Darfur Uunrest, Biden Changes & Besieged Bangui: The Cheat Sheet
THE NEW HUMANITARIAN
Current humanitarian events & issues:
Hundreds killed in Darfur violence
Just weeks after the UN Security Council voted unanimously to terminate the mandate of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Darfur, a new outbreak of violence in the region
has left hundreds dead
and injured. At least
159 people died
three aid workers – and
tens of thousands
were displaced following militia attacks on displacement camps in West Darfur’s El Geneina. Dozens more lost their lives in South Darfur amid
between Arab Rizeigat and Fallata groups. During more than 13 years on the ground, UNAMID has often been criticised for failing to protect people. But many Dafuris
against its withdrawal and have little faith in the Sudanese government, even with the old regime out the door. Addressing this week’s violence, Jonas Horner, a Sudan analyst with the International Crisis Group,
the new administration had “comprehensively failed its first real test of maintaining security”. More tests should be expected in the months ahead.
The UN has
of food and medicine shortages in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, as rebels strike the main trade route linking the city to neighbouring Cameroon. Three drivers who attempted the journey this week were injured in an ambush, while dozens more truck drivers remain
at the Cameroonian border town of Garoua-Boulaï. Other roads leading to Bangui – where market stalls now lie half empty – have also been seized in what one analyst told The New Humanitarian could constitute a strategy to “asphyxiate” the city. On 20 January, the UN’s top official in CAR
more peacekeepers be sent to the country, which has some of the highest humanitarian needs per capita of any state in the world. At least 100,000 people have now fled their homes since the rebels launched an offensive triggered by last month’s contested elections. Read more on the situation
in our list of 2021 crises to watch
or in our latest dispatch from the ground
Food markets not super
More and more people are finding it hard to work and get enough food
due to the pandemic
. To make matters worse, the global prices of basic food commodities are rising. Market uncertainty caused wheat tenders issued by importers
to go awry recently – uncertainty has increased partly due to Russia’s
to impose higher taxes on exports. Future contracts for maize and soybean, meanwhile, hit
a six-year high
earlier this month, according to
US government data
, although they have since eased due to the prospect of
good rains in South America
. Overall, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said global food prices in 2020 were at three-year highs,
peaking further in December
, noting vegetable oil had also risen sharply. At 107.5, FAO’s December price index is still well below
the price crunch of 2008
, when it peaked at 132.5. Spikes then were credited with causing widespread political upheavals.
Protests anew in Tunisia
In related news, Tunisians have been taking to streets across the country for a week now,
widespread unemployment and an ongoing economic crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The demonstrations began shortly after a four-day lockdown that coincided with the
of the flight of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced out of power after 23 years by a popular revolt that set off the “Arab Spring”. While that change brought democracy, it did not bring an end to joblessness or poverty, a situation that has forced an
increasing number of desperate Tunisians
to take their chances on the sea crossing to Europe. While some protests have turned violent, others remain peaceful:
says security forces have used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters of both kinds, and urged against the use of “unnecessary and excessive force”.
The missing genocide declaration
In one of the Trump administration’s final foreign policy moves, the US State Department declared that China has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uighur minority – drawing questions about why the United States hasn’t done the same for Myanmar’s
repression of the Rohingya
. “I’m baffled and deeply concerned that Secretary [Mike] Pompeo has declined to make a similar finding of genocide against the state of Myanmar for its vicious mass attacks against the Rohingya,”
Eric Schwartz, head of Refugees International, which is among many international and Rohingya groups that have long pushed for a stronger rebuke against Myanmar. Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state nominee, told a Senate confirmation hearing he
with the genocide assessment against China (and reportedly said he would oversee a
on Myanmar). It’s unclear what impact the Trump administration’s genocide declaration will have. Its statement, now
on the State Department website, calls on “multilateral and relevant juridical bodies” to “promote accountability” for atrocity crimes. But successive US administrations have been
with the body responsible for trying such cases, the International Criminal Court.
In case you missed it
: Dozens of refugees and asylum seekers have been
after months of detainment in a Melbourne hotel – among some 192 people transferred for medical treatment to Australia from
offshore processing centres
on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. The released men were given six-month “bridging visas”, but the government said they are still expected to leave Australia. The country bans asylum seekers arriving by boat from settling in Australia even if their refugee claims are approved. Some have spent years in detention: After his release this week, Kurdish-Iranian refugee Mostafa Azimitabar, who was previously held on Manus,
: “After 2,737 days locked up in detention – I am free.”
: Relief efforts continue after the mid-January earthquakes that killed at least
and affected some 40,000 in West Sulawesi. Some
1.3 million Indonesians
are affected by disasters already in January. In addition to the earthquakes, rainy season
have swept swathes of the archipelago nation, from
in its far east. Floods have also displaced more than 40,000 people in the
, including at least
people in Sulu.
IRAQ: Two suicide bombings
hit a market in central Baghdad on 21 January, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than 100. The so-called Islamic State
for the attack in the Iraqi capital, where suicide bombings have become rare.
official said the agency has raised “concerns” about unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines between Israelis and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israel is vaccinating its population at a record rate, but
rights groups say
it should also provide vaccines to people living under its occupation.
are spreading at immigration detention centres in the UK. Cases have been confirmed in at least three facilities, prompting urgent calls for people – including those awaiting asylum decisions – to be released to safe and suitable accommodation.
: The UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA,
cash transfer programmes via local groups in Venezuela after a series of police raids on non-profits, including the
detention of members
of HIV-prevention NGO Azul Positivo on 12 January.
The December kidnapping of 340 boys from their school to forests in Nigeria’s Zamfara State carried eerie echoes of the snatching of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in April 2014. Only, this time the masterminds were bandits – armed gangs behind rising criminality across the northwest,
including in neighbouring Kaduna State
, that has displaced more than 200,000 people since 2011. The boys were freed. The world moved on. But the crisis – brewing in the shadow of the Boko Haram conflict for many years – is far from over. In fact, the criminality is reaching new peaks, with kidnapping overtaking traditional livelihoods and eroding social bonds. As Senior Africa Editor Obi Anyadike explains in our weekend read – after weeks of reporting in the region – the runaway banditry is the outcome of many factors. These include growing tensions between Fulani and Hausa groups over access to land, pasture, and water – made worse by a drying climate and limited government intervention. Past responses have been sporadic, and poorly thought out and implemented, feeding the cycle of criminality. Traditional governance is of little help, having lost much of its power. Zamfara’s governor has launched a new amnesty initiative to try to turn things around. It’s early days to see if it bears fruit. Analysts fear there’s only a small window before things escalate beyond repair.
A ‘refugee ban’ in Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus receives the most asylum requests per capita in the EU, but the Mediterranean island nation has failed for years to put in place a comprehensive national plan to support refugee integration. Recently, the Cypriot interior minister
a controversial decree banning any more Syrian refugees from settling in the coastal town of Chloraka. Located on the western edge of the island, around 1,400 of Chloraka’s 7,000 residents are Syrian refugees. A murder in the town during last April’s coronavirus lockdown sparked sensationalist reports of a crime wave linked to migration. Our report from last September,
“Murder, media frenzy, and poor refugee integration in Cyprus”
, found that crime rates across the island have actually been falling since 2017, but racist incidents have been on the rise. Chloraka’s community leader, who supports the new decree, said the town is not racist, but doesn’t have the resources it needs to support the refugees already there – suggesting that a comprehensive integration strategy is indeed needed.
On the upside
has named the pink seesaws across US-Mexico border the Design of the Year 2020 for the ‘possibility’ they show of bridges not borders.
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