Weekly Education Update 4/13-4/19

 Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, DRC

Sudan, South Sudan

The International Monetary Fund has announced that South Sudan has become the institution's 188th member country, giving it access to IMF loans and technical assistance. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesdayrevised down its forecast to Sudan’s economy to show a significant shrinkage in 2012.

The U.N. Security Council discussed on Tuesday possibly imposing sanctions on Sudan and South Sudan if the African neighbors did not stop border clashes that were threatening to spiral into full-scale war. The African Union (AU) urged both Sudan and South Sudan to “act responsibly” and immediately end the current conflict between their armed forces, as demanded by the international community.

The United Nations announced that one of its peacekeeping compounds in South Sudan sustained “material damage” over the weekend when it was hit with five bombs. No United Nations employees were hurt, but two people on the base were killed, initial reports said. 

South Sudan’s army (SPLA) says that some Murle cattle herders are avoiding handing over their weapons to the military as part of a statewide disarmament campaign in Jonglei following severe violence earlier this year.

Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir escalated war rhetoric against South Sudan on Wednesday, saying that Khartoum’s goal is to rid southerners of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba and liberate them.

Over 300 youth from Gogrial West County in South Sudan’s Warrap State on Tuesday voluntarily registered and embarked on training as part of the public campaign to mobilize support for South Sudan’s national army (SPLA).

Syria

A week after the deadline for the Syrian government to have implemented the contingent parts of the UN-backed Syrian peace plan, acting UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon released a letter to the Security Council Thursday stating the Syrian state had failed to implement broad sections of the plan, including the withdrawal of troops and particularly armored elements from major urban centers. Opposition sources also reported that sweeps by government security forces are being carried out on a smaller scale, and additionally reported that the city of Homs has continued to be shelled by the Syria n armed forces despite the ceasefire. However, the Secretary General still said there was an “"opportunity for progress" despite the setbacks.

On April 19th, the Syrian government agreed to an expansion of the United Nation's observation mission, bolstering the mission's total numbers to 300 observers. The present observation mission is comprised of 30 observers, with an advance group of 8 already on the ground. However, the Syrian government has placed some restrictions on movement on the present observation mission, and at present the observers have not been able to visit the embattled city of Homs, one of the alleged sites where violence has continued on the greatest scale. Negotiations on the details of the expansion remain ongoing, with the Syrian government also stating that observers should come from those it considers “neutral” countries, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

While violence throughout Syria dropped off in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire deadline, both opposition groups and the Syrian government have accused each other of breaking the peace in recent days. Opposition sources reported that22 people, 13 civilians among them, were killed during artillery barrages in Homs on Wednesday, and Syrian state news reported that six law enforcement officials had been killed by a roadside bomb, along with a number off civilians.

DRC

Following President Kabila’s statements last week on the necessity of arresting Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the ICC for using child soldiers in his militia group, has been followed by increased pressure by the international community. While visiting North Kivu’s capitol Goma, Kabila said the government had “more than a hundred reasons to arrest him” but also noted that his government would not be bullied by “pressure from the international community.” He did announced that military operations against revels in the eastern North and South Kivu provinces were officially suspended, due to the desertion of hundreds of FARDC troops earlier in the month which provoked violent clashes within the army and allowed for the rebels to seize territory.  

According to a report published this week by Congolese and international NGOs, the failure to reform FARDC (the Congolese army) has mired the majority of the civilian population in poverty and insecurity despite billions of dollars of foreign aid. The 15,000-strong FARDC is made up of primarily former rebels, who lack basic training and often target civilians because they are not properly paid or housed. The failure to create security forces that protect the population rather than targets it results in obstacles to conflict resolution, development and economic growth. The report notes that more than $14 billion in international aid over the past few years has barely impacted the civilian population, who represent the bottom of the UNDP’s development index. The FARDC is fundamentally corrupt; while many Congolese troops run illicit mining operations in the east, others profit from so-called ‘ghost soldiers’, or non-existent troops whose pay is then siphoned off illegally. President Kabila remains an obstacle to security sector reform (SSR), as “he feels more comfortable with a disorganized army, he can maneuver better than a trained one.” Only one percent, or $85 million, of development aid for the Congo was spent on SSR between 2006 and 2011. 

Glencore, one of the world’s leading producer and marketer of commodities, now faces accusations of breaching international law by allowing children as young as 10 to work in one of its mines in the DRC. International law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from mining; however in the Tilwezembe copper mine in the Kotanga province, children were found going down shafts 150 feet deep without any safety or breathing equipment. Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg refuted the claims, saying the mine was decommissioned in 2008 after the depression of copper prices and now it has been taken over by artisanal miners. The company is also being accused of dumping acid into a river by the company’s Luilu refinery. Despite the severity of the accusations, Glaseberg continues to assert that it is an “ethical business”. 

President Kabila named finance minister Matata Ponyo Mapon as his new prime minister on Wednesday, in a move aimed to improve the state’s business environment. The nomination comes a month after the former government resigned in order to allow Kabila to form a new cabinet. 

Etienne Tshisekedi, who continues to protest the fraudulent November elections, announced earlier in the year that the opposition party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) would not join parliament. However 33 of its members did join parliament, and they now have been excluded from UDPS for deviating from party lines. 

Refugees from the DRC continue to cross the border into Uganda, where an estimated 50-80 refugees arrive daily. Many of the new arrivals are being housed at Nyakabande transit camp in the Kisoro District, which was originally designed to accommodate 1,000 people and now has over 3,500 residents. The site was described by UNHCR as “over-stretched by completely under control.” Many of the new arrivals have fled from the government offense against defected soldiers led by Bosco Ntaganda. 

This post is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity.  For more information contact the following:

Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg education@standnow.org 

Sudan Education Coordinator: Emma Smith esmith@standnow.org

DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelley skelley@standnow.org

Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall tdolzall@standnow.org 

 

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