the brief: issue twenty-one


And the Pritzker Prize goes to…

by Neo Allert

image credit: Josizari (Wikimedia Commons)

Diébédo Francis Kéré could not be happier: on 15 March he was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Kéré has been honoured for his ‘pioneering’ designs that are ‘sustainable to the Earth and its inhabitants’, as Tom Pritzker, chair of the Hyatt Foundation, the sponsors of the award, explained.

Kéré was born in 1965 in Gando, a small village in Burkina Faso. After turning 20 years old, the soon to be world-renowned architect received a scholarship that allowed him to continue and finish his education and studies in Germany. Kéré, an educator and social activist in his own right, has become a German citizen since.

For the newest laureate, who is renowned for building schools, health facilities and other public buildings out of locally sourced and sustainable resources all around Africa, architecture has always been ‘a service to humanity’ – a service that has now been honoured.


‘Take food from the hungry to feed the starving’: Yemen crisis critical as U.N. pleads for donations

by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Fawaz Salman (Reuters)

As the Yemeni Civil War approaches its 8th year of violence, the U.N. has announced an aim to raise over $4 billion for a population on the verge of mass starvation. Due to Covid, the Afghanistan crisis and now the Ukraine-Russia conflict, funding for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has dried up. However, the emergency continues. Those in need of food assistance could rise to 19 million, while 2.2 million children already suffer from acute malnutrition.

The desperate situation was summed up bleakly by the World Food Programme’s David Beasley, ‘we have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving’. Last year, food prices doubled due to a blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition in conflict with Houthi rebels. With all eyes on Eastern Europe, hope for easing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises is dwindling.  


UK Foreign Secretary: Ukraine ‘paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11’

by Luke Jones

image credit: UK Government (Flickr)

In an official visit to Washington on 10 March, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came to the grave conclusion that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was as consequential as the darkest day in American history this century, 9/11. To face this stark reality, Truss – like many others before her – demanded that two percent of GDP must be a minimum target for NATO states, referencing that many spent upwards of five percent during the Cold War era. 

There are signs that more countries will meet this target, such as Germany and Sweden looking to ramp up military spending. Whilst the UK spends ∼2.3 percent, similar calls have also been made at home but the uncomfortable truth is that more spending on defence will mean cuts elsewhere amid rising taxes and bills.


ICE prevents Ukrainian refugees entering the USA

by Max Bedford

image credit: WikiImages (Pixabay)

Despite Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportations of unlawful immigrants being halted to Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European states; America has been unwilling to accept further Ukrainian refugees. Following the Trump presidency, Biden’s ICE has continued to use ‘Title 42’ to detain and expel incoming refugees quoting ‘health concerns’ surrounding Covid. Declared the ‘largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II’ by Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, the US has been accused of being unwilling to assist humanitarian efforts.

With refugees being placed in ICE detention centres, and the Biden administration requesting a tourist visa from any incoming Ukrainians, it appears unlikely that they will be welcomed ‘with open arms’ as the President promised.


New Zealand: From booster jabs to boosting the economy

by Connor Crout

image credit: MustangJoe (Pixabay)

New Zealand, after closing their borders for approximately two years due to Covid, is set to reopen their borders soon with Australians being able to enter without quarantining or isolating from 13 April. Additionally, fully vaccinated people from the 60 countries on the visa waiver countries and territories list (including the UK) will be able to enter from 2 May.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes New Zealand is ‘ready to welcome the world back’. With only 115 Covid deaths since the pandemic began and 95 percent of the eligible population vaccinated, it seems that New Zealand’s tough approach to Covid has worked – the next step will be opening up to boost New Zealand’s economy, because in February the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development identified border restrictions as one of two main risks to New Zealand’s economy this year.


Will Gustavo Petro be president?

by Eleanor Austin

image credit: phobosdistro (Pixabay)

On 13 March, Colombian citizens cast their votes in their inter party consultations. In the primaries a historic change was seen, with the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro receiving 4 million votes. If this trend continues into the summer, he would be Colombia’s first left-wing president. 

However, the primary also highlighted the divisions within the country, with Federico Gutiérrez, the right-wing candidate acquiring 2 million votes. Nonetheless, the incumbent right-wing president, Iván Duque Márquez, has left the nation dissatisfied. His presidency has seen violent attacks on protestors, apathy towards the 2016 peace agreement and economic turmoil. Consequently, Petro’s campaign of wealth distribution, a commitment to peace and climate promises, comes as a wanted change for many. Although Petro has previously ran for president and was unsuccessful, the results on 13 March alongside consistent support in the polls is different. For many, it echoes the belief that their first left-wing president may be elected this year.

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