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 May 2019

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month April 2019

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

In April, war broke out in Libya, a failed opposition uprising in Venezuela increased fears of violent escalation, and over 250 people were killed in terror attacks in Sri Lanka. In Sudan, the end of President Bashir’s almost 30-year rule gave way to a tense standoff between military chiefs and protest leaders. Now that Algeria’s long-time ruler has resigned, the country runs the risk of violent confrontations between protesters and the military, while Egyptian President Sisi consolidated his authoritarian rule. Political tensions rose in Mali and Benin amid opposition protests. Fighting escalated in Yemen on multiple front lines, with risks of more clashes around Hodeida and in the south, and conflict could resume in South Sudan if President Kiir unilaterally forms a new government. In Somalia, security forces clashed with protesters and Al-Shabaab could step up attacks in Ramadan starting early May. In Cameroon, Boko Haram intensified attacks in the north, while violence between state forces and Anglophone separatists could spike around National Day on 20 May.

CrisisWatch Digests

In Libya, war broke out when forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar advanced on the capital Tripoli in early April, intent on taking the city from the UN-backed Government of National Accord. As we have warned, the fighting, which has already caused the deaths of at least 300, could escalate further. Both sides consider the fight an “existential war” that leaves no opportunity for a cessation of hostilities. Regional powers could also add fuel to the fire seeking to protect their own allies and interests. To prevent a protracted proxy war, regional powers should refrain from militarily backing their Libyan allies and instead support calls for a ceasefire and UN-led talks, while the UN should work toward a new negotiating format with political, military and financial tracks.

A failed uprising by Venezuela’s opposition leader and “interim President” Juan Guaidó on 30 April led to clashes between troops and defecting soldiers and protesters, leaving scores injured. Further polarising the country’s dangerous political standoff, these latest developments raise the risk of violent escalation by domestic and even international actors, underlining the need for all stakeholders to support a negotiated settlement between chavistas and the opposition.

The ouster of Sudan’s President Bashir after almost 30 years in power triggered celebrations, but also friction between the military council that stepped in and the protest movement demanding civilian rule. As we have argued, Sudan needs a civilian-led transitional authority that includes the opposition, security forces and civil society. In Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down, but weekly protests continued, calling for an end to military control of the transition. To mitigate the risk of violent confrontations, the regime should open dialogue with protest leaders and agree on a transition broadly acceptable to all parties. In Egypt, President Sisi entrenched his authoritarian rule – a referendum endorsed his changes to the constitution that could see him stay in power until 2030 – and the authorities intensified a crackdown on civil society and opposition voices.

In Sri Lanka, over 250 people were killed in coordinated suicide bomb attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, which the government blamed on a little-known Islamist militant local group acting with foreign support; Islamic State also claimed responsibility. The attacks represent a departure from previous conflict dynamics, and threaten to open up new tensions between the overwhelmingly peaceful Muslim community and other ethnic and religious groups.

In Yemen, fighting continued to escalate on multiple front lines. With negotiations over military redeployments in Hodeida stalled, rival forces could resume their battle for the strategic port and city, while tensions between nominally allied pro-government forces could spark conflict in the south.

In Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, a police killing sparked clashes between protesters and security forces that left another five civilians dead, as Al-Shabaab attacks continued. We fear the insurgency could escalate in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts on 5 May. South Sudan’s fragile peace agreement could come under severe strain this month, risking collapse. President Kiir has said he will form a transitional government on 12 May as scheduled, while rebel leader Riek Machar – who should be part of the new government according to the agreement – has called for a six-month delay. If Kiir goes ahead and forms a government absent a new deal, the peace plan could derail and fighting resume.

Mali’s government resigned in the wake of mass protests denouncing its failure to stop ethnic violence in the centre. Attacks could intensify there in May as tensions between ethnic Fulani and Dogon communities continue to fester. In Benin, security forces cracked down on opposition protests before and after parliamentary elections on 28 April, prompting fears that unrest could escalate in coming weeks.

In Cameroon, Boko Haram stepped up attacks in the Far North and Anglophone separatists continued to clash with security forces in the west. Violence could escalate there around 20 May, Cameroon’s National Day. To get to talks, a first step in ending the bloodshed, Cameroonian and international actors should pressure those who stand in the way of dialogue and reward the more flexible.

Colombia

Congress rejected President Duque’s objections to transitional justice mechanism in show of support to 2016 peace deal with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), while violence between armed groups continued to cause mass displacement. Lower House 8 April rejected Duque’s objections and call for changes to Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP), transitional justice mechanism created under peace deal to handle cases deriving from govt-FARC conflict, with representatives voting 110-44 against. Ruling Democratic Centre party successfully delayed vote in Senate, which is also expected to reject objections. UN Security Council 16 April gave unanimous support to SJP and asked Congress to immediately pass law outlining its working systems; U.S. voiced support for SJP at meeting, despite U.S. ambassador early April pressing MPs to approve Duque’s objections. Conflicts between armed groups including FARC dissidents and drug traffickers displaced or confined over 5,000 during month. Fighting between Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC, country’s main drug trafficking group) and AGC splinter group “Caparrapos” that began 22 March reportedly led to over 2,250 people fleeing their homes in Córdoba (north). In Chocó (west), fighting between AGC and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group moved toward town of Bojayá, trapping some 2,800 people. Clashes between FARC dissident group Oliver Sinisterra front and local drug trafficking group the “Accountants” in Tumaco (south west) 12 April displaced some 700, while 250 people were displaced by clashes between AGC and dissident Estiven González front in Nariño 16 April (south west). ELN 12 April announced unilateral ceasefire 14-21 April, leading to drop in violence, but bombed oil pipeline in Norte de Santander (north east) 13 April. ELN also clashed with dissident Carlos Patiño front throughout April in El Plateado, Cauca (south west), leading to deaths of six fighters. Army 16 April killed one FARC dissident in clash in Guaviare (south). Army also killed civilian and former FARC fighter in Norte de Santander (north east) 22 April, leading to widespread condemnation; army general 28 April apologised for killing.

El Salvador

Security situation remains critical with enduring high levels of killings and widespread gang violence. National Police 27 April reported 1,006 homicides since start of year, 228 less than same period in 2018, however homicide rate rose again during April. In anti-gang operations, police early April arrested MS-13 leader accused of extortion and 117 alleged members of group. Minister of Security and civil society 8 April called on Legislative Assembly to approve law recognising internal displacement, in line with 2018 Constitutional Chamber ruling; govt has previously refused to recognise phenomenon of internal displacement resulting from criminal violence. Anti-corruption drive focussing on high-level former officials continued with Supreme Court late March approving attorney general’s request for former President Funes’ extradition from Nicaragua on corruption charges, which Nicaragua rejected, saying Funes has political asylum; Funes and former President Saca among ten Salvadorans on U.S. blacklist of corrupt officials published 4 April.

Guatemala