Africa Sees Violent, Deadly Start to 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -
Some of hundreds of government soldiers who boarded trucks as they prepare to travel towards the frontline to reinforce forces near the town of Bor, which is currently held by rebels, in South Sudan, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. Despite the appearance of diplomatic progress, the conflict seems set to continue. (AP Photo/Jake Simkin)
Some of hundreds of government soldiers who boarded trucks as they prepare to travel towards the frontline to reinforce forces near the town of Bor, which is currently held by rebels, in South Sudan, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. Despite the appearance of diplomatic progress, the conflict seems set to continue. (AP Photo/Jake Simkin)

The death tolls are huge and the individual incidents gruesome. One estimate says nearly 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan in a month of warfare, while in neighboring Central African Republic combatants in Muslim-vs.-Christian battles have killed children.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a very violent start to 2014, with raging conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as continued violence in Congo, and attacks in Somalia and Kenya.

Compared to decades past, Africa and its people are suffering from fewer conflicts today, but several recent outbreaks of violence are cause for concern, said J. Peter Pham, director of the Washington-based think tank Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. The conflicts also lack strong international peacekeeping, he said.

“Peacekeeping in Africa, whether under the formal auspices of the United Nations or those of the African Union, suffers today from the same two limitations which they have been burdened with since the very first U.N. peacekeeping mission, the 1960-1964 operation in the Congo (ONUC), namely lack of political will resulting in a weak mandate and lack of adequate forces,” he wrote by email.