CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

Global Overview

Outlook for This Month April 2020

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month March 2020

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

The 200th edition of Crisis Group’s monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in March in seventeen countries, including fresh tit-for-tat attacks in Iraq between Iran-backed militants and the U.S. In Chad, Boko Haram's deadliest attack on security forces to date left nearly 100 soldiers killed. Amid ongoing jihadist violence in Burkina Faso’s north, deadly attacks on civilians by security forces and self-defence groups increased, targeting the Fulani community in particular. In Afghanistan, the Taliban resumed their intense military pressure on security forces in rural areas, ending a spell of reduced violence in February.

CrisisWatch notes improvements in two situations. In Syria’s Idlib province, a Russia-Turkey ceasefire agreement froze the regime’s offensive toward Idlib city, halting much of the fighting, and after long delays EU leaders gave the green light for North Macedonia to start formal accession talks.

Looking ahead to April, we warn that violence could intensify in Yemen as warring parties prepare to battle for control of Marib governorate. At the same time, the UN’s proposed ceasefire gives all parties an opportunity to de-escalate. With COVID-19 threatening to compound an already dire humanitarian crisis, conflict parties can demonstrate with a ceasefire their commitment to the people they purport to represent.

China/Japan

Amid COVID-19 spread, Japan 5 March said Chinese President Xi had postponed his planned April state visit to Japan. Japanese news sources 11 March reported Japanese navy built its first ocean surveillance ship since 1992, due to be deployed in 2021, in response to concerns over Chinese submarines’ activities close to and in Japanese waters, and with a view to monitoring North Korea over its development of sub-marine technology. Japanese warship and Chinese fishing boat 30 March collided in East China Sea; Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said one Chinese fisherman injured.

Korean Peninsula

North Korea carried out missile tests and military exercises in demonstration of hard-line position announced Dec 2019, while diplomatic activity remained stalled amid COVID-19 pandemic. Pyongyang 2, 8, 21 and 29 March tested short-range ballistic missiles and used multiple-launch rocket systems; moves apparently aimed at reassuring population about North Korean-leader Kim Jong-un’s strength amid widely suspected COVID-19 epidemic inside country, by testing missiles without eliciting response from U.S.; in U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Defense Secretary Mark Esper 4 March said threat from DPRK ballistic missile capabilities “becoming increasingly complicated as they seek to modernize the full range of missile systems”, confirmed they would pose a threat to the U.S.; in joint statement, UK, Germany, France, Estonia and Belgium 5 March condemned 2 March missiles test, said launches “undermine regional security and stability”. UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet 10 March reported apparent “systematic human rights violations in detention centres” in DPRK, including “sexual violence against women and girls”, which may amount to “crimes against humanity”; said violations appear to be taking place under “direct authority of two Ministries, with likely involvement of higher authorities”. U.S. Justice Department 2 March indicted two Chinese nationals for laundering $100mn worth of cryptocurrency from stolen money by North Korean actors in 2018; U.S. attorney claimed Pyongyang continues to attack virtual currencies “as a means to bypass the sanctions imposed on it”. Think tank Centre for Advanced Studies 3 March released report claiming China and North Korea violated 2017 UN Security Council Resolution 2397 preventing DPRK from supplying, selling or transferring, directly or indirectly, “earth and stone”, said satellite imagery and shipping databases appear to show hundreds of vessels “dredging sand in Haeju Bay before transporting it to China” March-Aug 2019. U.S.-South Korea tensions continued over future agreement for sharing cost of maintaining 28,500 U.S. troops on Korean peninsula, with negotiators unable to make breakthrough in discussions 17-19 March in Los Angeles, U.S..

South China Sea