Tuesday, December 24, 2013


"A young cattle herder from the Dinka tribe carries his AK 47 rifle near Rumbek, capital of the Lakes State in central South Sudan." (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
By Daniel Howden
The Guardian, December 23, 2013
"A week ago, Simon K, a 20-year-old student living in the capital of South Sudan, was arrested by men in military uniforms. He was asked a question that has taken on deadly importance in the world's newest country in the past seven days: incholdi -- 'What is your name?' in Dinka, the language of the country's president and its largest ethnic group. Those who, like Simon, were unable to answer, risked being identified as Nuer, the ethnic group of the former vice-president now leading the armed opposition and facing the brunt of what insiders are describing as the world's newest civil war. Simon K was taken to a police station in the Gudele market district of Juba, where he was marched past several dead bodies and locked in a room with other young men, all Nuer. 'We counted ourselves and found we were 252,' he told the Guardian. 'Then they put guns in through the windows and started to shoot us.' The massacre continued for two days with soldiers returning at intervals to shoot again if they saw any sign of life. Simon was one of 12 men to survive the assault by covering themselves in the bodies of the dead and dying. Simon spoke from inside the UN compound that has become an emergency sanctuary to the remaining Nuer in the capital. Sitting on a filthy mattress by the side of a dirt road, with bandages covering bullet wounds in his stomach and legs, he recalled: 'It was horrible, because to survive I had to cover myself with the bodies of dead people, and during the two days, the bodies started to smell really bad.' In the space of seven desperate days, the UN base has been transformed from a logistics hub for an aid operation into a squalid sanctuary for more than 10,000 people. Amid the confusion of bodies and belongings, a handmade sign hangs from the rolls of razor wire. 'The lord is our best defender,' it reads. But there is no sign here of the lord's defence, as the country that gained independence in 2011 with huge international fanfare and support has come apart in the space of a week.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


"Lebanese army soldiers on their armored vehicles patrol the streets of Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli, Lebanon. The country decided last week to put the northern port city under the direct command of the Lebanese army in a bid to contain clashes linked to the war raging in Syria." (Adel Karroum/EPA)
Dragged off the Bus in Tripoli and Shot: The Latest Spillover from Syria's Brutal Civil War
By Loveday Morris
Washington Post, December 16, 2013
"One man was dragged from his taxi. Eight others were ordered off a bus on their way home from work. The victims were shot in the legs by masked gunmen, a brutal tactic that officials say has been used on dozens of members of Tripoli's minority Alawite community in recent months. The intimidation campaign is the latest spillover from neighboring Syria's long-running civil war, which has been recreated in microcosm in this impoverished port city, Lebanon's second-largest. Alawite residents of the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood who back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a fellow Alawite, have frequently clashed with Sunni residents of nearby Bab al-Tabbaneh, who support the Syrian rebels. In August, two Sunni mosques were bombed, killing more than 40 people; Alawite leader Ali Eid was charged with aiding one of the suspects. A few days after the bombings, taxi driver Ali Assi, another Alawite, became the first targeted shooting victim. Assi was driving in Bab al-Tabbaneh when his vehicle was stopped by gunmen. He wouldn't normally consider it safe to drive through the Sunni neighborhood, he said, but it was early in the morning, and he thought the risk was minimal. 'They started beating me and telling me the Alawites shouldn’t be in Lebanon,' Assi said. 'They put me in the back of the car.' He was driven to an open patch of land by a nearby traffic circle and released. When he started to run, the gunmen opened fire. Assi took 13 bullets in the legs and lower back.