Category Archives: Conflict

CAR: UN accuses Russians

Brussels 05.05.2021 In the Central African Republic, the brutal methods of the Russian “instructors” who fight alongside the Central African army are giving rise to growing fear and concern. On March 31, the United Nations Working Group on Mercenaries warned of a long series of serious human rights violations attributed to them. RFI had access to many confidential documents and collected words from victims. Investigation.

In Bangui, the presence of Russian mercenaries and the abuses of which they are accused are subjects of which one speaks in low voices, in private, and in anonymity.
“It’s the elephant in the middle of the room,” said a diplomatic source. “We only see him, but we pretend he’s not there.” Officially, they are not here. The Russian narrative on the subject is extremely well established. The Russian ambassador in Bangui acknowledges the dispatch of 535 men whom he describes as “instructors” who “do not take part in the fighting” except “if they are targeted.”

However, many national and international security sources contradict this version. They mention 800 to 2,000 mercenaries deployed in the CAR, alongside the Central African armed forces, often “on the front line” during clashes and also present at checkpoints and strategic locations.
For part of the public, weary of the occupation and violence of armed groups, the Russians are Saviours. They played a decisive role in the counter-offensive which made it possible to retake most of the country’s major cities. Their action is also supported by an active communication campaign from the authorities. Few dissenting voices publicly dare to question their methods, in the climate of fear that has taken hold in certain regions of the country.

On March 31, for the first time, a group of independent experts came to break this silence. In a press release, the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries attached to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, denounces the increased use of private security companies by the authorities in Bangui. And alert on a long list of abuses which are “attributable” to them: “mass summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture during interrogations, enforced disappearances, forced displacement of civilians, indiscriminate targeting of civilian installations, violations of the right to health and growing attacks on humanitarian actors.”

Three Russian entities are cited in this press release: the “Wagner Group”, considered to be the private armed wing of Moscow, some of whose fighters have recently come under charges for a possible war crime in Syria; “Sewa Security Services”, a company incorporated under Central African law founded in Bangui in 2017 and considered as the subsidiary of Wagner in the country; and finally “Lobaye Invest SARLU”, a mining company founded in the Central African Republic in 2017, one of whose officials has been placed under sanctions by the United States. The Task Force says it has gathered evidence of their “involvement in a series of violent attacks” in the Central African Republic since last December.

Several internal United Nations reports that RFI has consulted support these accusations. One of them lists at least a hundred victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed either by the Faca and their Russian allies or by Russian elements alone, between January 1, 2021 and mid-January. April. Among these violations: 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rapes as well as 27 cases of arbitrary arrests and deprivation of liberty.

“Many civilians have been killed or injured (…) although they are very far from legitimate military targets,” the report concludes.

Among the most affected prefectures: that of Ouaka, north-east of Bangui. Fo two months, Bambari, capital of this prefecture, located 370 kilometers from the capital.

CHAD: Deby death events ambiguous

Brussels 23.04.2021 The rumours and speculations around the events of late Chad President Idriss Deby multiples. Officially Idriss Déby Itno died as a warrior, leading his army. According to the Chadian military, which broke the news on state television, the newly re-elected president died of “injuries received at the front”, located 300 km north of the capital N’Djamena.

“The President of the Republic, Head of State, Supreme Head of the Armed Forces, Idriss Déby Itno, has just had his last breath in defending territorial integrity on the battlefield. It is with deep bitterness that we announce to the Chadian people the death on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 of Marshal of Chad “, announced the spokesman of the army General Azem Bermandoa Agouna.

On Saturday, April 17, intense fighting of the Chadian army against a column of rebels advancing towards the capital N’Djamena were reported. This Libyan-based rebel group, the Front Front for Change and Concord in Chad (abbreviation FACT in French language), had advanced south after attacking a border post.

According to army spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna, Chadian government forces halted the rebel advance in a battle that took place the same day in Kanem province. Five government soldiers were killed and 36 others reported injured. On the rebel side, the losses would have been much heavier: N’Djamena speaks of more than 300 rebels killed and 150 prisoners, however the information war is suspected, while the facts are difficult to verify. However, videos show dozens of rebels captured by government troops, just as they also show drops of equipment and ammunition that could only have been carried out by France.

On Monday evening, April 19, a meeting between late President Déby and the FACT leaders would have taken place in Mao city, close to the border of the Sahara desert. There is a word that this meeting could have degenerated into a fight causing the death of Déby and four of his generals.

This sudden death caused the dissolution of the Assembly and the establishment of a military body (the Transitional Military Council, CMT) which ensures power. At its head is one of the Marshal’s sons: General Mahamat Déby Itno (37), who commands the Presidential Guard, the promotion that angers FACT rebels, insisting that Chad is not a monarchy.

Déby, 68, a career soldier who seized power in 1990 following a coup d’état, promoted to the rank of Marshal last August, had just been re-elected for a 6-year term with 79.32% of the votes cast, according to provisional results announced Monday, April 19, evening by the national electoral body.

The Chadian president was often considered as a stabilising element in a tormented region even if the turbulent Déby mistreated his world and especially his opponents. But it appeared to be the stabilising element of a tormented region, with states as failed as Libya, the Central African Republic or Sudan. And when the fire burned in the Sahel and in Central Africa, he answered present, unleashing his warriors who can be found today in Mali in the ranks of the UN and those of the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel.

CHAD President Idriss Déby perished

Brussels 20.04.2021 #BREAKING: Chad’s President Idriss Déby has died suddenly in clashes with rebels in the north of the country close to Niger border. His death came shortly after provisional election results projected he would win a sixth term in office, with 80% of the vote.
Déby was reportedly wounded on the battlefield on Sunday, April 18, and was then flown to the capital 400km way by helicopter.
According to rebel leader Mahamat Ali, #IdrissDeby was in combat on Sunday and Monday, near Nokou, close to Niger border. After Deby had fallen slain at the battlefield he was evacuated to Ndjamena. Tanks were deployed around the palace. Déby was to speak at the Place de la Nation on Monday, April 19 but failed to attend.

According to a confirmation from the national army of Chad read on national television, the newly re-elected President Idriss Déby has died of wounds he received while commanding his army in battles against rebels in the north.

In a swift change of fate, after news had come in that Chad’s veteran president, Idriss Déby had won a sixth term, by 79.3%, in the latest provisional results in on Monday, an announcement broadcast on national television today has announced his death.

The latest clashes began on Saturday, April 17. An army general said that 300 insurgents were killed and 150 were captured. Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured, he said. The figures could not immediately be verified.

EU confirms Sahel strategy

Brussels 19.04.2021 The EU Council approved conclusions reaffirming the importance of a solid and long-term partnership between the EU and the Sahel, and on the EU’s integrated strategy in the region. (Image above: Barkhane, Les Black Hawk suédois rejoignent la Task Force Takuba).

The Council approved conclusions reaffirming the importance of a solid and long-term partnership between the EU and the Sahel, and of stepping up that partnership through an ambitious EU strategy setting the framework for its policies and actions in the region.

Since 2012 the Sahel has faced a profound security crisis that has hampered its development and, together with other long-term trends such as climate change, demographic pressure, the access to natural resources and epidemic risks, risks wiping out the progress made in recent decades.

During the period of the previous EU Sahel strategy (2011-2020), the EU has mobilised all instruments at its disposal, from humanitarian aid to security forces, to support the Sahel populations, and now intends to intensify its political efforts through a new, ambitious, inclusive and flexible strategy based on the principle of mutual accountability with Sahel partner authorities.

In line with international coordination efforts within the Sahel Coalition, the EU emphasises the importance of a ‘civilian and political leap forward’ focusing both on short-term stabilisation and long-term prospects for sustainable social, environmental and economic development, above and beyond military involvement.

The promotion protection and fulfilment of all human rights will continue to remain at the heart of EU support for the Sahel, as well as efforts in the areas of governance and the rule of law, anti-corruption, and the provision of basic public services to all people.

Recognizing past as well as emerging trends, the EU will continue to support Sahel partners in fighting terrorist armed groups, and support their efforts in the field of security sector reform.

The EU will continue strengthening the multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core, alongside regional organisations.

EU: Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland, mandated by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, is undertaking a second mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Foreign Minister will discuss the situation in Ethiopia, notably the crisis in Tigray and its regional implications. Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

During his visit, Haavisto will meet with Ethiopian authorities, and convey The EU’s continued concern regarding the humanitarian situation in Tigray, calling all parties to end hostilities and for the respect of International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law, as well as to allow independent investigations on alleged human rights abuse. He will also recall that Eritrean forces shall withdraw from Tigray. Finally, he will consult with the African Union to exchange views on the situation in Ethiopia as well as on regional issues.

On his way to Ethiopia, Haavisto is travelling to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates for discussions on regional issues as well as the situation in Tigray.

He will report about his visit to European Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the next Foreign Affairs Council in April.

ICC: Uganda Ongwen-victim and villain

04.02.2021 The Hague, The Netherlands: War crimes judges deliver their verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier turned top field commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group known for extreme violence and forcing women into sexual slavery.

Ongwen, 45, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could be imprisoned for life if convicted. Judges will not address sentencing on Thursday, February 4.

Ongwen’s case is complex because under the law “you have either a victim or a perpetrator and anything in between is very difficult to squeeze in,” said Barbora Hola, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

The ruling at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be the first dealing with crimes by the LRA, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

It highlights the difficulty of trying somebody who, as a conscripted child soldier, is both an alleged perpetrator and a victim. His lawyers have asked for acquittal.

Detained in 2015, Ongwen remains in the court’s custody, and his 3.5-year-trial ended in March 2020.

Ongwen’s lawyer insisted that the brutal life in the LRA affected his mental health and his capacity to make independent decisions.

“When Ongwen was abducted he had no option, he was made a slave. That slavery continued until he left the bush,” lawyer Krispus Odongo said to the judges in closing arguments.

But prosecutors countered that Ongwen was an adult at the time of the alleged offences and cannot be excused of responsibility.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and in what is now South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The case at the ICC focused on 2002-2005, when prosecutors said members of the LRA carried out crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, pillaging and the conscription of children under the age of 15 for fighting.

After being abducted by the LRA as a boy, Ongwen worked his way up to a commander, overseeing the Sinia Brigade, one of the group’s four main operational units with up to 800 fighters.

Ethiopia 10M reward for TPLF ‘wanted’

Brussels 19.12.2020 Ethiopian authorities offered a 10 million birr (app.€200,000) reward on Friday, December 18, for information on the location of the heads of the leading party in northern Tigray region. The reward for information, leading to the key figures of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was announced on state-run broadcaster EBC and tweeted by a government taskforce.

TPLF leaders, highly likely hiding in surrounding the capital city Mekelle mountains since they abandoned it on Novembrer 28, had insist that they continue resistance.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and nearly a million fled their homes after two years of feuding between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray region degraded in a military assault in early November.

Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray, where about 600,000 people were depended on food aid even before the conflict erupted.

The United Nations and other agencies are still pressing for safe access to most of the Tigray region.

The U.N. World Food Programme sent 11 trucks worth of food to two Eritrean refugee camps in the southern part of Tigray that arrived in the camps on Wednesday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Despite the arrival of some aid, needs are increasing, OCHA spokesman Saviano Abreu said. “People have now been living for more than six weeks with no running water, no access to health services, no cash and very limited access to food.”

He said the United Nations was still negotiating with the Ethiopian government for full and unhindered access and reiterated the global body’s call for all parties to allow all aid groups into Tigray.

There are no possibilities to re-establish contacts with Tigray journalists, because Abiy Ahmed has blocked telecom, in spite of the repeated calls from international community to reconnect all of Tigray.
Over six weeks the population of the region suffers consequences of shutdown of telecom, absence of humanitarian aid, food, fuel, medicine, portable water, electricity, and bank services. All contacts of Africa Diplomatic Magazine from Mekelle have been silent for six weeks.

Mozambique in MEPs focus

Brussels 15.12.2020 “The crisis in the northern part of Mozambique is already causing more than half a million displaced people and more than 2,000 deaths” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while debating the situation with Mozambique with the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“And we, the European Union, continue to try to help through the humanitarian, development and peace-building axis, defending human rights at the centre of our response.

As if that were not enough, Cabo Delgado, one of the poorest provinces in Mozambique, with a tremendously fragile social structure, was devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. This has only aggravated a situation that is now complicated by the extension of the terrorism that comes from the north, from Somalia.

We have specialised teams working on the situation in Mozambique. We have permanent contacts with the government and with international institutions, the United Nations, the African Union and the United States.

We have allocated 100 million euros in the resilience program with the government to respond to the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. And, of course, we are ready to study the possibility of contributing more resources.

This year we have already contributed 37 million euros in humanitarian aid, primarily to Cabo Delgado.

We are strengthening cooperation with all countries in the region, combating the impact of human trafficking – which, unfortunately, will increase with this situation – and helping to implement the Maputo peace agreement between the Mozambican government and RENAMO.
But the prospects are not positive, ladies and gentlemen. The situation in Mozambique is deteriorating under the protection and heat of natural disasters and of a country with extremely serious government difficulties.

In reality, it is the entire façade from the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean that is being the scene of an extension of conflicts and the spread of terrorist forces.

We are very concerned about the situation. It does not appear that we have improved in the Somalia area to the south. The recent tensions between Somalia and Kenya are not going to help either, but within Mozambique we must surely take stronger measures.

I have asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal [Augusto Santos Silva], who will assume the presidency shortly, to travel to the region as my personal envoy – since I cannot go due to scheduling reasons – and I have asked him as colleague of the [Foreign Affairs] Council, please pay special attention during your presidency to what is happening in that country, which Portugal knows very well.

Is what I can tell you. I cannot bring you many positive elements, just rest assured that we mobilize all the resources we have to act in Mozambique”.

Saharawi: EU for UN-led talks

Brussels 14.12.2020 “Western Sahara future should be solved in political negotiations. We call for quick resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to find lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the issue”, the spokesperson of the European External Actions Service said, while reacting upon recent events around the status of Western Sakhara.
(Image: illustration).
The EU diplomat placed the issue into broader international context, not limiting it to the 27 bloc to Mediterranean neighborhood, while commenting on the future of Saharawi people, and possible autonomy status within the Kingdom of Morocco.
(Image: illustration, archive)

The EU diplomacy spokesperson also added that the negotiations should be conducted in compliance with the U.N. resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular the last one from October 2020. (Adopting resolution 2548 (2020) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2021).
“In this context we are looking forward to appointment of the new personal envoy of the United Nations in order to pursue this political process, but the future determination of the status of the Western Sahara, the future of its people – from European point of view – should be decided in political process under the auspices of the U.N.

The Sahrawis largely depend on outside help to survive. In the remote region where the refugee camps are located, access to basic resources such as food, water, healthcare, housing, and education is limited. The climate in the desert is extremely harsh. 

A 2019 nutrition survey (World Food Programme, June 2019) found increasing malnutrition among the Sahrawi refugee children, with global acute malnutrition among under the age of 5 at 7.6% compared to 4.7% in 2016. Half of the number children and women also suffer from anaemia.

The largely isolated camps offer almost no employment opportunities, making refugees dependent on remittances and international aid. In such a remote location, logistics also play a key role to ensure regular distributions of relief to the refugee population. 

Social cohesion and peace are extremely fragile in the camps, with young people growing frustrated by the lack of opportunities or change due to the political stalemate. Livelihood activities are therefore crucial to reduce the risk of radicalisation or social unrest. The Sahrawi desert refugee camps are prone to natural hazards such as flash floods and sandstorms. In February 2020, it was confirmed the coronavirus had spread to Algeria, leading to curfew measures across the country and in the camps.

Ethiopia announces Tigray defeat

Brussels 05.12.2020 Ethiopia government announced it had captured or killed most commanders of a Tigray region militia, while Tigray’s local leader countered on Friday, December 5, that civilians in Mekelle, the region’s capital, were protesting against looting by occupying troops. (Image: Tigray region, source: social media).

In the context of the ban to press to enter the area, it is impossible to verify the information, while neither of the warring parties presented any evidence for their assertions about the month-long military operation in the mountainous region bordering Eritrea and Sudan. The local power station was bombed, and there has been electricity shortage since; while the internet shutdown is still in place, preventing Tigray to communicate with the rest of word.

In spite of the ongoing calls of the European Union, the UN and NGOs, the access of journalists, and humanitarian workers to Tigray region has not been granted.
“…The international humanitarian law must be upheld under all circumstances and any violations be accounted for in line with the international standards and instruments”, the European External Actions Service spokesperson said, while responding to unfolding crisis in Tigray region.

“… We are following the situation in Ethiopia with great attention and coordinating very closely with the regional and international actors, our message is clear and focused on the secession of hostilities, and of the ethnic-targeted violence, protection of the civilians, in particular IDPs and refugees” the EU diplomacy spokesperson reiterated, however in vain.

An assault of federal troops upon Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s orders against Tigray militia loyal to the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), started on November 4. Thousands of people are believed to perish while more 50,000 refugees have crossed to neighbouring Sudan.

TPLF leaders, who relay on strong popular support in Tigray, appear to have retreated to surrounding mountains and declared they have begun a guerrilla-style resistance.

Debretsion Gebremichael, who is leading the Tigray militia, reportedly sent a text message about mass protests in Mekelle, where 500,000 inhabitants stood up against the looting by Eritrean soldiers.

“Eritrean soldiers are everywhere,” he said, Reuters reports, repeating an accusation that President Isaias Afwerki has sent soldiers over the border to back Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed against their mutual foe.

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