Conflict Updates

Continuing Conflicts that create Refugees February 2008
Information in this bulletin from International Crisis Group

Twelve actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in February 2008.

Armenia: A violent crackdown sought to suppress eleven days of protests after presidential elections that the opposition claimed were rigged. A state of emergency has been declared, and armed forces are reportedly mobilising for broader repression.

Timor-Leste: Attacks on the president and prime minister underlined the need for security sector reform in the fragile country. Yet their aftermath – including the killing of former head of military police Alfredo Reinado, who led the attack on the president presents an opportunity for the government to address key issues.

Chad: Rebel in launched a major assault on the capital N'Djamena in which hundreds were killed and thousands displaced. A state of emergency is still in place amid reports of a heavy government crackdown.

Darfur: The Sudanese government attacked three towns and an IDP camp from both ground and air, marking the worst violence in the region in months.

Cameroon: Violent protests spread to Yaoundé and other major cities following 24 Feb taxi strike over fuel price rises in Douala. Unrest comes amid rising living costs and after President Biya's Jan announcement of plan to extend 25-year rule through constitutional amendment. Biya called protests an attempted coup, vowed to use "all means" to restore order; at least 20 killed amid reports of heavy gunfire, looting and police tear gas.

Comoros Islands: Federal government 18 Feb said ready to launch military invasion to restore control over renegade Anjouan island and oust disputed leader Col. Bacar. Government rejected extension of AU sanctions, said hope of peaceful solution extinguished.

DR Congo: 23 Jan Goma ceasefire and peace accord increasingly fragile. Renegade general Laurent Nkunda withdrew from ceasefire commission 22 Feb in protest at UN allegations his CNDP rebels massacred 30 Hutus around Kalonge village west of Goma, 16-20 Jan. Despite truce, CNDP, Mai Mai group PARECO and Rwandan FDLR clashed.

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Border dispute intensified as stand-off over UN border peacekeepers escalated: Eritrea cut food and fuel supplies, prevented withdrawal to Ethiopia which offered 11 Feb to host 1,700-strong force in administrative capacity. UNMEE soldiers began regrouping in Asmara 19 Feb after prevented from crossing border. UNSC expressed "deep concern".

Israel/Occupied Territories: Violence up in month. 27 Feb Israeli airstrike killed 5 Hamas; responding rocket barrage killed Israeli man in Sderot - first civilian death from rocket attack since June. 27 Feb-1 Mar Hamas fired rockets, including into Ashkelon, and Israel continued operations, launching 1 Mar targeted incursion into Gaza, some 60, including at least 33 civilians, killed; in West Bank killed 3 in raid on refugee camp near Nablus. Israeli woman killed in 4 Feb suicide bombing

Philippines: Local residents on Jolo island decried "massacre" after troops killed 8 civilians, including 2 children, in Maimbug, Sulu 4 Feb; exact details of operation unclear. Army claimed victims caught in crossfire between troops and Abu Sayyaf, but investigation by human rights commission rejected claims, called for criminal charges. Swiss Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue reported "indiscriminate firing". Amid claims of assassination plots, President Arroyo upped military and police presence.

Serbia: Kosovo independence declaration declaration sparked violent protests and looting 17-18 Feb, and again on 21 Feb following 200,000-strong rally in Belgrade. 9 Western embassies attacked after government withdrew police protection; U.S. embassy burned, Slovenian embassy sacked. U.S. evacuated non-essential staff .

Somalia: Islamist-led insurgency spread, with attacks reported in Lower Shabelle, Puntland, Hiran, Bay, Bakool and Juba regions. Blast in Bossaso cinema popular with Ethiopian immigrants 5 Feb killed 20; claimed by militant al Shabaab. In Mogadishu, fighting and roadside bombs killed at least 20, while President Yusuf's compound heavily shelled 16-17 Feb. Targeted assassination of officials continued with up to 10 killed.

Unchanged Situations
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Improved Situations
Cyprus, Kenya, Kosovo, Pakistan

Conflict Risk Alerts for March
Armenia, Comoros Islands, Kenya

Conflict Resolution Opportunity for march
Cyprus, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Uganda

CrisisWatch N°55, 1 March 2008

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