Warzone News December 16, 2015

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Warzone News: Week of December 16, 2015

In Afghanistan, the government, alongside Pakistan and the U.S., agreed to restart peace talks with the Taliban, though the Taliban has yet to be present in such talks.

In Burundi, coordinated attacks in the capital city Bujumbura left 87 dead last Friday. Differing accounts of what happened on what is being referred to as “Bloody Friday” portray the violence as attacks on insurgents, while others claim the government forces killed civilians. According to a new report from Refugees International, refugees fleeing to neighboring Rwanda are being forcibly recruited by Burundian opposition groups and sent to military training camps in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, allegedly with the knowledge of Rwandan security officials.

In the Central African Republic, voters brave violence to cast their vote in a crucial referendum surrounding the question of a new constitution.  Elections are scheduled for the end of this month, but a faction of the Seleka rebel group has rejected these elections and declared an autonomous state, named the Republic of Logone, in the northeastern region.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Joseph Kabila used his state of the nation address to call for support for a national political dialogue to discuss the elections next year and criticized opposition parties for rejecting the talks.  The Congo Research Group at the Center on International Cooperation released a new map of the conflict–view the report here.

In Iraq, 15 suicide car bomb attacks were carried out by the Islamic State against Iraqi security forces on Tuesday. A new podcast from foreign correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom, where he shares about life on the ground in Iraq, can be found here.

In Israel and Palestine, Israeli defense minister said on Tuesday there was not enough evidence to prosecute the Jewish extremists suspected to be behind the deadly arson attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank in July of 2015.

In Libya, rival parliament leaders, both claiming to be the legitimate representatives for the Libyan people, met for the first time.

In Myanmar, the world’s second largest producer of opium, the new government will need to face the illicit drug industry. A landslide near a jade mine this week draws attention to the dangerous conditions in the extractive industry.

In Nigeria, attacks on three villages by Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast of the country have left 30 dead and 20 wounded.

In Somalia, two humanitarian workers, including a UNHCR staff member, were murdered by an unknown attacker.

In South Sudan, UNICEF reports that 15,000 child soldiers have been recruited to fight in the country’s civil war.  The UNCHR reports that chronic hunger is driving more and more people to become refugees.

In Syria, aid agencies warn of the worsening humanitarian crisis as intensified air strikes cripple aid efforts and dramatically increase civilian casualties.  In other news, Syrian government forces have retaken a rebel-held airbase near Damascus.

In Yemen, warring parties head to Switzerland as landmark peace talks begin. The peace talks are accompanied by a ceasefire, which appears to be holding, although there are reports of violations by both sides.

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