On 31 May the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 40,000 – 50,000 civilians remain trapped inside Fallujah, Iraq, which continues to come under heavy bombardment by the Iraqi Security Forces as they carry out a major offensive to retake the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). UNHCR reported dire conditions for besieged civilians, including that ISIL is using hundreds of families as human shields in the city center.
On 27 May members of the Sudan Troika (Norway, United Kingdom and United States) condemned the recent intensification of aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces on civilian areas of South Kordofan, reminding the Sudanese government of its responsibility to protect. The statement also expressed the Troika’s concern for the government’s de-facto expulsion of the Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan.
At least ten people were killed in Nigeria’s Anambra and Delta states during clashes between police and protesters at pro-Biafra rallies on 30 March. The events marked the 49th anniversary of the declaration of an independent Republic of Biafra, which was followed by a devastating 1967-1970 civil war that resulted in the death of more than 1 million civilians. The recent clashes took place against the backdrop of increasing attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region. Meanwhile, in northern Nigeria, violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and the ongoing humanitarian crisis has resulted in more than a million children in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger forced out of school.
On 30 May the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal convicted Hissène Habré, former president of Chad, of torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison. Habré’s conviction marks the first time a court of one country has prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged mass atrocity crimes. Coming in the aftermath of the March convictions of Jean-Pierra Bemba, a former Congolese politician found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the ICC, and Radovan Karadžić, a former Bosnian Serb leader found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity by the ICTY, Habré’s conviction marks this year’s third significant victory for international justice.
Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5203
New York, NY 10016-4309, USA