In this week’s issue: The Sudanese government accused UNAMID of supplying JEM rebels; Thailand will repatriate 3,000 Karen civilians to Burma; a new OCHA report states that 90% of human rights abuses in DRC’s Kivu provinces are committed by the FDLR or FARDC
Weekly News Brief, January 28 to February 5, 2010, compiled by Joshua Kennedy of GI-Net and the STAND E-team. To receive news briefs, trivia and discussion guides each week, email email@example.com.
Areas of Concern
- On Wednesday, ICC judges ruled that President Omar al-Bashir may face charges of genocide. The African Union said that the court’s decision may be detrimental to the peace process in Sudan.
- Senior GoSS officials have criticized Secretary General Ban’s statement that he would work had to avoid the succession of southern Sudan. The GoSS stated that any outside interference could lead to future conflict.
- The Sudanese government accused UNAMID of supplying rebels with vehicles after JEM reportedly stole eight supply trucks.
- Nearly 4.3 million people in southern Sudan will require food assistance in 2010, primarily due to conflict and drought. This an increase of 3.3 million people over 2009.
- According to the Institute for Science and International Security, Burma has nuclear ambitions and could possibly be constructing a nuclear reactor site near Mandalay.
- After the murder of Mongla leader U Min Ein, Burmese and Chinese official have met in talks about the recent instability regarding ceasefire groups on the Sino-Burmese border. The Mongla are the main actors in the National Democratic Alliance Army, a ceasefire militia within Burma.
- President Barack Obama earmarked $36.5 million in his 2011 budget to support democracy and humanitarian programs for Burma and along the Thai-Burma border.
- The Burmese military is sending more troops to the Kokang territory in the northeast to cut access and communication between the KIA and the UWSA.
- Thailand will reportedly begin to deport 3,000 Karen civilians back to Burma on Friday, February 5. However, the Thais have reportedly ruled out any forced repatriation (refoulment) of the refugees.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- Two people were killed when a truck carrying civilians and soldiers was attacked between the North Kivu towns of Kirumba and Mibhobwe.
- In South Kivu, suspected FDLR members attacked the village of Kahuzi Biega in the area of Kalenge, killing one.
- A new OCHA report stated that approximately 90 percent of human rights abuses in North and South Kivu have been committed by either the FDLR or the FARDC.
- Former SPLA soldiers are reportedly occupying the village of Kimba in the northern DRC
- Taliban leaders denied meeting UN envoys to discuss peace in Afghanistan, calling reports of the meeting “propaganda.”
- On Tuesday, the New York Times highlighted the difficulties – including confronting widespread illiteracy, drug use and Taliban infiltration — NATO officers are having in training Afghanistan’s police force.
- Three attacks targeted Shiite civilians making a pilgrimage to a holy shrine in Baghdad on Monday, killing more than 65 people and injuring dozens more. The attacks, predicted by Iraq’s security agencies, have stirred doubts about the security forces’ ability to protect Iraqi civilians from such large-scale attacks.
- A suicide blast at busy Iraqi restaurant killed three and injured dozens last Saturday night.
- The United States escalated its use of drone strikes recently, with two major drone strikes on last Friday and Tuesday, which killed 25 people combined.
- A suicide bomb placed near a market in northwest Pakistan killed at least 16 civilians and injured more than 20 others last Saturday.
- This Friday, February 5, two large car bombs targeted a religious procession and a hospital killed at least 25 people and injuring 100 more.
- On Monday, President Obama asked Congress to approve a half-billion increase in aid to train Pakistani forces.
- In a statement last Monday, al-Shabaab confirmed that its fighters are allied with al-Qaeda. On Tuesday, Hizbul Islam announced its deputy leader had joined the group’s rival, al-Shabaab.
- More than 258 people have been killed and 80,000 displaced so far in 2010, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. UNHCR also warned that the health of many displaced persons is at risk due to “dwindling shelter and little water.”
- In a statement released Wednesday, the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres said Somali civilians are repeatedly the victims of indiscriminate shelling by both rebel and government forces.
- The United Nations extended AMISOM’s mandate in Mogadishu for another year, a decision welcomed by the Somali transitional government Djibouti has announced it will send 450 troops to Somalia in February to join the AU peacekeeping forces already there.
- At its summit last week, the African Union again asked the UN for peacekeepers, warning that Somalia’s crisis was being ignored in comparison to other conflicts such as Afghanistan. The UN Secretary-General has said the UN is still considering whether the Somali situation requires a UN peacekeeping force.
- Al-Shabaab militants launched an offensive on government-controlled territory in Mogadishu early last Friday morning, killing at least 10 civilians and injuring dozens more. Another eight civilians were killed in shelling between government forces and Islamist rebels Sunday night.
- Sri Lankan police raided the office of failed presidential candidate Gen. Fonseka, the former army commander who contested Pres. Rajapaksa’s bid for reelection, and arrested 15 of his staff members.
- The Sri Lankan government is accusing Gen. Fonseka of plotting to overthrow the government and assassinate Pres. Rajapaksa, while Gen. Fonseka has charged that the government stole a million of his votes during last week’s elections and plans to contest Rajapaksa’s election in court.
- Sri Lankan media outlets have also accused the government of cracking down on pro-opposition publications and arresting journalists on unspecified charges.
- Meanwhile, Tamil civilians wait to see what steps Pres. Rajapaksa will take to improve Tamil-Sinhalese relations and address demands for greater political rights. Analysts warn that without addressing these issues, Rajapaksa could incite another militant rebellion.
Around the World
- Lt. Aboubaker Sidiki Diakite, the associate of former Guinean leader Moussa Camara, announced that he is ready to face international justice for his role in the September massacre of civilians in Conakry. Diakite also said that Camara was behind the violence.
- Guinea’s transition towards democracy appears to be progressing, but there is still a ways to go.
- Televangelist Pat Robertson denied that he had lobbied on behalf of former Liberian President Charles Taylor after receiving a gold mining concession in 1999. Taylor claimed he also paid $2.6 million in lobbying fees to help influence U.S. Policy.
- Senior North Korean officials were fired while the country goes through deep food shortages and economic uncertainty. The scarcity prompted a response from Kim Jong-Il, who acknowledged that the state has failed to provide food for its citizens.
- Local authorities in the Kashmiri capital of Srinagar imposed a curfew in the region to reduce the scope of recent protests. More than 400 people have been injured in street battles over the last three days.