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Africa drowning in armed conflicts

Conflict over diamonds, power, ravages continent


Some 15 million displaced individuals and six million refugees, accounting for 37% of the world’s refugees are in Africa, according to the Executive Director of the Economic Commission for Africa of the United Nations (UN), Vera Songwe.

The refugee issue, adopted by the African Union (AU) under the chairmanship of Egypt, is the other face of armed conflicts afflicting the majority of African states. The African Summit, hence, adopted the roadmap prepared by the AU Peace and Security Council , presented by President Sisi, entitled ‘silencing the guns,’ and set binding mechanisms for all parties to end wars and conflicts on the African continent by 2020.

Of the 41 armed conflicts in the world, 23 are in Africa, which may increase.

More than 50% of the world’s armed conflicts are in one continent, Africa, and analysts agree that diamonds and other precious metals as well as power struggles are the biggest causes.

In the following article, we review the most prominent conflicts and groups that have caused the fall of thousands and millions of victims, wounded others, killed others, and displaced many more.

Boko Haram in Nigeria

Founded in 2002 under the name of the Sunni group for preaching and combat as a group of reformist clerics and local leaders, they are known more broadly as a rebel group and atrocities started from 2009.

The group is mainly active in northeast Nigeria, but it has engaged in violence in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and has begun to draw global attention after several brutal killings, most notably the kidnapping of 230 schoolgirls in April 2014.

Boko Haram was recognised as a terrorist group by the United Nations after that incident. All affected countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin, formed an Africa force to coordinate against and face the militias in order to fight them, in addition to using French intervention. France sent a limited military force to fight the Islamists in general, in an area called Barkhane in the capital of Chad, N’Djamena. The terrorist acts of Boko Haram have left over 21,000 people killed, including 11,000 in 2015 alone.

The group continues to kill, bomb, and kidnap to date.

The civil war in Somalia

Since 1991, the opposition of various factions to the rule of President Siad Bari succeeded in ending his rule. The factions started a conflict then in the southern Somalia known as the Italian Somalia, and divided Somalia into five regions under five different factions’ rule. Areas of division differ according to new alliances and the progress of military operations between the various factions.

In 2011, AU peacekeepers excluded the Youth Movement from Mogadishu, after they seized control of it. There are about 20,000 soldiers and policemen from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and other African countries.

The Youth Movement sought revenge from the peacekeepers and turned toward guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics after losing its authority and influence on the ground.

Somalia formed the first central government in August 2013 since 1991 and dramatically calmed the conduct of combat operations. The Somali civil war left more than half a million people dead, according to estimates by the US military. The Youth Movement is estimated to have 5,000-1,000 fighters, mostly from southern rural areas, and control over 20% of Somalia. To date, they still carry out attacks in different areas under weak government control.

Civil war in Libya

The violence began in Libya with the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on 17 February 2011, influenced by the wave of Arab spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and former president Muammar Gaddafi’s use of violence against the rebels, ending with his death through the help of NATO forces. He left behind an arsenal of weapons deployed between different tribes and cities, which led to a violent civil strife since mid-2014. Libya witnessed a severe crisis of legitimacy between the two parliaments and two governments, each with an army and foreign support. After negotiations, the conflict turned into a parliament supported by militant groups and an army. Moreover, extremists such as ISIL and Ansar Sharia in Derna and Sirte continue to fight for land and oil and threaten neighbouring countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia. The conflict, so far, has left 14,000 people killed, including 1,500 in 2015 alone.

In 2018, over 3,000 people fell victim, including those injured and killed.

Civil war in South Sudan

The conflict began in 2013 between the army led by the President Salva Kiir and opposition militias under the leadership of former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who was ousted by Kiir and was accused of dictatorship and corruption in addition to strengthening the grip of his tribe on the reins of government and the marginalisation of other ethnicities and tribes in the fledgling state that broke up in 2011 from the Sudan. President Kiir accused Machar of organising a coup, which spurred the conflict.

The ceasefire was announced in August 2015, in the wake of the peace agreement signed by the rebels and the government of South Sudan, mediated by Ethiopia, but the skirmishes continued, leaving 10,000 people officially killed and 50,000 more who were unaccounted for. This includes 4,000 in 2015 alone.

After the 2015 agreement, clashes again broke out between the rebel National Salvation Front and the southern Sudanese government army.

Conflict in Darfur

Rebels have been fighting the Sudanese army in southern Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces since 2011 when South Sudan declared independence.

The conflict in Darfur began in the west in 2013 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms against the Arab-led government in Khartoum.

Two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army, led by Minni Minawi, signed an AU roadmap for a ceasefire but talks on its implementation stalled last month. A third rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement did not sign.

The conflict in Darfur has left over 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million people since 2003, according to the UN, and the International Criminal Court is demanding that President Omar al-Bashir be tried for war crimes in Darfur.

Conflict in Central Africa

It began in 2012 between opposition forces and President François Bozizé who took the helm in 2003 with the support of the opposition to work on reforming the system in Central Africa and create a balance in the circulation of power and the right of political practice by Muslims.

However, Bozizé breached the agreements, so the opposition ousted him in 2012.

Christian militias, Ante Blaka, were formed and continued killing, raping, and looting property belonging to Muslims, and justified this by the coup d’état against the president, as well as their hatred of the Muslim minority’s control of most of the economic resources, especially the 80% of diamonds controlled by the Muslim minority.

France intervened to increase its forces, but it focused its presence on cities containing the diamonds with its bias toward Christian militias and not disarming as they did with the Silica.

In May 2017, the conflict returned and caused new waves of bloodshed and displacement. About 6 million people have been forced to flee the country since 2013. A large number of new waves of displacement occurred in areas such as Zemio, which was not influenced before, while 500,000 people sought asylum in other countries.

A year ago, negotiations between the warring parties were conducted by the state of the Sudan, with the direct support of Russia, to bring peace to Central Africa.

Conflict over northern Mali

In January 2012, the National Liberation Movement of Azouad (northern Mali, which wanted to make Azawad an independent homeland for the Tuareg tribe) gained control in April 2012 but was unable to take international or regional recognition of a separate state. The rebels began to retreat under international pressure.

The government then tried to sign an agreement with the Tuareg rebels but failed because of the government’s intransigence in making any concessions to the rebels to be considered as foes of an autonomous region or even governing federal rule.

Since the start of the conflict, about 2,000 people were killed, including 400 in 2015 alone, until an agreement was signed in Algeria between the conflicting parties, to bring peace and the integration of rebels into the national army. But even so, mutual attacks between the army and associated groups erupt against the rebel group.

LRA rebellion

It is the most brutal group in the world where, since Joseph Kony assumed its presidency in 1987, it killed more than 100,000 people and caused the displacement of at least one million people. This is only the total number of people killed in the war with the Ugandan army in 2006. The group also conducts looting and gang rape as well as servitude.

That group has also limited operations in eastern Congo, Central Africa, and South Sudan. The movement consists of 11-15-year-olds, who account for 80% of the soldiers. The movement has been undermined in 2009 by the Ugandan army.

The LRA has recruited 40,000 children, according to UNICEF, which called on the International Criminal Court to order the arrest its leaders as war criminals. The UN reported that the LRA killed over 100,000 people, kidnapped 50,000 children, and displaced 2.5 million people.

The movement continued to move between northern Uganda and southern Sudan and Central Africa, supported by guerrilla tactics to drain the Ugandan army. Kony has been marked as one of the worst international figures after American director Jason Roselle issued his famous video KONY 2012 on the seriousness of LRA crimes. US forces entered Central Africa in 2016 to besiege the LRA, in coordination with Ugandan troops, but quickly left in 2017, and announced the weakening of the armed group.

Conflict in Ethiopia

It is led by the OLF to demand the right of self-determination for the Oromo, as they represent the tribe’s most numerous populations in Ethiopia and live in southern and central Ethiopia. The conflict was born when the organisation was formed in 1973, where, with the Ethiopian government’s repression of demonstrations and protests movement, which moved to Eritrea, after the expulsion of the Ethiopian government to the organisers of the movement.

The protests rose again by the Oromo against the Ethiopian government after the forcible displacement of the population from the areas where the renaissance dam is located and around the government’s claim that it is an investment-oriented land, making the organisers of the front declare their intention to attack Addis Ababa unless the government resorted to settle its situation with the Oromo.

The conflict between the OLF and the government left 1,300 people killed including 87 in 2015.

In January, the OLF signed a reconciliation agreement with the Ethiopian government, and hereby pledged to a ceasefire since 24 January. A committee of 71 people was formed to facilitate the disarmament, demobilisation. and reintegration of armed men of the OLF.

Union of Resistance Forces in Chad

They are a group of mostly Zaghawa gunmen seeking to topple President Idriss Déby’s regime that ruled since 1990, led by Timan Ardimi, the former director of President Deby’s office, before splitting up in 2006 and leading a surprise attack on the capital N’Djamena in 2008. French troops intervened indirectly in thwarting the attempt to control the capital. The conflict continues.

More recently, the French air force intervened, but directly and based upon a formal request on 8 February to repel a military strike against the capital.

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