“Terrorists and violent extremists including Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates have exploited instability and conflict to increase their activities and intensify attacks across the continent”, Amina Mohammed said on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres.  

“Their senseless, terror-fuelled violence has killed and wounded thousands and many more continue to suffer from the broader impact of terrorism on their lives and livelihoods”.  

Spreading terror 

With misogyny at the core of many terrorist groups’ ideology, women and girls in particular, are bearing the brunt of insecurity and inequality.  

The skyline beyond the northern suburbs of Mogadishu is seen through a bullet hole in the window of a hotel in Somalia.
UN Photo/Stuart Price
The skyline beyond the northern suburbs of Mogadishu is seen through a bullet hole in the window of a hotel in Somalia.

And over the last two years, some of the most violent affiliates of Da’esh have expanded, increasing their presence in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger as well as southward into the Gulf of Guinea.  

“Terrorist and violent extremist groups aggravate instability and human suffering. And they can plunge a country emerging from war back into the depths of conflict”, reminded the senior UN official. 

Threatening States 

Meanwhile, terrorists, non-State armed groups and criminal networks often pursue different agendas and strategies, fuelled by smuggling, human trafficking and other methods of illicit financing – sometimes impersonating legitimate armed forces.  

And as digital tools spread hate and disinformation, terrorists and other criminal groups are exploiting inter-communal tensions and food insecurity triggered by climate change. 

Globalization of terrorism  

In today’s hyper-connected world, Ms. Mohammed remined that the spread of terrorism in Africa is “not a concern for African Member States alone”.

“If we are willing to forge new partnerships…look at new ways of working together…[and] coalesce around human values…we can do much better in delivering justice for the people of Libya and hopefully that will assist in a wider hope for sustainable peace”, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan told the ambassadors via video link.

Recounting his experiences over the last few days, he stressed that “we need to do better” and be more relevant.

Mr. Khan explained that he’d seen victims from all parts of Libya, from Benghazi to Derna, including detention victims from the Jura, Musoke and Chimera.

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Tarhunah landfill

He recalled a two-hour drive out of Tripoli, to a place called Tarhunah where people live in inhumane conditions and spoke of “poor souls who were executed” and farms “that became mass graves”.

Along with deep fears, dead dogs and goats made it an “extremely difficult technical task” to clear away mounds of rubbish to find bodies “that had been thrown in as a result, it seems, of crimes within the court's jurisdiction”.

While applauding the courageous work of Libyan forensic experts, the ICC prosecutor noted that although 250 bodies have been recovered to date, far fewer have been identified.

Being relevant

At a different location, he spoke to other victims and survivors, including one man who lost 24 family members, and another 15.

A mother gave a dignified but compelling account of what she had witnessed in “the type of heartbreak” that only a survivor can tell.

Echoing long-held feelings concerning what the international community is doing and when the ICC will deliver justice, Mr. Khan said, “there is fatigue in Libya”.

The latest advance from the M23 militia formed in 2012 to defend the interests of Congolese Tutsis against Hutu armed groups, saw the rebels reportedly seize two towns, consolidating months of gains since its resurgence last year, after commanders – many of whom had joined the national army – accused the Government of failing to honour a demobilization agreement.

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The M23 and other armed groups must immediately cease hostilities and disarm unconditionally, says @antonioguterres as he expresses concern for renewed fighting in DRC. He calls for the respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. https://t.co/LkTmlK6mmg.

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Possible war crimes

Two UN peacekeepers were injured by mortar fire and two others by small arms during attacks by M23 on Saturday on one of the reportedly captured towns, Kiwanja in North Kivu, carrying out their protection mandate.

MONUSCO recalls that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes and that it will spare no effort to prosecute those responsible before national and/or international courts”, said a statement released by the Mission.

“The Mission strongly condemns the hostile actions of the M23 and their serious consequences on the civilian populations.

"It calls on this rebel group to immediately cease all belligerence and warns that it stands ready to retaliate vigorously in the event of new aggression on its bases.”

Calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’

In the statement released on Sunday by the UN Spokesperson on behalf of UN chief António Guterres, it made clear the UN chief had spoken with the President of Angola, João Lourenço, DRC President, Félix Tshisekedi, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, and the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, as Chairperson of the African Union.

Over the weekend, according to news reports, the DRC ordered the Rwandan ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours, after accusing Kigali once again of supporting the M23 rebels, a claim which has been repeatedly denied by Rwanda.

Operating an excavator, a bulldozer or a wheel loader did not come naturally to Chief Private Ryan Herdhika, an avid motorcyclist and soldier in the Indonesian Army’s 3rd Combat Engineering Battalion. But he has just passed his heavy engineering equipment test and will next month be deployed to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) as part of the Indonesian peacekeeping force there.

“It will be the first time in my life I will go abroad, and I am proud that my first trip is as a UN peacekeeper, not a tourist,” said Chief Private Herdhika, while getting on a motor grader to practice how to level the ground in a training field in Sentul, at the Indonesian military’s vast peacekeeping centre.

With close to 2,700 soldiers on active duty in seven UN peace missions, Indonesia is the eighth largest contributor to global peacekeeping operations.

A Japanese military instructor helps a soldier of the Indonesian Army’s 3rd Combat Engineering Battalion perfect his skills in driving a motor grader – equipment he will need to operate at the MINUSCA peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.
UNIC Indonesia/Rizky Ashar

Solid foundations for a fragile peace process

Under the UN’s Triangular Partnership Programme (TPP) – which brings together countries that provide trainers and resources, and troop contributing countries that deploy to peacekeeping missions – military engineers with extensive experience in operating heavy engineering equipment in peacekeeping missions from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) trained 20 Indonesian soldiers.

The personnel of the Indonesian Armed Forces who completed the training will use their skills to help build and repair UN mission and host country infrastructure including supply routes and camp grounds, and support national recovery efforts following natural disasters in the Central African Republic.

“There are 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray; that number includes 3.8 million people who are in need of health assistance and we need to reach these people,” said Ilham Abdelhai Nour, World Health Organization Team Lead for Ethiopia, Incident Management System and Emergencies Operations.

‘No access to Tigray’

“We have access in Amhara and Afar, so we know more about the situation there and we were able to intervene and support,” Ms. Nour said, referring to the regions bordering Tigray.

“However, we do not have access in Tigray; there is no air or road access in Tigray for the last six weeks.”

Malaria spike

According to WHO, malaria infections have risen by a full 80 per cent in Tigray and by 40 per cent in neighbouring Amhara compared to last year – although cases are decreasing in Afar.

But malaria is just one of the deadly threats facing millions of people affected by the conflict and humanitarian agencies have issued repeated alerts on their behalf, since fighting between federal troops and separatists in Tigray erupted in November 2020.

Providing help in Tigray is difficult, as more than half of the region’s health facilities are closed, leaving people untreated for trauma and injuries, food insecurity and malnutrition, sexual and gender-based violence, communicable diseases such as malaria and cholera, as well as reduced access to treatment for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.

Earlier this month, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, reported that civilians waiting to receive much-needed humanitarian assistance came under fire.

It also warned that newly displaced people in Tigray’s Zelazele were “in a dire situation with the vast majority sleeping in open areas directly exposed to cold weather and other protection risks”.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – himself an ethnic Tigrayan - has echoed widespread concerns about the crisis several times, including last week, when he warned that there was only a “very narrow window” to prevent genocide there.

The alert comes amid the worst floods in a decade, which have swept across Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon.

UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarrado said that hundreds of people had died in Nigeria, where floodwaters in the northeast swept through sites for internally displaced people and host communities in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States.

Crisis, is now

Ms. Sarrado added that temperatures in the Sahel are also rising 1.5 times faster than the global average:

“The climate crisis is happening now – destroying livelihoods, disrupting food security, aggravating conflicts over scarce resources and driving displacement.”

More than 1.3 million people have been displaced so far in Nigeria and 2.8 million have been impacted by flooding, with farmlands and roads submerged.

In Central Sahel countries – Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso – above-average rains and flooding have killed hundreds, displaced thousands, and decimated over one million hectares of cropland.

“Countries and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis need urgent support and financing to build defences, to adapt, and to minimize the most harmful consequences.”

‘Dangerously’ underfunded

To help those most in need in West and Central Africa, UNHCR appealed to all donors for urgent support, as its humanitarian operations are “dangerously and chronically underfunded”.

“In Chad, only 43 per cent of the funds UNHCR needs in 2022 have been received. Our 2022 operations in Burkina Faso are just 42 per cent funded. With less than two months left, we have received 39 per cent of the funds needed in Nigeria and 53 percent in Niger,” Ms. Sarrado said.

Worst in 40 years

Beyond the Sahel, she reminded that we are witnessing the worst drought in 40 years and the threat of famine in the Horn of Africa, a devastating cyclone season in Mozambique, and historic floods for a fourth consecutive year in South Sudan and Sudan.

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