Weekly News Brief, October 5 - 11
· The AU Panel on Darfur, led by Thabo Mbeki, submitted its report to the AU, but the report will remain confidential until the AU summit later this month. In handing over the report, Mbeki said that a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict involves the participation of all Sudanese.
· The Sudanese government denied that it was actively recruiting former US executive branch officials to lobby for the removal of sanctions and the country’s designation as a state-sponsor of terror. Sudan reportedly recruited former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and attempted to recruit John Danforth and Richard Williamson.
· Six more Armored Personnel Carriers, donated by Canada, have arrived in Senegal in preparation for deployment with the UNAMID force.
· Writing in the Irrawaddy, Saw Yan Naing stated that the Junta’s new anti-drug policies in the north are cover for the government’s goal of integrating ceasefire militias into a border guard force.
· The Thai government said that it would not forcibly repatriate Burmese refugees if a new round of fighting in the north led to mass displacement.
· In a meeting with diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, Aung San Suu Kyi discussed what sanctions are currently on Burma, the motives behind their imposition and their impact on citizens of the country.
· LRA fighters killed twenty-two people and abducted 12 more from the town of Digba, near the city of Dungu in the northern DR Congo.
· According to the Ugandan People’s Defense Force, the LRA is reportedly moving towards Chad. Last week, the LRA was reportedly moving towards the Sudanese state of Bahr el Ghazal.
· OCHA released its humanitarian update for September 2009, stating that September was the second deadliest month for civilians in 2009. 280 civilians were killed in September, 193 of which were attributed to armed opposition groups. At least 130 of these casualties were caused by IEDs.
· A suicide bomber attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 17 and injuring more than 50. This is the second major attack on the Indian Embassy in the last two years and the second large attack in Kabul in the last month.
· More than 40 people were killed in a market bombing in the city of Peshawar. This is the second major bombing targeting civilians in the last week.
· A suicide attack struck the U.N. World Food Program’s offices in Islamabad on Monday, killing five civilians. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying humanitarian work was not “in the interests of Muslims.” The U.N. temporarily closed its offices across the country while it reviews security arrangements. More bombings are expected as the Pakistani army prepares for an assault on South Waziristan, considered a Taliban stronghold.
· A video that cropped up on Facebook last Thursday shows Pakistani troops abusing a Taliban suspect during an interrogation. The video, if verified as truthful, would provide further evidence to human rights groups’ claims that the Pakistani army has committed human rights abuses in the Swat Valley. Pakistan’s government has begun an investigation into the video’s veracity.
· A Senate bill to triple non-military U.S. aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for five years passed the House last week. The State Department says it is considering changing where the aid goes, hoping to funnel it more directly to the government and local groups.
· Last Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign minister said his country needed more military assistance to battle extremist insurgents. In the meantime, two Pakistani generals admitted that billions of U.S. military aid sent to help Pakistan defeat Al Qaeda was diverted to other uses, critically hurting the Pakistani military’s ability to fend off a regrouping Al Qaeda.
· The Somali police declared Al Shabaab rebels may be planning more suicide bombings against the government and AU forces. This may include the use of ambulances and other UN vehicles.
· Al-Shabaab declared war against Hizbul Islam last week, prompting a battle for control of the southern port town of Kismayo. Clashes between the groups erupted last Thursday, killing dozens and displacing hundreds. Some reports indicated leaders of the two groups held meetings to formalize a ceasefire. Both groups claimed victory on Tuesday, shortly after town elders announced they had resolved tensions between the groups.
· Some evaluations expect the split of the groups’ alliance will benefit the TFG, though other analyses are less optimistic and fear inter-group fighting will spread throughout Somalia.
· Somalia’s president visited the U.S. last weekend in an effort to shore up support for the TFG, stopping in states with a substantial Somali population, including Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio. He pressed foreign donors for more aid, noting that most pledges made last April have not been met, and urged for stronger commitments to end the lawlessness engulfing Somalia.
· The U.N.’s refugee agency reported on Friday that 145 Somali civilians were killed and 285 injured in September. A bomb exploded in a Mogadishu marketplace last Friday, killing six civilians and injuring 15. Fighting between AMISOM troops and Islamist rebels killed three civilians on Monday.
· Three foreign aid workers kidnapped from northern Kenya and taken into Somalia last July were finally released this week. Both Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have denied responsibility.
· Secretary of State Clinton told the UN last week that rape had been used by Sri Lankan troops as a weapon of war against Tamils, provoking protest from the Sri Lankan government. The U.S. State Department responded with a letter to Sri Lanka’s foreign affairs minister, affirming that it had no recent evidence of women being raped while detained by the Sri Lankan government.
· Sri Lanka’s human rights minister said the government accepted U.N. criticism of IDP resettlement and would try to follow recommendations made by visiting officials, especially in light of the upcoming monsoon season.
· The government announced last week that it had resettled all displaced persons from camps in the Eastern Province. Meanwhile, at least 2,000 shelters for IDPs in Sri Lanka were destroyed by strong winds last weekend.
· The Sri Lankan government has also begun a fresh appeal for foreign funds to resettle IDPs, asking for additional donations to the $225 million it received in aid pledges this year.
Around the World
· 42 people were killed and 70 injured during fighting between youth from the Dinka Bor and Mundari tribes, part of more than 1,200 people killed in South Sudan so far in 2008.
· According to UNHCR, ongoing violence in South Sudan is a major challenge in the repatriation of more than 2 million people that remain displaced due to the civil war that ended in 2005.
· Fighting between members of the military junta was reported as the Deputy Junta leader attempted to arrest an officer for his role in the deaths of more than 150 people two weeks ago. This comes as France blamed Guinea’s ruler, Captain Camara, for participating in the decision that led to the deaths.