In this week’s issue: Seven UNAMID police officers were injured in an ambush; over 900 Karen have returned to Burma from a refugee camp on the border of Thailand; Women were executed and abducted in an FDLR attack in Congo
Weekly News Brief, February 12 through 19, compiled by Joshua Kennedy at GI-Net and the STAND E-team. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to weekly mailings with news briefs, trivia, and a discussion guide.
Areas of Concern
- SLA rebels and Sudanese government forces have continued to fight in the Jebel Marra region of North Darfur.
- ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will appeal the ruling that rebel commander Bahr Idriss Abu Garda of the United Resistance Front has no substantial link to the 2007 attack on African Union peacekeepers at Haskinita.
- Seven UNAMID police officers were injured in an ambush near the El-Sherif IDP camp south of Nyala, South Darfur. The peacekeepers were attacked by unknown gunmen who appear to have been waiting for their return.
- A fire broke out in the Riyadh IDP camp near El Geneina, killing one person an injuring two others.
- It appears that Darfuri rebel movements are receiving weapons from a seller in the Ukraine. After leaving Eastern Europe, the weapons entered Sudan via Eritrea.
- According to Karen relief groups, Burmese government troops burned down dozens of houses, forced eleven schools to close, and forced about 2,000 Karen villagers to flee into the jungle due to attacks in early February.
- Tin Oo, Vice Chairman of the National League for Democracy, was freed from six years of house arrest on February 13.
- On a five-day visit to Burma, Special UN human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana has met with lawyers from the National League for Democracy. He has not yet received a response to his request to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.
- Despite statements that there will be no refoulment of refugees, over 900 Karen from a camp on the Thai-Burma border have gradually been returned to Burma since deportation began in early February. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) recently expressed its concern that the areas to which the Karen are being resettled are heavily mined.
- Seven women were executed and another eight were abducted during an FDLR attack on the village of Kisembe in the Mwenga area of South Kivu.
- The new NATO-led offensive in Marjah, a Taliban stronghold in the southern Helmand province, has been designed to limit civilian casualties, Afghan military officials have said. The 15,000-troop operation is also meant to highlight close collaboration between NATO and Afghan forces.
- A NATO rocket attack during the Marjah offensive reportedly killed at least 12 civilians in what appears to have been operator error.
- On Wednesday, an Afghan official said the Taliban fighters are using human shields to force coalition troops to shoot civilians in the Marjah offensive. At least 27 Taliban militants have been killed in the offensive.
- The U.N. envoy to Afghanistan urged the Afghan government to attempt more conciliatory measures towards the Taliban, to build confidence and establish peace.
- Pakistani government officials have for the first time confirmed that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud is dead, having been killed by a U.S. drone strike mid-January. Officials disagree on the effect this will have on the Taliban’s organization in Pakistan.
- U.S. and Pakistani intelligence forces captured the Taliban’s second-in-command during a secret raid last week. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who planned the group’s military operations, is being questioned by Pakistani and U.S. agents.
- U.S. drone strikes on Sunday and Monday killed at least nine militants in North Waziristan.
- An explosion at a mosque on Thursday killed 29 civilians and wounded dozens, coinciding with the U.S. special envoy’s visit to Pakistan.
- The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator says 8,000 civilians have fled fighting in Mogadishu so far in February, expressing concern at the new spike in violence. At least 80 Somalis have also died. The coordinator additionally criticized U.S. restrictions on aid to Somalia, saying they prevented aid from reaching Somalis who desperately needed it. The restrictions were put in place to ensure aid was not diverted to Islamist militants.
- Al Shabaab has vowed an all-out war to counter the TFG’s planned offensive to capture key southern towns from Islamist rebels.
- UN Special Representative for Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin recently released a report on his visit to Somalia last fall, stating that the 1.5 million IDPs in Somalia face the threat of human rights abuses at the hands of all conflict actors, in addition to the lack of humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and protracted fighting.
- The African Union continues to deny Uganda’s request that AMISOM’s mandate be expanded to incorporate more peace enforcement as opposed to peace keeping. The AU held a meeting on how to deal with Somalia’s instability last Wednesday.
- The European Union has announced it will train 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda this May.
- Hizbul Islam drove out al Shabaab militants from a southern Somalia town on Thursday, witnesses reported.
- Ten civilians were killed during fighting between U.S.-Iraqi forces and militants last Friday.
- A suicide bomb struck near Iraqi government headquarters in Ramadi on Thursday, part of a wave of violence expected before next month’s parliamentary elections.
- Last Friday, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court agreed to hear Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s challenge to his arrest by the Sri Lankan government. The government accused the general, who had just been defeated in presidential elections by the incumbent president, of plotting against the government. President Rajapaksa vowed Fonseka would receive due process.
- A group of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks urged President Rajapaksa to release Fonseka, saying the general had made many sacrifices to unite the nation by ending the 25-year-old civil war .
- The European Union announced on Tuesday it would remove Sri Lanka’s preferential trade benefits with its member countries in six months if Sri Lanka’s government failed to meet human rights obligations. The Sri Lankan government countered that the EU had set “unattainable targets” for the country to meet.
- The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization asked for $23 million to resettle northern Sri Lanka refugees.
Around the World
- The Nigerien capital of Niamay is reportedly calm after yesterday’s apparent military coup. The current junta leader, Mamadou Tandja, reported that civil servants would run the government ministries until the formation of a new government.