African Conflict Map 2019 – A comprehensive guide

African Conflict Map 2019

All you need to know about conflicts in Africa, a comprehensive analysis on Africa’s conflicts, the dynamics and triggers, key actors, proximate and structural causes.

Any errors, misconceptions and omissions on this article remains that of the author.

What is a Conflict Map?

A conflict map also known as an Actor map or a Relationship map is a graphical representation of the main groups involved in conflicts within a particular geographical location, and also placing the groups in relations to the crises while connecting the relations between them. It is a very important approach in analyzing a conflict situation for the purpose of research, Journalism and Reference.

A good knowledge of conflict map analysis is vital if an individual/organisations is to understand the cause and effects of a particular problem so as to provide a lasting solution to it.

Uses of A Conflict Map

A Conflict map can be used to understand the volatility or violence level of an area, its analytic data can help individuals, institutions and other bodies stay safe when they are in an environment in crises. It can also be used to determine threat scenarios and the possibility of future danger.

Another major use for mapping conflicts is to reconstruct the chain of events during a conflict or crises through gathering information in the field in order to prevent a future occurrence. More so, conflict maps are a more simplified version of reality which can help us understand the complex interrelations, motives and concealed interests between groups and parties.

Features of a Conflict Map

A conflict map makes use of lines and dots to represent the area of interest on the map. A legend is used to indicate and outline the areas of interests.

  • Hyperlinked references that allow students to provide instant access to sources and additional, more detailed, information,
  • Cross-linking capabilities that allow the readers to skip around a map in accordance with their own interests,
  • Embedded multimedia and pictures that bring the human dimension of a map to life, and
  • Text-heavy slides that essentially merge essay and graphical approaches to conflict mapping.

Dynamics of African Conflicts

This map provides an overview of conflicts and other crises in Africa during the 2019 period. It also provides graphical representations of critical hotspot in the continent.

The African Conflict Map for 2019 is based on publicly available data such as the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).  ACLED database provides information for over 100,000 conflict events in Africa from 1997 to 2019. Furthermore, our database of conflicts in Africa covers the specific date(s), group(s) involved, locations, fatalities and type of event, as reported by the media.

Escalations in conflict levels in Africa was on the rise in early 2010 primarily as a result of the end of the Arab Spring. Simultaneous with a wave of partially successful liberalization process, Africa was embroiled with protracted civil conflicts unique attributes. The Middle East and North Arica (MENA) were the epicenter. In their demographics and dynamism, the conflicts became interpenetrated coupled with their complexity and multiplicity of both state and non-state actors connected the region in an intractable struggle.

African Conflict Map 2018
African Conflict Map 2019 showing crises zones
African Conflict Map 2018 showing crises zones
African Conflict Map 2019 showing hotspots

The African Conflict database is updated yearly. You can download our comprehensive report for all Conflict incidents in Africa for the year 2019 (January to June) here.

Top Conflict Zones in Africa 2019

Although, in the words of the new United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres Africa is heading in the direction of peace, there are still some troubled hotspots with ongoing conflicts and crises. This might seem true when taking into account that there are fewer new crises in the continent.

The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies – an organisations dedicated to bridging the gap in strategic data regarding Africa published a report on violence involving Islamist groups in Africa since 2010. In the report, the Centre revealed that since the past eight years, there has been a 310% increase in conflict incidents (from 675 in 2010 to 2 769 in 2017), this attacks also involved those originating from security forces.

There have been over 9 million refugees and internally displaced persons from conflicts in Africa. Thousands of people have been slaughtered, the scale of destruction is akin to what can be called World War III if the fighting had occurred in Europe for instance.

Incidents of fatalities were reported to be low pre-2011 but have been rising since then due to the increase in islamists extremism and separatist group. The number of African countries experiencing sustained militant Islamist group activity has grown to more than 12 which include Algeria, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, DRC, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara.

  1. Algeria

Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Algeria.

The Arab Spring protests of 2011 spread into the country, forcing the government to lift a 19-year-old state of emergency and implementing newer modern legislative and political reforms. As part of the ongoing Insurgency in the Maghreb, islamists militants and terrorists such as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) which has allied itself with al-Qaeda and eventually became al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).African soldier

In a full-scale warfare, AQIM captured the northern part of Mali until they were pushed back by the French Military intervention (Operation Barkhane). AQIM aims to overthrow all North African governments which they deemed apostate. As the Algerian military counter-terrorism operations become largely successful as a regards to the country’s multiple military procurement to meet this challenge, the militant group established new bases in the Sahel countries like Niger, Chad, Mauritania. The strategic leadership of AQIM continues to base its headquarters in the mountainous region of Kabiye which is located in the eastern part of Algiers – the Algerian capital city.

2. Cameroon

Ambazonia Separatists

Ambazonia. Also known as “Amba Land and Ambazania” is a self-declared state in Southern Cameroon consisting of the Anglophone region. The Anglophone region was formerly the United Nations Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons which was administered by the United Kingdom from 1922 to 1961. The region eventually voted to become part of the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961.

The Anglophone people of Cameroon which constitutes about 20 % of the total population in the country, considers themselves marginalized and since 2016 have expressed their anger through strikes and riots. The activists are demanding a return of the Federal model that existed from 1961 till 1972 which entails a two-state federation and also confers greater autonomy to the federating units.

Since the declaration of independence in 2016, the Cameroonian Government led by 84-year old Paul Biya began a process of suppression which includes restricting access to the internet, unlawful arrests and incarceration of the movement s leadership, manipulations of trade laws to undermine the Ambazonian economy, and forcibly influencing the educational system in the Anglophone region.

Boko Haram in Cameroon

The Cameroonian Government remains determined not to yield to the separatist demands which has forced the Ambazonia forces to engage Cameroonian security troops in a Guerilla-type warfare. Reprisal attacks have led to thousands fleeing the country into Nigeria. Boko Haram

Boko Haram still constitutes a major security challenge in the Northern part of Cameroon. The Islamist terrorist group has dramatically scaled back its attacks in Cameroon in recent months, analysts believes this is as a regard to the efforts and successes of the multinational coalition headed by Nigeria.

However, Cameroonian soldiers have been accused of Amnesty International for human rights abuses and violations. On July 13, a viral video which provoked international outrage shows two women, one with a child strapped on her back being led to a scrubland by a group of Cameroonian soldiers, who accused them of being Boko Haram members. The women were blindfold and ordered to sit on the ground with their children. Moment later, the soldiers leveled their weapons and shot them in point blank range.

3 Central African Republic (CAR)

Seleka Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR)

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic has endured different armed conflicts. An insurgency led by the Seleka – a coalition of Muslim groups has resulted in a severe crises and increased ethnic tensions. Seleka aims to overthrow the former regime of President Francoise Bozize.

The conflict has all but wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, displaced thousands, cripple the private sector and left 60% of the country’s population in extreme poverty. Since the outbreak of conflict in 2013, more than 6,000 people have been killed and an estimated 601,600 have been displaced with majority of them fleeing to neighboring Cameroon.

Renewed fighting between the predominantly Muslim Seleka group located in the North and the Christian aniti-Balaka militias in the south has morphed into a de facto territorial partition in the country. Attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian workers are a hallmark of the C.A.R. conflict, fourteen peacekeepers were killed in 2017 alone. Attempts by most of the armed groups to undermine Presidents Faustin-Archange Touadera’s disarmament campaign has left the government incapable of providing security in the country.

As a result of the arms embargo placed on the country, the United Nations Security Council have denied the Central African Republic (CAR) from receiving arms donated by China.

4 Chad

Rebel Groups in Chad

Following the rivalry between Chad and Sudan for land and power, the latter was trying to overthrow the Chadian President Idriss Deby, using various rebel groups and militias. There are several rebel groups currently battling the Chadian Government, these includes the United Front for Democratic Change, United Front for Development and Democracy, Gathering Forces for Change and the National Accord of Chad. Other rebel groups which is involved in the conflict in Chad is the Janjaweed – a group allegedly supported by Sudan.

Islamist Jihadist in Chad

In early 2014, French forces began a new military operations code-named Operation Barkhane in the Sahel Region in an attempt to prevent the trans-border passage of terrorist groups in an area known as “An Arc of Instability.” Operation Barkhane which was named after a crescent-shaped sand dune in the Sahara Desert succeeded Operation Serval and Operation Epervier – French military missions in Chad and Mali.

Boko Haram in Chad

The Nigerian-originated terror group Boko Haram has been plaguing Chad since 2009, despite spirited efforts by the vaunted Chadian military, Boko Haram onslaught has been defiant. In a dare to the Chadian President, Boko Haram’s leader and Commander Abubakar Shekau publicly that: “You, Idriss Deby, the ‘King of Africa’, you’re too late! I dare you to attack me, I’m ready!”  

Lake Chad Conflict

Repeated conflicts  by four nations over control of the fast-dwindling Lake Chad are worsening insecurity in the already terror-prone region. Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria straddles the Lake Chad Basin which is considered as one of the worst conflict areas in Africa, this interwoven cultural and political space has created multiple challenges for the regional security architecture – coupled with Chad’s battered economy. The Lake Chad Basin which has lost more than 95% of its water since 1963 provides water or more than 68 million people in these four countries. The impact of the dwindling water supply is causing tensions between communities who lives in the area.

The politics of the Chadian conflict is quite confusing and complex as a result of the long-drawn war with Libya to an anti-government rebellion and now a continuous Islamists terrorists’ insurgency. It is further complicated by interference by more powerful foreign countries with monetary interests in the affair.

The in-flow of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Sudan and Central African Republic has put a strain on Chadian economy which is reported to be one of the worst in the world.

5. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Since the 1960’s endured crises, the country under President Mobutu saw its worst corruption bout which caused the country to disintegrate into disordered city ‘states’ with no proper central authority. Mobutu divide-and-rule tactics provoked ethic violence in the country.

The persistent fighting since then has produced the worst humanitarian crises the world has ever known since World War Two. According to the UN, as much as 6 million people has died in the conflict. 

The conflict in the DRC (formerly known as Zaire) involves several countries. The crises were caused by a number of complex reasons, including conflicts over basic resources such as water, access and control over rich minerals and other resources and various political agendas. This has been fueled and supported by various national and international corporations and other regimes which have varied interest in the outcome of the conflict.

March 23 Movement (M23) Rebel Groups in DRC

As the Rwandan Civil War declined, militias who were responsible for the genocides crossed the border in order to escape punishment for their crimes against humanity. One such group is the March 23 Movement (M23) which primarily composed ethnic Tutsis allegedly supported by the Rwandan Government.

The country’s large resource wealth valued at $24 trillion of untapped mineral resources also fuels the violence. In the absence of a credible security architecture, armed groups began operating like organized crime cartels, using deadly force to attain mineral deposits in Congo.

Human Rights Abuses in DRC

One of the main symbol of the conflict in DR Congo is the sexual violation and mutilation of women in the country. Sexual violence was being committed by both members of the regular armed forces (FARCD), the Congolese National Police Force (PNC) and other rebel groups alike. Experts are of the opinion that the integration of the former militia members with into the regular armed forces with no apparatus to checkmate civilian violence has increased the problem.

The UN Organisation Stabilization Mission in Congo (Monusco) has been accused by the Human Rights campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) of being complicit in atrocities against civilians when it failed to prevent the killing and rape of more than 150 women and children within miles of their base near Luvungi.

6. Egypt

Conflicts in Egypt

Arab Spring in Egypt

In 2011, mass protests and demonstrations fueled by unrests in neighboring Tunisia. The civil unrest cumulated in the fall of long serving president, Hosni Mubarak. Further civil demonstration brought down the country’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now outlawed in the country. Morsi was deposed by the Egyptian Military on July 3rd, 2013 and Abdul Fatah el-Sisi the former head of the armed forces was elected in 2014.

Civil Unrest in Egypt

Since el-Sisi came into power, Egypt has seen a sharp rise in terrorist activities. The crises in Egypt manifests itself as violent extremism and civil demonstrations, the rise of the Islamic State and other terrorist cells in the region meant that attacks occur more frequently.

Islamic State in Egypt

The Islamic State in Egypt (which is quite different from the Islamic State [IS]) emerged in early 2015, the group has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks in Egypt. Another deadly terrorist group operating in Egypt is the Ajnad Misr founded in 2014, the groups primary goal is to overthrow the current Egyptian Government.

Other Terrorist Organisations in Egypt

Egypt has the distinction of having numerous terrorist sects operating within the country, and all having different goals and objectives. Such group includes the Al-Furqan Brigade which attacks merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea with Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), Non-Salafist/Jihadi Violent Group formed in 2014, Revolutionary Punishment Group founded in 2015 and finally, the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) which was formed in 2014. The is noted for its heavy use of improvised explosives, Molotov Cocktails and other rudimentary weapons.

Libya Crises Spillover in Egypt

Spillover from the crises in Libya is a source of instability in Egypt, Egyptian military intervention in Libya in response to attacks against its citizens have resulted in more violent response from IS. The Egyptian Air Force regularly undertake air strikes in Libya against IS.

Ethiopian Dam Construction

Ethiopian construction off the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam for hydroelectric purposes on the Blue Nile is causing great tension between the two countries. The pressure to address food and water crises in Egypt might force the government to nationalize the Blue Nile which could cause rift in the region. To achieve their ambition of securing the Blue Nile, the two government might turn to proxy war (supporting local rebel groups), trade war or create political destabilization which might negatively affect the fragility of the region.

7. Libya

The conflict in Libya can be attributed in the context of a wider unrest throughout the Middle East and North Arica (MENA). The surge of the spontaneous liberalization and pro-democratic protest has spread throughout the region and rested in Libya. The follow-up unrest which became known as the “Arab Spring” of 2011 ousted authoritarian regimes from different directions of the political spectrum.

Peaceful protests against the long-running oppressive Gadhafi regime in February resulted in a violent crackdown. As the situation quickly escalated ordinary citizens alongside defectors took up arms to oust Ghadafi. Despite receiving help from former Gadhafi’s servicemen who defected, the opposition was still disorganized and outgunned until a NATO-led intervention turned the tide.

As the civil war in Libya reached an apogee, the apparent security vacuum in the country offered sanctuary to AQIM which established cells in the region. With defectors moving from AQIM to the newly formed radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2013 due to difference in ideology, the newly bolstered rival terrorist group ISIL began taking control of some limited territories in the country in what became a renewed civil war.

Other terrorist’s groups such as the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists led by Ansar al-Sharia have at the same time continued to hold territories in other areas of the country.

(updating – Please stay tuned)

8 Mali

The Tuareg’s Rebellion in Mali

Independent State of Azawad

Ansar Dine, Aqim and MOJWA in Mali

Political in-fighting in Mali

9 Mauritania

10 Morocco

11 Niger

12 Nigeria

13 Somalia

14 South Sudan

15 Sudan

16 Tunisia

17 Uganda

18 Western Sahara

Download the comprehensive database of all conflict and crisis incidents in Africa for the year 2019.


Ekene Lionel

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