Conflict Early Warning Report
April 2023

The ACLED Conflict Alert System (CAST) forecasts political violence up to six months into the future. Forecasts are made globally - at the national and sub-national levels - and can be disaggregated by event type (battles, explosions/remote violence, or violence against civilians). Every month, ACLED CAST produces a report highlighting key conflict developments and significant predictions for the coming months. This report reflects the April 2023 update of global forecasts.

Ahead of Nigeria's general elections in late February, escalating political violence levels mirrored patterns seen during past election periods (see the ACLED report: Political Violence and the 2023 Nigerian Election). With gubernatorial elections following on 18 March, the risk of continued political violence remained high. ACLED CAST forecasted 243 violent events for March, most of which were incidents of violence against civilians.

Multiple spikes in violent activity were ultimately reported throughout the month, including over 25 incidents of violence against civilians on the day of the gubernatorial election. In total, ACLED recorded 239 events across Nigeria in March, a number slightly below the forecasted amount and 12% below the yearly average.

Looking forward, CAST predicts 255 events in April, a 5% change from the 12-month average.

For more on political violence around the Nigerian elections, see ACLED's Nigeria Election Violence Tracker.

Islamist militant violence has been on the rise in Burkina Faso (for more, see ACLED's Conflict Watchlist 2023). In line with recent trends, CAST forecasted 128 events for March, with most predicted conflict activity concentrated in Sahel and Est provinces. Observed violence in March was approximately 20% greater than the CAST prediction, largely due to an uptick in explosions/remote violence carried out by the Burkinabe military targeting Islamist militant groups.

This increase in explosions/remote violence via Military-Rebel interactions is an important driver for April forecasts in the country, where CAST predicts about 130 events, 27% of which are explosions/remote violence. In a relatively high activity area like Nord province, about 25% of the forecasted events for April are attribuable to March's explosions/remote violence and Military-Rebel interactions.

For more on Burkina Faso and Islamist-related violence in the Sahel, see ACLED's IS Sahel Actor Profile.

Although Mexico is home to extremely severe levels of violence (for more, see the ACLED Conflict Severity Index), aggregate trends in violent activity have consistently mirrored CAST predictions. Over the past six months, for example, the average CAST prediction for Mexico has varied just 2% from the observed number of events. This consistency continued in March, where Mexico experienced 487 events - only 1 more than CAST predicted.

According to CAST forecasts, this pattern will likely continue in April, with 502 events forecasted, a majority of which are incidents of violence against civilians. This activity is driven not only by consistent hotspots like Guanajuato and Michoacán, but also by increasingly severe violence in Sonora.

For more on Mexico, see ACLED's Regional Overviews for Latin America & the Caribbean.

As conflict activity in Iraqi Kurdistan fell precipitously during the early months of 2023 following the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, aggregate violence across Iraq reached lows not seen in almost a year (see ACLED's Middle East Regional Overviews for January and February for more). CAST predicted 266 events in Iraq for March, a 43% decrease from the 12-month average. This forecast proved relatively accurate, with the observed number of events last month totalling 293, about 10% more than predicted.

CAST predictions for April suggest a slight reversal of the recent downward trend, with 348 total events across the country, marking a 19% increase from the number of events recorded in March. This predicted uptick is driven primarily by the forecasted return of explosions/remote violence in Duhok to levels consistent with those before the earthquakes.

For more on Iraq, see the ACLED Watchlist 2023.