In this week’s issue: Tribal clashes in South Darfur left 52 dead; several ceasefire groups officially rejected Burma’s Border Guard Force proposal; ICG released a report on responding to the LRA threat in central Africa
Weekly News Brief – April 23 to 30, 2010, compiled by Joshua Kennedy of GI-Net and the STAND E-team. To receive weekly news briefs, trivia, and a discussion guide, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UNMIS peacekeeping mission until April 30, 2011. The new resolution also called for UNMIS to use its authority to implement a mission-wide civilian protection program and mechanisms to resolve tribal conflict. UNMIS was also tasked with playing a lead role in preparations for the upcoming referendum in South Sudan.
- Fifty-two civilians were killed and fifty-five others wounded in renewed tribal clashes in Sudan’s South Darfur State, in a clash between Rizeigat and al-Sada tribes at various areas, about sixty kilometers north of Nyala, the capital city of South Darfur State.
- President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected with 68% of the vote; Salva Kiir retained his job as the president of Sudan’s semi-autonomous south with almost 93% percent of the vote.
- The four South African peacekeepers who were kidnapped in Darfur prior to the elections have been released.
- Armed conflict broke out in Darfur between Arab nomads and South Sudan’s army along the north-south border. It left dozens dead and many more displaced.
- Cattle raiders killed as many as seventeen villagers and displaced many more after they attacked Yirol East County in South Sudan. Over three days, the raiders took both cattle and children.
- At least two people were killed during a clash between security forces and supporters of an independent candidate in South Sudan. The deaths were the first serious violence reported during the announcement of results in Sudan’s complex elections.
- Darfuri civilians staged a protest in El-Fasher over a failed Ponzi scheme that may have involved as much as 20,000 people and up to $175 million dollars.
- The technical committee responsible for the north and south border started its work on Tuesday. The physical demarcation of the border is expected to be completed by the January referendum.
- The Obama administration on April 22 defended its policy of engagement with the Burmese military junta following calls from several US senators to review the policy, saying that sanctions without engagement have not yielded results in the past.
- As the junta’s deadline for the Border Guard Force plan passed on Thursday, the largest of Burma’s armed ethnic groups, the United Wa State Army met this week with other cease-fire groups with which it has allied to discuss the potential threats they face in the near future.
- The New Mon State Party has officially rejected the military regime’s Border Guard Force and militia proposals and have stated that they will use force if attacked by the regime’s army. However, analysts question in the NMPP is prepared for the outbreak of war. The KIA and KNU Peace Council have also rejected the regime’s Border Guard Force proposal.
- In a major development that may lead to fresh armed conflict between the armed ceasefire groups and the Burmese Army, the National Democratic Front has declared that it will join hands with its allies to attack the junta on multiple front lines.
- European Union foreign ministers have renewed the bloc’s “Common Position” on Burma, extending existing sanctions until April 2011, but have stated that it will “respond positively” to progress and hopes to maintain a dialogue with the regime.
- Human Rights Watch released a new report on Burma, charging that humanitarian space in the country is constricting in advance of the coming elections, obstructing the continued recovery from the 2008 Cyclone Nargis disaster.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- Margot Wallstrom, UN Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict, called the DR Congo, the “Rape Capital of the World,” due to the more than 8,000 sexual violence incidents that took place during fighting in 2009.
- International Crisis Group (ICG) released a new report on how best to address the ongoing LRA threat in Central Africa.
- According to Radio Okapi, the FDLR has a major presence in the town of Kimu, 120 kilometers northwest of Goma. The rebel group reportedly has thousands of combatants near the town.
- Rocket and bomb attacks killed three throughout Afghanistan on Tuesday. A suicide bomb killed one guard and two civilians in Zabul on Sunday.
- At least 20 militants were killed by NATO and Afghan troops over the weekend in northern Afghanistan.
- Three explosions shook Kandahar on Monday, killing two. It seemed to confirm the Taliban’s threats to escalate operations there ahead of an upcoming NATO offensive there. The attacks prompted the U.N. to withdraw most of its local staff and scale down operations Tuesday.
- NATO approved a plan to gradually turn over security to the Afghan government later this year.
- The Taliban is suspected of being behind a poisoned gas attack that knocked out at least more than 50 girls and teachers in a school on Sunday.
- Al Qaeda has confirmed that two of its leaders were killed in a joint U.S.-Iraq operation last week.
- An anti-U.S. cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, offered the Iraqi government his help in fighting insurgents after a wave of bombings struck Baghdad last Friday, killing at least 72 people near al-Sadr’s office. Some analysts say the offer may be read as a threat that if the government does not protect citizens, al-Sadr’s militia will.
- The Iraqi military launched a new offensive against al Qaeda on Monday in the Diyala province.
- Two Iraqi veterans wrote an open letter of apology to the Iraqi people for their involvement in a helicopter attack against civilians in Baghdad in 2007, after footage of the attack was released by Wikileaks earlier this month.
- A roadside bomb on a prison van wounded at least 10 policemen last Saturday. An ambush on a NATO convoy carrying fuel tankers killed three police officers, wounded one another and destroyed at least six tankers last Saturday. On Wednesday, a suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint in Peshawar and killed four policemen and wounded 12 people.
- The Pakistani military says it killed eight militants in Orakzai last Sunday. U.S. missiles killed four suspected militants in North Waziristan on Monday; a U.S. drone strike killed seven more militants last Saturday. That same day Pakistani security forces captured a key Pakistani Taliban commander in the southern city of Karachi.
- U.S. and Pakistani officials say the C.I.A. is using smaller missiles and advanced surveillance techniques in Pakistan in response to outrage over civilian deaths.
- The BBC issued a video report this week describing how displaced Pakistanis fear returning home, saying it is not safe outside of their displacement camps.
- The Associated Press reported that hundreds of Somali soldiers have deserted the Somali military, some even joining rebel groups, because they are not being paid.
- The African Union has denied that it committed war crimes in repressing Islamist insurgencies since 2007.
- Minority Rights Group International has announced in a report that Somalia ranks in the top three countries for “Peoples Under Threat.”
- The UN Special Representative to Somalia said last Thursday that only national reconciliation will bring peace to the war-torn country.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross says malnutrition is on the rise for Somalis, especially children.
- Reports indicate al-Shabaab has taken over the central Somali town of Masagawaa, distributing WFP food aid to its residents.
- After 20 people died and 30 were killed in clashes and explosions on Tuesday, an uneasy calm returned to Mogadishu.
- An officer of a local NGO was shot in southern Somalia by unknown gunmen.