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.
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 neighbouring Central African Republic combatants in Muslim-vs.-Christian battles have beheaded children.
Casie Copeland, South Sudan analyst for the International Crisis Group, said violence in Africa tends to involve other countries and noted a "long history of regional involvement in African conflicts."
The U.N. Security Council on Friday, however, "strongly discouraged external intervention that would exacerbate the military and political tensions." The U.N. has said more than 1,000 people have died in the South Sudan conflict. But Copeland, after speaking to U.N. workers, aid actors, government officials and combatants, estimates nearly 10,000 have died.
Civilians in the Central African Republic — a country where violence pits Muslims against Christians — have suffered terribly since armed rebels overthrew the president in March 2013. The mostly Muslim fighters were blamed for scores of atrocities after taking power, and inter-communal violence exploded last month leaving more than 1,000 dead in a matter of days.
The U.N. children's agency UNICEF says that two children have been beheaded, and that "unprecedented levels of violence" are being carried out on children. An estimated 935,000 people have been uprooted throughout the country. Thousands of French troops and regional African peacekeepers are trying to temper the mob violence.