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Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - February 2014

Categories: Articles:Asylum & Refugees, Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 03/03/2014 | Views: 2240

10 actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and one improved in February 2014, according to CrisisWatch N°127. Deteriorated Situations: Burundi, Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Thailand, Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, Libya

Download the full report here: CW127.pdf 

South Sudan violence escalated ahead of the rainy season, despite the January ceasefire agreement between President Salva Kiir's government and "SPLM/A-in-Opposition" rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar. Talks have faltered as both sides instead seek military gains. The SPLM/A-in-Opposition's advance towards lucrative oil fields in the north threatens an already fiscally fragile government. As security deteriorates, further involvement on the part of South Sudan's neighbours - in particular Uganda and Sudan - is increasingly likely. Humanitarian concerns are becoming ever more acute, with hundreds of thousands displaced and the UN issuing a famine warning. There have also been increasing reports of atrocities against civilians.

Central African Republic continued to worsen despite the appointment of a new transition government in January. Muslim civilians increasingly came under attack from anti-balaka groups, and intercommunal violence has continued to spread beyond Bangui as ex-Seleka forces retreated to the north east and the anti-balaka expand their reach. With the transition government unable to stem the violence, the international community has promised additional troops (see our recent blog post and commentary on the international community's response to the crisis).

Nigeria: Attacks by Islamist sect Boko Haram significantly escalated in Nigeria's north-eastern states, killing over 400 including 59 students in an attack on a school in Yobe State (see our recent blog post). Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the assassination of influential Muslim cleric Sheikh Adam Albani, who had been sharply critical of the group. Ongoing intercommunal violence left dozens dead in Kaduna, Plateau and Zamfara states.

Somali: Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab carried out a string of high-profile and deadly attacks in Somalia, coinciding with the beginnings of a renewed African Union and government offensive in south-central regions. On 21 February a complex and coordinated attack on the presidential palace in Mogadishu killed at least eleven. The international community is appearing to lose patience with the Somali Federal Government - the U.S. director of national intelligence publicly criticised President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's "weak leadership" and a leaked UN monitoring report accused the government of diverting arms to Al-Shabaab.

Burundi: Relations between Burundi's ruling coalition partners sharply deteriorated when President Pierre Nkurunziza dismissed the government's First Vice President and UPRONA minister Bernard Bosokoza. Several UPRONA ministers resigned in protest, and the ministerial reshuffle to replace their positions was hotly contested. A new UPRONA vice president was appointed, but without the support of the party. Several UPRONA activists were also arrested during a police raid. (See our recent reports on Burundi)

Syria: The second round of the Geneva II talks between regime and opposition delegations failed to generate meaningful discussion on a political resolution to Syria's civil war or improve humanitarian conditions. The government delegation refused to discuss the formation of a transitional governing body, emphasising instead the need to fight "terrorism". On 22 February the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to increase aid access, as well as demanding an end to barrel-bombing, and threatened to consider "further steps in the case of non-compliance". As the regime continued its indiscriminate bombardments of rebel-held residential neighbourhoods, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in mid-February reported that more people had been killed every day since the beginning of the Geneva II talks on 22 January than at any other time during the war.

Libya: Security further deteriorated in Libya where armed violence is again on the rise. Seven Egyptian Christians were found executed near Benghazi towards the end of the month and several public figures were assassinated, including Libya's first post-Qadhafi public prosecutor general. Libya's political future is looking uncertain. At least eight congressmen resigned from the General National Congress (GNC) in protest over the January extension of the GNC's mandate beyond what some argue was its end-date of 7 February. Several armed groups threatened to forcibly disband the GNC, while other, mainly Islamist, groups offered their support.

Yemen: Tensions in Yemen's North continued, threatening to undermine a patchwork of ceasefires between the Huthi movement and its various adversaries. If the ceasefires are not strengthened, violence in the North risks escalating into full-blown conflict. This could derail implementation of the country's new blueprint for a federal state and democratic reform by further fracturing political consensus and undermining Yemen's already weak state authority (see our Conflict Alert).

Thailand: a wave of political violence swept through Bangkok and other provinces. Several people were killed and dozens injured in clashes between protesters and police, and between rival political camps. Rhetoric is growing more heated on both sides. The 2 February general election was inconclusive, due to disruptions by anti-government protesters and a boycott by the main opposition party, and there is no plan to complete the vote. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's caretaker government faces growing pressure from courts and independent agencies. With the government and security forces increasingly focused on the deteriorating situation in Bangkok, militants in southernmost Thailand stepped up attacks. (See our recent commentary on the political turmoil).

Venezuela's biggest anti-government demonstrations in many years were met with extreme violence, with over fifteen people killed and scores injured in clashes between demonstrators and security forces and armed civilian supporters of the government. Hundreds of people were arrested, many reporting abuses in detention. The political confrontation threatens to further erode stability and human rights in the already polarised nation, with a very real danger of a further spiral of political violence and economic meltdown (see our Conflict Alert and commentary).

Ukraine: Scores were killed in Ukraine as anti-government protesters clashed with police in the worst violence since independence. After the opposition's ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February the new interim government was immediately confronted with challenges to its authority, concerns over the role of nationalist and rightist elements in government, an economic crisis and the threat of separatism in the east. Amid growing unrest in majority ethnic Russian Crimea, pro-Russian forces occupied government buildings and the two main airports, leading Kiev to accuse Russia of an armed invasion. Crimea's pro-Russian government announced that it had taken control of all security forces and appealed to Russia to help ensure stability. Authorities in Kiev and Crimea urgently need to tone down rhetoric and all sides, including Russia, need to avoid provocative action to prevent further escalation.

Unchanged Situations: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Cameroon, Chad, China/Japan, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korean Peninsula, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucaus (Russia), Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somaliland, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe

Improved Situations

Cyprus: Inter communal reunification talks in Cyprus restarted on 11 February after an eighteen-month pause. Leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities issued their most substantive joint declaration in decades, emphasising that any future Cyprus would be based on the political equality of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, would have a single international legal personality, sovereignty and citizenship, and that neither constituent entity would have authority or jurisdiction over the other. For first time in more than four decades, chief negotiators from both Cypriot communities held official talks in Athens and Ankara. (See our commentary and blog post).

March 2014 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alert
: South Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen

Conflict Resolution Opportunity: None

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