The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Weekly News Brief, Week of September 7-13

A roundup of the most urgent and important developments in the conflicts that GI-Net and STAND are monitoring.

·         UNAMID Commanding General Martin Luther Agwai stated that he believes that there is not a war in Darfur at the moment. Before he finished his UNAMID rotation, Agwai characterized much of the ongoing violence as banditry and insecurity. Agwai was replaced as force commander by Rwandan General Patrick Nyamvumba.

·         Two UNAMID civilian staff were kidnapped in the town of Zalingei on Saturday, the latest in a series of kidnappings in Darfur, but the first targeting UNAMID staff.

·         Rodolphe Adada, political head of the UNAMID mission, submitted his resignation to Secretary General Ban. Adada’s service ended on August 31.

·         Last week, 700 JEM fighters who felt marginalized by JEM’s leadership chose to leave the rebel faction. The 700 are reportedly working on forming their own rebel organization. 

·         The United States is reportedly considering deploying logistics advisors as part of the UNAMID mission.

·         While IDPs in Darfur restated their support for ongoing negotiations between rebels and the government of Sudan, they have requested that the government remove the new settlers and restore lands to the rightful owners before continuing with the peace process. 

·         In Ethiopia to mediate rebel unity talks, US Special Envoy Scott Gration praised Ethiopia’s efforts to bring peace to Darfur and across East Africa. 

·         Sudanese authorities arrested 27 IDPs in North Darfur’s Abu Shouk camp. According to Abdul Wahid Al-Nur, this appears to be an attempt to intimidate Darfuris who oppose the peace process. 

·         The two kidnapped Irish Aid workers are expected to be released during Ramadan.

·         Venezuelan President Chavez invited President al-Bashir to the Africa-South America Summit in Caracas in late October. The summit seeks to increase African-South American ties.


·         Burma’s military occupied the Kokang region after fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Kokang Army forced more than 30,000 people to flee over the border to China’s Yunnan (Hunan) province.

·         The editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News said that the Burmese Army may move against the United Wa State Army after its attacks on the Kokang.

·         China called on Burma to properly handle stability in the region and protect the rights of its citizens, a message that may go unheeded by the Burmese junta. The ongoing offensive appears to show that Burma is more concerned with its domestic policies as opposed to its trade ties with China.

·         The junta reportedly sent seven additional Light Infantry Battalions to Shan state in response to the recent fighting in the Kokang areas.

·         The US is reportedly ready to release a new Burma policy “soon,” once the policy is finalized. The review reignited the debate over the effectiveness of continued sanctions, which have yet to influence the junta’s policies.

·         Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer appealed her conviction for violating the terms of her house arrest.

DR Congo

·         FPJC militia attacked the villages of Ngombe Nyama and Bodi, south of the Ituri capital of Bunia. The FPJC is partially staffed by members of the former FRPI militia.

·         Undersecretary-General for Field Support, Susana Malcorra said that the UN mandate for MONUC would have to be changed in order to confront the LRA in northern Congo and southern Sudan.

·         The LRA’s new negotiating team said that they want the peace deal with the Ugandan government to be revised and to revisit the provisions governing ICC prosecution of LRA leaders. This comes as LRA fighters have reportedly been seen in the far eastern Central African Republic.

·         The Kimia II operation against the FDLR has reportedly killed more than 500 FDLR members.

·         FARDC soldiers in Uvira, South Kivu reportedly mutinied over a failure by the government to provide their back-pay. The soldiers barricaded the main road, forcing most of the population to remain hidden throughout the day.

·         The ICC trials of accused war criminals Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui were pushed back until November 24 to adjudicate evidentiary issues, rule on whether Katanga’s arrest was lawful and consider protective measures for witnesses. 


·         General Stanley McChrystal, commanding general of US-NATO forces in Afghanistan issued a new set of counterinsurgency guidelines, redefining the protection of civilians in Afghanistan as a central mission for ISAF.

·         A powerful truck bomb killed 41 civilians and injured dozens in the southern town of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold, on Tuesday night. Officials said many of the casualties were women and children. A suicide bombing also killed 23 people in the eastern Laghman province, 100 miles east of Kabul.


·         The Iraqi government issued a report this week stating that last August was the deadliest month in more than a year, with 393 civilians dead and more than 1,500 injured in attacks. The report raises concerns about whether national security forces are properly equipped to defend civilians since the departure of American troops in June.


·         As of Thursday, at least 80 percent of the more than 2 million people displaced by recent fighting in the North West Frontier Province have returned to their homes.

·         A suicide bomber killed 15 police recruits in the Swat Valley city of Mingora. This bombing illustrates the ability of the Taliban to attack security forces despite the recent military gains against the insurgents.

·         The Pakistani military continues its offensive against militants in South Waziristan, as Hakimullah Meshud takes over for Baitullah Mehsud as leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Sri Lanka

·         Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka released a video appearing to depict extra-judicial killings by Sri Lankan troops. The video shows two naked, bound and blindfolded men being executed by a man wearing a Sri Lankan military uniform, with several other bodies in the background. The Sri Lankan government says the footage was staged by the LTTE, though Journalists for Democracy says it was shot in January and is evidence of human rights atrocities. UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston called for an investigation into reports that the Sri Lankan army summarily executed non-combatants earlier this year.

·         Colombo’s High Court sentenced a journalist to 20 years in prison on charges of terrorism and supporting the LTTE on Monday. This prompted the U.S. State Department to state its concerns about the state of media freedom in Sri Lanka. Several human rights groups condemned the verdict, calling it a purely political case.

·         Last Friday the Sri Lankan government said it would resettle 50,000 Tamil refugees within two weeks. More than 260,000 people remain in temporary camps in northern Sri Lanka.


·         Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia and seized the border town of Beledweyn last Saturday, driving out Al-Shabaab insurgents. TFG officials denied that Ethiopian troops were on Somali soil before the troops partially vacated the town on Monday. This came after TFG officials said they planned to take control of the entire Hiran region,  which includes Beledweyn, from insurgents.

·         One of two French security advisers kidnapped in July escaped his captors last Wednesday.

·         Thousands of IDPs in Somalia’s south-central town of Jowhar are facing a severe food shortage. UN food shipments to the camp stopped in June due to insecurity concerns and no other food has arrived since.

·         A report released last week by the FAO warns that half of the Somali population is now dependent on food aid, especially those in conflict-prone regions.

·         The UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, called for an end to fighting there during the holy month of Ramadan, asking warring parties to cease the cycle of “Somalis fighting Somalis.”

Around the World

·         Violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir has dropped to its lowest levels in twenty years, with killings have dropped to one-per day in the contested region. Over the first seven months of 2009, 195 people, including 45 civilians were killed by violence in Kashmir.

South Sudan

·         41 people are dead and 28 others injured in Jonglei’s Twic East County when cattle raiders from neighboring Lou Nuer attacked a Payam headquarters early Friday. Jonglei’s governor Kuol Manyang attributes the problem to criminality and lack of jobs as opposed to ethnic tensions.  At least 1,200 people have been killed by inter-tribal violence in South Sudan in 2009.

·         Reports released suggest that Kenya and the United States are working together to train the SPLA. The Kenyans are reportedly in South Sudan to train the SPLA in administrative tasks, and not how to use the newly imported T-72 tanks.  


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