The focus of attention in West Asia is on the Iraqi (and allied) assault on Mosul (Iraq) as well as the Syrian (and allied) assault on East Aleppo. Here are focused the eyes of the world, as it were. An 11 hour ceasefire is in effect in Aleppo, to allow aid and relief to get through the frontlines. The assault on Mosul is ongoing. It appears that ISIS has either formed a citadel in sections of the interior of Mosul or has done what it did in other major fights - disappeared into rural areas to regroup again elsewhere.
Less attention is on Yemen,
On October 13, the UN General Assembly - by acclamation - elected the former Portuguese Prime Minister and former head of the UN Refugees Agency António Guterres as the next Secretary General. Guterres has a difficult job ahead of him. The refugee crisis, which he knows a great deal about, shows no sign of abating. The core issues that drive this crisis - war and poverty - are not really on the agenda. Keep in mind that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom - are
The referendum in Colombia on the peace deal failed by a very narrow margin. My report - derivative of the mood in the country - appeared yesterday in The Hindu. The takeaway is in the last paragraph,
- Gloom prevails across the country. If the vote had gone the other way, Colombia might have shown the world that even intractable civil wars can come to an end. It would have been a message to Syria and to the Congo, a message of the power of negotiation towards a new civic compact. But this did not come to pass. Even as President Santos and the FARC leader
Good news out of Cartagena, Colombia, where the FARC and the State signed a peace deal ending a 52 year civil war. But matters are still on the edge. This Sunday, on 2 October, the people of Colombia will go to the polls to vote on a referendum towards peace. A lot rests on this vote. It will be a dangerous situation if the vote goes against peace, although the mood suggests that peace is inevitable.
My report in Alternet is on the peace deal, between the signature and the referendum. The last paragraph is here:
- October 2nd is Gandhi’s birthday. It is a fitting day for the
The picture above, from 2014, is from Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. It is now about the eighth or ninth largest city in Jordan - estimates for the population sit at around 80,000. It is hard to know the exact number.
In today's Alternet, I have a short report that draws from a series of UNICEF reports on the situation of child refugees. Currently, children comprise almost half the world's refugee population. UNICEF says that there are about 50 million children who are in the status of refugee. My report notes,
- The term ‘refugee’ denudes the people of their h