5 ongoing conflicts you should know about – and how God is at work in the midst of them
In February 2021, reports of a military coup in Myanmar hit the news. The stories told of violence, protests, and the terrifying impacts on civilians’ lives – especially on those already facing poverty. I followed the headlines, trying to wrap my head around the complex situation and remember Myanmar in prayer. But it wasn’t long before other news took the spotlight: within weeks, rising local COVID numbers grabbed my attention. Within six months, the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan thrust another conflict front and centre. And a year on from the beginning of the Myanmar coup, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was at the forefront of every broadcast.
Conflict dominates the headlines, and with each emerging crisis, it is hard to know how to respond. The compounding needs are immense, and it’s tempting to avert our gaze.
So can we take a moment to remember these conflicts around the globe – hidden from the headlines, but still ongoing, and in some cases, worsening? Because tragically, for the millions of people who live with conflict as their daily reality, the impacts are inescapable. Not only is there an urgent need for humanitarian aid, there are countless children unable to attend school, displaced communities vulnerable to disease, livelihoods shattered and families torn apart.
- In Myanmar today, over 14 million people are in need of aid. After years of decline, poverty has surged back to levels not recorded since 2005.
- In northern Mozambique, a five-year-long conflict has forced more than 780,000 people – almost half of them children – from their homes.
- In Afghanistan, since the Taliban resurgence in August last year, 60% of the population is expected to need emergency aid.
- In Yemen, where people have lived under the trauma of war for the past seven years, two thirds of the population are in need of aid.
- In Ethiopia, violence in Tigray has displaced nearly 2.5 million people, who are also facing drought and famine.
Beyond the quantifiable impacts, the unseen losses are equally catastrophic. How do people process their trauma? Who do people grieve with, when they have lost connection with neighbours and familiar support networks? What do people do with their hopes for the future?
I agonise with the writer of Psalm 10:
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? We despair at the depth of division in our world. We wonder what it will take to see a world enjoying peace and harmony. Arise, Lord! Do not forget the helpless…
I’m so thankful that the Psalm doesn’t end there, and I know that the story doesn’t end there either, for our neighbours facing the ongoing impacts of conflict and poverty. These conflicts might be hidden from our news pages, but they are not hidden from God. The final verses look forward to a time when the raging of the nations will end, and humanity’s violence will terrify no more. This future reality might seem far off, but it is unfolding today, if we have eyes to see, right in the midst of crises.
Today, Tearfund is partnered with locally-based agencies who are right in the thick of these conflict zones. Motivated by the relentless love of God, these partners work to bring immediate relief and lasting hope. In Afghanistan, where Tearfund partners have faithfully served for decades, a humanitarian response aiming to reach over 14,000 people has been mobilised. In Myanmar, local NGOs and churches are being supported by Tearfund’s partner to provide vital health care to more than 9000 people struggling under the impacts of the coup as well as a third wave of COVID-19. In Mozambique, Yemen and Ethiopia, similar locally-targeted responses are reaching thousands. The provision of immediate relief gives people the chance to process their trauma together, support each other and begin to grow hope for the future.
Conflict dominates the headlines but God calls us to together write a different story. Tearfund believes that peace — in communities, in homes, in hearts — is possible.
Visit our website to discover more about where God is at work beyond the headlines.