9 countries where genocide is most likely to happen

From Somalia to Myanmar to Iraq, minority groups are at risk across the planet

Published May 11, 2014 7:00PM (EDT)

In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, United Nations MONUC peacekeepers ride towards Goma, in Kibati, eastern Congo. (AP)
In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, United Nations MONUC peacekeepers ride towards Goma, in Kibati, eastern Congo. (AP)

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global PostThis year marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. And last week, International Holocaust Remembrance Day happened.

Yet despite promises by the international community to never repeat such horrors, minorities in a number of countries around the world remain at risk of falling victim to the next genocide or mass killing, according to a new report by the British nonprofit Minority Rights Group.

Here's a look at the nine countries that are right now the most dangerous for minority groups:


1. Somalia

(Minority communities at risk: Bantu, Benadiri, Hawiye, Darod)

While the Somali government has pushed Al Shabaab rebels out of many cities and towns, the group continues to control large swaths of rural areas. Minorities like the Bantu remainespecially vunerable due to long-standing discrimination stemming from their roots as Somali slaves. Shifting control of various militias, however, leaves virtually every Somali at risk of violence.


2. Sudan

(Minority communities at risk: Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit, Ngok Dinka, Nuba, Beja)

The Sudanese government says it will take control of all rebel land by the end of the summer, heightening fears of attacks on civilians. Tribal clashes, and rebel conflicts in North Darfur, have caused refugee numbers to swell. Human rights workers also say authorities have denied humanitarian access to affected areas. The central dynamic behind the conflicts is a refusal by Khartoum to relinquish some power and share the nation's wealth with its various minority groups.


3. Syria

(Minority communities at risk: Shia/Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Palestinians)

Minorities like Christians and Shia Muslims are increasingly at risk in Syria because of a proliferation of armed groups and the growing sectarian nature of the country's civil war. The rebel Free Syrian Army has steadily lost ground to Islamist militias. Kurds to the north, long persecuted by Assad, have also faced repeated attacks during the second half of 2013.


4. Democratic Republic of Congo

(Minority communities at risk: Hema and Lendu, Hutu, Luba, Lunda, Tutsi/Banyamulenge, Batwa/Bambuti)

A rise in the number of armed groups here have lead to dozens of separate conflicts over ethnicity and natural resources last year. And a plan to integrate former rebels into the Congolese armed forces only made things worse. Local communities now fear the soldiers as much as the militias from which they came. A UN report in 2010 found extensive criminal networks within the military responsible for rape, repeated looting and other crimes in mineral-rich territories that are also home to minority groups like the Hutu and Tutsi.


5. Afghanistan

(Minority communities at risk: Hazara, Pashtun, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Baluchis)

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose by 14 percent last year. The cause? Mostly attacks by the Taliban and other anti-government groups. But operations conducted by pro-government forces were also to blame. The Taliban has vowed to keep fighting as the country's presidential campaign season gets underway. Recently, a new alliance of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders — called the National Front — announced its opposition to the Pashtun-dominated Taliban, a development that could provoke further ethnic conflict.


6. Iraq

(Minority communities at risk: Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Mandaeans, Yezidis, Shabak, Faili Kurds, Bahais, Palestinians)

Last year was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2007. There was a sharp rise in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Some 8,000 civilian deaths were reported, and the situation remains precarious for many of the country's smaller minority communities like the Yezidis, Turkmen and Chaldo-Assyrians.


7. Pakistan

(Minority communities at risk: Shia (including Hazara), Ahmadiyya, Hindus and other religious minorities, Baluchis, Mohhajirs, Pashtun, Sindhis)

Pakistan's ongoing conflicts with armed Islamist groups in the northwest may get the most media attention, but the threat of sectarian violence reaches across the country. This includes continued aggression against Christians and the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, political violence in Sindh, and sectarian clashes between militant groups tied to the Deobandi and Barelvi sects of Islam.


8. Myanmar

(Minority communities at risk: Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Mons, Rakhine, Rohingyas, Chin, Wa)

Despite progress in dismantling Myanmar's authoritarian rule, little has been done to protect the rights and safety of the country's long-persecuted Muslims. The Rohingya Muslim minority in Rahkine state has suffered the worst, but violence has spread to other parts of the country as well. The United Nations says the roughly 1 million Rohingya are one of the world's"most persecuted" minorities. In 2012, Buddhists waged a series of attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine. Tens of thousands fled the country, and at least 100,000 Rohingya are living in squalid refugee camps.


9. Ethiopia

(Minority communities at risk: Anuak, Afars, Oromo, Somalis)

Several minority communities remain at risk in Ethiopia. The Anuak people have lived along the rivers of southwestern Ethiopia for centuries, but have fallen victim to forced relocationsand complain of racial discrimination by the Ethiopian government. More recently, a new plan by the government to expand the boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa, has sparked protests over the potential displacement of minority Oromo farmers. Security forces have also been criticized for beating and shooting at protesters.

By Sarah Wolfe

MORE FROM Sarah Wolfe

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Afghanistan Congo Genocide Globalpost Myanmar Rwanda