There will be a lot to discuss at the General Secretariat of the 35th OIC Session of the Islamic International Crescent Committee (ICCI) on January 5th. Although there are pockets of stability and socio-economic development in the OIC, especially the most economically developed Gulf countries and Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, the challenges are particularly acute in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with humanitarian crises, rising unemployment, inequality and inflation.
According to international medicine and security specialist SOS’s Risk Outlook 2022, OIC countries are among the most “extreme”, with Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq among the top five countries. dangerous to visit this year. Other countries in the “extreme” category include Mali, Yemen and Somalia as well as parts of Nigeria and Pakistan.
Yet, while the situation is difficult in much of the OIC, it is the same in much of the world, with the World Bank and the World Health Organization estimating that more than half a billion people were plunged into extreme poverty in 2021.
North Africa and Sahel
In North Africa, instability in Libya over the past decade continues to impact the region and its neighbors. Libya was a major destination market before 2011 for exports and foreign labor, which largely dried up, while the political situation remained fragile.
The pandemic has hit the country hard, with the economy contracting 36.4% in 2020, according to Fitch Solutions, although it is expected to rebound this year due to rising oil prices. The Libyan conflict has had disastrous consequences for the Sahel region, with the French army and the UN presence in the region collapsing since 2013.
Last year was the most violent of the last decade for Mali, Bukina Faso and Niger, with 2,246 terrorist attacks and combats, up from 244 in 2013 and 5,317 dead, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project. . Instability in the Sahel and parts of North Africa is also fueling the tendency to migrate to Europe, with the region being a conduit for human trafficking routes to Libya and beyond.
As the European Union’s response continues to focus on the military in the Sahel and on strengthening its border force, Frontex, which is expected to have a standing force of 10,000 by 2027, the major challenges for the region should continue. In 2022, the UN notes that more than 30 million Sahelians will need assistance and protection, more than a million more than in 2021. Some 3.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
The pandemic has disrupted economies across Africa, with the IMF estimating that 30 million more people have been pushed into extreme poverty. In addition to the impact of COVID-19, conflict and severe weather events cause additional instability. Millions of people have been displaced over the past year in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria and the Sahel.
In West and Central Africa, crises affect more than 61 million people, including 28 million currently in a situation of food insecurity, notes the UN. Climate change, heavy rains and flooding affected more than 1.2 million people in 13 countries in 2021. In southern Africa, the picture is not rosy either, with droughts across much of the region. . In East Africa, the Ethiopian conflict has affected the entire region, while political instability in Sudan also has negative ramifications.
On the other hand, the economies of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to grow 3.8% in 2022, largely due to improved global trade and commodity prices. However, food inflation is expected to be particularly difficult, having risen from 2% per year in 2019 to 11% in 2021, while globally, food inflation has increased by 30% in 2021, according to the IMF.
The conflicts in Syria and Yemen continue to weigh heavily on the Middle East. While signs of rapprochement between the Gulf states and Syria hold promise for greater stability, the Syrian economy has been ravaged and funds available for substantive reconstruction appear to be minimal. The Syrian conflict, which is entering its twelfth year, is also hampering the chances of an economic recovery in Lebanon, hit by a financial crisis since October 2019, and the depreciation of the currency by more than 90%.
The Syrian currency has also depreciated severely, in part due to the Lebanese financial crisis, the country having been Syria’s trade and financial window to the world, and a major destination for deposits. The Lebanese parliamentary elections in March are unlikely to cause upheaval in a deteriorating economic context, with around 70% of the population living or below the poverty line.
In Iraq, the country is still reeling from the US-led invasion and the wider conflict in Syria, while a record rainfall in 2021 impacted the agricultural sector. In neighboring Turkey, the 44% depreciation of the pound against the US dollar in 2021 caused serious problems for the economy, with rising energy costs and inflation, although exports have declined. hit an all-time high thanks to the weakness of the pound.
In Yemen, more than six years of conflict has devastated the country, with more than 20 million people in need of assistance – the equivalent of 66% of the population – and more than 4 million internally displaced. country.
The withdrawal of US military and NATO forces from Afghanistan in August 2021 attracted global media attention, but the consequences were less covered as the country slipped into yet another economic malaise. OIC countries gathered in Islamabad, Pakistan to discuss the Afghan humanitarian crisis in December, agreeing to help Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds and Islamic Development Bank to establish trust fund humanitarian.
The poorest country in Asia, per capita income fell from $ 650 in 2012 to $ 508 in 2020, and is expected to drop to $ 350 this year, according to UN figures. Afghanistan’s GDP is expected to decline by 20% to $ 16 billion, and could potentially decline by 30% if the situation continues to deteriorate. Some 22.8 million people face acute food insecurity.
Neighboring Pakistan continues to be affected by the Afghan crisis, but the economy looks more optimistic this year, with growth expected at 3.2%.
On the other side of the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh has seen some difficult years as the pandemic impacts the economy and the country hosting 884,000 Rohingya refugees. The outlook for 2022 is more positive, with the country’s largest export segment, clothing, expected to rebound as purchases increase in key export markets in Europe and North America, while the economy could reach half a trillion dollars this fiscal year if double – digital growth is achieved.
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