YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 5

The “Pass sanitaire”: A necessary precaution or a step too far?

by Jonathan Vallee

image credit: Julian Alexander

France is experiencing a resurgence in Covid cases, with a particularly worrying increase in the Beta variant prevalent in Réunion. Thus, a bill was proposed on Monday, extending the “pass sanitaire” in France, and introducing a legal requirement for care workers to vaccinate.

As of Wednesday, this “pass sanitaire” is a legal requirement for entry into events of more than 50 people. It will require you to present a negative PCR or antigen test no older than 48 hours, a certificate of vaccination, or proof of having contracted Covid in the past 6 months.

This will become a requirement for bars, clubs, museums, or even churches. This has sparked intense debate within France, with the Ministry of the Interior estimating 136 rallies took place last weekend: 18,000 people marched in Paris and 96,000 in the rest of the country.

Total Eren to build solar power plant in Gabon

by Joshua Chapman

image credit: jorono (Pixabay)

Total Eren has announced it is going to build a solar power plant near Gabon’s capital city, Libreville. Once completed, the plant will be capable of producing up to 50 megawatts. It is expected to reduce Gabon’s CO2 emissions by over 59,000 tonnes a year and produce nearly seven percent of its energy. 

This is part of Gabon’s push to become ‘Africa’s green superpower’ according to the Financial Times and comes recently after the country was paid the first $17 million of a $150 million deal to protect its rainforests. The power plant will reduce Gabon’s reliance on fossil fuels, half of its energy comes from natural gas, but will also be a key project in the country’s push for sustainable development. As global temperatures continue to rise, this is a welcome announcement in the fight to stop global warming.

Gambia’s courts rule on brutality of Junta Regime

by Max Bedford

image credit: IsaacTuray (Pixabay)

Yanukuba Touray has recently been sentenced to death by the High Court, for the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay in 1995. Ceesay was murdered while serving as the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, it was expected that he was burnt to death as his charred remains were left unattended by government forces. The murder took place as Gambia moved from a military Junta, to a Presidential system; both of which were ruled by Yahya Jammeh and characterised by their brutality. This ruling has been hailed as a symbol of Gambia’s reforms and delivers hope that the tortures and killings of the Jammeh premiership do not go unnoticed.

The Chairman of the Gambian Centre for victims of human rights violations, Sherrif Kijera, stated “We are not rejoicing because Yankuba Touray has been sentenced to death. However, we are rejoicing because of the confidence that has been restored in our justice system”. It is expected that the previous government which once boasted immunity from the law, will continue to be prosecuted for their actions during Jammeh’s 22 year regime.

Intense backlash against the LGBTQ+ movement in Georgia

by Samiha Hamze

image credit: Frank Miller

Tensions in Georgia have been rising due to a clash between LGBTQ+ activists and ultraconservative groups. In response to a planned pride parade, a counter protest occurred resulting in 50 journalists beaten up and the pride organisers having to cancel the parade. After the attacks, the Prime Minister Irakli Gabashvili blamed pride parade organisers for attempting to hold an impermissible and triggering event.

One camera man named Alexander Lashkarava was beaten up during the counter protests, and was found dead in his home a few days later. After Lashkarava’s death, many television stations began protesting by stopping any broadcast for 24 hours. This is a reversal for the progressive direction Georgia has been moving towards in recent decades, and is a step back for LGBTQ+ rights.

Germany debates restrictions for the unvaccinated if Covid cases rise

by Jessica Pender

image credit: Mufid Majnun

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Chief of Staff, Helg Braun, warned German newspapers last Sunday that the government was debating introducing restrictions in lieu of another lockdown.

Unvaccinated people would be banned from public venues such as restaurants and cinemasto prevent the “residual risk” of another wave. These measures could potentially be instated without allowing for citizens to provide negative tests instead. Braun stated that these policies would be legal as “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”

Some measures debated vaccine requirements for professions like the medical field. Currently it is estimated that around 49 percent of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated, while 60 percent has received at least one dose. Currently vaccination is not compulsory, and Chancellor Merkel has ruled out new vaccine requirements for the time being.

The dark secret of Ghanian cocoa

by Luke Jones

image credit: 5671698 (Pixabay)

Called the ‘Land of Gold’ by Arab traders in the third century, today Ghana is more akin to the ‘Land of Cocoa’. Ghana and her West African neighbour the Ivory Coast produce nearly two-thirds of the global supply of cocoa. Employing some 800,000 farmers directly and contributing roughly 30 percent of Ghana’s export earnings, cocoa production is, as Takyi and Amponsah attest, the backbone of Ghana’s economy. 

However, the growth of the cocoa production has been to the detriment of the cocoa giant’s rainforests. The practice of slash and burn cocoa farming is the leading cause of the deforestation of Ghanian rainforests which is at the highest rate in the world. The Ghana Cocoa Board has managed a transition to sedentary farming but at a great financial cost which its sceptics argue is not best suited.

EU Commission warns Greece over poor air quality levels

by Orestis Sechas and Lefteris Anagnostou

image credit: Esa Ahlqvist

The European Commission has referred Greece to the European Court of Justice over its failure to fulfil its obligations under the EU’s ambient air quality legislation and to comply with the daily limit values ​​for PM10 concentrations in Thessaloniki.  The legal action was taken after the initiatives of Greek authorities have been insufficient to control air pollution.

The air pollution in Greece, caused by human activity, such as traffic congestion, fireplaces, the replacement of trees for blocks of apartments, and industry, has had consequences on people’s lives. The poor air quality, resulting from high levels of nitrogen dioxide, along with rising temperatures in urban centres, has many cardiological and respiratory repercussions, and causes serious illnesses such as asthma and reduced lung function. This has, according to international research, resulted in the decrease of Greeks’ life expectancy by two years.

Grenadian students abandoned in Cuba

By Gracie Daw

image credit: Adam Cohn (Flickr)

There are approximately 60 Grenadian students studying in Cuba where medicine and food shortages have caused protests across the country. Whilst international students from other Caribbean islands have received support in the form of care packages, Grenada’s support has been minimal.

Students have been writing to their Ambassador who left Cuba a few months ago. Typically students from Grenada receive $1500 from their government to cover expenses for the school year. However there is barely any food on the island to buy and if students are able to get their hands on some they have to pay higher prices because of inflation.

Legal corruption in Guatemala

by Connor Crout

image credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

Guatemala’s attorney general, Maria Porras, has removed an internationally known corrupt prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, from his position as head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, prompting criticism that this went against the rule of law.

Porras said that it was due to “the imminent lack of trust in the relationship”. She also claimed that Sandoval frequently abused her and undermined her work, but did not give details on what happened.

Sandoval has already said he will challenge his “illegal dismissal” and claims to be “the latest in a string of prosecutors who have suffered the consequences for seeking truth and justice”. Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman, Jordan Rodas, has called on Porras to resign.

Guinea U-turns on Olympic pull out

by Joe Mawer

image credit: kirill_sobolev (Pixabay)

Since 1968, Guinea have competed in the Olympics, sending 73 athletes to 12 Olympic games, however they have never won a medal. The participation of the West African nation at the Tokyo games was under serious threat after they announced that they were going to pull out due to concerns about the health of their athletes.

This is disputed as a source told Forbes that the real reason why the Guineans pulled out of the Olympics was because they couldn’t afford it, although this has been denied. According to the Guinean Olympic committee, they spoke to the organisers who explained how the Guinean athletes will be treated. This is another sideshow for an Olympics that has so many of them.

The business of cashews in Guinea-Bissau

by Tiffany Choong

image credit: Terrie Schweitzer

Cashew nuts are Guinea-Bissau’s main export crop, as this country remains one of the top global producers of it. However, since April, the domestic price had decreased by almost one-third due to financial struggles caused by the pandemic.

Their large decline of exports in 2020 has been hindered by their close trading partner, India, having its own troubles tackling high infection rates. India is Guinea-Bissau’s biggest export partner, importing 90 percent of their raw cashew nuts. On the other hand, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development noted in their recent publication that cashews can help to reduce poverty. Africa grows most of the world’s raw cashews but lacks the ability for processing and transporting. A hopeful opportunity lies whilst they may be missing out at the moment.

Climate debate intensifies in Guyana amid increased offshore drilling

by Toby Gill

image credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

Guyana, a nation of just 750,000 people, remains on track to become one of the world’s leading oil producers. Since ExxonMobil’s discovery of oil off the coast of Guyana in 2015, the economic prospects for the nation have grown considerably. 

Despite recent promises by President Irfaan Ali to create jobs, and invest oil revenue into infrastructure, there has been significant opposition to the oil drilling due to concerns of Global Warming. With close to 80 percent of Guyana’s population living in coastal villages, the threat of rising sea levels, triggered by the worsening climate crisis, is serious. 

This opposition recently reached the national stage in May, with two citizens filing Civil Lawsuits against the government, on the grounds that the continued offshore drilling is “unconstitutional” and “threatens human rights”.  The ongoing case is representative of the growing concern in Guyana of the harmful impacts oil production may have.

New Haiti Prime Minister takes power amid uncertainty

by Owen Buchan

image credit: David_Peterson (Pixabay)

Haiti has sworn in a new Prime Minister just two weeks after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in the capital Port-au-Prince. The late president asked Ariel Henry to be his PM just days before his death. Mr Henry’s accession to PM was not straightforward. The interim PM during the attack on Moïse, Claude Joseph, has previously been in conflict with Mr Henry but chose to step down and let Mr Henry become PM as per the deceased President’s wishes. 

Mr Joseph hopes Mr Henry’s appointment will set the stage for elections this September. There is still much turmoil in Haiti, with the precise details of the President’s assassination remaining a mystery still. PM Henry’s message is unity as he hopes to bring the assassins to justice.

Narcotrafficking hampered in Honduras

by Harry Padoan

image credit: David_Peterson (Pixabay)

This year, Honduran authorities have seized an immense 11 tons of cocaine. Recent operations have allowed the Central American nation to record triple the amount of cocaine than was seized throughout the entirety of 2020. This news comes shortly after the country’s president was accused of waiving cocaine shipments to the US after receiving bribes from drug traffickers.

Additionally, almost a quarter of a million coca leaf plants have been incinerated in the departments of Colón, Yoro and Gracias a Dios. These new statistics may indicate that narcotrafficking is under threat in Honduras, but will also undoubtedly provide cover for a president under fire. 

Hungary’s currency complex

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Bicanski (PIXNIO)

The Forint flows within Hungary at present but could Hungarians soon be exchanging euros as support for a change in currency increases? A recent poll revealed that 69 percent of Hungarians support switching to the Euro, with a mere 26 percent concluding they were for continued use of the Forint. Experts have expounded that the plummeting popularity of the Forint is attributed to its weaknesses, rather than an appeal to the euro.

As high inflation in Hungary lightens the pockets of the population, public calls for introducing the euro have grown louder. However, gripping to their economic independence from the rest of the EU, Hungary’s President, Viktor Orban, has condemned a change to the currency. Sighting the Forint as a source of economic autonomy from its European partners, the Hungarian government are keen to settle this currency complex with a firm rejection of the euro.

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