Interregional News | Asylum-Seekers

Number of asylum-seekers drowned in Mediterranean reaches 5,000 for 2016
  • The U.N. refugee agency announced the figure—amounting to an average of 14 deaths per day—following the recent deaths of 100 asylum-seekers after two dinghies sank off the coast of Italy.
  • The number is highest annual total yet, with contributing factors including poor weather, decreased boat construction quality, increasingly crowded seas, and increasingly desperate attempts to avoid detection and deportation.
  • According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 360,000 reached Europe’s shores by sea in 2016, a significant decrease from the more than 1 million in 2015.

Read more:
Migrant crisis: UN says 5,000 drown trying to reach Europe this year” (BBC)
Mediterranean death toll is record 5,000 migrants this year: agencies” (Reuters)
‘Worst Annual Death Toll Ever’: Mediterranean Claims 5,000 Migrants” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

China News | Christians

Christians see restrictions on Christmas celebrations as crackdown by Chinese government continues
  • A hotel in Zhejiang province canceled plans to host two services by local churches after a warning from the government.
  • Zhejiang authorities have also moved to prevent informal “house churches” from operating and have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals.
  • Officials have condemned many forms of religious expression in the name of national security, considering Christianity an example of the “infiltration of hostile Western forces.”

Read more:
China Cracks Down on Christmas Celebrations, Bans Protestant Services” (Radio Free Asia)

Additional reads:
China’s Zhejiang Bans Religious Activities in Hospitals as Crackdown Widens” (Radio Free Asia, August 2016)
Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland” (The New York Times, May 2016)

(Image Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press, via The New York Times)

Global News | Palestinians

U.N. Security Council passes resolution condemning Israeli settlements in West Bank following U.S. abstention
  • The 15-member council passed the resolution 14-0-1 after it was taken up by members from four countries following its withdrawal by Egypt under pressure from U.S. President-elect Trump and Israel.
  • Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, on the increase in recent years under the conservative government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, have involved the expropriation of land from Palestinians and the demolition of Palestinian villages.
  • Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., defied pressure from Trump, U.S. legislators, and conservative Israeli lobbyists in abstaining, paving the way for a united international declaration of the settlements as in violation of international law.

Read more:
U.N. Security Council demands end to Israeli settlements, U.S. abstains” (Reuters)
Israeli settlements: UN Security Council calls for an end” (BBC)
U.S. Abstains as U.N. Security Council Votes to Condemn Israeli Settlements” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Africa Feature | Women

The Resilience of Africa’s Top Female Football Players

Facing nonexistent funding, social suspicion, and expectations of continued domestic obligations, many female football players across the African continent have endured challenges far greater than their male counterparts for the love of the game. Where men’s teams have been able to rely on state support and a long history of social sanctioning, women’s teams have had to resort to informal networks and social media to drum up the support necessary to enable them to compete, all while facing sanctioning of the opposite sort: underinvestment, disparagement, and insults about their gender and sexuality. The Guardian profiled a number of the competitors in this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, revealing the divide in opportunity for women and men and burgeoning signs of progress in the continent’s most popular sport.

Read:
Skilled, determined and broke: Africa’s female football pioneers” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Andy Clark/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Brazil News | Indigenous

Budget cuts and proposed land rights and environmental rollbacks threaten indigenous communities in Brazil
  • Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous communities, faces large budget cuts under President Michel Temer’s government that advocates say could increase the insecurity of indigenous groups, particularly of the more than 100 uncontacted groups in the country.
  • A draft decree seeks to increase the level of scrutiny applied in the demarcation of indigenous land reservations, annulling certain previously secured land rights and making the recognition of new claims considerably more difficult.
  • A proposed bill seeks to overhaul environmental licensing protocol, shifting from federally managed licensing procedures to flexible, state-based determinations of licensing necessity for agricultural and land-use projects.

Read more:
Temer government set to overthrow Brazil’s environmental agenda” (Mongabay)
Brazil’s plan to roll back environment laws draws fire: ‘The danger is real’” (The Guardian)
Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/The Guardian)

Lebanon News | Women

Appointment of man as Lebanon’s first women’s affairs minister sparks outrage
  • The appointment of Jean Ogasapian to the new post in Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri’s newly formed government drew widespread condemnation from women’s rights leaders and organizations, a further injury on top of the appointment of only one woman to the 30-member government.
  • The stakes are high as advocates work to combat high levels of domestic violence and discriminatory citizenship laws that deny women the power to pass citizenship on to their children upon marrying non-citizens.
  • Social media derision has given way to calls for protests against an appointment viewed as illegitimate and in line with the establishment of a cabinet built through nepotism and loyalism rather than competence.

Read more:
Lebanon protests urged after man picked as first women’s affairs minister” (The Guardian)
Lebanon appoints man as first ever women’s affairs minister” (The Independent)
Lebanon’s first minister for women is a man” (The Washington Post)

(Image Credit: Handout/Reuters, via The Guardian)