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Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - August 2008

John O | 02.09.2008 06:36 | Migration | Repression | Workers' Movements

Twelve actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in August 2008 and only one improved.

New CrisisWatch bulletin from the International Crisis Group

Download the full report: Summarizes briefly developments during August in some 70 situations of current or potential conflict, listed alphabetically by region, providing references and links to more detailed information sources.

Algeria, Deadly bombings swept country, killing some 80 in worst violence of recent years. Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb claimed attacks in retaliation for security force crackdown. 19 Aug suicide car bomb at police academy in Issers, east of capital, killed some 48; twin blasts near hotel and regional military HQ in south eastern Bouira 20 Aug killed 12. Guerrilla ambushes 17 Aug reportedly left 11 dead; local media reported 7 soldiers killed in 27 Aug ambush. At least 8 dead in 9 Aug suicide attack on police station in northern beach resort. Explosion near police station 3 Aug east of capital injured 20. Govt reported killing some 20 insurgents in 7, 24 Aug operations.“Al-Qaida claims

Afghanistan, Angry exchanges over 22 August coalition air strikes in western province of Herat: UN 26 August said “convincing evidence” of some 90 civilians killed, while U.S. claimed only 5. Karzai sacked 2 Afghan army officials over incident. Afghan cabinet called for greater regulation of foreign forces, more effective curbs on aerial bombing. 3 female expat humanitarian workers and Afghan driver killed in vehicle ambush in Logar province 13 Aug. 10 French soldiers killed 18 Aug near Kabul, deadliest attack on foreign soldiers since 2001. 9 labourers killed in attack on main U.S. base in east in Khost 18-19 Aug; NATO said it repelled wave of other attacks same night.

Bolivia, Mandate of President Morales confirmed in 10 Aug recall referendum, but political deadlock continued and violence grew end-month. Morales received 67.4% of recall vote; 3 of 9 prefects, 2 from opposition, recalled. 14 Aug attempt by Morales to broach dialogue with opposition failed. Sporadic violence at pro- and anti-govt demonstrations through month: 2 miners killed 6 Aug in clashes with police. Violent demonstrations erupted in Santa Cruz 29 Aug after govt issued decree on 7 Dec constitutional approval referendum. Opposition prefects said would not carry it out in their departments; Chuquisaca prefect 30 Aug announced 30 Nov departmental autonomy referendum. General strike in 5 opposition departments 19 August.

Central African Republic, Peace process stalemated as rebels, opposition parties withdrew from national political dialogue talks over amnesty law and composition of dialogue committee. Govt 1 Aug presented law granting amnesty to govt, rebel forces for offences since Patisse overthrow March 2003, but only to govt forces for pre-2003 abuses. Rebel groups APRD, UFDR and FDPC, and UFVN opposition coalition withdrew demanding extension of pre-March 2003 amnesty to all; authorities 16 Aug granted APRD permission to form political party. Confrontations reported between army and APRD elements in north west including 2 killed, 4 wounded 7 Aug.

Democratic Republic of Congo, Heavy fighting between army and General Nkunda’s CNDP rebels broke out 28 Aug in North Kivu following early month reports of rearming and recruiting. Nkunda mid-month alleged provocative govt attacks against his positions, govt 30 Aug sealed border with Uganda to cut off “supply source”. Army and Mai Mai rebels reportedly clashed in North Kivu, killing 7 on 16 Aug, while fighting broke out between FDLR elements in South Kivu. Increased tensions also reported in Ituri. MONUC and FARDC troops jointly deployed late Aug following reported LRA attacks in east.

Fiji, PM Bainimarama reversed pledge to hold elections by March 2009; said time needed to set up new electoral system. Labour party left military-led govt in protest 17 Aug. Regional leaders threatened 21 Aug to suspend Fiji from Pacific Islands Forum if no progress made towards polls by end 2008.

Kashmir, Violence grew in India-controlled Kashmir, as protests sparked by planned Hindu shrine land transfer resumed. 4 killed in independence rallies 25 Aug in Srinagar, several party leaders detained for curfew violations; over 25 reported killed by Indian police in 2 weeks. Indian security forces killed prominent separatist leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz as he led march towards Line of Control (LoC) 11 Aug; several killed in LoC battles in month.

Mauritania, Military seized power 6 Aug in bloodless coup after weeks-long political crisis: president, PM, 3 senior officials arrested; state radio, TV closed. Move followed presidential sacking of generals accused of fomenting crisis and 4 Aug walk-out from ruling party by 48 MPs. Coup leaders promised swift “free” elections; over 100 of 146-strong parliament 13 Aug endorsed coup, but support weakened as leaders delayed

Philippines, July agreement on ancestral domain issue for Mindanao scrapped amid escalating clashes between govt, paramilitary forces and MILF. Supreme Court issued temporary restraining order on initialled agreement 4 Aug, as opponents of inclusion in new “Bangsamoro Judicial Entity” rallied in North Cotabato. MILF troops occupied 13 towns there; ensuing clashes with security forces displaced estimated 160,000. Separate fighting by MILF faction in Lanao del Norte 18 Aug killed some 24 civilians; tens more killed in govt push that followed. Govt negotiator said 22 Aug Manila no longer interested in deal, MILF must disarm. Malaysia 28 Aug extended its participation in monitoring mission by 3 months.

Russia and Georgia: Devastating decline in political, security and humanitarian situation with war between Georgia and Russia over breakaway regions. After heavy clashes 1-2 Aug in South Ossetia (SO), Tbilisi 7-8 Aug launched military offensive on Tshkinvali. Russia responded immediately with massive attack with ground troops, air bombardments, naval attack; 9 Aug cited “genocide” and “responsibility to protect” its citizens. Separatist Abkhaz forces 8 Aug commenced fighting in Abkhazia, assisted by Russian planes; captured Georgian-controlled Kodori gorge 12 Aug. Tbilisi started withdrawal from SO 10 Aug, as Russian troops advanced further into Georgia, causing massive civilian displacement in SO, adjacent Georgian district of Gori. Casualties disputed: Russia reduced initial claim of up to 2,000 dead to 133 civilian and 64 Russian soldiers; Human Rights Watch documented 419 killed, mostly SO militia; Georgia says 69 civilians, 215 Georgian troops killed. UNHCR estimated 30,000 from SO, 128,000 within Georgia displaced.

Somalia: Violence escalated across country, with southern port Kismayo falling to Islamist insurgents 22 Aug after 3 days of fighting killed at least 100, as political crisis between President Yusuf and PM Nur Adde intensified. 18 Aug deal between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and faction of opposition ARS said ceasefire dependent on Ethiopian troop withdrawal schedule; Al-Shabaab and Eritrea-based ARS hardliners including Sheikh Aweys rejected agreement. PM, president and parliament speaker 26 Aug signed deal in Addis to mend rift. Ethiopian PM Meles suggested possible policy shift on involvement in Somalia, including potential troop withdrawal; FM criticised TFG divisions. Row sparked by PM’s dismissal of Mogadishu governor and Yusuf ally, Mohammed Dheere, with two thirds of cabinet ministers resigning 1 Aug. Yusuf accused top Ethiopian army chief in Somalia 17 Aug of connections with insurgents. Major clashes between Al-Shabaab and govt, Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu and elsewhere, including 15 Aug Ethiopian attack on 2 minibuses killing 60.

Sudan, Ruling NCP stance hardened against July International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s application for President Bashir arrest warrant. Bashir said 20 Aug will ask UNAMID peacekeepers to leave if ICC issues warrant. UNSC divided over invoking Art 16 of Rome Statute to defer investigation, as UN 19 Aug reported strengthened security measures in case of hostile reaction. Darfur rebel groups rejected new govt-SPLM agreed framework for Sudan People’s Initiative (SPI) to resolve Darfur conflict. Army launched new offensive: 26 Aug killed more than 30 in weapons hunt in southern Darfur IDP camp, drawing protest resignations from Darfur govt officials and condemnation from UNAMID. UN peacekeeping mission reported 10 Aug north and south armies still not fully withdrawn from region, but joint forces operating. Some 70 killed in 20 Aug clashes between Rizeigat and Misseriya over water, land in southern Darfur; Swiss group 26 Aug reported build up of troops, weapons in Nuba Mountains.

Improved Situations
Nepal: The situation improved in Nepal, where the Constituent Assembly elected in April finally voted in a new Prime Minister on 15 August, and formed a coalition government.

Unchanged Situations
Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bosnia, Burundi, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), China (internal), Colombia, Comoros Islands, Côte d‚Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Territories, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland (Somalia), Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Conflict Risk Alerts for September
Philippines: Violence between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has already displaced an estimated 160,000, may escalate following the abandonment of July‚s agreement on the crucial ancestral domain issue.

Conflict Resolution Opportunities for September
Cyprus: where full-scale reunification talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders scheduled for 3 September offer the chance for a resolution of the island's protracted political impasse.

CrisisWatch N°61, 1 September 2008

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CrisisWatch N°61, 1 September 2008

John O
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