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.
CrisisWatch warns of one conflict risk in July.
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in nine countries and conflict areas in June.
We also noted two improvements. In Somalia, the federal government and member states agreed on a new schedule for the long-delayed elections, potentially paving the way for a resolution of the electoral crisis, while Somaliland successfully completed its first parliamentary elections in over fifteen years.
Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we also tracked notable developments in: Brazil, Indonesia, Montenegro, Morocco and U.S.-Russia.
To accompany this month’s CrisisWatch, Interim President Richard Atwood looks at the dramatic turn of events in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the danger of new fighting and its implications for Horn of Africa geopolitics.
Suspected jihadists launched deadliest attack in country since 2015, killing 160 and displacing thousands. In Sahel region, suspected jihadist militants overnight 4-5 June attacked Solhan village, Yagha province, killing over 160 and displacing over 7,000 in deadliest attack in six years; amid claims jihadists may have launched attack to seize gold mine outside Solhan town, Sahel region’s governor 6 June suspended all activities linked to gold mining in Yagha and Oudalan provinces. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 8 June condemned massacre and denied involvement, while many blamed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) for attack; govt 24 June pinned attack on JNIM affiliate, said majority of assailants were child soldiers. In Oudalan, suspected ISGS militants 4 June clashed with volunteers fighting alongside security forces (VDPs) in Markoye department, killing two VDPs; suspected jihadists 14 June killed at least 13 civilians in same area. In Centre-North region, suspected VDPs 2 June killed ethnic Fulani woman in Nasséré village, Bam province, and unidentified assailants 21 June ambushed police patrol on Barsalogo-Foubé axis, Sanmatenga province, killing at least 11. In North region, suspected JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina or Ansarul Islam militants 4 June attacked VDP unit in Titao department, killing one VDP. Thousands 26 June demonstrated in Kaya city, Centre-North region and Titao town, North region, calling for state action against rising insecurity. National Reconciliation Minister Zéphirin Diabré 1 June announced govt opposition to negotiating with ISGS and JNIM but remained open to discussions on demobilisation and repatriation of Burkinabé jihadists operating overseas.
Suspected jihadists conducted series of attacks in south west, while joint French-Nigerien operations dealt major blow to Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). In Tillabery region (south west), ISGS 2 June abducted two in Banibangou area, Ouallam department, and claimed killing two alleged govt informants in Tongo Tongo area (also Ouallam) on around 8 June. Presumed Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 4 June reportedly killed two soldiers in Torodi commune, Say department, and night of 6-7 June abducted two Chinese miners at gold-mining site in Mbanga town, Kollo department. Unidentified assailants 24 June reportedly killed 19 civilians in villages of Danga Zouani and Korombara, Ouallam department. Meanwhile, joint French-Nigerien operations in tri-border area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso dealt severe blow to ISGS; operations led to capture of several senior ISGS leaders, including Dadi Ould Chouaïb alias “Abu Dardar” 11 June, and killed Almahmoud Ag Baye alias “Ikaraye”, highest-ranking Tuareg leader within ISGS, and his brother 15 June. In Diffa region (south east), Islamic State in West Africa Province militants 5 June attacked gendarmerie post near Diffa city, wounding one gendarme. In Agadez region (centre north), suspected drug or arms traffickers 10 June stormed security post near Assamakka town, Arlit department, killing three members of security forces. Meanwhile, kidnappings and cattle theft continued in Maradi region (south-centre): unidentified gunmen 3 June abducted five civilians in Baban Rafi village, and 10 June killed three civilians and seized livestock in Dan Kouregaou village, both Madarounfa department. In capital Niamey, unidentified gunmen night of 11-12 June stormed residence of National Assembly President Seini Oumarou wielding AK-47 rifles, killing one guard; ISGS 22 June claimed responsibility for attack.
Amid ongoing political tensions, President Tshisekedi visited eastern region apologising for past human rights violations and criticising role of army and other institutions. Tshisekedi 12 June toured eastern provinces, which have been under martial law since late April, asked local population for forgiveness for human rights violations committed by security forces and armed groups and promised to prosecute those responsible for abuses; 20 June described army as “mafia” and denounced senators who 15 June voted against lifting immunity of Senator Augustin Matata Ponyo, PM under former President Kabila, accused of embezzlement of public funds. Meanwhile, armed violence continued. In Ituri province, armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 12 June clashed with armed forces in Ikpa-Bura locality, Djugu territory, reportedly leaving at least 11 CODECO militants and three soldiers dead; CODECO same day killed five in Guu village, also Djugu. Armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 25 June reportedly killed four and kidnapped several others between Boga and Bukiringi villages, and 27 June killed 14 civilians in Manzobe locality, all Irumu territory. In North Kivu’s Beni territory, ADF 4 June killed two in Ntoma village, and 10 June abducted dozens from Kisanga and Livano villages. In Beni town, authorities 27 June implemented curfew after several bombings 26-27 June reportedly injured two civilians. UN Group of Experts on DRC 10 June said they were unable to find “conclusive evidence of ISIL [Islamic State] command and control over ADF operations, nor of ISIL direct support” and said acts committed by armed forces in Ituri’s Djugu and Irumu territories “may constitute war crimes”. Meanwhile, following May confirmation of Tshisekedi’s former Chief of Staff Vital Kamerhe’s prison sentence for embezzlement, his party Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) 10 June suspended its participation in Tshisekedi-allied Cap for Change (CACH) coalition; also called on 16 UNC deputies to suspend their activities in Sacred Union, Tshisekedi’s new majority coalition. Kamerhe’s conviction along with Senate’s vote against lifting Matata’s immunity could affect fragile coalition.
Amid ongoing Japan-China tensions, Tokyo engaged in diplomatic tour to build common position on maritime threats in East and South China Seas. Regionally, Japanese Defence Minister jointly with Filipino Defence Minister 2 June expressed concerns over tensions in East and South China Seas and Chinese coast guard law. Japan and Australia 9 June also raised concerns over tensions in East and South China Seas and Chinese coast guard law as well as issue of peace and stability in Taiwan Strait; in response, Chinese officials same day said statement was malicious slander. Japan along with G7 leaders 13 June jointly confirmed concerns over tensions in East and South China Seas. At regional body ASEAN’s Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, Japan 16 June stressed importance of peace and stability across Taiwan Strait and called China’s coast guard law problematic in regard to international law. Meanwhile, Japanese Coast Guard 5 June reported that Chinese Coast Guard vessels sailed through contiguous areas around disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands for 112th day straight, setting new record, while 16 Chinese vessels entered territorial waters during month. Notably, two Chinese vessels entered and stayed in territorial waters for 42 hours between 20-21 June, longest duration so far this year. Four Chinese vessels 26 June entered territorial waters, reportedly tried to approach Japanese fishing boats before Japanese Coast Guard warned vessels away.
China stepped up intrusions of Taiwan’s aerial zone after relative decline in recent months, while COVID-19 crisis fuelled domestic and cross-strait tensions. Taiwanese defence ministry 15 June reported 28 Chinese military aircraft entering into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), marking sudden spike after numbers of aircraft had dipped between late April and early June. As of 28 June, total 43 Chinese aircraft had entered Taiwan’s ADIZ during month. Three U.S. senators 6 June briefly visited Taiwan’s capital Taipei by military plane; China 8 June called visit “very vicious political provocation”. At summit in UK, G7 leaders 13 June noted importance of peace and stability across Taiwan Strait for first time. Amid worsening outbreak of COVID-19, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) faced widespread criticism for not securing enough vaccines, especially from opposition party Kuomintang (KMT). Japan 4 June donated 2.1 mn vaccines to Taiwan, while U.S. 20 June donated 2.5 mn; Chinese foreign ministry 21 June called on U.S. not to use vaccination programme support for “political manoeuvre or interference in China’s internal affairs” and Beijing continued to accuse DPP of politicising vaccine procurement by creating barriers to Chinese vaccines. Macau 16 June suspended operations of its representative office in Taiwan, as did Hong Kong in May without providing explanations. Staff working at Taiwan’s representative office in Hong Kong 20 June returned to Taiwan after city govt demanded representatives sign document recognising “One China” principle or leave country.
Taliban sustained major offensive, gaining additional district centres and killing over 500 Afghan security forces; deadly terror attacks targeted minority Hazara community. Taliban forced govt troops, police and militia to retreat from more than 50 districts, most in north and north east, throughout month; while Taliban often declined to occupy space, gains constitute significant loss in govt’s territorial standing, revealing structural weaknesses in Afghan security forces. Taliban 21 June also seized control of main border crossing with Tajikistan. In series of attacks, Taliban 2 June killed 40 govt forces in border area of Nangarhar (east); 4 June killed 11 security forces in Herat province (west); 5 June killed 26 security forces in Badakhshan (north east) and Badghis (north west); 9 June killed 21 soldiers in Badakhshan and Nimroz provinces (south west); 12 June killed 20 security forces in Ghor province (centre). Taliban 6 June also killed 17 security forces in truck bombing in Balkh province (north), and same day killed 28 security forces in another car bombing in Faryab province (north). In coming months, potential for Taliban to overrun provincial capitals is high. Meanwhile, a more organic form of popular resistance to Taliban emerged in several provinces, including Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan. Deadly terror attacks targeting ethnic Hazara minority persisted. In capital Kabul, bombings against civilians 1 and 3 June killed at least 14 and wounded 17 more in Hazara neighbourhoods. Unknown armed men 8 June attacked staff of international charity clearing land mines and attempted to single out Hazara employees, killing ten and injuring 16 in Baghlan Province (north). Additional attack on humanitarians 15 June killed at least five polio vaccinators in Nangarhar province (east). President Ghani 20 June announced replacement of army chief of staff, defence minister and interior minister amid rising casualties in Afghan security forces. Ghani, Vice President Saleh, top advisers and chief rival Abdullah 24-25 June visited U.S. capital Washington, met with U.S. President Biden and top U.S. officials to reaffirm commitments to fund and support Afghan govt and security forces.
Tatmadaw continued to struggle to contain acts of resistance amid intense fighting with civil defence groups and ethnic armed groups across country. Targeted assassinations of alleged supporters of junta increased in June, with several dozen people killed, including local administrators appointed by regime and alleged state informants; with security forces unable to stop killings, armed defence groups mobilised in support of military. Soldiers 22 June attacked resistance forces in downtown Mandalay, leaving several killed on both sides; regime next day intercepted large weapons shipment allegedly destined for Mandalay resistance. Meanwhile, People’s Defence Forces and other civilian militias continued to battle Tatmadaw nationwide. Chinland Defence Force (CDF) 6 June staged several deadly ambushes, claiming killing of up to 50 soldiers in Mindat township and 17 soldiers in Thantlang township. Clashes between junta and civilian militias continued in Sagaing Region; heaviest fighting took place in Kayah State, which led to looming humanitarian disaster. Local defence force and Tatmadaw 15 June agreed temporary ceasefire; 14-day ceasefire also struck between CDF and military from 20 June. In Kachin State and Sagaing Region, wave of fresh fighting between ethnic armed groups and Tatmadaw erupted during month. In far northern Kachin State, Kachin Independence Organisation 1 June fired mortars on Putao Airport. In Kayin State, ethnic armed groups and local defence force 1-2 June clashed together with Tatmadaw troops and members of Karen Border Guard Force near border town of Myawaddy; about 600 civilians fled into Thailand; Tatmadaw shell 2 June hit temporary refugee camp in Thailand, injuring two civilians and Thai soldier. During virtual press conference – which junta blocked by shutting down internet – National Unity Government 5 June presented Rohingya policy providing for equal rights for Rohingya and inviting Rohingya to join opposition to dictatorship. Junta 10 June announced corruption charges against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior National League for Democracy figures; Suu Kyi 7 June appeared in court to face raft of charges. For first time since Feb military coup, delegation from regional organisation ASEAN 4-5 June visited country. G7 leaders 11-13 June condemned Feb coup.
Regional defence ministers expressed support for legally binding code of conduct in South China Sea (SCS), while tensions persisted between China and claimant parties. During Defence Minister’s Meeting Plus of South East Asia regional organisation ASEAN and partner countries, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin 16 June highlighted China’s “unlawful behaviour” in SCS, while Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe said that “China is determined to safeguard the country’s core interests”. ASEAN ministers 16 June underlined in declaration need for “early conclusion of an effective and substantive [Code of Conduct]”. During visit to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 3 June said EU supports “ASEAN-led process towards an effective and legally binding Code of Conduct” for SCS. China National Radio 10 June reported that Chinese Army Rocket Force had recently conducted exercises involving “carrier killer” DF-26 ballistic missiles. Following late May flight of 16 Chinese Air Force planes within 110km of Malaysia’s Sarawak state, near Malaysian-administered Luconia Shoals, Kuala Lumpur dispatched pair of combat aircraft to identify and intercept Chinese aircraft and 1 June said it would summon China’s envoy; Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur 1 June insisted aircraft were on “routine flight training” manoeuvre, while Malaysian FM Hishammuddin Hussein called Chinese action “breach of the Malaysian airspace and sovereignty”. U.S. Navy 10 June reported that guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Ballarat 6-11 June held exercises in SCS. U.S. and Indonesia 25 June agreed plans for maritime training centre on Indonesia’s Batam Island in Singapore Strait.
Parliament passed resolution prohibiting Srebrenica genocide denial and dismissed justice minister, creating rift within ruling coalition. Parliament 17 June passed resolution condemning June 1995 Srebrenica genocide and banning its denial; same day dismissed Minister of Justice Vladimir Leposavić for doubting International Criminal Tribunal’s classification of Srebrenica events as genocide. Ruling coalition faced internal strains as largest coalition partner pro-Serbian Democratic Front 17 June announced boycott of parliament, accusing govt of cooperating with opposition Democratic Party of Socialists during vote. Governing coalition member Democratic Montenegro party backed current govt and PM, rejecting call for new parliamentary elections. Serbian President Vučić mid-June responded to developments, saying: “We expected them from all those who would like to weaken Serbia, but we did not expect it from those who were always closest to us”. Meanwhile, Council of Europe report 3 June warned of increasing ethnic divisions and hate speech in Montenegro.
Israeli forces launched wave of arrests inside Israel and suppressed Palestinian protests in West Bank amid attacks by settlers; ceasefire between Israel and Hamas faced strains. Following May deadly fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian factions that triggered widespread violence across Israel and West Bank, Israeli forces sought to restore security in what Palestinian activists claimed was attempt to suppress protests. Israel 3 June concluded operation that led to arrest of 2,142 citizens, 90% of them Palestinian. Israeli border police 5 June detained journalist Givara Budeiri, releasing her after four hours; International Press Institute director Barbara Trionfi same day slammed arrest. Israeli police 6 June detained twins Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd over their activism against removal of families from East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah; police same day clashed with protesters outside station before Muna’s release. In Jerusalem, Israeli-run municipality 7 June issued demolition orders to residents of al-Bustan area in Silwan neighbourhood, giving some 1,500 Palestinian residents 21 days to evacuate and demolish their houses; court hearing on matter postponed until 7 Aug. Thousands of Israelis 15 June rallied in nationalist march around Jerusalem’s Old City chanting “death to Arabs”. While attempting to suppress protest, Israeli police injured over 30 Palestinian protesters. Citing marches, Hamas 15 June flew incendiary balloons into southern Israel; Israel 15-17 June struck Hamas military compounds in Gaza in first strikes since ceasefire, leaving no casualties. In Gaza, Egyptian delegation 3 June arrived to aid reconstruction plans. In West Bank, Israeli settlers 8 June shot and mutilated Palestinian man after setting fire to Palestinian-owned land in al-Rihiya village, south of Hebron city; settlers fired live bullets at Palestinians attempting to extinguish fire. Israeli forces 11 June shot and killed four Palestinian residents protesting illegal settler outpost in Beita town. Palestinian security forces 24 June killed prominent activist Nizar Banat, outspoken critic against Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security coordination with Israel, leading to protests throughout West Bank against PA, which police repressed. In Gaza, Egyptian delegation 3 June arrived to aid reconstruction plans. New Israeli govt led by ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett 13 June sworn in following power-sharing agreement between eight opposition parties, ousting Benjamin Netanyahu as PM.
Political infighting continued to stall govt formation while Lebanese pound fell to record low amid worsening economic crisis. Amid ongoing stalemate over govt formation, President Aoun 2 June released statement criticising PM-designate Saad Hariri’s “continuous evading of responsibilities” that “constitutes a persistent violation of the constitution and national accord”; Hariri same day hit back stating presidency is held “hostage to the personal ambitions” of Jibran Bassil, Aoun’s son-in-law and leader of Christian group Free Patriotic Movement. Economic crisis and living conditions continued to deteriorate. Protesters 2 June blocked main roads in capital Beirut to protest economic situation after court previous day suspended Central Bank decree that allowed withdrawal at better rate than fixed exchange rate; suspension reversed next day. Lebanese pound 13 June hit low of 15,300 to dollar on black market, marking lowest rate since March. Workers 17 June held general strike to protest economic situation and political stalemate, accompanied by roadblocks in Beirut and other cities; Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar same day stated petrol subsidy is poised to end. Ministry of economy and trade 18 June raised price of subsidised bread for fifth time in one year. Lebanese pound 26 June dropped further to 18,000 to dollar, prompting new roadblocks and minor riots in Tripoli and Sidon cities as well as other locations. Energy ministry 29 June raised fuel prices. Meanwhile, international stakeholders maintained pressure. France 17 June convened virtual donor conference over concerns about pressure of economic crisis on Lebanese Armed Forces, with French defence ministry calling for “increased commitment and coordination from everyone”. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 19 June berated govt stalemate as putting country on edge of “financial collapse”, warning EU response could include targeted sanctions; Borrell next day pinned “strong mistrust” as root of crisis.
Clashes erupted in Manbij area in north east, Russian strikes in Idlib province resumed, and suspected ISIS militants killed dozens in central desert. In north east, following 31 May-1 June clashes between Kurdish security forces and predominantly Arab residents protesting mandatory conscription in Manbij area that left at least eight dead, Kurdish civilian administration 2 June agreed to suspend conscription, release protesters and investigate shootings after meeting with local tribes’ elders same day; latter 7 June issued 17 requests, including permanent end to conscription. In Hasakah province, also in north east, landmine 9 June struck Russian military convoy in al-Asadiyah village, killing one soldier. In Idlib province in north west, March 2020 ceasefire continued to hold despite reported clashes, artillery shelling and Russian airstrikes in countryside throughout month that killed at least 31; notably, in Jabal al Zawyeh area, regime artillery and Russian airstrikes reportedly killed 13 civilians and militants affiliated with jihadist rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) 10 June, and at least another nine 17 June. In Daraa province in south west, unidentified gunmen 1-23 June reportedly killed eight former rebels who had enrolled in or struck reconciliation deals with govt forces while landmine killed at least four govt soldiers. In Aleppo province, missile strikes 12 June reportedly targeted hospital in Afrin town, killing at least 13 people; some observers suspected Russia while Turkey blamed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). In central desert, Russia continued air raids against suspected Islamic State (ISIS) targets throughout month, reportedly killing dozens; suspected ISIS militants 3-5 June reportedly killed 23 govt troops and Iran-linked fighters in separate attacks. Israel 8 June reportedly launched airstrikes on govt troops and allied militia fighters in capital Damascus, killing at least 11. U.S. 27 June announced airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeting “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups”; Iran’s foreign affairs ministry immediately criticised action and unidentified assailants 28 June fired rockets at U.S. base in Deir Ez-Zor province. Ahead of 10 July UN Security Council vote to renew cross-border aid mandate, World Health Organization 25 June warned failure to renew mandate could trigger new “humanitarian catastrophe”.