the brief: issue twenty-eight


Growing hunger in South Sudan, as the world’s youngest country remains gripped by worsening food shortages
by Henry Neale

image credit: UK Ministry of Defence (Wikimedia Commons)

The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan looks set to worsen in 2023; extreme weather events, drought and the war in Ukraine have resulted in severe food shortages. Reports have suggested that the rainy season of October-December is once more set to go awry, as countries in East Africa face a fifth consecutive year of crop failure due to drought.

South Sudan itself is listed as the eighth nation with the highest levels of malnutrition, as UN figures suggest almost eight million suffered severe food shortages between April-July 2022. The conflict in Ukraine has only worked to exacerbate the crisis.  With both Russia and Ukraine being major grain exporters, food prices have been rising rapidly around the globe.

The fledgling nation (that has only been independent since 2011) also remains beset by political fatigue and economic fragility following the post-independence civil war.


Japan hosts first multinational naval fleet in seven years
by Owen Buchan

image credit: Official U.S. Navy Page (Flickr)

Amid growing tensions in Asia, Japan hosted its first international fleet for seven years on Sunday. The naval display is meant to symbolise unity in the face of increased Chinese pressure on Taiwan and a record number of missiles being tested by North Korea. 

The multinational fleet paraded in Sagami Bay near Tokyo. Amongst the fleet were 38 vessels, with 18 being from allied nations such as the US, UK, and India. These vessels were accompanied by a wide array of aircrafts, including submarine-hunting patrol planes and helicopters. 

The Liberal Democrat Party Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishda gave a speech proclaiming ‘We must ready for those who violate rules and who would use force to trample on the peace and security of other nations’. Kishda also reiterated the Liberals pledge to double Japan’s defence budget to around 2% of GDP within 5 years.


MP banned from French parliament following racist comments during black colleague’s speech
by Kate Nuttall

image credit: Tmorlier (Wikimedia Commons)

Grégoire de Fournas, a member of the French Assemblée Nationale, has been suspended from parliament for 15 days after shouting a racist comment, as his colleague Carlos Martens Bilongo made a speech regarding migrants. This punishment is one of the harshest that can be imposed by the National Assembly. 

Bilongo is a member of the far-left party ‘La France Insoumise’, while de Fournas is a member of the far-right party ‘Rassamblement National’. The parliamentary speaker immediately stopped proceedings and later stated that an investigation would be launched. De Fournas claims that he shouted “they should go back to Africa”, while others believe the comments said “he”, targeting Bilongo directly, who was in any case born in France. The French translations of “qu’il” compared to “qu’ils” are difficult to differentiate when spoken which is why the investigation is still ongoing.

North America

Canada announces new immigration goals as labour shortage looms
by Harvey Young

image credit: Fr33kman (Wikimedia Commons)

Like most countries in the west Canada faces the troubling reality of a native-born population that is both ageing and widely predicted to decline in the coming years. This has led to fears amongst policymakers in Ottawa that these demographic changes could create serious societal and economic problems for Canadas.

The Canadian approach to solving this has long been to compensate for these demographic changes through immigration, welcoming many foreign-born workers into the country to help contribute to the economy and tax revenues to pay for increasing numbers of pension claimants. Although around 300,000 people already immigrate to Canada every year, the federal government has just announced that it wants 1.5 million more to arrive by 2025 to more effectively deal with Canada’s demographic woes. It remains to be seen if these goals can actually be met.


A Queen with a mission: improving women’s health services in Tonga
by Neo Allert

image credit: TongaTui (Wikimedia Commons)

On 2 November, His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga attended an event in Dubai with his wife Queen Nanasipau’u, marking the forging of a new partnership with the Arab Women’s Authority. This organisation has provided widespread support for initiatives worldwide related to the health of women. The new partnership between Tonga and the Arab Women’s Authority has been warmly welcomed by the Tongan royals.

In her speech addressing the Arab Women’s authority, Queen Nanasipau’u expressed her deep gratitude for the future assistance provided in the areas of screening and diagnostic services for women. The lack of such services has caused many Tongan women to die prematurely from cancer, as the illness is often only identified in its late fatal stages. Although the situation concerning women’s health in Tonga has improved considerably, Queen Nanasipau’u has emphasised that much work remains.

South America

Lula’s comeback
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: A1Cafel (Wikimedia Commons)

Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva has become Brazil’s president for the third time, after narrowly beating Jair Bolsonaro in last week’s hotly anticipated election. Whilst Lula’s victory was predicted, the narrowness of the win of 50.9% to 49.1% was unexpected. Despite Lula’s previous presidency ending in a corruption scandal, his supporters still rallied for him, especially in the north-east which tipped the result in his favour. 

Tensions were high after the run-off as Bolsonaro remained silent after the results had come in, prompting pro-Bolsonaro groups to protest the election results, blocking roads across the nation. After 48 hours, 2 November, Bolsonaro conceded, citing that the roadblocks were not legitimate protests and were disrupting the economy. 

As Bolsonaro’s controversial right-wing presidency saw an increase in poverty and environmental destruction, many hope a return to Lula will encourage positive social change within Brazil.

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