Conflict in N’Eastern Nigeria Civil War
by Tobi Soniyi
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has
determined that the conflict between Boko Haram insurgents and the
security forces in northern-eastern Nigerian is a civil war.
In a report released at the weekend from the Office of the
Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC titled: “Report on Preliminary
Examination Activities 2013”, which focused on conflicts, genocide
and crimes against humanity in 10 countries, including Nigeria, ICC
said after a careful review of the situation, the violence in
Nigeria qualified as an armed conflict of non-international
Under the Geneva Conventions, a "non-international armed conflict" (NIAC)
is the technical name for a civil war. This brings the ICC into line
with a similar determination made by the International Committee for
the Red Cross (ICRC) earlier this year.
The determination that the situation is a NIAC also means that the
norms of international humanitarian law, including in particular,
Article 3 Under the Geneva Conventions, are formally deemed to be
applicable to the theatre of conflict.
The prosecutor’s report stated: “The required level of intensity and
the level of organisation of parties to the conflict necessary for
the violence to be qualified as an armed conflict of
non-international character appear to have been met.
“The Office has therefore determined that since at least May 2013
allegations of crimes occurring in the context of the armed violence
between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces should be considered
within the scope of article 8(2)(c) and (e) of the Statute.”
ICC noted that since the increase of security operations after the
declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa
States on 14 May 2013, reports of crimes allegedly committed by
Nigerian security forces had also increased.
ICC, however, acknowledged that the information available at this
stage does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that killings
and other abuses attributed to the Nigerian security forces in their
response to Boko Haram constituted crimes against humanity.
“In particular, the information available is insufficient to
establish that the alleged acts were committed as part of an attack
against the civilian population and pursuant to a state policy to
launch such an attack. The Office may revisit this assessment in the
light of new facts or evidence,” the report added.
ICC said it considered whether the contextual elements for war
crimes had been met, including the existence of a non-international
armed conflict and came to a conclusion that the latter existed.
“In this context, the Office has examined the level of organisation
of Boko Haram as an armed group and the intensity of the armed
confrontations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian security forces (JTF,
police forces and military forces not deployed under the JTF).
“In terms of organisation, the Office has considered the
hierarchical structure of Boko Haram; its command rules and ability
to impose discipline among its members; the weapons used by the
group; its ability to plan and carry out coordinated attacks; and
the number of Boko Haram forces under command.
“The Office has concluded that Boko Haram fulfils a sufficient
number of relevant criteria to be considered an organised armed
group capable of planning and carrying out military activities.
“With respect to the level of intensity of the armed confrontations
between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces, the Office has
analysed over 200 incidents occurring between July 2009 and May
“In particular, the Office has assessed the extent and sustained
nature of such incidents, as well as their seriousness; the
frequency and intensity of armed confrontations; their geographical
and temporal spread; the number and composition of personnel
involved on both sides; the mobilisation and the distribution of
weapons; and the extent to which the situation has attracted the
attention of the UN Security Council,” said the report.
ICC said it had requested the federal government to explain the
reason for the wide gap between the numbers of Boko Haram suspects
arrested and those charged to court.
The court said its OTP had met with representatives of the Federal
High Court of Nigeria, the Director of Public Prosecutions of the
Federation, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the
Nigerian Human Rights Commission, senior officers of the Police and
the State Security Services, among other relevant officials.
It also said that the federal government provided the OTP with a
range of additional documents, potentially relevant for its ongoing
jurisdictional and admissibility assessment and that it would
continue its dialogue with the Nigerian government regarding the
relevant information needed to perform its admissibility assessment.
ICC added that investigation was continuing to determine the
allegation that security forces committed crimes against humanity in
the course of responding to attacks by Boko Haram.
back to top see
End Time News Headline Archive
see End Time News Sources what's
HIV/AIDS in the European Region
Experts reflect on the new WHO guidelines on the use of
antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection
HIV infections in Europe continue to increase. Scaling up preventive
measures and antiretroviral treatment is key to effectively
addressing the epidemic.
Over 131 000 new HIV cases were reported in the WHO European Region
in 2012, 10 000 more than in 2011, according to the latest
surveillance report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention
and Control (ECDC) and WHO/Europe. Of these new cases, almost 102
000 were in countries in eastern Europe and central Asia while just
over 29 000 in countries in the European Union and the European
Economic Area (EU/EEA).
The average incidence of HIV in the east of the Region (22.0 per 100
000) is more than 3 times that in the west (6.6 per 100 000) and 12
times that of the centre (1.9 per 100 000).
HIV is still highly concentrated in key populations: men who have
sex with men and people coming from countries with generalized HIV
epidemics in the west of the Region, and people who inject drugs in
eastern countries. Nevertheless, data for the last few years
indicate a continuing increase in heterosexual transmission in the
east. In 2012, it was the predominant transmission mode in many
eastern countries, and accounted for close to 50% of cases in the
Region as a whole.
New AIDS cases
The number of new AIDS cases per year has continued to decline in
many countries in the west and centre of the Region, and continued
to rise in the east. While reported AIDS cases declined by 54% in
western countries, the number of people newly diagnosed with AIDS
increased by 113% in the east between 2006 and 2012. New AIDS cases
were over 3 times higher in the east than in the west and centre in
Role model for HIV testing and counselling: Denmark
Denmark is testing, treating and counselling people living with and
affected by HIV/AIDS. It is estimated to have 5500–7500 people
living with HIV (an adult prevalence of 0.2%).
At every testing facility in Denmark, HIV testing is free of charge,
anonymous and accessible by all. In addition, many organizations
test undocumented people living in Denmark free of charge. Testing
is always combined with pre- and post-test counselling. If a rapid
test turns out to be positive, the patient receives counselling and
is referred to appropriate follow-up services and treatment.
European HIV testing and counselling initiative
HIV testing and counselling services must be continuously promoted
and accessible by all, to ensure earlier diagnosis and linkage to
care and the initiation of treatment. WHO/Europe supports the
European Union (EU) initiative HIV testing week, taking place on
22–29 November 2013, to make more people aware of their HIV status
and reduce late diagnosis by communicating the benefits of testing.
Antiretroviral therapy suboptimal
The rise in new HIV and AIDS cases in eastern Europe and central
Asia is closely linked to poor coverage of testing, prevention
measures and antiretroviral therapy (ART). While the number of
people receiving ART increased by 45% from 2011 to 2012 (rising to
almost 200 000), only about a third (35%) of the people who needed
ART were receiving it. Coverage rates were much higher in countries
in western Europe.
New guidelines to increase treatment coverage
In June 2013, WHO published new consolidated guidelines on the use
of ART. They call on all countries to initiate treatment in adults
living with HIV when their CD4 cell counts fall to or below 500
cells/mm³: when their immune systems are still strong. This updates
the 2010 recommendation of offering treatment to those at or below
350 CD4 cells/mm³.
Implementation of the new guidelines will mean that more people in
the Region are eligible for ART, preventing more people from
developing AIDS and reducing further transmission of HIV infection.
Equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care for all
population groups throughout the Region is essential to reach the
global goal of universal access for all in need.
back to top see End Time News Headline Archive
see End Time News Sources what's new
North Korea faces
famine: 'Tell the world we are starving'
by Peter Foster, Yanji
More than a decade after North Korea was struck by a famine that
killed up to a million people, the country's poorest are once again
facing starvation, reports Peter Foster in Yanji
It was an ice-cold day in the North Korean border town of Musan when
a small crowd gathered round what looked like a bundle of rags on
the platform of the railway station.
"I went up to see what they were looking at," recalled 63-year-old
Lee Sun Ok, a North Korean farmer who had come to the city to sell
some small rice-cakes she had made to earn money. "And then I saw it
was the body of an old man with a piece of cloth placed over his
"I asked if he had fallen down because he was sick, but the people
shook their heads and said, 'No, he was just too hungry and died for
lack of something to eat.'"
Mrs Lee's account is among shocking first hand testimony about the
dramatically worsening living conditions in the secretive Stalinist
state obtained by The Sunday Telegraph last week.
In almost 10 hours of interviews during clandestine meetings with
The Sunday Telegraph just inside China, four North Koreans who
recently risked their lives to flee across the tightly-guarded
border from their homeland described the desperate plight of those
Kim Yeong, 68, told how families were being forced to scour the
countryside for wild plants to boil up for food in a desperate
attempt to stave off starvation.
"People are very poor again, they are going to the mountains to get
grasses and weeds to make into soup," he said. "Some people are
having to eat manure when they cannot get any rice or corn."
The UN's World Food Programme says North Korea faces its worst food
shortage in a decade, with six million people at risk - a
consequence of poor economic management of its centrally planned
system, a series of bad harvests caused by harsh winters, flooding
and exhausted agricultural land, and the regime's unwillingness to
spend its dwindling hard currency reserves on buying food for its 24
But the world has been slow to react for fear of propping up the
increasingly belligerent government of Kim Jong-il, which is
vigorously pursuing a nuclear weapons programme and threatening its
South Korean neighbour - leading the US to suspend food aid in 2008.
Aid agencies report that government food rations for some have been
cut to just 200g a day - barely one tenth of what is needed.
Last week, after making its own assessment, the European Commission
offered €10m in emergency food aid to Pyongyang, warning that
500,000 people faced possible starvation, with children already
suffering acute malnutrition.
Ordinary North Koreans are denied the chance to speak openly by the
all-controlling regime of Kim Jong-il and are almost never heard by
the outside world. The four who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph - a
businessman, a farmer, a factory worker and a housewife - did so in
the Chinese town of Yanji, where they are living and working in
secret to support their families back home.
Many Chinese citizens in this border region are Korean by ethnic
origin and maintain their language and customs, making it possible
for illegal migrants to blend in.
When we met in an empty apartment in a nondescript suburb of Yanji,
Mrs Lee was visibly nervous, fretful for her security in a city
where the police pay rewards to anyone who denounces a North Korean
migrant. The interviews, arranged through intermediaries, were
conducted sitting on the floor of the sparsely furnished apartment,
below the line of sight of anyone outside.
Mrs Lee was carefully made up and nervously fingered her cheap,
plastic jewellery as she spoke - knowing that if caught she would be
sent back to North Korea to spend months in the gulags on starvation
But, she said, the situation at home was so desperate she had no
option but to risk all and leave, and now she wanted the world to
know what was happening in her country.
In January, a month after seeing the dead man in the station, Mrs
Lee stood in the doorway of her farmhouse, surveyed the barren
hillsides around, and decided it was time to go. Everything that
could be used for firewood had been stripped from the land over
previous decades as families battled for warmth winter; now all was
bare and infertile.
"When I was young, the woods outside my house were so thick you
could get lost coming home," she recalled. "But now there is only
bare land – even the roots of the trees are gone. I couldn't see how
I could continue to live in North Korea."
So in a leave of absence from her agricultural work unit, timed to
coincide with a moonless night, she put on her warmest clothes and
walked eight miles to the frozen Tumen river, the dividing line
between destitute North Korea and economically booming China.
She crouched in long grass waiting for the time when she had been
told the border guards would be resting between shifts. Then, her
heart in her mouth, she stepped on to the thick white ice and walked
across as quickly as she could to China. Nobody saw her.
Some 20 miles inside the border she reached a village where she
could connect with the network of sympathetic ethnic Koreans who
help illegal immigrants, often taking them on as domestic servants
while shielding them from Chinese police.
Now Mrs Lee works as a carer for the grandmother of an ethnic Korean
family in Yanji, and earns 1,200 yuan (£115) a month - a small
fortune in North Korea. She sends most of it back to her family via
smugglers who take a 30 per cent cut.
Mrs Lee, whose husband, grown-up daughter and son-in-law all depend
on her wages, says the time for international debate about the food
crisis has passed. "I don't know what they are saying, but what I do
know is that there is a real shortage of food in North Korea," she
"People who cannot go out to find food, or grow food or do some
business to earn money, are already starving to death. When an
elderly person misses a meal they get tired or they get sick. They
gradually become too weak to get food for themselves for the next
meal and then they die. This is common. I have seen this myself."
In the late 1990s the total collapse of the North's food
distribution system led to the deaths of up to a million people, and
the refugees say the signs of a repeat disaster are now appearing.
"During the famine then, people did not have clothes to wear,
because they had sold everything. Now the people are dressed, but
many have holes in their clothes," said Mr Kim.
He has five grandchildren across the border, to whom he is devoted.
"They are very weak," he said, fighting to control his emotions. "My
heart hurt every time I saw them; the impact of what they are
suffering will take two generations to heal."
Unlike Mrs Lee, Mr Kim is not a poor farmer but a member of North
Korea's "revolutionary class" whose parents fought against the
Japanese occupation - entitling him, until North Korea's economic
collapse, to additional rice, oil, salt and sugar rations.
A former government servant who left the industrial city of Hamhung
four months ago on a short-term travel permit to do business in
China, he remembers when Communist North Korea boasted higher living
standards than the capitalist South, and he talks with anger at his
"On the day we have nothing to eat, we have to go out that night and
collect edible grasses from the roadside or the mountains. This
happened very often during the last famine, but now it is happening
"This applies even to my own family, but just imagine how others are
faring if we have reached that point? Some families now eat grasses
almost every day. They have nothing else.
"People walk around with cloth bundles on their backs, and inside
them they carry their whole lives: whatever they have to sell or to
eat, some small household items, some rice-cakes they have made. It
is all they have."
The food crisis has been compounded, Mr Kim believes, by the botched
introduction of a new currency two years ago, which wiped out the
meagre savings of millions overnight.
Many small businesses, technically illegal but tolerated by the
government collapsed, and the black markets that delivered extra
food at higher prices have still not fully recovered, he said.
"In North Korean train stations you see piles of boxes, carriages
filled with items that people are hoping to sell, but now those
piles are getting ever smaller," he said.
"The train runs on electricity, but the power is very unreliable, so
it can stop any time. You could be there for one hour, one day, or
even two days. People have to start selling or exchanging things,
like a watch or a hat, just to get food to eat."
Other parts of the economy are also in dire straits.
Kim Hua, 45, from Hamhung, North Korea's second city, said barely
one in 10 of its factories were working, exposing to the regime's
indoctrinated subjects the absurdity of its claims to be creating a
Her factory, which makes textile machine parts, is closed most days
and workers must instead mend roads or repair the city's crumbling
houses, without pay.
"People complain because the factories don't give them salaries and
it's too difficult to do business. You complain among your friends
and people who are close to you.
"You can still get into trouble if someone with political power
hears you and denounces you. You can be sent to another province or
to prison. I know people that has happened to but it's less often
Twice a week she had to attend political indoctrination classes
where officials lionised the portly Kim Jong-un, who is being
groomed to succeed his ailing father Kim Jong-il as leader.
"They tell us he's going to be a great success and is very good at
politics, economy and culture," said Mrs Kim. "The top leaders have
chosen him. Some say that he's too young, they're suspicious of
whether he can do the work, that he can be successful. But what can
anyone do? You have to believe in him, even when you don't."
The best hope, all four migrants agreed, was that commercial
ingenuity learned during the last famine might limit the coming
"During the famine many people I know died," said Park Boksun, a
59-year-old woman from Chongjin, a northeastern coastal city. "But
it is also true that the people learned how to live. They learned to
do 'business', going to the hills to find wood and vegetables to
sell, or buying household products in the city and going to the
villages to barter for food."
Mrs Park, who came to China seven months ago, said she was
previously in constant hunger. "In North Korea you work all day just
to earn enough for one cob of corn. Even when you eat, you're never
Mrs Kim, who has a husband and grown-up daughter depending on her in
North Korea, said that is why the US and rest of the world should
send food aid. "It is true that hardly any of it will come to us
ordinary people. It will be sold [on the black market], and the
government officials and the army will make all the money," she
"The people will get very little - but it will be enough to help
people to survive."
The names of the people interviewed for this article have been
changed to protect their identities.
back to top see End Time News Headline Archive
see End Time News Sources what's new