Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 57, 25 March 2020

International report on COVID-19 and Conflict: Fragile States ill-prepared, More conflicts likely
Sourina Bej

In the news

On 24 March, the International Crisis Group (ICG) report, “COVID-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch” assessed the potential of the global outbreak of COVID-19 on fragile states, conflict-torn countries and conflict resolution mechanisms. Identifying seven trends, the report took stock of those caught in the midst of conflict and the consequences of the disease on humanitarian aid flows, peace operations, and diplomacy among the conflict parties. 

The major fallouts of the outbreak that the report concluded are: First, the vulnerability of the conflict-affected population will be compounded by mismanagement, corruption, or foreign sanctions making the countries ill-prepared to tackle COVID-19. Second, the conflict resolution mechanisms will be severely affected to the extent that travel restrictions for international mediation efforts have already been impaired as UN envoys in the Middle East are blocked from travelling, and regional organizations have suspended diplomatic initiatives. Last, the risk to the social order will be seen through a decrease in global unrests (that marked 2019), the regime controls over movements of people and riots, or xenophobic sentiments owing to  ‘human to human transmission’ of the disease. 

Issues at large 

2019 witnessed the emergence and worsening of conflicts across the globe that continued in 2020. Since 2019, Libya has been divided between the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli and a rival government in the east by Khalifa Haftar. The situation in Gaza has been no different as Israel’s pushback on the Palestinian settlement question has an adverse result. Yemen witnessed the worst humanitarian crisis in 2018, and only through an aggressive international intervention, the situation was contained from deteriorating further. Yemen has become a critical fault line in the Middle East rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A December 2018 Stockholm Agreement fostered a fragile ceasefire and also prevented a famine, but since then, the conflict has broken out within the anti-Houthi front against the Hadi government. The turmoil in the Sahel, the influx of Rohingya refugees from Rakhine province in Myanmar to Bangladesh, the conflict in Idlib, and the subsequent flow of Syrian refugees in Turkey were the highlights of worsening conflicts and outmigration of the affected. 

An event that dominated the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 was the Afghan Peace deal between the US and the Taliban and the absent intra-afghan dialogue in Afghanistan. The above conflicts also have one common factor: staggering cases of COVID-19 in these countries. 

The lessons learnt through the Ebola outbreak in Africa highlight the primary intersection between political conflict and failing health capacities in containing an epidemic. Reviewing the 2014 Ebola outbreak in conflict-torn countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone reveals that Ebola spread was mainly due to the scepticism of the people about their governments long with attacks on hospitals and medics by armed combatants. Similarly, in Afghanistan, currently, the troop rotations have been paused in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading. The global rise in pandemic cases has shifted the focus of international organizations and the member countries from their commitment to the peace processes in Yemen, Libya and Syria to one’s domestic problems of COVID-19. In the absence of global commitments in conflict management, the crisis from the Middle East to Central Ameria will further worsen after the global pandemic ends.

In perspective

Along with possible deterioration of conflicts across the globe, the report throws caution that the human to human transmission will be difficult to contain once it impacts the refugees in the camps of Bangladesh and Turkey. The report mentions the scope for political exploitation by world leaders. But in an era of eroding strongholds of authoritarian leaders, how does the outbreak aid the power regimes? The case in point: The Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed the voting on the constitutional changes, thereby letting him remain in power till the crisis averted. The announcement comes in spite of Russia reporting the lowest number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Similarly, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has indefinitely extended a state of emergency and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (still remains to form a government) suspended all court proceedings thereby stalling the corruption charges that have tainted his image as a leader.  

Second, the use of total lockdown, army as the warriors in implementing social distancing and prison terms for those in the social gathering have disbanded the global protest movements like in Hongkong, Shaheen Bagh in India, and ‘Future for Friday’ protests. However, the use of state machinery to control has also led to the rise of a new curve of protests. For example, in Colombia, food trucks headed for Venezuela were looted as a sign of protest against the decision taken by both Bogotá and Caracas to close the Colombian-Venezuelan border for health reasons. Quarantined Brazilians have continued protests by banging pots and pans from their balconies against President Bolsanaro for calling the COVID-19 epidemic a media trick. 

January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 477
Syria: The ISIS attack on a prison
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 476
Yemen: The warzone expands in the Houthi-UAE face-off
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 475
Burkina Faso: Another coup in Africa
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 474
France: New round of protests over COVID-19 passes

January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 472
Ukraine: Threat of Russian invasion
January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 470
Iran: Two years after Qasem Soleimani

January 2022 | Conflict Alert # 468
Kazakhstan: Bloody unrest and a brutal crackdown
December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 466
COVID-19: Omicron rapidly spreads across countries

December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 464
Ukraine: The West warns Russia over Ukrainian aggression
December 2021 | Conflict Alert # 463
China: 12 million missing children
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 459
Europe: Restrictions lead to Widespread Protests
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 457
Cuba: Between bouts of demonstrations
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 454
Pakistan: A month-long ceasefire with the TTP
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 447
The US: Protests against the Texas anti-abortion law
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 444
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 441
Yemen: Houthis continue to capture territories

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 439
Europe: Pride Marches in Serbia and Ukraine
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 437
Brazil: Protestors call for the impeachment of Bolsonaro

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 435
Guinea: Another coup in Africa
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 431
Climate Change: Hurricane Ida destructs the US Gulf Coast
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 422
Europe: Measures to curb pandemic trigger protests
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 418
Peru: Protests a sign of challenges facing Castillo
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre

July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests

June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins

June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists
November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees

May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings

December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar