Word News Column

World News in Brief, published 20/9/2022

Fatal flooding in Pakistan uproots millions, sparks calls for urgent climate action.

Recent flooding in Pakistan has left over a third of the South Asian country submerged under water, killing over 1,300, and displacing over 33 million people. Climatologists and environmental scientists have attributed the devastating floods to the ongoing climate crisis. 

With the death toll expected to rise dramatically, wealthier countries are being urged to contribute to the reconstruction process. Massive amounts of humanitarian aid, technical assistance, and infrastructural supports will be required in order to rebuild the country, now decimated by this unprecedented ecological catastrophe.

For many, the disproportionate impact inflicted by climate change on developing countries illustrates the profound disparities between the Global North and Global South. The death toll and widespread displacement have sparked calls for climate justice, and an accelerated global transition away from fossil fuels.

Last month Irish Minster for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, announced an initial contribution of €500,000 to assist in the provision of emergency aid to those affected. However, many pundits have criticised the international community for its perceived inaction and have urged global leaders to coordinate a concerted multilateral effort to help repair the damage and minimise casualties.

Readers who would like to contribute to the relief effort can donate to non-profit humanitarian organisations such as Action Aid, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and Save the Children.

Brazil: re-election prospects bleak for controversial far-right incumbent Bolsonaro.

As the October election looms ahead, current President of Brazil; Jair Bolsonaro, appears unlikely to succeed in his re-election bid. According to recent polls conducted by Datafolha and IPEC, as reported in the Washington Post, the controversial firebrand is 10 percentage points behind his adversary, Lula da Silva, also a former President.

Bolsonaro attracted criticism for his handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic, his perceived failure to adequately respond to large-scale fires in the Amazon rainforest, and his haphazard response to persistent economic challenges, and his complicity in homophobic legislation and fostering of widespread cultural homophobia being enacted under his watch. 

In an effort to salvage his political career, the commander-in-chief has resorted to implementing popular financial measures, including the distribution of cash payments to poor families, and tax cuts on fuel.

However, many commentators have predicted that these policy announcements will not deliver the drastic boost he will need in order to defeat da Silva. Bolsonaro was elected on a platform of anti-establishment iconoclasm, but his administration’s reputation has been marred by numerous corruption scandals, and over half a million deaths due to Covid.

The President has made numerous erroneous and misleading claims, including promoting hydroxychloroquine (a potentially dangerous substance) as a ‘cure’ for the virus, and expressing anti-vaccination views. Further polarising his already divisive public image are numerous incendiary comments he has made about the LGBTQ+ Community, saying in a 2002 interview that he would ‘beat up’ a gay male couple if he saw them kissing in the street. 

Bolsonaro’s hostility towards same-sex couples has fostered a repressive social climate characterised by homophobic intolerance and bigotry, leading many gay men, trans women, and other sexual and gender minorities both emigrate and seek refuge overseas in search of more permissive societal attitudes. 

Gort Resource centre in Galway has argued that many have come to Ireland due to disillusionment with the Bolsonaro administration’s social and economic policies, including his homophobic attitudes. The 2016 Census reported 13,640 Brazilians living in the state, the majority of whom were concentrated in Dublin. Many members of this community are students who make a valued contribution to life on campuses across the country, many of whom are also members of the LGBT+ Community.

Bolsonaro’s increasingly paranoid behaviour and precipitous leadership style are arguably indicative of a sense of impending defeat. As Brazil celebrated its 200-year anniversary of independence from Portuguese rule earlier this year, the diverse Latin American nation braces itself for what could potentially be yet another seismic political transition.

Mass burial site discovered in recently-liberated Ukrainian city.

Article text: A mass burial site, containing upwards of 440 graves, has been discovered in the Ukrainian city of Izium. The city had been under Russian occupation until last weekend, when a lightning offensive from Ukrainian forces liberated the region. 

Speaking to CNN, the Ukrainian Centre for Strategic Communications detailed that most of the graves uncovered in Izium were “fresh”, and the corpses buried there were “mostly civilians”. It is understood that many of those buried were either shot or killed in airstrikes, artillery attacks, or landmine explosions. More in-depth examination into the causes of these deaths will follow.

The discovery has been likened to atrocities committed by the Russian army in Bucha and Mariupol, since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that “some bodies found in Izium have shown signs of torture”, while Governor of the Kharkiv region Oleh Syniehubov has described how “several bodies [have their] hands tied behind their backs, and one person is buried with a rope around his neck”, concluding that “there are also children among the buried.”