News Watch

After three weeks of intense fighting along the Gaza strip this January, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire. Israeli troops pulled back and allowed humanitarian aid into the region. However, attacks and counterattacks continue.

An estimated 1,300 Palestinians died in the conflict, many of them civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed. The shelling and ground battles in Gaza left massive destruction in certain areas, and many smuggling tunnels into Gaza were incapacitated. At press...


The president of Kenya declared a national disaster in January and requested aid for the nearly 10 million people facing acute food shortages. The drought, limited planting due to disrupted farming after the post-election turmoil, almost total crop failure and reduced herds are the causes.

The worst-affected regions are in the eastern, coastal and central provinces. Some areas in the Rift Valley and northeastern provinces have shortages as well.

Torrential rain fell nonstop in Fiji for a week in early January in the most relentless storm to hit the islands in 100 years. With wide areas inundated, 11 people were killed, hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded, and thousands of tourists were trapped in hotels. Western districts, including Nadi, were hardest hit.

Resorts reopened in January, but cleanup continues as does repairs to roads and water, phone and electric lines.

Athens continues to suffer from riots and outbursts of street violence. The government estimates that over $1.3 billion of damage has been done in the city since early December. 

On Jan. 1, an education protest march degenerated into a riot. On Jan. 5, an officer was injured when gunmen opened fire on riot police outside of the Ministry of Culture. On Jan. 23, 30 rioters who struggled with the police disrupted a march in support of a migrant worker injured in an acid attack.



The situation along the border regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda has been deteriorating. The Lords Resistance Army (LRA) stepped up attacks on villages in the DRC, and, since December 2008, rapes, maiming and more than 400 deaths of villagers have been attributed to the rebel group.

Ugandan, Rwandan and Congolese troops have joined in military actions against the guerillas, and the UN peacekeeping force is attempting to coordinate with them.



In Guwahti, India, another series of three bombs exploded on Jan. 1. Six people were killed and 50 were reported injured. The blasts took place just prior to a planned visit by the Indian Home Minister, P. Chidambaram. At press time, no one had claimed responsibility for the blasts but police had blamed the United Front for the Liberation of Asom. 

A series of bombs in October ’08 injured more than 70 people in several towns and cities of the Assam region. 

The Department of State warns that Côte d’Ivoire continues to experience episodes of political unrest and violence since a failed coup attempt in 2002 evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed an agreement in March 2007 and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister, but the political situation has not fully returned to normal.

In December 2007, the city of Bouake experienced...


The US Department of State warns of the risks of travel to Burundi.

Burundi was plagued by a civil war from 1993 to 2006. In September 2006, the government and the last rebel group not party to peace accords, the Palipehutu–FNL, signed a cease-fire agreement. However, many of the cease-fire provisions have not been implemented. 

In April 2008, FNL rebel forces engaged Burundian military units in and around Bujumbura. Government troops overcame them and FNL leaders agreed to...