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STAND Conflict Update: January 2023

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Northeast Africa


On January 10, Egypt proposed an initiative to help Sudan settle its ongoing crisis and further unity in Sudan. The Egyptian government plans to create tactics that will lead to a peace settlement, aiming to provide aid to the Sudanese government and restore the former civilian-led transitional government. They also want to ensure that the Democratic Unionist Party is involved in the post-transitional government, as they have historically been allied. Sudanese military and government officials are currently in the process of restoring this civilian government, and Egypt plans to be involved.

South Sudan

President Salva Kiir reaffirmed in his New Year Address that the government would not participate in peace talks until rebel groups genuinely commit to peace. However, it is unclear what the threshold is for the government to resume talks. For the time being, some rebel groups have been reportedly preparing for war, and violent clashes have continued. In addition, three humanitarian aid workers have been killed in the past month.

However, there have also been some attempts to build peace and stability. On January 24, South Sudan welcomed the Pope’s advance team in preparation for his visit to the country in February. For the country’s Catholic population, the visit is expected to help promote peace and reduce intercommunal violence. The government also began another attempt to write a new constitution in January, which will be necessary to maintain stability as they move out of the transitional period. Political infighting has limited progress on the constitution, so it remains to be seen what the final product will be.

Tigray, Ethiopia

Following the November 2nd peace treaty signed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government, significant efforts have been made towards peace. The remaining presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray has been an issue due to the country’s involvement in human rights abuses during the war, but forces are now being withdrawn. Ethiopia has stated that there are no more Eritrean troops remaining in the country, but the US claims that they have moved to the border but have not left yet. There is no clear proof on either side, but Tigray has also reported that thousands of troops are still there. On a positive note, Tigrayan forces have been in the process of handing over weapons such as tanks and rockets, a sign that they believe the peace deal will last. 

Central Africa


On January 20, Canada announced that it would host talks to begin a peace process in Cameroon and address some of the technical issues that have caused conflict. Several separatist groups, including the Ambazonia Governing Council and the Ambazonia Defence Force, have agreed to participate in the talks, unlike past attempts at peace processes. However, on January 23, the government of Cameroon denied having asked any other country for assistance in resolving the crisis. This came after months of its representatives attending talks in Canada to begin the process. It remains to be seen what the future of these talks will be, or if the change in stance indicates further fragmentation within the government.

Democratic Republic of Congo 

Despite the recent ceasefire called last month, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government remains suspicious about rebel troops, notably the M23 group. A recent report from the UN details suspected M23 troop movements in areas they were supposed to be withdrawn from. They have also seized new territory in other areas, and have been involved in multiple military clashes.

On January 15, at least 10 people were killed in a church bombing carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Both Uganda and the DRC forces have launched a campaign against them, but attacks have been increasing with no sign of letting up. Recently, the same group attacked a bar, killing 23 people and burning several shops and homes. UN peacekeepers have also made a grisly discovery as bodies were found in mass graves after reports of attacks from local militia groups. A total of 42 victims and six children were found among them, and CODECO militants are suspected of involvement in the killings. These events have left countless people, including children, traumatized and trying to desperately figure out how to rebuild their lives.


Southwest Asia 


Since the end of the six-month truce in Yemen in October 2022, there has been an uneasy ceasefire. In the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels have revived back-channel talks in efforts to strengthen the current ceasefire and pave the way towards a more sustainable peace agreement. However, the situation on the ground in Yemen is by no means stable or without violence; military and Houthi activity across the country have continued to result in the deaths of civilians. Additionally, the U.S. Navy reportedly seized over 2,000 assault rifles bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen from Iran. However, in a briefing to the UN Security Council on January 16, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg has urged that parties should take advantage of the lack of major escalation and focus their efforts on holistic peace efforts rather than short-term measures that focus on individual issues. As Yemen remains ravaged by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, it is vital for all parties to meaningfully engage with UN Peacebuilding mechanisms, and that those mechanisms are inclusive and Yemeni-led.


Early this month, the Israeli military launched a missile strike at an airport in Damascus, killing two soldiers and putting the airport out of service. While tensions have remained high between Israel and Syria, they have also risen between Turkey and Syria. Due to the threatening presence of Kurdish forces in northern Syria, Turkey has threatened a military offensive to stop them. Russia also has a presence in the region and had talks with Turkey to expand troop patrols to bring better security to the region. While some Syrians in the area have protested against the renewed contacts between Turkey and Syria, the effects of the civil war that has been brewing since 2011 have taken a toll, displacing countless people and sending many to Turkey as refugees. The UN has unanimously voted on a resolution to bring cross-border aid from Turkey to the northern part of Syria for another six months, while Amnesty International has called on the Syrian government to lift its siege on civilians in Aleppo. Hopefully, with these measures being implemented, the region can see a sign of reprieve from the horrors of ongoing civil war.    


Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in December and the swearing in of his new government, human rights defenders and policy experts began warning against the actions the extremist, far right government would begin to take. So far this year, the government is looking to be as bad as people feared. The government is moving to continue and expand illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has banned the flying of the Palestinian flag in public, and is actively working to weaken the power of the Israeli Supreme Court to reverse or strike down legislation. Furthermore, violence against Palestinians is on the rise. On the heels of the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2005, 2023 has already seen the deaths of at least 23 Palestinians by the Israeli military in the West Bank alone, including several children. At least one of the individuals killed occurred during a raid on the Qalandia refugee camp. According to the IMEU, Palestinian children have begun carrying goodbye letters on their person just in case, for fear of being killed by Israeli soldiers. The ongoing apartheid in Israel cannot be allowed to continue and is a violation of international law. The international community is obligated to take action to hold the government of Israel responsible for the decades of atrocities.

East and South Asia


Earlier this month, Burma’s military government held meetings with three different armed groups in the nation about holding elections in the regions they control. However, the military justified their initial takeover by claiming that there was fraud in the 2020 elections, and have spent the last two years suppressing opposition parties and taking control of the entire voting process. Because of this, many see this move as an attempt to legitimize the coup through a vote that may be unfair. 

At the same time, opponents of the military government plan to protest the second anniversary of the coup on February 1. They urge the entire country to participate in a silent strike within their homes to show mass discontent. Previously, the military has responded violently to protests, attacking and killing countless civilians. An estimated 2,890 people have been killed and 17,400 have been detained since the 2021 coup.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

China hosted a delegation of 30 Muslim scholars from the World Muslim Communities Council earlier this month to claim that their treatment of the Uyghurs in East Turkistan is an anti-terrorism measure, not a genocide. Following the visit, the organization has repeated this idea in a press statement, a move that has been heavily criticized by the World Uyghur Congress. The trip has been described as a propaganda visit to gloss over China’s atrocities by getting Muslims to deny the criminalization of Islam among the Uyghurs.

The World Uyghur Congress also recently challenged the British government in court for not investigating cotton imported from East Turkistan that may have been produced with forced labor. Unfortunately, they lost the case, as the court decided that they did not have a clear link to forced labor from specific products. 


On January 1, two gunmen broke into homes, killing four civilians and injuring six others. Those shot were part of the Hindu community, reflecting the bitter divide between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan fighting over Kashmir. The next morning on the 2nd, an explosion occurred in one of the homes that was attacked, resulting in the deaths of two children and injuring four others. It is still unclear if the attackers from the first incident played a role in the explosion.

In responding to these two incidents, blame has shifted between both India and Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir region, as local residents have protested these events. While India’s government has blamed Pakistani militants for the attacks, political parties in the Kashmir region have blamed security lapses of the ruling lieutenant governor from policies that have resulted in more attacks in the region. Despite this, all sides have condemned the two attacks and security has been increased in the region.

North America

United States

January has been a tumultuous month as gun violence has continued to run rampant across the U.S. in the new year. Just in the last week, in California there have been two shootings in three days killing 18 people; the first at a Lunar New Year gathering in Monterey Park targeting Asian-Americans, and the second in Half Moon Bay. Unfortunately, the U.S. is no stranger to these horrific acts this year. According to the Gun Violence Archives, while we are only 24 days into 2023 at the time of writing this piece, there have been 39 mass shootings recorded across the country. Following these tragedies, President Joe Biden called, again, for a congressional bill banning assault weapons. Unfortunately, congress continues to be divided on this issue; last year House Democrats passed a bill banning assault weapons, but the bill stalled out in the Senate with little to no chance of reaching the White House for signature. The absence of gun control policy remains unacceptable in a country where mass shootings outnumber the days in the year, and the leading cause of death among children and youth under 24 is gun violence. As we move into February and beyond, we cannot continue to operate in the familiar cycle of witnessing these tragedies, calling for change, and meeting inaction. It is urgent that U.S. policymakers protect lives over weapons and take swift and concrete actions to prevent further loss of lives.


Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University. She contributed to the Sudan portion of this update.

Alonna Despain is a recent graduate of New York University with a MS in Human Rights and International Law. She contributed to the Palestine, United States, and Yemen portions of this update. 

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray, Burma, and East Turkistan portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Kashmir portion of this update. 

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.