Web review

L’Osservatorio monitors the web and other information sources daily to provide in-depth news on the impact of contemporary armed conflicts on civilians.

On Sunday 30 June, pro-democracy activists held the largest mass protest in Khartoum, Sudan since the 3 June paramilitary attacks.

30 June 2019

Tens of thousands of Sudanese pro-democracy activists took to the streets this past Sunday, 30 June to protest against the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC). This demonstration was the largest protest since the military took power, despite the internet blackout and blocked bridge. 

The government said 11 people were killed and 181 were injured amid protests held on 30 June. AFP reported that paramilitary forces fired tear gas to clear the protesters near the presidential palace in three other Khartoum districts, Omdurman, and in the eastern town of Gadaref.

The most recent protest was planned after 3 June as a result of excessive force inflicted on protesters by the paramilitary, which resulted in over 100 deaths and rapes of more than 70 civilians. Additionally, Sudanese generals rejected Ethiopia’s proposal for establishing a transitional government in Sudan, argumenting that the proposal needed to be unified with the African Union’s (AU) previous plan. According to Reuters news agency, Ethiopia’s proposal focuses on creating a transitional government under the name of“a Sovereign Council,” comprising of seven civilians and seven military members, leaving  one more seat for an “impartial individual.” Talks between the TMC and the protesters failed after the 3 June attacks and have not resumed despite mediation efforts.

The demonstrations on Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought Sudan’s last president, Omar al-Bashir, to power in 1989. Sudan has been in turmoil since President al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April 2019. The military continues to blame the opposition for the violence and deaths. General Degalo (Hemeti) has warned the people against a “concealed agenda” that might come from the demonstrations.

However, a 23-year old protester, Zeinab, told the AFP, "we are here for the martyrs of the [June 3] sit-in. We want a civilian state that guarantees our freedom. We want to get rid of military dictatorship." 


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Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Monday, 08 July 2019

“Violence must stop”: UNICEF expresses concern about the continuous unrest and brutality inflicted on children in Sudan.

On 3 June, as a result of a military backlash against pro-democracy protesters,   several children were killed or injured.

Over the last months, the condition in Sudan has been gradually becoming unbearable for civilians.  Considering the gravity of the situation, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, has expressed her concern with regard to  the foreseeable consequences of perpetual violence on children living in Sudan.

The tensions in the country began in April when the autocratic ruler, President Omar al-Bashir, has been overthrown by the military. Although  the ruling Transitional Military Council and protesters seemed to have reached some kind of consensus during peaceful talks in May, the situation aggravated on 3 June when security forces and paramilitaries opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the capital city of Khartoum.  As a result, at least 19 children have been killed and another 49 have been injured. This circumstance is a cause for considerable concern, as expressed by Fore. Moreover, schools, hospitals and health centers were destroyed. According to information gathered by UNICEF, children living in Sudan are being detained, sexually abused, or recruited to serve as militants. The situation in Sudan is further deteriorating due to a shortage of food, water and available medicine which is critical for children's health.

Following recent unrests, UNICEF will continue to offer assistance to children in Sudan and committed itself  to provide vaccines, water and treatment for malnutrition and psychosocial support for millions of children, as underlined by its Executive Director. In addition, in her statement, Fore urged all  parties involved in the conflict to establish a peaceful dialogue as well as to protect children and their fundamental rights. In her plea, she also asked the Sudanese authorities to allow humanitarian organizations to carry on their activities in Sudan.


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Author: Giulia Francescon; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Two years after peak conflict between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State (ISIS), millions of civilians are still displaced.  

With 5.8 million people forced from their homes since the arrival of ISIS in Iraq in 2014, more than 1.8 million civilians are still without permanent and stable homes. Some are currently being pressured into returning to unsafe conditions, while others are living in private or informal housing arrangements. Many of the internally displaced persons are hesitant to return home, since 242 neighbourhoods across Iraq are covered with landmines and other explosives. 

Another group of civilians is displaced because their relatives are considered to be sympathetic to ISIS. These de facto guilt by association bans are most widely affecting women and children, who are being disenfranchised of basic human rights by being blocked from reintegrating back into society. Civilians who are impacted by guilt by association bans are prevented from receiving health care, basic services, access free movement and essential civil documentation. This includes children who are denied birth certificates which are required for enrolling in school. Approximately 156,000 individuals are missing some form of civil documentation as a result of  living under ISIS rule. 

There is discussion about creating government residential compounds to house families with suspected ISIS affiliation. The length of stay in such compounds would be indefinite and the government is not keen on supervision of such residential areas by any humanitarian organization.However, 1,072 civilians from the western Iraqi province of Anbar are returning home this week. This was made possible through an initiative by the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration. 

The European Union has announced a €2 million contribution to camps housing an estimated 35,000 civilians. “While many displaced families have been unable to return, we cannot forget about those who remain in camps,” the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said. The commissioner also states that, “Ensuring that those displaced by fighting have access to humanitarian assistance remains a priority for the EU in Iraq.” These funds will be used at Jad’ah camps outside of Qayyara where a fraction of 1.5 million Iraqis continue to live. The contribution has been made possible by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in hopes of improving the living conditions of internally displaced persons. 

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Author: Christina Borst; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

Category: Iraq - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019

4  June 2019

The Norwegian Refugee Council launches the list of the world’s most neglected crises with Cameroon reaching the top.

On 4 June 2019 the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published its annual list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises for 2018, placing Cameroon on the first place.

Severe situation in Cameroon is being constantly aggravated not only by violence, the direct cause of the deepening conflicts occurring in the country, but also the lack of international interest.

NRC is an independent humanitarian organization that helps people forced to flee. Every year, the organization releases a list of the ten most neglected displacement crises, having evaluated them against three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention and political neglect. The latest report puts Cameroon in the spotlight. According to NRC, the armed conflict in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon have forced half a million people to abandon their homes in the Southwest and Northwest regions. In addition,  as a result of the ongoing crisis, hundreds of villages have been burned and hospitals have been attacked.  Despite the visible severity of the crisis as of now no major mediation efforts have been undertaken, no relief programmes have been implemented, and the limited media attention and political interest are insufficient to inflict pressure on parties involved, urging them to put an end to the continuous cycle of violence.

Having in mind the unrest in the country, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, sent Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on a peace mission to the conflict regions, hoping to find a political solution. Meanwhile, Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the NRC, has recently visited Cameroon where he denounced the attitude of the international community condemning it for not taking responsibility for taking action in order to improve Cameroon’s situation. In the current circumstances, the conflict is allowed to continue. By releasing the annual list, NRC is hoping to bring more attention to humanitarian issues and to raise awareness of the international community of the crises occurring in the listed countries in order to enable positive action and to bring humanitarian relief to the victims. 


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Author: Giulia Francescon - Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Cameroon - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019

11 June 2019

Sudanese doctors describe dozens of rapes, killings, and injuries carried out during an attack on the protest camp in the capital city.

On the third of June, Sudanese paramilitaries were reported to have raped more than 70 people while conducting an attack on a pro-democracy protest camp in the capital city of Khartoum. As the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries clashed with protesters, the RSF used excessive force on civilians, causing an estimated number of 100 deaths and 700 injuries. In the aftermath, dozens of bodies have been found in the Nile River.

Although the extent of sexual violence remains unknown due to communication restrictions in Sudan, several rape cases have been reported despite the cut off the internet connection in Khartoum. Namely, a doctor at Royal Care hospital described treating eight victims of rape: five women and three men, whereas another hospital reported receiving two rape cases including a single victim raped by four paramilitaries. Many witnesses on social media reported similar cases, showing videos of paramilitaries charging, shooting, and beating unarmed civilians. 

Paramilitaries invaded a hospital close to the protest site and assaulted at least one civilian, with most assaults having occurred in the streets as the RSF was chasing protesters during the week-long sit-in. Due to the unstable situation in the capital, limited medical assistance and the fear of government reprisals, a multitude of victims remain untreated. 

Shops remain closed and streets are deserted. Even though the military leaders ordered the deferral of religious celebrations marking the festival of Eid, thousands of protesters defied the order and proceeded to put up roadblocks in the streets.

The military, who has been in power since April 2019 after ousting the previous president Omar al-Bashir, has refused to acknowledge the protesters’ demands and blamed the coalition of pro-democracy groups, Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), for the unrest. Lt Gen Jamaleddine Omar, from the Military Council, has accused protesters of committing a crime by blocking the streets as it prevents people from carrying on in their daily routines.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has criticised the use of brutal force towards the protesters and demanded an independent investigation to be conducted. Simultaneously, the African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan in its capacity as a member until a civilian-led transitional authority is created. Meanwhile, the DFCF plans to continue campaigning for a change until a democratic system is established in Sudan.


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Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

Category: Sudan - Web Review
Tuesday, 25 June 2019