Here is a brief article about violence in Africa. Basically, for a long time, African tribes and nations were forced to serve European countries (especially England) as colonies. Africa provided workers and natural resources to the European countries and derived (got) little benefit. Many countries in Africa have never fully recovered from this situation and they still struggle to 'modernize.' In the mean time, there are now religious wars throughout the continent.
An article about contemporary Africa:
Vocabulary to help you understand the article:
a neighborhood - many foreign students have a hard time distinguishing between a neighbor and a neighborhood. A neighbor is someone who lives near you while a neighborhood is an area in a city where people live.
raging - if a person is 'raging' against something, he is very angry and aggressive. Rage is uncontrollable anger that often leads to violence.
conflicts - in this case: wars
a death toll - the number of people who have died
gruesome - ugly and shocking
combatants - soldiers or people fighting for a cause (a cause is a goal, usually a political or religious goal)
to behead - to cut a person's head off
weighs sanctions - considers punishments
a cause for concern - a reason to worry
a think tank - this is a group of people - usually highly educated - who have meetings to think about world problems and how to solve them
the auspices of someone or some group - if you are working under the auspices of something, that something is supporting you, basically you work for that organization or you represent that organization
to be burdened with - means to have suffered from, in this case. A burden is something heavy that you carry.
a lack of political will - so many countries just don't care about peace and are not willing to work for it. "will" often means "desire"
a mandate - in this case a mandate emans a sense that something has to be done for moral (right) reasons
radiate - spread, move
ethnic groups - I am German-American: that is my ethnic group. If someone is from a tribal group or a group from a particular region or area, that is the person's ethnic group.
targeted each other - decided to attack each other for specific reasons
to dispatch - to send
breakaway units - smaller groups that left the army to form their own military groups
external intervention - other countries getting involved in the conflicts
to exacerbate something - to make something worse
tensions - in this case tensions between countries means that they do not trust each other and are close to fighting or fighting even harder
violence pits Muslims against Christians - if you are 'pitted' against someone, you are fighting or competing against that person.
atrocities - terrible things that happen during a war, usually involving the killing of innocent people
inter-communal - I am not quite sure what the writer means. Violence within a community, I think.
unprecedented - never seen before
uprooted - forced to leave their homes
to temper the violence - keep it down, decrease it
to resign - to quit his job
a power vacuum - a vacuum is an area without air, an empty area. So a power vacuum is a situation where nobody is in power.
a coup - when the military takes over the government
a dictator - a leader who controls everything about a country
to solidify his power - to make his power very strong
a mercenary - a soldier who fights for money
integrated conflict systems - because so many countries are involved in each conflict, you just can't look at 2 countries...you have to look at the larger picture and all the countries that are 'integrated' or involved in this situation
comprehensive - it covers everything
drivers of conflict - the causes of conflicts throughout Africa
detonated - exploded
reversed course - changed what they were doing and did the opposite
a dearth of - a lack of, not enough of
when crises erupt - when a terrible situation happens
one is left to rob Peter to pay Paul - this means that there are not enough resources to use everywhere, so when something happens, resources are taken from one place (robbing Peter) to be used elsewhere (to pay Paul). There should be enough resources for every situation.
to beef-up - to strengthen, to make stronger