Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Outlook for This Month December 2016
Conflict Risk Alerts
Trends for Last Month November 2016
November saw violence escalate again in Syria, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Cameroon. Attacks by pro-regime forces on rebel strongholds in Syria resumed, causing significant civilian casualties. In Myanmar’s Rakhine state intensifying violence displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, while a major attack by armed groups near the Chinese border threatened to undermine the country’s fragile ethnic peace process. In DRC, violence rose in the east and the regime continued to repress dissent, underscoring the risk that renewed protests, likely in December when President Kabila’s second term officially ends, could turn violent. In Cameroon, Boko Haram stepped up its attacks in the Far North and minority English-speakers clashed with security forces in the North West region. The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election on 8 November created uncertainty about possible shifts in future U.S. foreign policy priorities and positions, including on a number of conflicts and prominent geostrategic arenas – among them the future of the historic multilateral nuclear accord with Iran.
Violence escalated for a second consecutive month in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state as military sweeps pursuing the perpetrators of the 9 October attack on security bases continued, with further allegations – rejected by the government – of serious human rights violations by security forces. Humanitarian access to Rakhine state, where some 150,000 are in need of assistance, remains largely blocked since the October attacks, and tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled within Myanmar or across the border into Bangladesh. The UN Security Council on 17 November called for an international investigation into alleged abuses and restoration of humanitarian access. Myanmar’s ethnic peace process also saw a considerable setback with a major joint attack on the military by four armed groups in northern Shan state, near the border with China, starting on 20 November.
In DRC, violence spiked in North Kivu province in the east as the army fought local militias to recapture territory and, in the worst attack in a series of clashes between ethnic Nande and Hutu, the Nande Mai Mai Mazembe militia killed some 35 Hutu civilians in one village. Meanwhile, the government continued to crack down on protests and squeezed national and international media, jamming both Radio France International and UN-sponsored Radio Okapi. Its intolerance of dissent risks further violence come 19 December when Kabila’s second and, according to the constitution, final term runs out. If opposition supporters take to the streets to protest his extended rule, they could clash once again with security forces.
In Cameroon, Boko Haram Islamist insurgents based mainly in Nigeria stepped up attacks on civilians and the security forces in the Far North region underlining the need for the government to shift from a purely military approach to a long-term development-focused strategy. As Crisis Group’s report “Cameroon: Confronting Boko Haram” explains, reviving trade and creating jobs for young people are key to the region’s long-term r