CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
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Central African RepublicCôte d’Ivoire
CrisisWatch warns of three conflict risks in August.
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in thirteen countries in July.
We also noted two improvements. In the Central African Republic, the government took steps to organise a long-delayed political dialogue with the opposition and civil society. In Côte d’Ivoire, President Ouattara met with former President Gbagbo in a strong symbolic step toward national reconciliation.
Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cuba, Eswatini, Guatemala, Indonesia, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, and U.S.-Russia.
Niger emerged as France’s new privileged security partner in Sahel region; jihadist violence continued unabated in south west. During G5 Sahel virtual summit, French President Macron 9 July detailed reconfiguration of French military presence in Sahel region (see Mali), said international Takuba Task Force’s role will be enhanced and its command centre transferred from Mali to Niger; announcement, as well as Macron and Nigerien President Bazoum’s post-summit joint press conference in France’s capital Paris, signal greater role for Niger in regional security architecture. Bazoum same day criticised military junta’s takeover in Mali, prompting Bamako to immediately blame him for going against “spirit of friendship” traditionally uniting both countries. Bazoum 12-13 July visited Algeria, secured agreement for enhanced security cooperation; deal may entail military assistance from Algeria including air support. Meanwhile, in Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 11 July stormed Tchoma Bangou village, Ouallam department; military reportedly repelled attack, killing at least 40 militants including senior ISGS commander Malam Younoussa; four soldiers and five civilians also killed. Suspected jihadists 25 and 28 July killed 33 civilians in two villages of Banibangou area, Ouallam department, and 31 July ambushed military supply mission in Torodi area, Say department, leaving 15 killed and six missing. In neighbouring Tahoua region’s Tillia department, suspected ISGS militants 4 July killed civilian in Inizdan village, and ethnic Tuareg militia 6 July abducted two ethnic Fulani individuals between internally displaced person (IDP) sites of Telemces and Assagaygay. Bazoum 2 July toured Diffa region (south east) to bolster support for his plan to relocate 130,000 IDPs, most of whom have fled region in recent years due to repeated jihadist attacks; Local authorities 30 July said over 26,000 people already returned to their hometown. Niamey 9 July said it had reached agreement with Nigeria’s Borno state to repatriate 130,000 Nigerian nationals currently living in Diffa by year’s end.
Govt continued to mend ties with neighbours; clampdown on opposition persisted. Following arrest of at least six members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) for alleged role in June deadly ambush in Muramvya province, CNL 3 July criticised “disguised way to harass [opposition] and thereby further lock down political space”. CNL 13 July said its leader in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura Rural province, had gone missing 9 July after boarding army vehicle, called for investigation and decried “arbitrary arrests” of party members. Meanwhile, govt officially engaged in regional security cooperation, notably hosting meeting of heads of intelligence and security from DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda 5-6 July; officials adopted two-year plan of action for Contact Group set to implement non-military measures to complement military efforts against armed actors in region from early Aug. During President Ndayishimiye’s visit to neighbouring DRC, Gitega and Kinshasa 13 July announced bilateral cooperation against armed groups in eastern DRC; agreement likely to lead to joint operations against Burundian armed groups in South Kivu province. Amid rapprochement with Rwanda, Rwanda’s PM Edouard Ngirente 1 July attended Burundi’s independence celebration; Gitega 4 July however did not attend Rwanda’s Liberation Day festivities, which marks end of genocide against ethnic Tutsis. Burundian FM Albert Shingiro 12 July said Kigali’s refusal to hand over those allegedly involved in 2015 failed coup against former President Nkurunziza remains final obstacle in rapprochement; Ndayishimiye 17 July expressed hope that solution is close. Kigali 30 July handed over to Gitega 19 RED-Tabara rebels captured in late 2020.
Tensions remained high in wake of anti-monarchy protests. After authorities late June quashed days of protests against King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, UN Human Rights Office 6 July urged authorities to “fully adhere to human rights principles in restoring calm”; Local NGO reports late July said violence had left over 70 dead and 150 injured since late June. Southern Africa’s regional bloc SADC 15-22 July deployed fact-finding mission to country; delegation met with civil society and church groups but not with main opposition force PUDEMO. King Mswati III 16 July appointed Cleopas Dlamini as new PM following death of predecessor Ambrose Dlamini in Dec 2020, called protests “satanic” in his first public address since June. Police same day fired tear gas and water cannon at anti-monarchy protesters who had gathered in Manzini city to denounce PM’s appointment, reportedly leaving eight injured; right to democratically elect PM has been a core demand of protest movement. Authorities 24-25 July arrested pro-democracy legislators Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube on terrorism-related charges.
Tokyo linked for first time stability in Taiwan Strait to Japan’s security, while tensions with China over disputed islands in East China Sea continued. In notable shift in public tone, several Japanese officials openly expressed support for Taiwan and tied Japan’s security to stability in Taiwan Strait throughout month. After Japanese deputy defence minister late June called Taiwan “democratic country” during U.S. think-tank event, remarks which China 30 June called “erroneous”, Japanese Deputy PM Tarō Asō 6 July suggested Tokyo would join U.S. in defence of Taiwan in event of attack on Taiwan; China 6 July called comments “extremely wrong and dangerous”. In Defence White Paper, Japan 13 July linked stability in Taiwan Strait to Japan’s security for first time and emphasised concerns over China’s actions in East China Sea; China called paper gross interference in internal affairs. Meanwhile, U.S. and Japanese military forces 1 July conducted exercises on Japan’s Amami Ōshima island. Chinese navy 17-21 July conducted live-fire exercise in East China Sea, alongside exercises in Yellow Sea, Bohai Strait, and off coasts of China’s Fujian and Guangdong provinces. As of 28 July, 80 Chinese vessels entered into contiguous zone around disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and ten Chinese vessels entered into territorial Japan’s waters during month.
Cross-strait relations between Beijing and Taipei remained tense amid heated diplomatic exchanges, while Taiwan remained point of friction between U.S. and China. During speech at centenary celebrations of Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping 1 July raised “peaceful reunification” in reference to Taiwan. Taiwan officials same day issued statement on celebrations, criticising Communist Party for its “one-party dictatorship” and “interference with international order”; in turn, Beijing officials said Taiwan had “spoken outrageously”. U.S. military transport plane 15 July landed briefly in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, reportedly to deliver packages to U.S. diplomats, prompting China to rebuke U.S. for “aggravating dangerous tensions” in strait; separate U.S. military transport plane 19 July landed briefly in Taipei. China 16 July held joint amphibious landing exercises in strait. Taiwan next day conducted live-fire artillery drill, simulating response to enemy invasion. According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, total number of Chinese military aircraft that entered into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone in July reached 16, showing significant decline compared to previous months. President Tsai Ing-wen 20 July announced Taiwan would open representative office in Lithuania in “important diplomatic breakthrough”; China same day warned Lithuania against move. Earlier in month, U.S. National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell 6 July said U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence, but rather “strong unofficial relationship” with island. Japanese Deputy PM Tarō Asō 6 July suggested that attack on Taiwan would be interpreted as threat to Japan and would prompt Japanese military support (see Japan).
Govt arrested thousands for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions amid surge in infections nationwide and inside Rohingya refugee camps. Govt 1 July extended nationwide lockdown as numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths spiked, deploying police, border forces and army to patrol streets, leading to some 5,800 people arrested throughout month for breaching restrictions. Coronavirus cases surged inside congested Cox’s Bazar Rohingya refugee camps, with over 2,350 cases and at least 27 deaths during month. Floods and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rain in camps 25-27 July also killed at least 11 Rohingya refugees, and left more than 12,000 homeless. Authorities continued to detain Rohingya refugees fleeing Bhasan Char camp situated on flood-prone island throughout month; notably, police 11 and 17 July arrested 38 Rohingyas in Chittagong City’s Mirsarai sub-district. Police 17 July also detained 21 Rohingyas refugees near Moulvibazar district, who had reportedly entered country from India. Authorities 28 July detained nine refugees in Kurigram district for allegedly flouting COVID-19 rules. Forty-seventh session of UN Human Rights Council 11 July adopted resolution calling on Myanmar to ensure safe return of Rohingya refugees to country; Bangladesh’s envoy Mustafizur Rahman at session blamed lack of repatriation on “continued non-cooperation and reluctance of Myanmar”. Concerns over authorities stifling dissent persisted. UK 8 July reported that political and media freedoms remained restricted throughout 2020 and highlighted govt’s use of Digital Security Act to suppress criticism; Bangladesh foreign ministry 11 July summoned UK’s envoy to express its “disappointment” with report. Meanwhile, clashes between armed groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts’ Rangamati district 8 July killed one person, and counter-terrorism operations continued. Authorities 11 July arrested suspected New Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh militant in Narayanganj district; 26 July arrested 19 Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh leaders in Chittagong, accused of planning attack on govt installations. Internal Awami League clashes 26-27 July left two activists dead in Khulna and Bogra cities in lead-up to local govt polls.
Tensions remained elevated between Pakistan and India, while opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) called for restoration of statehood ahead of local assembly elections. Pakistani National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf 4 July said backchannel contacts had been abandoned due to New Delhi’s refusal to reverse Aug 2019 revoking of J&K’s special status; Yusuf same day blamed Indian intelligence for 23 June car bombing in Pakistan’s Lahore city. India External Affairs Minister Jaishankar 18 July said India was responsible for keeping Pakistan “under the lens” of inter-govt agency Financial Action Task Force (FATF); Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi 19 July accused India of “manipulating” FATF for “narrow political designs”. Meanwhile, counter-insurgency operations and militant attacks continued in J&K. Notably, security forces 2 July killed five militants in Pulwama district; 7 July killed alleged Hizbul Mujahideen commander in Kupwara district; 8 July killed four militants in separate operations in Kulgram and Pulwama districts; 10 July killed three militants in Anantnag district; 14 July killed three militants in Pulwama district; 16 July killed two militants in Srinagar regional capital. Indian army 8 July claimed it killed two suspected Pakistani terrorists during alleged infiltration bid in Rajouri district that left two soldiers dead. Security forces 16-31 July killed at least ten militants in Srinagar city and Baramulla, Bandipora, Pulwama and Kulgam districts; militants 27 July killed civilian in Srinagar. Tensions persisted over J&K’s statehood leading up to assembly elections. People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, J&K opposition coalition which includes National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, 5 July demanded restoration of J&K’s statehood before assembly elections. Delimitation Commission, tasked with carving out new constituencies in J&K, 6-9 July visited J&K and indicated that New Delhi planned to go ahead with elections, set to take place within 6-8 months. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party 25 July won Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections; poll violence left two PTI workers dead.
Economy remained under great pressure, while authorities used repressive practices to control growing protests. Govt continued to focus on increasingly dire economic situation as prices of staples rose, trade deficit grew, currency reserves fell and concerns persisted over potential international debt default; Money, Capital Markets and Public Enterprise Reforms Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal 2 July rejected opposition calls for deal with International Monetary Fund to restructure debt. Basil Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, 8 July sworn in as finance minister, promising new economic policies. Meanwhile, police 6 July announced ban on public gatherings amid growing number of protests by unions, students and farmers. Police 8 July used unusually aggressive measures to end protest outside parliament against controversial Kotelawala Defence University Act that critics say could end free higher education; police same day arrested general secretary of Ceylon Teachers Union and more than dozen trade union and student activists for violating COVID-19 health regulations; suspects sent to military-run COVID-19 quarantine centre despite being granted bail by court; all released 16 July. Former Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya 11 July accused govt of “systematic repression” with “aim to eradicate democracy” and 17 July convened almost all opposition parties to chart strategy of resistance against govt practices. Govt 7 July appointed three-judge special court for trial of ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and ex-police chief Pujith Jayasundara accused of negligence for failing to prevent 2019 Easter bombings. In 12 July letter to President Rajapaksa, Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Malcolm Rogers, criticised “lethargic pace” of investigations into bombings and called on govt to prosecute “main culprits” and investigate evidence of possible larger “conspiracy”. Cabinet 19 July approved legal changes - still to be endorsed by parliament - that would allow Muslim couples to marry under ordinary marriage registration law, rather than Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, in line with longstanding demand of women activists. COVID-19 case numbers and death rates levelled off during month but latter remained high at 40-50 per day; vaccination programme progressed significantly with substantial new supplies from abroad.
Clashes in south between militant groups and security forces continued, while fighting between govt and communist militants left dozens killed. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, clashes between insurgents and security forces took place at relatively low levels throughout month. Military 17 July clashed with elements of Daulah Islamiya-inspired armed group under Salahuddin Hassan in village of Nabundas, in Maguindanao province, killing one militant; three Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants 5 July surrendered to govt in Lanao del Sur province. Military operations against elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continued; clashes between ASG members and military 10 July killed one militant on Basilanisland. Meanwhile, clashes between armed forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) continued at relatively higher levels than June: violence in Luzon Island in north, Visayas Islands in centre and Mindanao Island in south killed at least 12 combatants and civilians and injured three throughout month. Govt 19 July declared National Democratic Front, umbrella of leftist organisations, as terrorist organisation, while Secretary of Defence Delfin Lorenzana 1 July confirmed that main spokesperson of counter-insurgency task force against communist rebels General Antonio Parlade resigned. Regarding ongoing govt efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairman Del Rosario 27 July urged member agencies to speed up work. Lorenzana 30 July announced in joint news conference with visiting U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in capital Manila that President Duterte retracted 2020 termination of Visiting Forces Agreement, and confirmed that two nations could continue military exercises.
Papua New Guinea Bougainville govt and national govt of PNG pledged to conclude final political settlement by 2027. Following Dec 2019 non-binding referendum in which Bougainville electorate overwhelmingly voted for independence from PNG, PM Marape and president of Autonomous Region of Bougainville Ishmael Toroama 6 July reportedly agreed timetable for process related to transfer of powers to Bougainville authorities by 2023; in joint statement, both sides pledged support for final political settlement “no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027”.
Amid preparations for 2022 elections, tensions between armed forces and Congress resurfaced and President Bolsonaro claimed electronic voting allows fraud. Defence minister, retired Gen. Walter Braga Netto, 7 July released statement alongside army, navy and air force commanders condemning Senator Omar Aziz’s speech in which he denounced “rotten side of the military” involved in corruption, and saying he would not accept such attacks; Aziz chairs parliamentary commission investigating Bolsonaro’s handling of coronavirus pandemic. Air force commander Carlos Almeida Baptista 9 July reiterated condemnation of Aziz but denied any coup threat, saying “armed men do not make threats”. Bolsonaro 7 July said 2022 elections could be at risk if Congress does not pass electoral reforms ensuring all ballots are printed, claiming past use of electronic voting system had been marred by fraud; 10 July suggested Luís Roberto Barroso, Supreme Court judge and Supreme Electoral Court president, had personal interest in preventing electoral transparency. Newspaper Estado de São Paulo 22 July alleged Braga Netto had sent message to Arthur Lira, head of lower house of Congress, saying 2022 elections would only be held if electoral reform is approved; Braga Netto denied claim.
Israeli forces fired live ammunition at Palestinians in West Bank, while Israeli police stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as PM Bennett challenged status quo at site. Following Palestinian protests in recent weeks at Evyatar settlement in Beita town near Nablus city, Israeli settlers 2 July vacated settlement while govt kept structures intact and maintained military presence until land status is determined. Israeli forces 9 July fired on hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators in Beita, wounding over 370, including 31 with live ammunition; during protests, soldiers 23 July shot Palestinian teenager who died next day. Israeli settlers buttressed by Israeli soldiers 3 July entered Qusra village, Nablus, and attacked local residents; Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, killing one Palestinian and injuring 24 others. Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence 23 July claimed military are complicit in “drastic surge” in settler violence this year. Elsewhere in West Bank, Israel 7 July demolished Humsa village in Jordan valley for seventh time in less than one year, displacing 65 Palestinians, including 35 children. In Beit Ummar town, soldier 29 July shot and killed Palestinian man attending funeral of 12-year-old boy killed by Israeli forces previous day