YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 6

Icelandic election poll shows waning support for current coalition

by Adam Spencer

Image Credit: Evelyn Paris

A recent poll in the leadup to the Icelandic parliamentary election in September has shown weakening support for the current ruling coalition.

Support for this coalition, which is currently led by the Left-Greens with the support of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, is currently at 55 percent. Whilst it shows a majority of Icelandic voters support the current ruling coalition, should that poll translate into an election they would not get enough seats for a majority.

The poll also shows increased support for the Socialist Party, who would see their first MP elected to Parliament at current. Opposition parties, the Pirate Party and the Reform Party, have also seen gains. Should this trend continue into an election, it may prove difficult to form a government.

Border clash between Indian states of Assam and Mizoram

by Jessica Pender

Image Credit: Naveed Ahmed

The north-eastern states share a 164km border. Under British colonial rule, the former territory of  Lushai Hills, now Mizoram, was part of Assam. However in 1972 it became a separate federally administered area, and then a state in 1987. Since then the border has been highly contested, with several clashes occurring between state officials and police.

As of last week the border point Lailapur saw violence as police on both sides engaged in a firefight that resulted in six dead and 80 injured. Assam’s Chief Minister announced via Twitter that their forces died  “defending the constitutional boundary” from alleged Mizoram miscreants. However Mizoram’s Home Minister, Lalchamliana disputed this, reporting that police forces had fired to prevent a forced border crossing.

Delta variant brings increased child fatality rate in Indonesia

by Owen Buchan

Image Credit: 1662222 (Pixabay)

The Delta variant of Covid is putting the Indonesian healthcare system under extreme pressure. This pressure has resulted in a tragic surge in child fatality rates. The Indonesian Pediatric society reported that 100 children have died of Covid each week during July.  The Indonesian Covid-19 Task Force found similarly upsetting results, recording 700 deaths amongst children since the pandemic started. This now means that children make up 12.5 percent of the total infection rates in Indonesia.

A struggling healthcare system that is seeing people forced to wait in overflow tents due to lack of beds is just one major issue. Furthermore, few hospitals are specially equipped to treat children with Covid. Indonesia has started to vaccinate children since July in an effort to tackle this rising crisis.

Iranian suspect charged with mass execution

by Connor Crout

Image Credit: Chickenonline (Pixabay)

Prosecutors in Sweden have charged an Iranian suspect with war crimes, specifically the mass execution of prisoners that occurred in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war. Although the suspect has not been officially named, the suspect has been widely suspected to be Hamid Nouri.

During the Iran-Iraq war, the order was given to carry out the mass execution of prisoners who were associated with an armed opposition group allied with Iraq. The suspect’s lawyer says the suspect, who the prosecutors claim was working in a prison near Tehran, denies the charges.

Human rights groups who have long fought for justice over these executions will be delighted that this issue is going to trial and hope to see justice done.

Mass restitution of looted artifacts back to Iraq from the USA

by Katie Nuttall

Image Credit: Kurious (Pixabay)

Around 17,000 artifacts have been returned to Iraq from the United States following a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The Iraqi artifacts had been looted over years of warfare following the US invasion, and many were stolen from the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad in 2003. Numbers of these artifacts had been illegally traded across the globe before finding themselves in the USA.

The announced restitution from the USA follows similar moves made by the UK, who returned artifacts back to Iraq both in 2018 and again in 2020. These historical artefacts often help citizens of their origin countries understand the history of their country and develop stronger connections to their culture as they make up an important part of the heritage of the countries in which they originated.

EU Covid digital certificate questions the ‘Irishness’ of passport holders in the North

by Dylan Nykamp

Image Credit: mollydot (Flickr)

Whilst the Irish government begins the process of legally recognising Northern Ireland’s vaccine certification for use in restaurants in the Republic, a hard border remains between the two parts of the island when it comes to the European Union’s Covid digital certificate.

Maintaining the EU’s new external border in a territory that saw decades of fierce conflict over the existence, or lack, of a border has created countless logistical and political disputes.

Irish passport holders living in Northern Ireland are unable to use the digital certificate designed to facilitate intra-EU travel for the fully-vaccinated.

This classification of Northern Ireland, at least in this policy area, as no more Irish than any other non-European country raises deeper questions regarding the cultural and political status of those who identify as Irish in Northern Ireland.

Israel and Hamas attacks could be classified as war crimes, says HRW

by Toby Gill

Image Credit: edu_castro27 (Pixabay)

A report published on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch has found that Israeli attacks, during the 11-day conflict in the Gaza strip in May, “apparently amount to war crimes”.

The report focuses heavily on three Israeli airstrikes which killed 62 civilians, despite there being “no evident military targets” in the area. The report also states that Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, fired over 4300 unguided rockets into Israeli communities which were “unlawful” attacks.

 Israel has argued that it only targeted sites in which Hamas operates, claiming the group intentionally operates in residential areas, leaving the IDF with limited options. Israel claims it gave the residents ample warning and took the necessary precautions to protect Palestinian civilians. 

The conflict in May saw over 250 Palestinians and 13 residents of Israel killed, and investigations into both sides of the conflict are ongoing.

Wildfires Ignite Southern Italy

By Harry Padoan

Image Credit: Michael Held

More than 800 fires have been recorded in Italy’s south over the weekend. Peak temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius have seen such wildfires be branded as some of the most destructive on record by the EU.

Interventions by the Italian fire service included 250 cases in Sicily, but stretched as far as Lazio in the west of the country. In Pescara, crowds of holidaymakers were forced to evacuate, leaving five wounded. The effects of the scorching heatwave have stretched across the Mediterranean, with Spain, Turkey and Greece all experiencing similar flare-ups.

Green energy in a developing world

by Megan Edwards

Image Credit: David Roumanet

Jamaica is part of a group of developing nations that are striving to transition from dependence on petroleum production for economic growth to more environmentally-friendly energy sources. Officials working in the fields of environment and energy were invited to share their projections, thoughts, and concerns for their field in a trial two-week training programme.  It was titled  ‘Aligning the Petroleum Sector with Climate, Energy and National Development Goals’ and was run by the New Producer’s Group (NPG) and delivered to government officials from Guyana and Uganda.

Many agreed that a long time plan that encourages economic growth alongside sustainability is needed to ensure a bright future for all. To facilitate this, the Commonwealth Secretariat will be offering advice and support to Commonwealth member states, including Jamaica.

‘Black rain’ victims compensated 

by Gracie Daw

Image Credit: D Earl

In the shadow of the Olympics, the Japanese courts have upheld a decision to grant medical dispensation to 84 ‘black rain’ victims. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 15 August 1945, killing 140,000 people, ‘black rain’ poured in the surrounding areas which exposed residents to radiation, causing illnesses which are now appearing. These residents were not initially in the geographic area the government uses to assign benefits, but after the court challenge by residents, the government has decided not to appeal, marking a change in policy. 

Japan has focused on their recovery and efforts for peace throughout the Olympics, and the Mayor of Hiroshima prioritised this court decision by campaigning at the Health Ministry instead of giving a tour of Hiroshima to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Jordan and energy development

by Samiha Hamze

Image Credit: David Bjorgen

For the past few years, Jordan has been using a processing plant that recovers yellowcake from uranium ores. The operator behind the plant, Jordanian Uranium Mining Company was established in 2013 focusing on radioactivity exploring and development in the country. So far, the plant has processed 70 tonnes of ore. 

This is a positive step for another Middle Eastern country to develop in the field. Jordan has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with France, Canada, the UK, Russia and also signed an agreement with China which covers uranium mining in Jordan. The evident growth we see is allowing Jordan to develop in its scientific and energy fields, but is also paving the way for more global cooperation.

Kazakh security officials fired in latest Pegasus fallout 

by Joe Mawer

Image Credit: 12019 (Pixabay)

The leaks of the Pegasus software has had huge ramifications and shown how many countries have spied on other states. Kazakhstan, however, has used the technology differently. Instead of targeting foreigners, like China has been accused of, Kazakhstan has targeted many domestic opposition figures and even some of its own officials. It appears that now President Tokayev spied on his own staff before his own accession to the position

In the latest fallout, President Tokayev has sacked some of his security detail, which many speculate to have been because of these leaks. Out of the 50,000 phone numbers that have been uncovered by journalists, 2000 of them appear to be Kazakh. This shows the weariness that the Kazakh government has that it may be challenged from actors inside Kazakhstan.

UK and Kenya continue military cooperation despite 12,000 acre fire

by Max Bedford

Image Credit: shauking (Pixabay)

In March, Kenyan national Linus Murangiri died while rushing to put out a fire in a Kenyan nature sanctuary that had allegedly been started during a British Forces training exercise. The fire destroyed 12,000 acres of land of the Lolldaiga conservancy that was home to myriad animals including the endangered Grevy’s Zebra. A court case has been brought forward by over 1000 Kenyan locals over the cause of the fire which lasted for four days and caused a selection of ailments for the local population including difficulty breathing. A key piece of evidence in the case is a British soldier’s snapchat story reading “Been good, caused a fire, killed an elephant and felt terrible about it but hey-ho, when in Rome”.

While the source of the fire is questioned in Court, the UK and Kenya have signed a new Defence Cooperation Agreement, with the aim of improving defence in Central Africa and combating Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The continued cooperation between UK and Kenyan forces suggests that they’ll continue training exercises in Kenya despite Murangiri’s death.

The prevalence of domestic violence in Kiribati

by Tiffany Choong

Image Credit: David_Peterson (Pixabay)

Kiribati contains a number of scattered islands in the Pacific Ocean and is home to just under 120,000 people. Sadly, it faces a high rate of domestic violence and gender inequality against women. Two out of five women experience intimate partner violence, and three out of five men have perpetrated intimate partner violence. These include physical, sexual, psychological and emotional violence. Additionally, one third of women experience economic violence, which includes being prevented from working and having finances withheld by their partner.

Within this traditional dominance of men over women, many are discouraged from telling people of the abuse suffered and seeking help. Activism has been growing and there are programmes implemented to help empower women and strengthen communities to bring about change.

The suspension of Shisha in the very place it’s sold

by Rachael Ward

Image Credit: Awesome Sauce Creative (unsplash)

Kuwait’s government has given the go-ahead for the reopening of Shisha cafés with the ironic instruction to continue the pause on serving shisha. As commercial activities resume in Kuwait, Shisha suffers a sustained shutdown, prompted by the advent of the pandemic. The government has argued that Shisha cannot be given the green light until the country makes greater progress in controlling the virus.

Protests were staged earlier in the month as frustration spills over from the Shisha sellers who claim to have lost over 1 billion dinars from the inability to profit from their product. The lifting of the country’s 8pm curfew summons relief from the services ready to resume business, but a longer wait is in store for the cafes and bars who centre their sales on a product they are not yet permitted to sell.

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