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Weekly News Brief: October 20-27, 2008

This week’s highlights: the security situation in Darfur , UN frustrations with Burma, rebel offensives in Congo, and more…


Darfur rebels and the Sudanese Army have clashed again in North Darfur. Meanwhile, tribal fighting over livestock has displaced thousands in south Darfur.

These are two incidences in a larger surge of violence that Darfur has seen over the past year, which has been highlighted by a Human Rights Watch report.

Meanwhile, a neighboring state to Darfur, Kordofan, is at risk of plunging into a Darfur-style conflict again, according to the International Crisis Group.

One of the most militant hardliners in the Government of Sudan, Nafie Ali Nafie, has just been appointed to administer Darfur.

Sudan and Chad agreed this week to normalize relations.


The top UN human rights official on Burma told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that it will take generations to achieve full democracy in Burma. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed his frustrations with lack of progress in Burma and called on the military junta and opposition movement to increase dialogue.

Australia is extending financial sanctions of 45 of Burma’s top military leaders.

Reports are coming out that the military government is still impeding relief efforts to help its citizens recover from the hurricane, and what is let into the country is unequally distributed.

The International Crisis Group just issued a report on “normalizing aid relations” with Burma, and the Thailand Burma Border Consortium issued a report on impunity for crimes in Eastern Burma.


Rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda overran an army base and a gorilla park in North Kivu province in eastern DRC, and attacked a UN convoy after heavy fighting on Sunday. The Congolese government accused Rwandan soldiers of backing Nkunda in the skirmish.


On Wednesday, the UN Security Council called for all armed groups in eastern DRC to surrender without precondition. General Nkunda rejected the call, arguing that the UN has not responded to his request for peace negotiations under a neutral mediator.


According to estimates by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), over 200,000 people have been displaced since late August as a result of renewed violence in eastern DRC, placing considerable strain on the agency’s capacity to assist those in need.


DRC warlord Thomas Lubanga will remain in ICC custody despite a recent decision upholding the suspension of his ICC trial. His case, the first to be tried by the Court, was suspended due to impartiality concerns in June of this year.



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