Top Updates in Genocide Prevention
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A spokesperson for the Congolese government announced last week that with the combined military efforts of the Congolese army (FARDC) and the UN Congo mission (MONUSCO), the number of active militant rebel groups in the country has been more than halved, dropping from 55 to 20. He added that a new offensive had recently launched against FDLR, a primarily Rwandan rebel group and one of the largest security threats in the DRC today.
A new report released by the United Nations showed that little progress has been made in countering the high rates of rape and other acts of sexual violence in the Congo, which have long been a source of notoriety for the country’s conflict. The report showed that there have been over 3,600 victims of sexual violence in the DRC over the past four years, nearly 1,000 of which have been children; government agents were accused of holding responsibility for about half of the cases. The UN called on the Congolese government prioritize ending the impunity for the perpetrators of these acts.
In response to the growing number of arrests and jailing of journalists in Burma, several newspapers protested last week by printing messages of condemnation on their front pages. In just the last four months, six journalists have been arrested on criminal charges. Media watchdog groups believe that despite recent passage of freedom of the press laws, in practice the country’s press freedoms have deteriorated in recent months with instances of government intimidation and harassment on stories they discern disfavorable becoming more common.
Burma is currently in the midst of conducting its first national census in over 30 years. Thetwelve-day census, due to end last Thursday, has been extended until mid-May due to “technical and logistical problems.” One such problem has been the counting of the Rohingya people. The Myanmar government has refused to record individuals as Rohingya and instead calls them Bengali. To learn more about the census, check out this blog post by Alex Colley Hart, STAND’s Southeast Asia Education Coordinator.
In a recent interview with AFP, former South Sudanese Vice President and current rebel leader Rief Machar spoke about further steps he and his forces are willing to take to seize power from Salva Kiir. Machar stated, “If we are to remove the dictator, Juba is a target, oil fields are a target.” These statements come on the heels of failed peace talks between the two sides and highlight the extent to which the country has become divided since gaining its independence. Commenting on having further talks with Kiir, Machar said, “What would we discuss? You are a discredited leader, you have committed massacres, I hope he accepts that”, leaving little doubt that the people of South Sudan will continue to suffer as a result of the power politics in play within the country. (AFP and Digital Journal)
The United Nations has called the ongoing conflict within South Sudan an “outrage” as the detrimental effects of what occurred in Juba in December 2013 have left the entire country in disarray. Even in the light of the ceasefire agreement that was signed in January violence has continued within several states in the country displacing close to a million people within and outside the country. Currently all UNMISS facilities and refugee camps are operating under full capacity or are over filled with people who have fled their homes. UN and other aid agencies operating within the country are struggling to reach those most in need. On April 15th the UNHCR announced that it has began “airlifts and construction of new camps to help South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Ethiopia, who now total more than 95,000 and are growing at up to 1,000 a day”. These numbers only reflect a fraction of those affected and the numbers will likely continue to rise.