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Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees, April 2008

John O | 02.05.2008 05:19 | Migration | Repression | Social Struggles

Eight actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in April 2008, and three improved, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch

CrisisWatch N°57, published 1st May 2008

Deteriorated Situations

Burundi: The peace process is at risk as now-daily clashes between FNL rebels and the army grew fiercer in and around the capital, killing over 50 during the second half of the month. Major army-FNL rebel clashes raged in Bujumbura and neighbouring provinces from 17 April; 52, likely more, reported killed. FNL shelled capital 22 April: Vatican embassy compound, university campus hit. Air force bombed rebel positions north west of Bujumbura 30 April. Peace process under threat as rebels pledged continued violence until demands met for renewed talks on power sharing; government rejected. FNL refused to rejoin truce monitoring team, slated to resume 1 April, without amnesty. President Nkurunziza urged regional, international political intervention. National Assembly remains paralysed by political crisis. Former ruling CNDD-FDD leader Hussein Radjabu sentenced 3 April to 13 years on charges of fomenting instability; planning appeal.
HRW: Burundi, Government Should Act to End Police Abuses

Georgia and Russia: Tensions escalated sharply, as Russia unilaterally moved additional peacekeepers into the breakaway region Abkhazia on 1 May. This followed a month of strained relations, including Russian allegations Georgia deployed 1,500 troops in the Upper Kodori valley, and Georgian allegations Russia shot down an unmanned reconnaissance plane over Abkhazia ˆ all vigorously denied by the other.

Somalia: Over 100 killed in 19 to end April clashes: some say fighting in Mogadishu heaviest since 1991; several key towns, districts fell to Islamist militants. U.S. airstrike 1 May reportedly killed al Shabaab commander, Aden Hashi Ayro, believed al-Qaeda boss in Somalia, and some 9 others. 21 reportedly executed by alleged Ethiopian soldiers in capital mosque 19 April: 50 children reportedly abducted: Further 20 killed in early April violence across country. Dramatic rise in piracy including attacks on French yacht, Spanish fishing boat, Dubai-flagged cargo ship, all later released. 2 UN contractors – Kenyan, Briton – kidnapped 1 April, still missing; UNHCR vehicle escaped 5 April Puntland ambush.

Haiti: Violent protests over rising cost of food and fuel early month killed at least 6, led to ouster of PM Alexis. Began in Les Cayes 3rd April but soon spread across country, intensified in Port-au-Prince where protesters tried to storm National Palace 7th April. *MINUSTAH peacekeepers targeted in Les Cayes. Alexis dismissed after no-confidence vote 12 April; Préval announced short-term rice subsidies 12 Apr; issued call for greater food aid,

Yemen: Violent rioting and government crackdown unsteadied south, while collapse of Feb peace agreement threatened in north. Fortnight of clashes between security forces and protestors in southern cities reportedly left 1 demonstrator dead; some 20 police, 30 civilians injured. Demonstrations started end-March over alleged discrimination in government, army jobs. Large-scale fighting reported in north – including 18 killed in clashes between al-Houthi Shiite rebels and government-aligned forces; at least another 8 killed 29 April – but details scarce due to media blackout. Bomb attack 16 April at military checkpoint in Marib province killed 3 soldiers. UN put up blast walls, closed some offices mid-month after projectiles hit foreigners’ housing complex in Saana 6 Apr – attack reportedly claimed by al-Qaeda. Blast near Italian embassy 30 April. MP shot dead 18 April in north; circumstances unclear.

Sri Lanka: 150-200 government soldiers reported killed, hundreds more wounded in fierce 23 April battle, as government sought to breach LTTE forward defence lines at Muhamalai. Tigers admit 25 fighters dead, government says more than 100. Army regained control of important Catholic Church and pilgrimage site in northern town of Madhu after months of fighting. Tigers, army each blamed other for blast that killed activist priest in LTTE-held Wanni region. Highways minister, 9 others killed in likely LTTE suicide explosion in Gampaha 6 April. 25 April bus bombing, also blamed on Tigers, killed 26 in Colombo suburb. Campaigning began for key eastern provincial council elections due 10 May.

Uganda: Peace precarious as LRA leader Kony failed to sign permanent deal, amid reports of multiple civilian abductions. Kony delayed 10 April signing, seeking guarantees of own safety, financial security and clarification on justice mechanism; chief LRA negotiator then “quit”, reportedly fired. Govt negotiators left talks 11 April. Unconfirmed reports of 9 rebels killed in early April LRA infighting over deal, including ICC-target and Kony deputy Okot Odhiambo. UN Envoy Chissano optimistic talks salvageable, but President Museveni said Kony “not serious”. Recent abductions reported in DR Congo, Sudan, Central African Republic claimed to be LRA by rights groups – some 350 allegedly kidnapped, including some 50 children. 3 journalists arrested 26 April for reports critical of government.

Zimbabwe: The government launched a brutal countrywide campaign of violence and intimidation, amid widespread reports that opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Robert Mugabe in the 29 March presidential election ˆ the official results of which the government continues to block. Opposition gains point to the possibility of transition from ZANU-PF‚s long rule, but more violence threatens.

Improved Situations
Cyprus, Nepal, Timor-Leste: In Nepal, twice-postponed polls for a Constituent Assembly were finally held on 10 April under generally free and fair conditions with little violence. Maoist candidates picked up over a third of seats and negotiations are underway to form a power-sharing government. In Timor-Leste, rebel leader Gastão Salsinha, wanted for his alleged role in the 11 February attacks on the president and prime minister, surrendered on 29 April, and Australia announced the withdrawal of 200 extra troops, citing improved security conditions. The situation also improved in Cyprus.

Unchanged Situations
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), China (internal), Colombia, Comoros Islands, Côte d‚Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland (Somalia), Sudan, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara

May 2008 Outlook

Conflict Risk Alerts
Burundi, Georgia, Zimbabwe

Conflict Resolution Opportunity

*United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
International Crisis Group

John O
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