Warzone News January 20, 2016

Copy of warzone news-1Warzone News: Week of January 20, 2016

In Afghanistan, a horrific attack on a young woman has sparked public outrage and prompted community leaders, municipal forces and the Taliban to hunt down her attacker.  Reza Gul’s husband cut off her nose and has subsequently fled the village.  Gul lost a “great deal of blood” and may be transported to Turkey for further treatment.

In Burundi, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, is calling for an investigation into reports of mass graves and sexual violence committed by soldiers. A Security Council delegation, led by France, the U.S., and Angola, is heading to Burundi later this week for talks aimed at three goals: “to try to break the cycle of violence and prevent ethnic attacks from erupting and to promote peace talks and respect for human rights.”

In Central African Republic, the violence in the country over the last several years has separated many families and the insecurity and poor road networks are major obstacles to finding family members, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, child labor and many other human rights abuses are all too common practices in the cobalt mining industry, according to a recent report by Amnesty International. Cobalt is used in electronics and major companies like Apple, Sony, and Samsung are accused of failing to complete basic checks to ensure that the cobalt they use is not mined by child laborers.

In Iraq, violence endured by civilians “remains staggering” according to the latest United Nations report on the conflict.  It was found that at least 18,800 people were killed between January 1st, 2014 and October 15th, 2015. 3.2 million people have been displaced and it is estimated that ISIS is holding around 3,500, mostly women and children, as slaves.

In Israel and Palestine, Human Rights Watch is urging companies to pull out of Israeli settlements in a report released today.  The Israeli military is temporarily banning Palestinian workers from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, following two stabbings in two days.

In Libya, the Presidential Council has announced 32 new appointments to the unity government, even though two of its nine members have rejected the U.N.-backed transition plan.

In Myanmar, the “remarkably peaceful transition” continues as the military appointed lawmakers to represent the military seats in parliament.  Although the military is ceding a significant amount of control to the winners of the democratic election, the ministries of defense, border affairs and home affairs will remain under the control of the commander of the military. Hundreds of people gathered for a memorial service for two young women who were raped and murdered a year ago, allegedly by government soldiers.

In Niger’s Diffa region, an estimated 100,000 people have been driven from their homes by Boko Haram violence in recent weeks, according to the UNHCR.

In Somalia, al Shabaab reports that they have kidnapped an undisclosed number of Kenyan troops after clashes near the border of Somalia and Kenya last week in which around 100 Kenyan soldiers were reportedly killed.  Last week, Somalia received a pledge of $50 million from Saudi Arabia, on the same day Somalia officially cut ties with Iran.

In South Sudan, the United Nations is seeking $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid which, according to the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, is the “bare minimum” needed to support the 5.1 million people facing life-threatening conditions.

In Syria, “scores” of government forces have been killed in three days of fighting with Islamic State in the east of the country and Islamic State kidnapped at least 400 civilians during its assault last Saturday, according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.  The United Nations reported that an estimated 200,000 people are facing sharply deteriorating conditions in the besieged western side of Deir-Ez-Zor city, and that an inter-agency emergency airlift of life-saving aid has been approved but clashes near the airport has prevented the operation from going forward.

In Yemen, at least 35 people have been killed in drone strikes since Sunday, according to the Defense Ministry. Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah said that eliminating the extremism of the jihadist groups will not be resolved through dialogue and that confrontation is inevitable, but he also said that the government hopes to return to the capital city of Sana’a “peacefully… through political consultations.”

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