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News Roundup – 20 August 2014

August 20, 2014

10 things that happened at the ICC so far this year. 

Family of Hamas military chief buried in Gaza. 

UN paper documents dire situation of former Aleppo prison inmates (click here for full OHCHR report).

Syria: International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement calls for respect for humanitarians. 

James Foley beheading: West condemns ‘barbaric’ murder. 

Britain investigating whether journalist’s executioner is a British citizen. 

A summer of shifting alliances: statement by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula announcing support for the IS. 

For middle class Kabul district insurgency comes home. 

Boko Haram forces victims to fight, kill. 

Suu Kyi meets leaders of armed ethnic groups. 

Clash over Kurdish rebel statue in Turkey kills one. 

New York Times interactive: Ukraine crisis in maps.

News Roundup – 19 August 2014

August 19, 2014

New Small Arms Survey report on the acquisition and use of MANPADs by armed groups in Syria: Fire and Forget: the Proliferation of Man-portable Air Defence Systems in Syria.

Obama: realistic or rudderless on Syria?

Rockets from Gaza and Israeli response break ceasefire.  

Taliban launches major Afghan offensive. 

Kurds push to take Mosul dam as U.S. gains controversial guerilla ally. 

Boko Haram crisis: Nigerian soldiers mutiny over weapons. 

Suspected Boko Haram insurgent arrested with explosives at NAMA office. 

South Sudan rebel delegation arrives in Kampala. 

More than 100 children released from armed groups in CAR over past week. 

Ukraine convoy attack: bodies recovered in Luhansk. 

Uncovering Colombia’s systems of macro-criminality. 


World Humanitarian Day 2014

August 19, 2014

Today is World Humanitarian Day, a day to commemorate all people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world.

On this day, the figures in the report Aid Worker Security Report 2014 by Humanitarian Outcomes make sobering reading. Briefly, here is the summary of its key findings:-

  • The year 2013 set a new record for violence against civilian aid operations, with 251 separate attacks affecting 460 aid workers.
  • Of the 460 victims, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded, and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 per cent increase in the number of victims from 2012.
  • The spike in attacks in 2013 was driven mainly by escalating conflicts and deterioration of governance in Syria and South Sudan. These two countries along with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan together accounted for three quarters of all attacks.
  • The majority of aid worker victims were staffers of national NGOs and Red Cross/Crescent societies, often working to implement international aid in their own countries.
  • Year after year, more aid workers are attacked while traveling on the road than in any other setting. In 2013, over half of all violent incidents occurred in the context of
    an ambush or roadside attack.
  • The advances in humanitarian security management have failed to effectively address this most prevalent form of targeting. While some good practice exists in protective and deterrent approaches to road security, more collective thinking and action is required, particularly in developing ‘kinetic acceptance’ strategies for negotiating safe access in transit.

The organisation Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection has posted thought-provoking video in which their members reflect on their work, their changing environment and the challenges that they face in their daily life.

Call for papers on Women, Peace and Security

August 19, 2014

Women Peace and Security Conference 2013On behalf of the United States Naval War College, the Chair of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Conference Series is sponsoring a Call for Papers in preparation for the third annual conference to be held in Newport on April 16 – 17, 2015. The conference theme is “Constructive Pathways: Stimulating and Safeguarding Components of Women, Peace, and Security”.

Academics, researchers, military personnel, non-governmental organizations and individuals are invited to submit papers on the following broad themes:

  • Department of Defense Operational Aspects of Women, Peace, and Security
  • How Different Types of Conflict Impact Minority Populations
  • Modern Conflict Zones – Regional Viewpoints
  • Efforts in Soft and Hard Power
  • Media, Arts, Information and Communication Networks
  • Law, Politics and Governance
  • Quantative Studies

Proposals should be no more than 200 words and submitted before 1st November 2014. For detailed information on these themes and instructions on submission guidelines please see here.

News Roundup – 18 August 2014

August 18, 2014

Hague court under Western pressure not to open Gaza war crimes inquiry. 

I watched the Rwandan genocide unfold, we’re making the same mistakes in Iraq. 

UK Iraq mission no longer strictly humanitarian. 

Iraq crisis: military claims control of Mosul dam. 

2 UN peacekeepers killed in Northern Mali; 7 wounded. 

Chad military rescues 85 Nigerians from Boko Haram. 

34 killed in CAR attacks. 

Seleka declares independent State in the North of CAR. 

Ukraine: rebels fire on civilian convoy. 

No ceasefire agreed but Kiev’s objections to aid convoy dropped. 

News Roundup – 13-14 August 2014

August 14, 2014

Human Rights Watch: No Justice Decade After Massacre in Burundi

South Sudan leaders show little appetite for peace deal, according to UN

Leading military commander of pro-Russian rebels quits

Aid convoy to Ukraine: Russian aid or Trojan Horse?

Donetsk rocked by heavy shelling

Lebanon charges 43 Syrians with belonging to terrorist groups

Hundreds of civilians disabled in Gaza conflict

Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas agree to extend ceasefire by five days

White House Now Scrutinizing Israeli Requests for Ammunition

Deep underground, Mohammed Deif shapes Hamas war with Israel

Syrian troops seize contested Damascus suburb

UN: ‘Barbaric’ sexual violence perpetrated by Islamic State militants in Iraq

Rescue mission for Yazidis on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar appears unnecessary, Pentagon says, but Yazidis still reported trapped on mountain in northern Iraq despite U.S. assessment

Obama to end humanitarian airdrops in Iraq but air strikes will continue 

Documentary by journalist ‘embedded’ with IS/ISIS

August 14, 2014

You will probably have heard about the VICE journalist/reporter, who spent three weeks with the Islamic State (of Iraq and Syria). He was allowed to film ISIS both at the frontline and during its activities in its newly established ‘State’.

The documentary gives an insight in the organisation and the way it operates. It clearly portrays the recruitment of children, the weapons used and obtained, such as scud rockets. It further shows the sometimes primitive way of fighting (the usual standing up and without first aiming firing shots with a Kalashnikov in a certain direction), but also ISIS’s ability to operate without problem (and quite skillfully) American tanks.

It is interesting to see that the members appearing before the camera seem to have a clear understanding of IHL, when it comes to child soldiers. Whilst in practice ISIS reportedly uses child soldiers (see, e.g., here), the one interviewed says “Those under 15 go to Sharia camp to learn about their creed and religion. Those over 16, they can attend the military camp” In response to the question whether they participate in military operations, he answers “Yes, those who are over 16 and were previously enrolled in the camps can participate in military operations”. Of course, such a statement means nothing if in practice it is not lived up to (compare, for example, the well-known VRS main staff order that the prisoners of Srebrenica were to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions which was followed by the killing of virtually all these prisoners, see e.g. here at para. 929), but it indicates that the members of ISIS are well aware of, at least part of, the rules of IHL. The blatant violations of those rules, at least based on the news reports about for example the plight of the Yazidis, is therefore all the more disturbing.

All the parts have now been made available online. The full documentary is available here. The separate parts via these links:

Part 1 (showing footage of a battle for Raqqa (Syria) between ISIS and the Syrian government army)

Part 2 (about recruitment and indoctrination of young members (well below 15 years old), It also clearly shows the weaponry and vehicles that ISIS has captured)

Part 3 (about the “Hisbah” (the Sharia police, and the treatment of detainees)

Part 4 (about ISIS’s sharia courts)

Part 5 (showing, amongst other things, the bulldozing of the physical border between Syria and Iraq by ISIS)



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