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Areas of armed conflict and associated impacts are disproportionally found in or near KBAs.

7th December 2023

Photo by A.J. Plumptre/KBA Secretariat

A recent study published in the International Review of the Red Cross identified that areas of armed conflict and the knock-on impacts of refugee settlements and UNHCR activities are disproportionally located in or near Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). The results indicate that KBAs are significantly threatened by instability and the impacts of armed conflicts.

The authors compiled data on locations of armed conflicts as well as locations of "refugee camps" & "Internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps" managed by UNHCR and locations of UNHCR field camps in 2022. Overlaying these locations with the 2022 map of KBAs showed that more than 1,500 refugee/IDP camps are mapped in existing KBAs. Additionally, 32 armed conflict events and 22 UNHCR Field offices were recorded within KBAs. A total of 59 countries (30% of all countries) had at least one KBA with a conflict, camp or UNHCR field office located within it. Comparing the locations of these datasets with a randomly generated sample of points showed that conflict events and the associated camps and field offices are located significantly closer or within KBAs than would be expected. Plots of each dataset with distance from KBA boundaries showed that armed conflict events, camps and field offices were all located significantly more than expected up to about 10 km from KBAs.

These results were presented to the International Committee of the Red Cross by the KBA Secretariat, and they have now incorporated the KBA data in tools they provide their field teams that respond to crises around the world so that where possible they can aim to avoid settling people and establishing field camps within or near KBAs. While we recognise that in a situation of armed conflict it is not always possible to guide where people settle, we would encourage other humanitarian organizations to do likewise so that where they can influence the location of camps, they aim to minimise impacts on KBAs.

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