groups, as well. ...

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