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STAND Conflict Update: March 2024

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With the rise in violence in Sudan, the situation has not yet led to any peaceful resolution. Due to this, the UN has urged the warring parties in Sudan to halt the escalating hostilities during the holy month of Ramadan after voting for a British resolution to cease fighting and allow aid to the 25 million people affected by the conflict. This is crucial, as Sudan is heading towards the world’s worst hunger crisis with 18 million people facing food insecurity and starvation. This should make the international community take notice, and the US has already announced that $47 million dollars in humanitarian aid will be sent to the country. With the start of the current tensions reaching its one year anniversary next month, it is imperative for aid to be distributed and a ceasefire be called to curtail violence from spreading further into neighboring countries.

Tigray, Ethiopia

Though Ethiopia’s Tigray region is mostly peaceful now—thanks in large part to a UN-negotiated ceasefire between government loyalist troops and rebel troops— the lingering effects of the conflict remain prevalent. Extreme hunger and famine have struck the region, with stories of mothers deprived of breastmilk and children without food. Moreover, these aftereffects of conflict are compounded by persisting crop failure and drought. During last year’s harvest season, only 49% of farmland was planted and 37% was harvested. UN and US aid was halted after it was found out that Ethiopian government officials participated in a scheme to steal grain. While this decision was overturned, access to aid is still limited.

Another legacy of the war is its traumatic effects on women, who have been the victims of rape, slavery, and other sexual crimes. On March 22, President of the Tigray Action Committee and United Women of the Horn Maebel Gebremedhin published a powerful first-hand account of these lasting effects. An estimated 40% of Tigrayan women were subject to sexual and gender-based violence during the war, and this crisis has continued even after its end. Very few survivors have been able to get the medical and psychological care they need. Importantly, the piece draws parallels between the conflicts in Darfur, Eritrea, and Somalia in how rape is used as a horrific tool of war. 


Conflict between government and separatist forces has continued throughout this month. On March 12, an attack in Bamenda, suspected to have been perpetrated by separatists, killed two people. On March 23, separatists claimed responsibility for the death of an elected official in Babessi. Several separatist leaders have also been killed. On March 25, government forces carried out an attack in the Northwest region, which killed at least seven separatist fighters.  Meanwhile, civilians continue to suffer, as funding cuts to the World Food Programme threaten food aid to the country.

Amidst this ongoing violence, the country is preparing for presidential elections in 2025, but many believe they are unlikely to bring any major change. On March 12, the government banned two major opposition parties, in part due to their relationships with the Ambazonia Interim Government, which is the political arm of the anglophone separatist movement. The ruling party has also been organizing rallies to show support for current president Paul Biya’s re-election. While elections will not take place for another year, it is likely that the current regime will stay in power.

Southwest Asia 


Nine years since conflict began in Yemen, millions continue to suffer. Amnesty International, a prominent human rights organization, has called for global accountability and reparations on this ninth anniversary. Over 18.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, over half of the nation’s population. The majority of Yemenis live in Houthi-controlled regions and are unable to receive food aid since the World Food Program suspended distribution in December. Furthermore, funding for aid has been on the decline as well, with many organizations turning their attention to other urgent crises in Ukraine and Palestine. There seems to be no end to the nation’s humanitarian crisis, recognized as one of the worst in the world. While hostilities have declined since the de facto ceasefire, negotiations have failed to create a permanent plan and there continue to be attacks and killings.

Amidst escalating tensions between Houthi rebels and U.S.-led forces in the region, with the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza heightening the geopolitical stakes, a new unclaimed airstrip is being built in a strategic military location in Yemen. Its location on Abd al-Kuri Island is positioned at the entrance of a crucial maritime route in the Middle East. No country has publicly claimed it, but it features an arrangement of dirt spelling “I LOVE UAE,” suggesting potential involvement from the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition involved in airstrikes and military intervention in Yemen. What this new development will bring remains to be seen.


The need for humanitarian aid in Syria remains at an all-time high as an estimated 90% of Syrians live in poverty. Without immediate aid, the Syrian crisis continues to have a ripple effect around bordering nations as people are pushed into leaving due to extreme poverty. 

Within the country, violence and conflict continue to harm civilians. In the town of Sweida, Syrian forces shot at protestors, leaving multiple injured and one dead. The demonstrations were in protest of the reopening of security settlement centers, which had been closed for months due to civilian pushback. News that these centers would be reopened to monitor protests and activists sparked this new round of demonstrations in the area. Other pro-democracy protests have erupted again in Northern Syria as this month marks 13-years since the original movement for Syrian democracy first gained prominence in the country. Additionally, Turkey continues to deny responsibility and involvement in multiple attacks against Kurdish citizens in Northern Syria, and Iran has increased strikes on the northern regions of Syria and Iraq, where the majority of their Kurdish populations reside. The Islamic State also attacked villagers collecting truffles in Eastern Syria on Wednesday, March 6, killing at least 18 people and leaving multiple injured in one of the deadliest attacks by the Islamic State in recent months.

Additionally, Swiss prosecutors are to try former Syrian vice-president Rifaat al-Assad on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Swiss authorities have claimed these crimes date back to 1982 when al-Assad was a commander of the Syrian defense brigade for his actions during an attack in the city of Hama. Even if al-Assad is found guilty, he is unlikely to serve time in Switzerland.


In response to the ongoing violence and atrocities that have killed at least 30,000 Palestinians, but likely more, the UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding a ceasefire during Ramadan. Every member voted to adopt the resolution besides the US, which chose to abstain. This measure also calls for an immediate release of the people still held hostage by Hamas and a guarantee for access to humanitarian aid in Gaza. However, a proposal to label this as a permanent ceasefire was rejected. While a permanent solution is still needed, the rise in international pressure is notable.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also recently updated its January order for Israel to do more to prevent genocide and civilian deaths in Gaza. In addition to this, it must also ensure that humanitarian aid and all basic services are provided to Palestinians in need. So far, Israel has yet to follow through with the initial order, continuing to authorize military decisions that put countless civilians at risk.

As is evident, atrocities against civilians have continued throughout the month. The Israeli military recently conducted yet another raid on a hospital in Gaza, claiming that it was being used by Hamas. Thousands of internally-displaced people were using it as a shelter, as much of the region has already been devastated by bombings and war. Many patients and staff were evacuated before the attacks began, but five wounded people were trapped inside and died. Furthermore, Israel will no longer approve food aid deliveries to northern Gaza, a decision that will only worsen the imminent famine. This decision, while made prior to the ICJ proclamation, is in direct violation of their order. Israel has yet to reverse this decision, or make an effort to bring aid to those at risk of starvation, illness, and death.

East and Southeast Asia


Seven political prisoners have been sentenced to death this month, and Burma has faced criticism from lawyers, human rights activists, and political prisoner activist groups for using the death sentence as an intimidation tactic. One of the seven prisoners, Winna Tun, was even sentenced to death twice. The junta has also received immense criticism for an ambush that resulted in the deaths of nine civilians in the Mandalay region. A massive wave of junta soldiers have also recently abandoned their posts and fled to neighboring countries in search of refuge. Many of the soldiers have been repatriated, and the junta has remained silent on the matter. In a response to the mass influx of refugees fleeing from war and the new conscription law, Thai lawmakers have held a series of seminars to address the political climate of Burma. The junta has continued with their plans to enforce the conscription law by opening training centers. They plan to use these training centers as recruitment centers as well, and the junta has passed out pamphlets and partnered with local telecommunication companies to send alerts and information regarding conscription. The Burmese UN Ambassador called on the UN Security Council to immediately halt the conscription law, but the UN has yet to make an official statement. 

There has also been a rise in conflict in the nation. Anti-junta resistance groups recently captured the military base in the town of Hpasawng in the Kayah State. This comes after airstrikes that killed at least four people and injured more than 20 people earlier in the month.  The Free Burma Rangers and Karenni Army were able to rescue over 1000 civilians amidst the fighting. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) also launched a new initiative to target air bases and outposts near the cities of Myitkyina and Laiza in response to airstrikes from the junta that have previously targeted KIA headquarters. Resistance groups have also been making moves to capture the town of Kani near Monywa, the capital of Sagaing Region, and the town of Rathedaung in the Rakhine State. 61 cities in Burma remain under martial law, and many cities like Mongmit have been destroyed due to intense fighting.

In peace talks brokered by China, representatives of the Three Brotherhood Alliance and junta discussed reopening the northern Burmese-Chinese border and a potential ceasefire. The junta agreed to let the Alliance control Kokang in the Shan State, but any other information regarding the results of the peace talks have yet to come out.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

This month is Ramadan, a holy month for many Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China. In a continued effort to suppress Islam and destroy Uyghur culture, the Chinese government has placed a number of restrictions on Ramadan observance. Fasting, owning a Qur’an, and praying have been banned or limited, and government officials have described a desire to sinicize Islam, presenting it as inevitable. 

It is extremely important to recognize the rights of minorities in East Turkistan, as World Uyghur Congress leader Dolkun Isa emphasized in a recent interview he gave. He described his life growing up in the region in the 1970s and 1980s, noticing a gradual rise in restrictions and mistreatment. In his youth he was treated as a second-class citizen for being Uyghur and was even kicked out of university for organizing an anti-discrimination protest, but there was a relative freedom of movement and ID cards were not required. Today, this is not the case. Isa calls for people, especially Chinese citizens, to pay attention to this crisis and stand up for Uyghur rights.

With the rise in awareness about atrocities against Uyghurs, particularly regarding forced labor, the European Union has signed on to a law ensuring that EU companies do not use forced labor or environmentally-unsustainable practices in their supply chains. While this is an important step forward, critics have noted that it only applies to corporations with over 1,000 employees that make a profit of at least €450m a year. This excludes many smaller companies that may use forced labor, a move to protect corporate interests.


North America

United States

March is Women’s History Month, commemorating women’s contributions to society and recognizing the problems they still face. One pressing issue during contemporary times is reproductive rights. It has been almost two years since Roe v. Wade was overturned, which has led to several state bans and restrictions of abortion access. The Supreme Court recently met to listen to arguments related to a common abortion medication, mifepristone. In the United States, two-thirds of abortions are performed with mifepristone, and it is considered a safe and non-invasive option. Abortion opponents want to limit its access, which would deal another blow against reproductive rights. In a recent protest, hundreds of activists chanted, marched and rallied for hours outside the Supreme Court before the justices heard the case. Thirteen were arrested, and many traveled to DC from across the country, showing their dedication to raising awareness about this violation of their reproductive rights.


Alishba Waqar is a senior at Westfield High School. She contributed to the Yemen portion of this update.

Anika Gera is a junior at Terre Haute South Vigo High School. She contributed to the United States and East Turkistan portion of this update.

Anne-Sophie Hellman is a senior at Buffalo State University studying History. She contributed to the United States portion of this update.

Grace Harris is a junior at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Palestine portion of this update.

Jerry Harris is a graduate student at George Mason University in the Mass Atrocity and Genocide Prevention certificate program. He contributed to the Sudan portion of this update.

Mira Mehta is a junior at Brown University studying economics and international & public affairs.  She contributed to the Cameroon portion of this update.

Robert Liu is a senior at Durham Academy. They contributed to the Tigray portion of this update.
Seng Hkawn Myitung is a junior at Albemarle High School. She contributed to the Burma and Syria portions of this update.