The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Weekly News Brief, September 4 to 10, 2009

Areas of Concern


·         Britain and the European Commission have called for the Sudanese government to return the assets of the thirteen expelled humanitarian aid programs. The Sudanese government believes that it can redistribute the funding as it sees fit.

·         Fighting in the Darfuri region of Jebel Marra heated up this week. Sudanese troops were responsible for the death of 11 rebels and the displacement of thousands due to violence

·         Darfur peace mediator and the Qatari facilitators announced on Monday that the next round of talks between the government and Darfur rebel groups would be held during the last week of October.


·         The Karen Human Rights Group released a report stating that Burmese army abuses continue in Karen State as the Tatmadaw and its DKBA proxies remain on the offensive against the KNLA.

·         The ruling junta announced that the Kokang ethnic region will be autonomous after the 2010 election.

·         The fighting in Kokang may have been sparked by a Chinese-Burmese meeting which discussed the location of an arms factory in the region.

·         Earthrights International released new reports linking Chevron and Total to human rights violations and negative environmental impacts in relation to their operations in Burma’s natural gas industry.

·         Human Rights Watch called on the US government to complete its Burma policy review and work on improving the effectiveness of its sanctions, humanitarian aid and diplomatic stance vis-à-vis Burma.

·         In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Pro-Democracy politician Win Tin wrote that the upcoming elections are likely to be a sham and will lead to the permanent enshrinement of military rule in Burma.

Democratic Republic of Congo

·         Former CNDP rebels who had been integrated into the FARDC reportedly deserted their posts and attacked the villages of Kitcharo and Nyamilima.

·         MONUC and UNHCR issued two reports detailing possible war crimes committed in the Congo last fall. The reports cover crimes committed by the CNDP in Kiwanja and the FARDC in Goma and Kanyabayonga which led to the death of civilians and the looting of property.

·         Congo is preparing to re-integrate IDPs into society after UNHCR closes its camps in North Kivu. The camps are expected to be closed in the coming weeks after violence in the province has dropped.


·         More than 70 Afghan civilians were killed and dozens more injured after a NATO airstrike in northern Afghanistan last Friday. The airstrike targeted two tankers hijacked by the Taliban Thursday night. Gen. McChrystal, the U.S. commander for troops in Afghanistan, visited the region on Saturday and expressed regret that any civilians had been killed. NATO is investigating the strike

·         A Swedish aid agency, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, says U.S. troops stormed an Afghan hospital last Wednesday in search of injured Taliban fighters. The agency’s regional director called the move “unacceptable” and warned future military raids would not be tolerated.

·         The ICC is examining claims that war crimes have been committed in Afghanistan by both NATO and Taliban forces. Afghanistan is a state-party to the Rome Statute, but the ICC cannot take action with either approval from Kabul or the UN Security Council.


·         A dozen bombings shook Iraq last Thursday, killing at least six and wounding 85 people. The attacks appeared targeted at civilians, as 11 of them took place in the evenings when streets are busier than usual for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Several Shiite shrines were also targeted.

·         A suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint in the western city of Ramadi on Monday, wounding 13 and killing nine, including three children and two women. In Kirkuk, north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeting the leader of a local pro-government militia killed a family of eight.


·         At least 50,000 civilians fled their homes in Waziristan as Pakistani troops begin another offensive against Taliban insurgents. The Pakistani military said Tuesday it is setting up relief camps for the displaced. The operation is also targeting insurgents in Khyber, another border district, where troops have already killed at least 43 militants.

·         A Pakistani news agency reported that U.S. drone attacks killed over 400 militants in northwest Pakistan in the last nine months, The number of civilian casualties in the attacks is not yet known.

·         Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised the Pakistani military’s handling of extremist groups over the past 16 months, citing the “success” of the Swat Valley offensive in which 2 million civilians fled. Gates said the Pakistani government exceeded expectations and “performed admirably.”


·         UNCHR announced on Monday that the number of conflict- and drought-displaced Somalis has reached 1.55 million. At least 95,000 Somalis have fled their homes in the last two months, 77,000 of those fleeing Mogadishu. This comes after a U.N. report last week stating that 3.8 million Somalis, almost half the population, depend on humanitarian aid.

·         An Oxfam statement called camps for Somali refugees overcrowded, poorly managed and “barely fit for humans”. The aid agency said the international community had failed refugees, as most lack basic access to water and medicine, and demanded more action from international partners. Oxfam also said Somalia is suffering the worst drought in a decade, which the TFG confirmed on Friday.

·         Heavy fighting broke out between AMISOM troops and insurgents in Mogadishu last Thursday, killing 5 and injuring 9 others. Clashes continued throughout the week. Meanwhile. the TFG again announced it is planning to decisively drive out rebel forces from the capital.

·         The African Union has revised AMISOM’s mandate in Somalia, now allowing the peacekeeping force to carry out pre-emptive attacks against insurgent groups.

·         A foreign minister of the TFG said last Saturday that members of the two insurgency groups, Al-Shabaab and Hisbul Islam, had joined government officials for secret talks.

Sri Lanka

·         The Sri Lankan government will reportedly release IDPs from refugee camps to their relatives and that it hopes to resettle the majority of IDPs by the end of the year.

·         The Sri Lankan government expelled a UNICEF official from the country on Sunday, accusing him of spreading pro-LTTE propaganda. JamesElder had previously raised concerns about children caught in the crossfire between the government and rebels. UNICEF is appealing the government’s decision, saying it was “extremely concerned and disappointed” by the move.

·         U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with a Sri Lankan minister last Thursday to discuss conditions for the 300,000 Tamils in IDP camps. Ban also expressed his concern over possible summary execution of LTTE rebels by the government, a potential war crime depicted in a video released in August.

Central African Republic

·         The Ugandan Army reportedly captured an LRA officer during its new operations in the Central African Republic . Brigadier Mickman Opuk is reportedly a close confidant of Joseph Kony

South Sudan

·         Special Envoy Gration called on north and south Sudan to resolve concerns about the census in preparation for the 2010 national elections as well as working to refine details of the 2011 referendum.

·         25 people were killed in attacks between the Dinka and the Shilluk near the settlement of Bony-Thiang in Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

·         US Treasury Department altered the sanctions on Sudan to include certain items necessary for humanitarian reasons. Treasury issued a general license authorizing the export of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices to South Sudan and other marginalized communities within Sudan. The change in the sanctions regime does not apply for devices destined to northern Sudan.

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