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On its own, Chad is one of the poorest and most desperate countries in the world. Now, to make matters worse, Chad finds itself sandwiched between conflicts in Sudan and Central African Republic. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from those countries have flooded into Chad in recent years. The U.N. is struggling to keep up. Just this week, the High Commissioner for Refugees began moving 10,000 CAR refugees to a new camp, trying to outpace Chad’s paralyzing rainy season. It’s a “situation that regrettably gets very little play in the media,” according to U.N. rep Bryn Boyce. AllAfrica.com has more: […]

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Last year I argued that Darfur’s Arabs needed to be represented at the peace talks, even if this meant giving a seat to the militia leaders who make up the Janjaweed. This dynamic has been completely overlooked in the crisis, but if there is to be peace in Darfur the Arab tribes there will need to buy into it. Activists tend to argue that this unduly complicates things and makes peace less attainable, but I strongly disagree. If a peace deal was signed between the central government and the rebels (which is even less likely now), there is little reason […]

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Last week the U.N. Security Council approved a peacekeeping operation for Somalia. It’s the first step to actually deploying troops to the region. There are huge hurdles, of course. The last time the U.N. tried to intervene in the mostly ungoverned country, 18 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Somalis died in the Battle of Mogadishu. It’ll be an uphill fight getting donor nations to pony up forces after that. But the African Union force in Mogadishu has proved that peacekeeping can work in Somalia. The A.U. has shown that it’s vital for peacekeepers to be perceived as neutral parties in […]

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The anti-immigrant violence in South Africa highlights some of the problems for intra-African trade that I mentioned last week at On Political Risk. Mob violence has killed at least 20 in and around Johannesburg as violence against immigrants continues to spread. Tensions have been high for years in South Africa’s poorer neighborhoods, where those with next to nothing fear that immigrants with nothing are getting jobs that should go to South Africans. The official unemployment rate is 23 percent, inflation is rising, access to medical care is low, and housing conditions are abysmal. But compared to neighboring Zimbabwe this looks […]

KENYA RIGHTS BODY URGES TRIAL OF OFFICIALS — Kenya’s minister of defense and other high-ranking officials should face trial on charges that thousands of civilians have been abused during a government crackdown that began in March in the Mt. Elgon region, the country’s state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said in a May 15 report. The commission’s report cited numerous cases of abuses perpetrated by Kenyan security forces, including sexual violence, severe food and sleep deprivation and beatings of around 4,000 victims that have no apparent connection to a militia group the government has been battling for the last […]

KAMPALA, Uganda — Denmark’s Ambassador to Uganda was away when his wife looked out the window and saw a young man fall from the sky and land on her garden. She made a frantic call to her husband, Stig Barlyng, who immediately sped home to his residence in a posh suburb in Kampala. But by the time Barlyng arrived home, the guards from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters next door had already overpowered Barlyng’s guard and recaptured their escapee. “I went next door and I started yelling a bit, to put it mildly,” recalls Barlyng, who is months […]

CAIRO, Egypt — On Sunday, May 4, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak celebrated his 80th birthday. On the front pages of government-owned newspapers, oversized pictures of the president were displayed with an extensive list of his accomplishments since acquiring power from the late Answar Sadat in 1981. Nevertheless, on that same bright, humid morning, the presence of five olive-green riot patrol vehicles parked just a few feet from one of Cairo’s busiest squares, Talat Al Harb, attested that all is not well in Mubarak’s domain. Inside the police vehicle, officers with black uniforms and matching hats sat yawning and smoking cigarettes […]

OLYMPIC PARDONS PROPOSED FOR CHINA DISSIDENTS — U.S.- and Hong Kong-based human rights group Dui Hua May 8 made public a previous appeal to Chinese officials to pardon political prisoners ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games. The appeal, which was delivered to the head of China’s parliament through government channels in April, said such a move would reinforce Olympic ideals and promote peace and humanitarianism. “This is a concrete step that China can take. We’ve hopefully tried to raise it as a suggestion, not a criticism,” Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Dui Hua’s research and programs told the Los Angeles Times. […]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a curious export phenomenon occurred in the countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. In spite of the fact that none of these countries had major domestic mining operations, their exports of copper, gold, diamonds and coltan jumped drastically. Not coincidentally, these were the exact same minerals found in abundance in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the jump in mineral exports coincided perfectly with the invasion of DRC by these three countries. While each country justified its invasion based on security concerns, the United Nations found that the battlefields were […]

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Northern Ugandans are hoping the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army will soon sign a peace agreement with President Yoweri Museveni’s government. Their hope is understandable. The LRA’s 21-year insurgency and the Ugandan government’s response have largely destroyed the region north of the Nile and south of Sudan. But resolving the conflict largely hinges on the enigmatic chairman of the LRA, Joseph Kony. He is the primary reason why the rebels have long been regarded as the most perplexing in sub-Saharan Africa. Supposedly possessed of supernatural powers at a young age, the Holy Spirit told a 20-something Kony to fight President Yoweri […]

MOZAMBIQUE POLICE BLASTED — Police forces in Mozambique torture, murder and systematically commit human rights abuses with almost total impunity, according an April 29 report from Amnesty International. “Police in Mozambique seem to think they have a license to kill and the weak police accountability system allows for this. In almost all cases of human rights violations by police — including unlawful killings — no investigation into the case and no disciplinary action against those responsible has been undertaken, nor has any police officer been prosecuted.” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of AI’s Africa Program, upon the report’s release. Mozambique’s […]

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council voted to renew the peacekeeping mission to Western Sahara late last night, barely making the deadline to extend the mission to the disputed North African territory after sharp disagreements over the final text. A rift in the council hardened after the U.N. mediator in talks between the Moroccan government and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi rebel group, said last week that independence for the territory was no longer realistically possible. The vote to renew the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (commonly referred to by the French acronym MINURSO) was […]