YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 3

Tackling water poverty in Cameroon

by Max Bedford

image credit: u_3njs8uaf (Pixabay)

The Korean International Cooperation Agency (Koica) has recently provided 3.6 billion CFA Francs, roughly 5.5 million euros, to support a project to bring clean drinking water to Cameroon. The funding will go to councils in Matomb, Massok, Kautaba and Ebebda; with the aim of increasing citizens’ access to clean water from 35 percent to 85 percent in these districts. The project aims to address water inequalities between urban and rural areas, a 2018 study by the National Institute for Statistics finding that on average only 45 percent of the population in rural areas have access to clean water compared to 77 percent in urban areas.

The funding is expected to improve infrastructure across Cameroon, an area targeted by the Minister for Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou, who criticised the poor quality and durability of the pipelines across Cameroon. It is predicted that projects such as this shall continue to increase citizens’ access to necessities and raise the quality of life across Cameroon.

Devastation caused by Canadian history

by Tiffany Choong

image credit: J. B. Tyrrell

Surfacing headlines recall, remember and reflect upon the unimaginable horrors of residential schools and the unspeakable effects on the Indigenous peoples. The past months found 966 plus remains of those forced to attend and assimilate to the country’s then-majority customs.

Over 150,000 children had to go through the system, being removed and separated from their families and culture between the 1870s and 1990s. The last of 139 recognised schools closed only in 1997. In this period, it is reported that well beyond 10,000 children have disappeared, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015 concluded that it was cultural genocide.

Awareness continues to be raised as a scarred history has to be processed and learned from. There have been apologies and support offered, but the government still has a lot to owe, starting with fundamental rights and respect for the Indigenous communities.

Russian mercenaries accused of war crimes in the Central African Republic

by Orestis Sechas 

image credit: Photo Unit (Flickr)

An investigative UN report reveals that the deployed Russian troops in the Central African Republic have committed “grave human rights abuses, including rape, summary executions, targeted killings, tortures, forced disappearances” and other serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.

The report, which was based on photographic evidence and accounts by witnesses, found that the Russian armed groups and the Central African Army have disrupted elections, sexually assaulted women, looted homes, killed civilians and established themselves in the country’s key mining centres. 

However, the Russian government has denied the allegations and insisted that “Russian trainers in the Central Africa Republic are unarmed and not participating in hostilities.” In reality though, there is a pattern of behaviour behind these Russian private contractors across the world, whereby mercenaries promote lucrative business deals, commit atrocities, and allow Russia access to the country’s internal politics rather than promote stability, peace and security.

Mahamat Deby’s rocky road to power in Chad

by Theo Mitchell

image credit: GDJ (Pixabay)

In April 2021, Idriss Déby, Chad’s long-time President, was slain in battle against rebel groups. Chad’s security apparatus has worked hard to secure the position of Déby’s son and heir apparent, Mahamat Déby; immediately after his father’s death, the Chadian Parliament, government, and constitution were dissolved.

The international response was muted. Mahamat Déby visited a supportive Paris in July, and the African Union and US declined to take any action against the move. Chad is a key security partner of the west in the Sahel, having the most experienced and competent military in the region.

Mahamat still faces many challenges: rebels in the north of the country hold strong positions, France continues its withdrawal from Mali, Boko Haram is rebuilding in Nigeria, protests are common, and there remains little infrastructure. For now, however, it seems Mahamat Déby’s succession is secured.

Tensions flare with Mapuche in Chile 

by Harry Padoan

image credit: John Englart

The Mapuche people are an indigenous group within Chile, making up around 84 percent of the total indigenous population of 1.4 million people. However, life has been anything but peaceful for the group recently, with the fatal murder of a Machupe man by a police officer on 9 July causing tensions to bubble. 

The incident took place after a clash between police and alleged intruders – a group who claim that their land has been illegally seized by agricultural companies backed by the state. The Chilean Human Rights Institute called for a ‘deep and transparent investigation’ with the national police force refusing to comment. The cries of the Machupe people during their 2019 protest will only be amplified further as divisions continue to rage.

The rampant recruitment for Communist Comrades

by Rachael Ward

image credit: geralt (Pixabay)

As calls for comrades keep on coming, the Chinese Communist Party set their sights on a younger pool of potential partners. Their communist complexion is already markedly young, with 80 percent of fresh faces since 2020 aged just 35 or younger. The stringent standards for party membership are a signifier of the aspiration associated with Communist Party affiliation for many youthful Chinese.

With 52 percent of members at junior college or university educated, Communist Party recruitment radiates the tightly controlled manner of the party’s inner workings. Securing their successors by filling the ranks with younger members stabilises the party’s prospects and the protection of their pledge to become a ‘modern socialist country’ by 2049. With a watchful eye into the fairly distant future, the party plans to initiate younger supporters to hold onto the hope of the long-term dominance of China’s Communist party.

Colombia condemned for use of excessive force

by Connor Crout

image credit: jdcifuentes (Pixabay)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has condemned Colombia for “excessive and disproportionate” use of force in their response to anti-government protests, which lead to dozens of deaths. The Colombian government has claimed that these cases were exceptions and that claims of abuse are under investigation.

After Colombia’s GDP dropped by 6.8 percent last year, in April the Colombian government proposed a reform to the taxation of salaries, by lowering the taxation threshold to $656 a month, eliminate exceptions, increase taxes on businesses and increase the number of items that VAT was applied to. This started the protests, and even though this reform was withdrawn four days later protests have still continued over police violence and poverty.

Comoros celebrates National Independence Day 

by Owen Buchan

image credit: David_Peterson (Pixabay)

On 6 July,  the volcanic archipelago nation of Comoros celebrated its 45th Independence Day. All three of Comoros islands: Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli celebrated. This day marks their independence from France in 1975. What should have been a day of celebration was mired in political tension.

The current President Azali Assoumani is a controversial figure, being re-elected in April despite voting irregularities and contested results. During his previous term, Assoumani oversaw various major constitutional reforms such as an extension to presidential terms and making Islam the official state religion. While this independence day President Assoumani held official celebrations on the island of Anjouan, opposition parties held their own counter-ceremony on Grand Comore.

Despite a ban on gatherings with more than 20 people, Assoumani is accused of inviting 250 people to his celebration. Political tension in Comoros shows little sign of stopping.

Congo-Brazzaville’s debt to China rescheduling agreement

by Joe Mawer

image credit: kassoum_kone (Pixabay)

The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact across the world with massive health, social and economic consequences. Whilst many have focused on the impacts of the pandemic on the West, as that is where the majority of the deaths have been, there have been massive repercussions in the rest of the world too.

Congo-Brazzaville, an African country just down the river Congo from its near neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo, has just had to restructure its debt with China for the second time because of the pandemic. This agreement means that projects already started can continue. This is another example of a country succumbing or struggling with debts brought on by a combination of the money loaned to try and develop in the One Belt One Road system and the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Costa Rica to allow cruise ships with vaccinated passengers

by Jessica Pender

image credit: susannp4 (Pixabay)

From September first ships with fully vaccinated crews and 95% of 18+ passengers will be guaranteed entry to the country arrivals must have received their second dose at least 14 days prior to embarking. 

In addition travelers must complete a “Health Pass” 72 hours before their journey under the Port Operation Protocol. Such measures will allow the resumption of tourist activity in Costa Rica, which typically sees upward of 200,000 cruise passengers.

The first ship to arrive in port will be the Windstar, carrying 150 passengers to Golfito on September second.

Planning begins for Africa’s tallest tower

by Samiha Hamze

image credit: United Nations Photo (Flickr)

The companies BESIX and PFO Africa have announced their new contract for building a skyscraper in the economic capital of Cote D’lvoire, Abidjan, which will make it the tallest tower in Africa when built. PFO Africa will be developing the project and BESIX will uphold the civil engineering, with the plan so far for a 935 feet skyscraper named F Tower. 

This is the second joint project developed by PFO Africa and BESIX, as they have already begun constructing a drinking water plant called La Mé, which will be one of the largest installations in West Africa aiming to produce 30 percent of Abidjan’s drinking water needs. For F Tower, the work will begin in July, making it the sixth tower in Abidjan. Cote D’ivoire is continuing to show its rapid economic growth, with the potential to become a regional power.

Attacks at the Zagreb Pride march

by Kathryn Nuttall

image credit: Jurica Galoic

3-4 July weekend marked the 20th pride march to take place in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb. The march was first held in 2002 and is the oldest in Croatia, and Zagreb’s newly elected mayor, Tomislav Tomašević, joined the pride parade himself.

Participants from the LGBTQI+ community were met with homophobic verbal and physical attacks, and a rainbow flag was burnt at the march in protest. While over two-thirds of people voted against legalising gay marriage in a 2013 referendum in the country, these attacks are the first of their kind in over a decade at Croatian pride marches. The Zagreb Pride organisation has accused two centre-right politicians of indirectly provoking the attacks, however these claims have been disputed by the politicians as “false allegations”.

Vaccine sovereignty in Cuba

by Angel Hill

image credit: fernandozhiminaicela (Pixabay)

The Cuban government and public healthcare system have been focused on one goal since the beginning of the pandemic: producing and administering a Cuban vaccine. This goal came to fruition, despite being in the midst of a hard hitting economic crisis, with the first vaccine aptly named ‘Soberana’ meaning sovereign in Spanish. 

This exclusivity has caused tension, with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) repeatedly inviting and coaxing Cuba to share vaccine data and join the UN-backed global vaccine sharing program COVAX. However, with two out of the five Cuban vaccines showing high efficacy rates against the virus, it is unlikely that Cuba will share the trial data freely before ensuring that all 11 million Cuban residents have been vaccinated and the Cuban international tourism industry can be revived once again.

Cyprus: the gatekeeper at the crossroads of three continents

by Luke Jones

image credit: GregMontani (Pixabay)

From the Ottomans to the British, Cyprus, situated at the crossroads of three continents in the Eastern Mediteranian, has been a strategically important island for a number of powerful countries throughout history. Britain has two Special Base Areas (SBA), Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which uniquely stayed under British sovereignty when the 1960 Treaty of Establishment created the independent Republic of Cyprus. 

Their strategic importance was reinforced at the start of the month by UK Defence Minister James Heappey who drew on the example of how British warplanes could fly from a SBA to attack Islamic State targets. This suggests that Britain retains the ability to use its SBA’s as a platform to counter terrorist threats in Afghanistan with airstrikes as NATO troops withdraw – a contemporary example of a geopolitical fact.

Czech Republic President announces visit to China for 2022

by Josh Chapman

image credit: David Sedlecký

Czech President Miloš Zeman will visit China in 2022. The announcement on 7 July was followed by Xi Jinping calling the Czech Republic ‘China’s key partner within the EU’. It will be Zeman’s sixth visit to the country during his presidency. 

The Czech Republic’s political establishment has long been divided between an EU focus and shifting to align more with Russia and China. This announcement suggests that China’s influence in the country is growing following the foreign minister Tomas Petricek’s, a prolific China-sceptic, sacking in April.

For Xi Jinping, the Czech Republic is a foothold that he can use to increase his influence in other EU countries. As scepticism over China grows throughout the EU, Xi will hope that Zeman’s continued support will encourage the other EU countries in the Belt and Road Initiative to follow in his footsteps.

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