Thirty-seven countries, mainly in Africa and Latin America, could face unprecedented street protests for up to three years, warned global risk company Verisk Maplecroft.
But the risks of unrest in other countries such as India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey are only slightly less acute and still pose a threat to stability, a he warned. The United States, which attended many Black Lives Matter protests after the police murder of George Floyd in May, may also see new uprisings, analysts said. The combination of these protests, coupled with growing frustration at job losses and President Trump’s weak response to the pandemic, meant that new unrest was “inevitable”.
Civil unrest subsided in March this year, following blockades imposed by governments in response to the health crisis, according to data provided by Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), an NGO that tracks deaths and d other data.
Miha Hribernik, senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, said the total number of protests in developing countries had almost rebounded to reach pre-pandemic levels, while longstanding grievances about socio-economic inequalities, civil rights and government policies and corruption had resurfaced.
“While many countries are still locked out and the full economic shock of the outbreak is yet to be felt, we expect the number of protests to increase in the next 2-3 months,” said said Hribernik. He used five factors to determine the ability of 142 countries to rebound after the pandemic, along with data from past protests, to determine projections of civil unrest.
“It’s a powder keg,” he said. “It doesn’t take as much as a year ago. ”
“We can see that when the foreclosure started, the vast majority of the protests were related to Covid. We had food demonstrations in Manila and demonstrations in Bangladesh against the clothing industries. ”
At least 166 people have died in violent protests in Ethiopia in the past few weeks, following the murder of a popular singer, Oromo member Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, and one of the main voices in the protests anti-government. Public uprisings have also been seen in Manila, the Philippines, due to food shortages and in Bangladesh among garment workers facing unpaid wages after the cancellation of billions of dollars in clothing orders.
In 2019, Verisk Maplecroft recorded 47 countries with a significant increase in protests, including Hong Kong, Chile, Nigeria, Sudan and Haiti. He predicted more unrest in 2020.
“It was a global phenomenon last year,” said Hribernik. “Each event was unique, the primacy being motivated by anger against inequalities, corruption, the erosion of the confidence of political elites. These are not problems that can be resolved overnight. These are structural problems that take years or decades to resolve. ”
Countries in all regions except Europe are now in the highest risk category, according to the company’s six-month forecast of civil unrest and its Recovery Capacity Index (RCI). The RCI uses the strength of state institutions, physical and digital connectivity, economic dynamism, the sensitivity of the population and other factors, such as natural disasters or terrorism, to determine the impacts on the recovery from the pandemic.
“Our January baseline – that 2020 will see an upsurge in protests and that the coming decade should be one of unprecedented unrest – is still valid,” said Hribernik. “But in countries least prepared to rebound after the pandemic, this now looks like an optimistic scenario.”
In sub-Saharan Africa, Verisk Maplecroft expects the risk of protests to escalate amid economic decline, poverty and the inability to secure adequate food supplies. In Latin America, Venezuela is classified as being most at risk of agitation.