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CrisisWatch March 2020

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The 200th edition of Crisis Group’s monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in March in seventeen countries, including fresh tit-for-tat attacks in Iraq between Iran-backed militants and the U.S. In Chad, Boko Haram's deadliest attack on security forces to date left nearly 100 soldiers killed. Amid ongoing jihadist violence in Burkina Faso’s north, deadly attacks on civilians by security forces and self-defence groups increased, targeting the Fulani community in particular. In Afghanistan, the Taliban resumed their intense military pressure on security forces in rural areas, ending a spell of reduced violence in February.

CrisisWatch notes improvements in two situations. In Syria’s Idlib province, a Russia-Turkey ceasefire agreement froze the regime’s offensive toward Idlib city, halting much of the fighting, and after long delays EU leaders gave the green light for North Macedonia to start formal accession talks.

Looking ahead to April, we warn that violence could intensify in Yemen as warring parties prepare to battle for control of Marib governorate. At the same time, the UN’s proposed ceasefire gives all parties an opportunity to de-escalate. With COVID-19 threatening to compound an already dire humanitarian crisis, conflict parties can demonstrate with a ceasefire their commitment to the people they purport to represent.