Global News In Brief

Global News in Brief for Volume XXIX, Issue 5. Published 28/2/2023.

Humanitarian crises deepen in Somalia

by Simran Kathuria

The combination of drought and conflict is creating unprecedented levels of food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. Around 22 million people are currently struggling between life and death. Carbon emissions from wealthy countries are causing enormous humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa. Hard hit by climate change and instability, Somalia, the easternmost part of the African continent, is on the brink of famine.

The country is experiencing its worst drought in four decades affecting 7.8 million people. The scarcity of water due to lack of rain, triggered by climate change, is the root cause of this problem. Five failed rainy seasons in over 2 years have led to the drying up of crops and the death of livestock.

According to a United Nations report, around 5.6 million people in Somalia are facing ‘acute food insecurity’. Meanwhile, children are the worst hit, with UNICEF reporting that 1.5 million children are malnourished and 386,000 children are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Hunger-related illnesses such as cholera and measles are rampant in those under the age of five, with many dying inside their homes. 

The Horn of Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with extreme weather events becoming increasingly common. Somalia saw its last famine in 2011 with 260,000 people dying of starvation, half of them being children under the age of six. Over the years, climate change has exacerbated the situation, with rain frequency getting below average, causing catastrophic food and water insecurity.

Meanwhile, the disruption in the supply of wheat, oil, and fertilizers, due to the Russia-Ukraine war, has pushed food prices higher still. Vulnerable Somali families are fleeing their homes, walking miles to reach aid camps in search of a meal, with many unable to make it.

Protests across US demand Accountability over Tyre Nichols Killing

by Michael Keating Dake

Demonstrations have been held in several major cities across the U.S in response to the release of footage depicting the assault of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year old Black man, by 5 police officers. Nichols died as a result of his injuries three days later in hospital. The graphic police body camera and surveillance footage released in January was met with widespread condemnation across various sectors of society, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the American Civil Liberties Union. Protests emerged in Memphis, Tennessee, where Nichols was attacked, and solidarity demonstrations have occurred in other major urban centres across the country.

The 5 officers responsible for the assault have been fired and charged with 2nd degree murder. Reuters has reported that the Shelby County sheriff has suspended a further two deputies without pay for five days for unspecified conduct that allegedly occurred after they appeared at the scene of the assault. Incidents of racially motivated violence inflicted by law enforcement personnel on Black civilians are not unprecedented in the U.S, with the killing of George Floyd sparking global outrage in 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement is expected to continue campaigning on this issue, along with a range of other civil rights organisations and civil society activist groups.

Pew Research has found that Black adults in the U.S are 5 times more likely than their white counterparts to say that they have been stopped by the police due to their race or ethnicity. According to the Washington Post Police Shootings Database, “although African-Americans make up less than 14% of the population, they accounted for almost 24% of over 6,000 fatal shootings by the police since 2015”, as reported by the BBC. The data findings, along with numerous prominent instances of racially motivated violence, indicate that racism remains an endemic and systemic problem in the US.

Turkey-Syria Earthquake Death Toll passes 50,000, UCDSU launches Donations Appeal

by Michael Keating Dake

The death toll of the earthquake that struck Southern Turkey and Northwestern Syria earlier this month has exceeded 50,000, according to Al Jazeera. This figure is expected to rise, with subsequent tremors rippling across the region over the days following the initial shock. The earthquake comes as Syria continues to grapple with a 12-year-long Civil War that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. The infrastructural damage and physical destruction caused by the earthquake have exacerbated humanitarian conditions in the region. 

Turkey has experienced the worst of the damage, and suffered the highest death toll, with the Southern portion of the country serving as the site of the earthquake’s epicentre. With many still trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings, the recovery process will require vast quantities of humanitarian aid and technical support from the international community. Numerous charitable groups, NGO’s, and multilateral organisations have contributed to the assistance effort. Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that 95 nations and 16 international organisations have pledged aid to Turkey in the aftermath of the quake, as reported by CNN. Countries have also provided search and rescue teams to assist in the recovery of civilians trapped beneath rubble, including trained rescue dogs.

UCDSU launched a Donations Collection in solidarity with the earthquake victims. Having collected in-kind donations of blankets, supplies, sanitary products, sleeping bags, and non-perishable foods to be delivered to the Turkish embassy, the S.U also raised funds online in support of charities providing assistance. Speaking to the University Observer, UCDSU President Molly Greenough commented on the donation effort: “Our hearts go out to everyone impacted internationally, [...] we know that there are a number of Turkish and Syrian students here in UCD so our thoughts are with them during this incredibly difficult time.”

Greenough tells us that the collection, although successful, has ceased its collections of in-kind donations due to the Turkish embassy no longer having capacity for goods. However, UCDSU and UCD Global are reportedly still sharing links to online fundraising platforms in aid of the earthquake victims. Students who would like to donate or learn more about the humanitarian impact of the earthquake can go to the UCDSU website.

Numerous international commentators have criticised “Western” regimes for maintaining sanctions on Syria throughout the crisis, with Noor Noman arguing in an opinion piece for MSNBC that: “Sanctions are not resulting in the atomization of the Assad regime, they are only hurting and killing ordinary civilians.” Critics have argued that sanctions, however, are necessary to ensure that the Assad regime is kept economically and militarily isolated, given Bashar al-Assad’s abysmal human rights record. The Biden administration has announced the lifting of some sanctions in order to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to the country, as have other world leaders.