Human Rights Flashpoints – October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

What’s Up This Week:

  1. Afghanistan: Elections Run-Off
  2. Angola: Humanitarian Crisis
  3. Upcoming This Week

Afghanistan Elections – Take Two
On Sunday, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) announced the results from its fraud investigations regarding the August 20th Afghanistan presidential elections.  The commission’s conclusions invalidated nearly one million votes cast as fraudulent, with 210 out of the 350 polling stations marred by fraud.  As a consequence, incumbent President Hamid Karzai’s margin of victory has diminished to below the 50% vote threshold necessary for an outright win forcing him to concede to a run-off election against opponent Abdullah Abdullah on November 7th. 

Prior to the announcement of the November 7th run-off, there were concerns that violence between Abdullah’s Tajik supporters and Karzai’s Pashtun supporters would erupt. Although Abdullah had previously stated that he would urge calm among his supporters, the apprehension that a Karzai victory would result in violence in the northern part of the country remained.  Fueling the potential for ethnic clashes, a Balkh province governor previously accused Karzai’s government of distributing weapons to northern Pashtuns in the event of post-recount conflict.  

Worries that a run-off election could be as flawed as the first presidential election linger.   More importantly, politicians have already expressed concern that the run-off election has the potential to incite violence between Pashtuns and Tajiks, potentially causing more instability and violence in the region.  There is also fear that the Taliban in Afghanistan could be strengthened by looming uncertainty with regard to the presidential elections. 


I hope that the international community and the Afghan government and all others concerned will take every possible measure to provide security to the people so that when they vote, that vote is not called a fraud – Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

The United Nations will do its utmost for the conduct of the second round of elections scheduled for 7 November 2009 in a free, fair, transparent and secure environment  – Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

Must Reads

Angola: Humanitarian Crisis Looms

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned of a humanitarian crisis in Angola today, after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has expelled tens of thousands of people to Angola. The forced returns came in retaliation to the waves of expulsions of large numbers of Congolese from Angola since December 2008.   Tit-for-tat expulsions escalated over the last months. Since August 2009, 32,000 Angolans were being repatriated to Angola, and about 18,800 Congolese nationals were kicked out from Angola.

Following a needs assessment by UN agencies last weekend in Angola, UNHCR was ringing the alarm bells today:

According to the initial assessment, there are close to 30,000 people living in and around three overcrowded reception centres in Cuimba (11,000 people) and Mama Rosa (some 18,000 people) respectively at 30 and 8 kilometres from the DRC border. Their most pressing needs are shelter, food, medicine and sanitation facilities. The supply of clean water is insufficient. Some of the expelled drink from the nearby contaminated rivers. Among the interviewed over the weekend in one of the makeshift camps at Lendi near Cuimba which hosts around 5,800 Angolans, many families reported cases of diarrhea and vomiting. In the same camp, most of the population is sleeping in the open air.

Must Reads:


Human Rights Flashpoints is a weekly column about countries at risk of escalating human rights violations and is brought to you by AIUSA’s Crisis Prevention and Response  team