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As the coronavirus reaches developing countries in Africa and Asia, the pandemic will have effects beyond public health and economic activity. As the disease wreaks its havoc in areas poorly equipped to handle its spread, terrorism likely will increase there as well.

We are political scientists who study the developing world and political conflict. Our recently published research identifies a potential link between the pandemic and an uptick in violence. We find that food insecurity – the lack of both financial and physical access to nutritious food, which leads to malnutrition and undernourishment in a population – makes citizens angry at their governments.

Citizens conclude that their political leaders are either unable or unwilling to ease their suffering. This anger gives terrorist groups opportunities to recruit new members by providing them a violent outlet for venting their frustrations. In many cases, terrorist organizations do what their governments can’t or won’t do: give people the food and money they badly need to survive.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.