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 November 2016

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month October 2016

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

October saw Venezuela’s tense political standoff at new heights amid economic stress and popular unrest, and Haiti’s weak political and security equilibrium struck by a major natural disaster and humanitarian crisis. In Africa, violence worsened in the Central African Republic (CAR), north-eastern Kenya, Mozambique and western Niger, while in Ethiopia the government hardened its response to continued protests. In Myanmar, unprecedented attacks on police in the north triggered deadly clashes and displacement threatening to exacerbate intercommunal tensions across the country, while Russia’s North Caucasus saw an increase in conflict-related casualties, detentions and counter-terrorism operations. In the Middle East, the election of Michel Aoun as president of Lebanon signals a long-awaited breakthrough ending two years of political deadlock.

CrisisWatch Digests

In Venezuela, political tensions between President Maduro’s government and the opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance took another dangerous turn after the National Electoral Council on 20 October indefinitely suspended the signature-gathering process needed to pave the way for a recall referendum challenging Maduro’s rule. The closure of the last formal channel for the opposition to challenge the government’s political hegemony was followed by nationwide protests and threats from the opposition. A Vatican-sponsored dialogue between government and opposition has begun in an effort to avert violent unrest. Its success will depend on rapid confidence-building between the two sides, alleviation of the dire humanitarian crisis, progress toward terms for a peaceful political transition, and containment of hardliners in both government and opposition.

Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on 4 October killing hundreds, and creating the worst humanitarian crisis since the country’s 2010 earthquake. According to the UN, 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, and more than 800,000 require urgent help. The natural disaster forced the cancellation of the planned October presidential and parliamentary elections and further complicates efforts to stabilise the country’s political and security situation.

As feared, violence in CAR continued to surge in the north, centre and in Bangui, the capital, as militias clashed with each other and attacked civilians, police and UN peacekeepers. In one raid in the northern town of Kaga Bandoro ex-Seleka former rebels killed over 30 civilians. The worsening violence, including an attack by anti-balaka militiamen on UN peacekeepers, underscores that the president’s election has not ended the crisis and the international community needs to provide constant and long-term support.

In Ethiopia, at least 100 people were killed in a stampede reportedly triggered by security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protests. In response to more protests and vandalism in the restive Oromia region and Addis Ababa in the following days, the government took a more hard-line stance. It declared a six-month state of emergency that puts restrictions on gatherings, social media and communicating with foreign governments and gives security forces greater search and arrest powers.

Deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab jihadists in Mandera town in Kenya’s north east near the border with Somalia prompted the government to put in place a 60-day curfew in the town, as clashes between ethnic groups flared in the Rift Valley. In Mozambique, the killing of several Renamo armed opposition leaders – including one of its negotiators – and clashes between the army and Renamo fighters endangered already faltering peace talks. In western Niger, suspected jihadists based in northern Mali launched deadly attacks, including one on an army post on 6 October, which killed 22 security personnel.

In Myanmar, several hundred assailants carried out three separate, coordinated attacks on police bases in northern Rakhine state on 9 October, killing nine police and seizing guns and ammunition. Over the following days at least 22 more died in clashes as security forces attempted to capture the attackers, reported by the government to be Muslims. Reports indicate that approximately 10-15,000 Rohingya Muslims and 3,000 Buddhist Rakhine have been displaced by the violence. As we explained in a Q&A on 12 October, the attacks mark a major escalation of violence in Rakhine, with a potential spillover effect to other parts of the country with a large Muslim presence.

October saw an increase in conflict-related casualties, detentions and counter-terrorism operations in Russia’s North Caucasus, with around 50 people, mostly suspected militants, reported injured or killed during the month.

In the Middle East, Michel Aoun’s election as president of Lebanon on 31 October ended the country’s presidential vacuum after 45 failed attempts to nominate a president since May 2014. Although the deal may help re-energise Lebanon’s political institutions, it is unrealistic to expect drastic changes. The new government will need to address the country’s deep-rooted problems, including how to manage the presence of over a million Syrian refugees and entrenched divisions within the political class.

Colombia

2 Oct plebiscite to approve final peace agreement between govt and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) lost unexpectedly by margin of less than 0.5%, with voter turnout reported at 37%. President Santos immediately called for dialogue with other political forces to renegotiate disputed parts of accord; various opposition parties and movements, foremost former President Uribe’s Democratic Centre party, handed in series of proposed changes, some minor and others touching on fundaments of agreement. Govt and FARC negotiators resumed discussions in Havana 4 Oct. FARC expressed willingness to make adjustments and changes, but said will not renegotiate substance of agreement. Talks between govt and FARC continued, resulting in 28 Oct communiqué highlighting willingness to find a solution. FARC commanders remain in Havana, while some 6,000 FARC fighters currently in around 50 “pre-concentration” sites across country. Supporters of peace deal marched in Bogotá and other cities 5 and 12 Oct calling for quick peace deal with FARC. Govt 13 Oct extended ceasefire to 31 Dec. Govt and Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group ELN announced peace talks will begin 3 Nov in Ecuador, however govt still waiting for Odín Sánchez, politician kidnapped by ELN, to be released before initiating talks. Fighting between army and ELN in east and SW mid Oct left two guerrilla fighters dead; 24 members of group demobilised 17 Oct in Chocó province, seriously weakening ELN’s Cimarrón Resistance Front. Clan Úsuga/Gaitán Self-defence Forces (GSF), country’s largest drug trafficking organisation, released communiqué 8 Oct stating again that it would be disposed to political negotiations with govt, despite govt’s insistence that GSF are not a politically-motivated group. Four mid-level commanders of group captured or killed in police operations late Sept-Oct.

Guatemala

President Morales’ administration faced fresh obstacles: Morales 4 Oct forced to backtrack on his 23 Sept decision to declare state of emergency in rain-affected parts of country, which would have limited constitutional liberties of assembly and expression and allowed exemption of contracts and procurement law to use funds directly; Supreme Court assigned judge to consider lifting Morales’, VP’s and cabinet members’ immunity for signing decree. Media reports 29-30 Sept questioned VP’s honesty regarding how much and who pays rent for mansion where he lives, while UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and Attorney General’s Office (AGO) revealed alleged involvement of president’s brother and son in corruption scandal. CICIG and AGO expanded efforts against corruption and organised crime in interior, with creation 10 Oct of new offices in Quetzaltenango, main city in Western Highlands, where powerful narcotics, human and weapons trafficking networks operate. Continued threats against life of attorney general and special judge handling most prominent corruption cases.

Haiti