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 May 2011

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month April 2011

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

The situation deteriorated in Sudan (Northern) as both North and South appear to be militarising Abyei ahead of the South Kordofan elections scheduled for May. Tensions triggered militia attacks in el-Faid town leaving at least seventeen dead and over 250 houses burned. President Bashir’s removal of Salah Gosh from the national security committee signalled growing divisions in the ruling party.

CrisisWatch Digests

Fighting intensified in Sudan (South) between government and rebel militias where mid-month clashes saw more than 165 casualties over a seven-day period. Tensions increased as a 27-28 April meeting of political party leaders to review the draft constitution failed to reach consensus.

The five-month stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire ended as forces loyal to president-elect Alassane Ouattara arrested former president Laurent Gbagbo on 11 April. While the arrest opens up political space for Ouattara, reports of his allies carrying out reprisal attacks against the Gbagbo camp, along with the outbreak of heavy clashes among forces supporting Ouattara, illustrate the scale of the challenges ahead.

Violence sharply escalated in Syria, where over a hundred anti-government protesters were reported killed on 22 April, the worst day of bloodshed so far in the regime's violent crackdown on dissent. There are fears of further violence as the government deployed troops across the country and used tanks to lay siege to the city of Deraa where the revolts began.

In Bahrain repressive measures against pro-democracy activists continued despite the marked decline in protests following the government’s crackdown in March. Amidst a wave of arrests reports emerged that prisoners had been beaten and tortured by security forces.

There was no clear prospect for an end to fighting in Libya, which this month saw NATO bombing of government forces and installations, including an airstrike on Tripoli that reportedly killed Colonel Qadaffi's youngest son and three grandchildren. Qadaffi's calls for a ceasefire and negotiations were dismissed as a disingenuous ploy by rebels as Libyan forces continued shelling rebels and urban centres. Rebels claimed over 1,000 people have been killed in the besieged city of Misrata and the UN stated that government use of cluster munitions and targeting of medical facilities could amount to war crimes.

CrisisWatch again identifies a conflict risk alert and a conflict resolution opportunity in the coming month for Yemen. Both the government and the opposition have now, in principle, agreed to sign a power-transfer deal to get the country out of the crisis. With spoilers on both sides and youth groups rejecting the plan there is still a real risk of civil war.

A further wave of unrest swept Burkina Faso in mid-April as members of the presidential guard mutinied in Ouagadougou and looting and rioting spread to at least three other cities. Shopkeepers and students also staged violent protests. In an attempt to end the unrest, President Blaise Compaoré dismissed the government and military leaders. A subsequent police mutiny in the capital 27-28 April spread to several other cities and 34 opposition parties have called for Compaoré to step down.

Tensions escalated in Uganda where at least two were killed and dozens injured during Kampala riots on 29 April triggered by the violent arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye for defiance over the government ban on “walk to work” protests against surging food and fuel costs.

Violence flared along the border between Thailand and Cambodia towards the end of the month, with at least fifteen soldiers killed in clashes and tens of thousands displaced on both sides.

In Bosnia the ongoing political crisis intensified, in Belarus thirteen people were killed in a suspected terrorist attack on a Minsk subway station, and in Northern Ireland a police officer was killed in a car bomb attack by dissident republicans in Omagh at the beginni ng of the month.

CrisisWatch also highlights Sri Lanka, following the 26 April release of the report of the UN panel of experts finding "credible allegations" that violations committed during the civil war by both government forces and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) likely cost "tens of thousands" of civilian lives and may have amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The panel called for an "international mechanism" to probe the allegations further.*

* Text changed 30 May 2011: “credible evidence” replaced with “credible allegations”.


Police, intelligence services targeting suspected former rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) thought to be responsible for series of summary executions: 3 FNL killed in Kanyosha, 2 killed in Ngagra 28 March and 2 killed in Isale 15 Apr. Local rights group reported state-sponsored executions of suspected FNL members also in Rweza, Buyenzi and Kabezi. FNL 6 Apr retaliated against ruling CNDD-FDD, killing 2 members in Isale. Reports emerged mid-Apr that corpses discovered in Ruvubu River, Muyinga province; exact number disputed. Local prosecutor 13 Apr sought life sentence for journalist charged with treason for criticising security services. Legislature 25 Apr voted on controversial new law requiring re-registration of existing opposition parties.

Central African Republic

PM Touadera 22 Apr named new govt comprising 2 ministers from opposition disowned by party. Following end March ethnic fighting, army and govt-allied Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) 10 Apr clashed with rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) in northern town Sikikédé; 27 reported killed. Former president and runner-up in Jan presidential poll Ange Félix Patassé died 5 Apr in hospital in Douala.


Voting took place 25 Apr in presidential election widely expected to secure fourth term for incumbent President Déby; results expected 9 May. AU observers said turnout less than 51%; follows opposition plans to boycott poll.