Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees, August 2009
Five actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and three improved in August 2009, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch
Chechnya (Russia), Niger, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), Senegal, Yemen
Chechnya (Russia): August saw increasing violence and another high-profile killing with 10 Aug murder of Zarema Sadulayeva, head of children’s NGO, shot dead with her husband. Incident provoked further local, international condemnation following July murder of Natalia Estemirova. Kadyrov mid-month filed lawsuit against head of Estemirova’s organisation Memorial following latter’s accusation of his involvement in Estmirova killing. Upsurge in violence included 5 police shot dead by militants south of Grozny 2 Aug; 2 police killed by unknown assailants in Grozny 11 Aug; 4 police, 2 separatists killed during shootout near Grozny 13 Aug; 4 police killed by suicide bombings in Grozny 21 Aug; 4 police, 2 civilians reported killed by suicide bombing in Mesker-Yurt village 25 Aug.
Niger: Referendum on adoption of new constitution removing presidential term limits held 4 Aug, as opposition and international actors continued to protest President Tandja’s bid to stay in power. Electoral Commission 7 Aug announced 92.5% voted yes, with 68% turn out; opposition PNDS rejected new constitution, alleged turnout 5%. Leading opposition activist Marou Amadou arrested 11 Aug for “breaching state security”, reportedly beaten. Protests held in Niamey 22 Aug, forcefully dispersed by police; at least 10 protesters still detained. Tandja 18 Aug announced parliamentary elections to be held 20 Oct. Govt 18 Aug stepped down to open door for cabinet reshuffle. EU, France, U.S. continue to object to Tandja’s actions.
North Caucasus (non-Chechnya): Flaring of violence in Ingushetia and Dagestan including 25 killed, 136 wounded by 17 Aug suicide bomb attack at Ingushetia’s police HQ in Nazran involving explosive-laden truck. President Medvedev denounced attack, sacked Ingushetia interior minister and sent deputy interior minister to region to coordinate security services response; 19 Aug outlined further measures to address violence. Ingushetia cabinet minister Ruslan Amirkhanov shot dead in his office 12 Aug by insurgents. Ingushetia president Yevkurov, wounded by 22 June assassination attempt, released from hospital 10 Aug, returned to Ingushetia 22 Aug. In Dagestan, group of 10-15 militants 13 Aug opened fire on checkpoint in Buinaksk killing 4 police, then proceeded to shoot dead 7 female employees at a nearby sauna.
Senegal: Upsurge in attacks by suspected Casamance separatist group MFDC in and around regional capital Ziguinchor. Gunfire between rebels and govt troops reported over weekend of 21 Aug on city outskirts. University shelled 25 Aug, 2 killed next day in one of 2 attacks on vehicles travelling into city. Casamance is the site of one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, sparked when MFDC separatists launched a rebellion in 1982. The region – where agriculture is the main source of local income – has been gripped by sporadic violence as a definitive settlement has yet to be achieved. In recent months a spike in armed attacks on civilians prompted a government dusk-to-dawn curfew on major roads. Landmines have killed and injured hundreds of people since 1990.
Yemen: Ongoing conflict between government and Zaidi Shiite Houthi rebels in north escalated as govt 11 Aug launched offensive against rebels in Saada and Amran provinces, backed by airstrikes, artillery fire. Dozens reportedly killed on both sides, including Houthi leaders, civilians; govt, rebel sources gave conflicting reports of death toll. Rebels 30 Aug claimed capture of key govt outpost in Malahidh area, Saada. UNHCR 21 Aug said 35,000 displaced since start of offensive; aid agencies put total displaced by conflict in north at over 100,000. Govt 13 Aug proposed 6 conditions for ceasefire, including rebel withdrawals, release of foreigners kidnapped in June; proposal reiterated by President Saleh 21 Aug, rejected by Houthis. In south, bomb exploded near govt building in Zinjibar, Abyan province 8 Aug. 12 Aug assassination attempt on governor of Lahj blamed on separatist Southern Movement.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China (internal), Colombia, Côte d’Ivore, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Moldova, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru , Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Somaliland (Somalia), Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, 0Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe
Improved Situations: Armenia/Turkey ~ North Korea ~ Mali
Crisis Group identifies Armenia/Turkey as an improved situation, following the announcement of a major breakthrough on 31 August with the agreement, under Swiss mediation, of protocols to establish diplomatic relations and normalise ties.
August also saw some positive steps in North Korea, with moves by Pyongyang to reach out to the U.S. and, through a series of reform steps, improve relations with South Korea. However, the tone shifted late month as North Korea lashed out with familiar threats to strike militarily against its external enemies. Pyongyang continues to resist a return to the stalled 6-party talks.
Mali, hopes for progress in the restive north were raised following the signature of a new deal between the government and ADC Tuareg rebels and pledges from Bamako to increase development in the Kidal region.
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