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Afghanistan most significant riser in global Peoples under Threat 2011 survey

12 May 2011

Afghanistan is the most significant riser in this year’s release of the internationally acclaimed global ranking Peoples under Threat, which lists countries where communities are most at threat of mass killing, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) says.

Despite the recent killing of Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden, the situation for local communities in Afghanistan could significantly deteriorate during the course of this year, the London based international human rights organisation says, according to authoritative indicators factored into the analysis.

Launching Peoples under Threat 2011, MRG says civilian killings in Afghanistan have increased every year in the last five years, and the continued weakness of the central government, internal disunity and systemic corruption contribute to the poor prognosis.

‘Civilian deaths in Afghanistan this year threaten to exceed the 3,000 who were killed in 2010,’ says Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of MRG. ‘The death of Osama Bin Laden is unlikely to affect either the growth of local insurgencies or the ability of the Taliban to mount operations in Kabul and other major centres.’

‘Any further escalation of the conflict or major re-alignment of power in Kabul carries the risk of large-scale bloodshed in a country still split between the Pashtun-dominated south, heartland of the Taliban, and the largely Tajik-Uzbek strongholds of the former Northern Alliance,’ Lattimer adds.

Côte d’Ivoire, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Libya are other major risers in the table this year.

Over the last five years, Peoples under Threat has pioneered the use of statistical analysis to identify situations around the world where communities are at risk of mass killing. On numerous occasions in those five years, countries that have risen sharply up the table have later proved to be the scene of gross human rights violations, among them Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Yemen.

In Côte d’Ivoire, despite the departure of former President Laurent Gbagbo and the installation of President Alessane Ouattara, the risk of further killing remains high, with over one million internally displaced, and armed militias on both sides threatening revenge attacks, MRG says.

The threat level in Yemen has now risen sharply every year for the last five years, as the population faces at least four separate patterns of political violence: the renewed conflict with al Houthi rebels in the north of the country; a separate campaign by the Southern Movement in Shabwa; bombing and violent clashes in Abyan between government forces and Al Qaeda; and finally, popular demonstrations against the government in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz and other major cities which have met with violent repression.

‘Throughout the Arab Spring we have seen unarmed protestors confronting armed security forces. But statistical analysis of key risk factors indicates where in the region the threat of actual mass killing is greatest, and that is in Yemen,’ says Lattimer.

Somalia and Sudan, where violence is ongoing, remain at the overall head of the table.

Notes for editors

  1. The Peoples under Threat survey seeks to identify those peoples or groups that are most under threat of genocide, mass killing or other systematic violent repression in 2011. The survey, with a description of how it is compiled, will be available at 0600 (GMT+1) 12 May 2011 on MRG’s website
  2. Previous Peoples under Threat surveys
  3. Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.

For more information and to arrange interviews with Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director (English), contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].