Syria, DRC, Sudan, South Sudan
The NYT reported Thursday that the Syrian government hasagreed to a ceasefire and withdrawal of security and military forces from major cities by the 10thof April, as part of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s proposed peace plan for the embattled nation. Further, Annan stated that the cease-fire must be fully implemented by the 12thof that month. Should the general cease-fire occur as planned, Annan also proposed that a contingent of UN observers be deployed on the ground in Syria to monitor the progress and implementation of the ceasefire. However, while the Syrian government has agreed to this section of the Annan plan, significant elements remain unaddressed.
In the time leading up to the proposed cease-fire on April 10th, the United Nations has reported a surge in violenceundertaken by security forces as the proposed deadline draws nearer despite assurances from the Syrian government that troop withdrawals were underway. “Alarming levels of casualties and other abuses continue to be reported daily. Military operations in civilian population centers have not stopped” Annan stated in a recent address.
At the Istanbul Conference for the 70 nation congress under the heading of the “Friends of Syria”, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton expressed the United State’ssupport for the Syrian National Congress (SNC) as the leadingpolitical opposition organization.In addition, while Secretary Clinton, as well as officials from the UK and Turkey, ruled out the prospect of their nations arming rebel forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Clinton expressed tacit approval of Saudi and Qatari efforts to arm resistance forces in the event the Assad regime fails to abide by the UN backed peace plan.
Soldiers from the former National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a rebel group that was incorporated into the Congolese armed forced (FARDC) in 2009, has defected on the orders of General Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda, who heads the FARDC battalion in North Kivu, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed between 2002 and 2003 in the Ituri region while serving in Thomas Lubanga’s rebel militia the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). Lubanga was the recipient of the first ICC verdict just a few weeks ago for conscripting child soldiers in the DRC, and his arrest has resulted in increased pressure on the Congolese government arrest Ntaganda and hand him over to the ICC. Though Ntaganda was until now considered a vital element for stability and security in Northern Kivu, rumors are now flying about an imminent arrest. A high-ranking FARDC official said, “Bosco Ntaganda is afraid and he is reacting like a hunted animal.” The desertion of former CNDP soldiers from FARDC can be interpreted as a show of strength by Ntaganda, however it is also reflective of the weakening relationship between the general and the Congolese government. The government is increasingly under pressure by the international community due to the widespread irregularities and fraud in the November election process, and Ntaganda might be the only card President Kabila has to play in order to appease the international community. Jason Stearns has more on the growing tensions within the Kivus on the future of Ntaganda and overall stability in the region here.
Though the ICC handed down its first guilty verdict against Thomas Lubanga last month, many have come to question the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Court. Many criticize the ICC for taking “the small fish” while others individuals complicit in war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity continue to hold positions of power. In the New York Times, Phil Clark raised this same question. Though the United Nations has highlighted the human rights violations that were committed during the November presidential and parliamentary elections, President Kabila continues to lead the country. The United States and ICC voices no concern when Kabila’s party cracked down on political opposition, which highlights not only the political nature of ICC indictments but also the failure in the reach and the scope of the law.
Violent attacks committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army continue to escalate against the civilian population in the DRC. In March, attacks by the LRA displaced more than 1,200 people in the Orientale province. UNHCR reported 33 attacks in northeastern DRC this year alone. In addition, the LRA continues to attack communities in neighboring Central African Republic, as part of a wider campaign to reassert violent control over the region.
In the North Kivu province, tens of thousands of people have recently fled their homes following attacks of killing, looting and raping by armed groups and the national army. There are an estimated 500,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in North Kivu alone as of January 2012, out of a nationwide totally of 1.71 million IDPs.
Sudan, South Sudan
The governments of Sudan and South Sudan have sent their delegations to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss ways by which they can defuse the recent military flare-up on the borders of the two countries this week.
Sudanese refugees have dismissed reports alleging that thousands have returned voluntarily from camps in eastern Chad camps to Sudan’s western Darfur region since the signing of the Doha Peace Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in July 2011.
The New York Times reports on a hopeful story of a promising student from South Sudan who is now a freshman at Yale University.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has called on the head of the African Union / United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to resign after the death of several people in an incident of local unrest involving Sudanese police and peacekeepers.
Hundreds of students hailing from Sudan’s western region of Darfur demonstrated in the capital Khartoum on Wednesday against the killing of one of their classmates at the hands of the security authorities.
This post is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity. For more information contact the following:
Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Sudan Education Coordiator: Emma Smith email@example.com
DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelley firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com