YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 4

Surge of militia attacks in Eastern DR Congo displaces 20,000

by Theo Mitchell

image credit: MONUSCO Photos

Since May, 2021 the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan Islamist militia allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State, has intensified its insurgency in the North Kivu Province on the DRC-Uganda border. This has led to 20,000 civilians being displaced and 14 people being killed in the city of Beni, the first attack of this scale in the area for over two2 years.

The security situation in the eEastern DRC has been poor for decades; no serious security presence infrom Kinshasa has led to a vast array of rebel groups taking root particularly in North and South Kivu ranging from Hutu Power remnants to local tribesmen.

President Felix Tshisekedi announced a state of emergency in May giving the army more powers to re-establish law and order, though the effectiveness of this will likely be limited due to manpower issues and rampant army corruption.

Law passed in Denmark to deport asylum seekers outside Europe

by Orestis Sechas

image credit: John Englart

Despite mounting pressure from civil society organisations, the Danish government has announced a controversial plan to relocate asylum seekers outside Europe whilst their cases are reviewed. This is a move which aims to reduce social housing for the so-called ‘non-Westerns’, which essentially refers to non-white and largely non-European people. 

The latest move is in line with a whole series of policies implemented by the Social Democratic government, which has a goal of “zero asylum seekers in Denmark”. This follows Denmark’s controversial position over Syrian refugees; more than 200 refugees have been told to leave by the Danish authorities, on the basis that Damascus and the surrounding areas are safe to return to.

However, conditions are not in place for the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees, and as such the response to the new Danish asylum system from the international community has been strong and overwhelmingly negative. 

Djibouti: The walkway for refugees

by Leanna Devabalan 

MJO (Pixabay)

Placed between Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, Djibouti has become a central passing point for thousands of refugees fleeing war and drought. In 2019, the UNCHR stated that 74 percent of these refugees are women and children.  The most popular form of entry to Djibouti is by boat or by bus. Unfortunately, the waterways have been abused by people smugglers; this has resulted in capsized boats and numerous people left dead. In June, the BBC reported the capsizing of a boat holding around 160 to 200 people; with some sources reporting the drowning of 150 migrants.  Sadly, in March, people smugglers caused the death of 20 individuals after throwing them overboard across the Gulf of Aden. 

Though Covid has reduced the number of refugees passing through Djibouti, more needs to be done to stop such unnecessary loss.

Making the minimum wage match the market

by Rachael Ward 

image credit: Getty / The Atlantic

Following 14 pensive years, the conclusions of a long overdue review into the minimum wage in Dominica has recommended a rise to align with the market reality. The awaited adjustments to minimum wage will be rolled in for Dominicans from 1 September. However, there are no definitive digits outlining a fixed rate as the minimum wage wavers according to the sector. For example, the minimum wage for agricultural workers is set to step up from an hourly rate of $4.00 to $7.00. More sectors requiring a minimum wage have moreover been added, including bartenders with a set wage of $7.24.

The prospect of annual reviews has been mooted by the Minister for National security and Home affairs. As the minimum wage moves up to mirror the market, Dominicans can look forward to wage increases that reflect the economic reality.

Dominican Republic’s curfew eased

by Connor Crout

image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)

In April, the Ministry of Public Health reported 26 deaths and more than 80 people affected throughout the Dominican Republic after drinking adulterated alcohol.

Earlier this month, the Dominican government introduced decree 419-21 which set a curfew from 6pm to 5am, which included prohibiting the consumption of alcohol whether publicly or privately. This curfew is now being eased by decree 432-21, which renders article 8 of decree 419-21 ineffective and sets the curfew as 11pm to 5am on weekdays and 9pm to 5am on weekends.

This is unfortunately not the first time the Dominican Republic has had a serious health issue related to tainted alcohol – there is a history of methanol poisoning outbreaks, the worst in April 2020 which included 369 cases and 227 deaths.

The disturbing truths of sexual abuse in Ecuador’s education system

by Tiffany Choong

image credit: Pexels (Pixabay)

Sexual violence in schools is a prominent issue in Ecuador. Between 2014 and 2020, 4221 individuals were affected by perpetrators inside educational institutions – these included teachers, school bus drivers and fellow students. The fear of speaking out and getting help points to the lack of proper intervention and failure by the government and educators. Many victims are pressured not to report cases due to a high risk of revictimization and harassment.

Human Rights Watch reports that budget cuts for preventing gender-based violence decreased from $5.4 million to $877,000. Also, the support for students remains minimal with only one welfare team available for every 1,200 students, and this is inapplicable to private schools. There is a need for better hiring standards and screening in addition to adequate access for training to protect children’s rights and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Ever Given released by Egyptian authorities

by Jessica Pender

image credit: popofloop (Pixabay)

After the Ever Given blocked off the trade route, it stalled trade for a week. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) estimates at least $12 million in revenue was lost for each day the ship was grounded. In addition, repair to the waterway as well as efforts to move the boat added a significant financial loss to the port. 

The SCA chief stated that an NDA has been signed between Egypt and the owners of the Ever Given as a compensation agreement is drawn up. Currently estimates of this agreement lie around $559 million. 

The ship has since been released as of 7 July and will continue its original  journey to Rotterdam.

El Salvador’s journey into the world of crypto

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Art Rachen (Unsplash)

El Salvador’s government is believed to be on the brink of announcing their own national crypto currency, sometimes referred to as the “Colon dollar”. This follows the nation’s vastly popular Bitcoin Law, which will require every business in El Salvador to accept cryptocurrency as legal tender by September. 

The news broke after brothers of President Nayib Bukele were seen discussing the stablecoin’s launch with potential investors – the launch could be as soon as the end of the year. 

As the only country in the world accepting the likes of Bitcoin as legal tender, El Salvador is set to lead the way in exploring a crypto future.

Crackdown on corruption in Equatorial Guinea

by Max Bedford

image credit: PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)

It has recently been revealed that the couple who run Equatorial Guineas’ national oil company, GEPetrol, have been stealing profits from the company using a company in the British Virgin Islands. After accusations of fraud by Arcadia Petroleum Limited it was found that Oburu, the CEO of GEPetrol, had been stealing funds between $64 and $73 million. The Swiss anti-corruption group, Public Eye, went on to find “ a myriad of subsidiaries in offshore locations, shell companies with cryptic names: this case features all ingredients of a major corruption scheme,”. It has also been found that Oburu has luxury houses in Houston, Madrid and Accra that are connected to a number of shell companies suspectedly bought with the money taken from GEPetrol.

The accusations against Oburu have come shortly after the Spanish government re-issued the arrest warrant for the previous Director-General of  GEPetrol, Candido Nsue, Okomo; who is suspected of money laundering and misappropriation of public funds alongside their former director of marketing, Tomo. As various justice systems investigate GEPetrol it is expected that more individuals will appear before court for  the seemingly systemic misappropriation of public funds.

UN calls for Eritrean withdrawal from Tigray

by Frank Roberts

image credit: 12019 (Pixabay)

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution calling for Eritrea’s immediate withdrawal from Tigray. Eritrean forces are assisting the federal Ethiopian government in suppressing Tigrayan rebels who have been fighting since November 2020. Since declaring independence in 1993 Eritrea has, at various junctures, been at war with all its neighbours and the country retains a concept of permanent military service. In fact, both countries only signed a peace agreement in 2018 ending a 25-year border dispute since independence.

Eritrea and Ethiopia achieved initial military success in Tigray, but rebels have now retaken the Tigrayan capital of Mekele and now Eritrea is experiencing heavy losses. It remains to be seen whether the Presidency of Isaias Afwerki can survive if the military is further weakened.

Estonia defies global tax agreement

by Joe Mawer

image credit: Makalu (Pixabay)

From the UK to Russia, 130 different countries have signed up to the global tax agreement, which has set the minimum corporate tax rate to 15 percent. 9 countries from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have currently not signed up to this agreement including Ireland and Hungary, but by far the most interesting country that has not signed is the Baltic country of Estonia. Estonia is one of the technological capitals with communication tools such as Skype being invented there and it provides the best technological education in the world.

There are multiple reasons why Estonia, which has a corporate tax rate of 19 percent, disagrees with the current. The main points are that it does not discriminate between the sizes of the business or how the business is doing. This means that under the current system, companies cannot have a profit and still produce a dividend and that would end if they signed this agreement.

The struggle for reform in Eswatini

by Owen Buchan

image credit: pixel2013 (Pixabay)

The African nation of Eswatini is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Current King Mswati III rules over 1.3 million subjects and has failed to tackle the nation’s crippling economic situation. With crumbling infrastructure, mass malnutrition and widespread unemployment, the situation for the people of Eswatini is dire.

There have been various calls for change. Political activists have been calling for various reforms such as ending the ban on opposition parties and the overturning of the current constitution, from which the monarchy draws most of its power from. 

Protests for reform are nothing new. A current wave of protests that started in June has turned violent and is being met with harsh government resistance, with the imposition of a curfew, internet censorship and the deployment of the military. It is looking unlikely that the grip of the monarchy over Eswatini is slipping.

A new wave of violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray War

by Dylan Nykamp

Ue3lman (Wikimedia Commons)

Ethiopia, a country divided federally along ethnic lines, sees new violence between the Amharas and Tigrayans.

The postponement of the 2020 General Election due to the pandemic led the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to declare Prime Minister Ahmed as illegitimate. The TPLF went ahead with, what the federal government describes as, illegal regional elections.

Late 2020 saw a build-up of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces on the Tigray Border. In November, the Tigray War began. Throughout the conflict, there have been allegations of war crimes by all participants, including extrajudicial killings.

Following failed ceasefires, on Wednesday PM Ahmed pledged to strike back against the Tigrayan rebels. This comes after the Tigray Defence Forces announced the capture of Alamata in the South of the region and contested farmlands in the West.

‘No jab, no job’: a virus in a tropical world

by Megan Edwards

image credit: Spencer Davis

Fiji has recently joined a growing list of countries pushing a ‘no jab, no job’ policy whereby all employees in both public and private sectors are required by law to receive the Covid vaccine. All civil servants who had not yet received their first dose of the vaccine as of July 12 have been put on mandatory leave and are not permitted to return to work until vaccinated. Those who refuse to adhere to the guidelines will be dismissed from work. 

Despite raised questions on the ethics of making vaccinations mandatory, Prime Minister Bainimarama argues that this legislation is fully within the Fijian constitution and moreover that it is the responsibility of the Fijian government to ensure the health and safety of its citizens following current scientific guidance, which at this time points towards the efficacy of vaccines in reducing illness and death caused by Covid.

Human rights ruling against Finland overturned

by Gracie Daw

image credit: Adrian Grycuk

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has overturned its own ruling in a case against Finland. In 2019, the ECHR ruled that Finland had violated articles two and three of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was the first time the body had ruled that a country had broken article two, which states that everyone’s right to life should be protected by law. 

The case against Finland was that it had rejected an asylum claim of a man, who they had sent back to Iraq in 2015. Later, documents were submitted to the court by his daughter, stating that the man had died on his return to Iraq. 

This week it was found that the documents submitted had in fact been forged and that the man in question was alive in Iraq. Therefore the ECHR reversed its original verdict. This is one of a few cases in which the ECHR has overturned its own ruling. 

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