On 28 October clashes between ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka militias near Bambari resulted in 15 people killed. The following day at least 10 people, including 6 gendarmes and 4 civilians, were also killed in an ambush outside Bambari. These attacks are part of a growing trend of violence that is threatening to destabilize the Central African Republic (CAR) and reignite widespread violence throughout the country. Despite the growing risk to vulnerable civilians, on 31 October France concluded Operation Sangaris, withdrawing 2,000 French troops that had supported the UN Mission in CAR throughout the conflict. The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, is currently on a two-day mission to CAR to meet with the new government, visit camps for internally displaced persons and receive updates on demobilization, disarmament and reintegration programs.
On 28 October the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that as coalition forces advance on Mosul, Iraq, there have been credible reports that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is moving civilians to strategic locations to be used as human shields. Initial reports suggested nearly 8,000 families had been abducted from districts around Mosul, and at least 232 civilians were killed by ISIL on 26 October alone. OHCHR subsequently reported that ISIL had attempted to forcibly transfer another 25,000 civilians, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful. On 1 November Iraqi forces breached Mosul’s city limits – the first time government forces have entered the city in over 2 years. At least 17,748 people have been internally displaced since the start of the offensive on 17 October, and thousands more are expected to flee as the fighting intensifies. It is essential that all parties participating in the battle for Mosul take effective measures to ensure the protection of all civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Following two attacks on schools in Idlib governorate and western Aleppo, Syria, last week that resulted in over 25 children killed, the UN Security Council issued a Press Statement on 28 October condemning the attacks and calling for impartial investigations. Meanwhile the Syrian opposition has launched another offensive to break the siege of eastern Aleppo. Both the UN Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, condemned the use of indiscriminate weapons by armed opposition groups. Some groups have indiscriminately attacked the suburbs of western Aleppo, damaging civilian infrastructure and resulting in the deaths of more than 30 civilians, including at least 10 children, since 29 October.
On 28 October the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea briefed the UN General Assembly and asserted that since 1991 populations have endured crimes against humanity perpetrated by the government. The Special Rapporteur was presenting the final report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, which found that “the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic campaign against the civilian population.” Noting that the government lacks the political will and capacity to prosecute these crimes, the Commission strongly recommended that the UN Security Council refer the situation in Eritrea to the International Criminal Court.