The strange death of Kim Jong Nam

Security footage of the events leading up to the death of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of Kim Jong-il, leader of North Korea. From roughly 1994 to 2001, he was considered the heir apparent to his father. In May 2001, following a failed attempt to visit Tokyo Disneyland by entering Japan with a fake passport, he was thought to have fallen out of favour with his father. Kim was exiled from North Korea around 2003, becoming an occasional critic of his family’s regime and an advocate for reform. His younger paternal half-brother, Kim Jong-un, was named heir apparent in September 2010. Kim’s death in Malaysia in February 2017 is alleged to have been a result of poisoning by 2 women, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.









Who is to blame for famine in South Sudan ?

On 20 February 2017, South Sudan and the United Nations declared famine in parts of former Unity State, warning that it could spread rapidly without further action. More than 100,000 people are currently affected following civil war and economic collapse. The World Food Programme reported that 40% of the South Sudanese population (4.9 million people) needed food urgently. U.N. officials said President Salva Kiir Mayardit was blocking food deliveries to some areas.
In addition, parts of South Sudan have not had rain in two years. According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Representative Serge Tissot, “Our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive. The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”
South Sudan suffered the 1998 Sudan famine before its independence, but no famine had been formally declared anywhere in the world during the six years prior to 2017. There have been warnings of imminent famine in Yemen, Somalia, and the northeastern part of Nigeria, but the formal declaration requires that the following criteria be met:
20% of households suffer extreme food shortages.
30% of the population suffers extreme malnutrition.
At least 1 per each 5,000 inhabitants dies per day.
A February 20 update of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) found that 4.9 million South Sudan residents, 40% of the population, were in need of “urgent food, agriculture, and nutrition assistance”. The report had surveyed 23 countries, of which 14 exceeded the emergency action threshold of 15% acute malnutrition. The World Food Programme carried out relief operations throughout the war, mitigating the risk of famine in other areas including the Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. Bahr el Ghazal had been the region most severely affected in the 1998 famine, when it was struck by a two-year drought, a ban on humanitarian airdrops, restrictions on movement of displaced persons, confiscation of cattle and destruction of food stores.  
 A 2016 UN report described the former Unity State as the site of continuous fighting throughout the civil war because it has “great economic and symbolic importance because of its vast oil resources and also as a predominantly Nuer state, in a conflict that has pitted the two dominant tribes, Dinkas and Nuers, against each other”. Looting and burning in Unity State and displacement of its inhabitants in fighting over oil reserves also occurred in the Second Sudanese Civil War in the years leading up to the 1998 Sudan famine.[9] It is estimated that in 1998, 12,000 people starved in the Block 5A area out of 240,000 total, with another 160,000 forcibly displaced. Instability is a major reason for the low oil production in South Sudan since 2012.










Drought in Somalia : Time is Running Out

Four-year-old Safia Adan lies in Baidoa Regional Hospital in southern Somalia with a tube through her nose. She is suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration. At her side her worried grandmother looks up to explain that Safia first became sick after drinking water from the local well. “The water had changed colour but we still drank it,” says her grandmother. “We stopped after Safia became sick. We brought her to the city because we knew you get could get good treatment here.” They were lucky – seven people from their village are now confirmed dead and the hospital has seen a surge in children suffering from water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. They are the latest victims of the on-going drought ravaging Somalia that has left more than six million people, half the country’s population, facing food shortages and has seen water supplies become infected with bacteria rendering them undrinkable. 
Last week the United Nations warned that a severe famine in Somalia was a distinct possibility and noted that if the rains failed again and urgent international action was not taken the country could see a repeat of the famine of 2011, which killed more than a quarter of a million people. “In the worst affected areas inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock,” the UN said in a statement released last week. “Communities are being forced to sell their assets and borrow food and money to survive.” Aid agencies are particularly concerned that the drought is exacerbating the country’s on-going humanitarian crisis – 365,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and 71,000 of those children are in need of urgent life-saving assistance. “This time last year we had far fewer cases but due to the drought people will use any kind of water,” says Dr Abdullah Yusuf, medical coordinator for the Baidoa Regional Hospital.

 Karel Prinsloo









Protests against police brutality heat up in central Paris

Protesters clash with police over a case of alleged police brutality of a 22-year-old man identified by his first name, Theo, in which a policeman has been placed under formal investigation for suspected rape and three others for unnecessary violence. 









Fleeing to Canada from the U.S.

Some cross by foot, others take taxis close to the Canada-U.S. border, crossing into Quebec in an effort to claim asylum. 











Drought stokes rivalry between Kenyan cattle herders

Cattle rustling and competition for grazing have long troubled northern Kenya, but severe drought and political rivalries ahead of the elections have exacerbated the situation between ethnic tribes.  












Australia : End the abuse of refugees on Nauru

Australian immigration detention facilities comprise a number of different facilities throughout Australia (including one on the Australian territory of Christmas Island). They are currently used to imprison people who are detained under Australia’s policy of mandatory immigration detention, and previously under the now defunct Pacific Solution. The facilities are currently operated by Serco, and were previously run under G4S who used to be named Global Solutions Limited (GSL), under contract from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
The Migration Act 1958 allowed discretionary detention of unauthorised arrivals until 1992. Since the 1990s when the Keating Government created a policy of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals, with non-citizens arriving by boat without a valid visa being detained until they were either granted a visa, or deported. Towards the end of the 1990s, a large increase in the number of unauthorised arrivals exceeded the capacity of the existing Immigration Reception and Processing Centres at Port Hedland and Curtin.


The facilities have been a source of much controversy during their time of operation. There have been a number of riots and escapes, as well as accusations of human rights abuses from organisations such as refugee advocates, Amnesty International, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations. Journalists are forbidden from entering the detention centres. On January 2014, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens accused the government of a cover-up over a violent clash on 18 October 2013 at the Manus Island facility between the Papua New Guinea army and the Papua New Guinea police mobile squad hired for the facility’s security, leading to Australian expatriate staff being evacuated, while local staff and asylum seekers remained. On 5 May 2014, it was reported that several Salvation Army staffers had alleged that refugees were regularly subjected to beatings, racist slurs, and sexual assaults within the facility.
In March 2002, Irene Khan, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: It is obvious that the prolonged periods of detention, characterised by frustration and insecurity, are doing further damage to individuals who have fled grave human rights abuses. The detention policy has failed as a deterrent and succeeded only as punishment. How much longer will children and their families be punished for seeking safety from persecution? Former Prime Minister John Howard and successive immigration ministers maintained that their actions were justified in the interests of protecting Australia’s borders and ensuring that immigration law was enforced.









California’s Oroville Dam disaster is a wake-up call

Nearly 200,000 people living below the tallest dam in the United States have been asked to evacuate as a spillway appeared to be close to collapse. Authorities issued the abrupt evacuation orders at about 00:30 GMT on Monday, saying that a crumbling emergency spillway on the Lake Oroville Dam could give way and unleash raging floodwaters onto a string of rural communities along the Feather River. Officials said the cities of Oroville, Gridley, Live Oak, Marysville, Wheat land, Yuba City, Plumas Lake, and Olivehurst were all under evacuation orders. 
Earlier, the California Department of Water Resources said on Facebook that the spillway of California’s Oroville Dam was “predicted to fail within the next hour”. But several hours later the situation appeared less dire as the spillway remained standing. The water resources department said crews using helicopters would drop rocks to fill a huge gouge in the spillway. Authorities were also releasing water to lower the lake’s level after weeks of heavy rains in the drought-plagued state. 
The Oroville  dam, which serves mainly for water supply, hydroelectricity generation and flood control, activated its emergency spillway after weeks of heavy rain caused the reservoir to rise above its capacity. At 230 metres high, the structure, built between 1962 and 1968, is the tallest dam in the US, higher than the famed Hoover Dam by more than 12 metres. 








Venezuela’s economic crisis is now a life-or-death situation

Tension in Venezuela remains high as the economic crisis which has engulfed the country shows little sign of abating. The government and the opposition blame each other for the dire state of the economy. Venezuela’s inflation rate, which already is the world’s highest, is expected to rise to a staggering 1,660% next year, the International Monetary Fund predicts. The opposition-led National Assembly has voted to open a “political trial” against President Nicolas Maduro, a move which the president dismissed as “illegitimate”. Each side has accused the other of coup-mongering. Here, we look more in depth at the problems facing Venezuela and its president.  
Venezuela is split into Chavistas, the name given to the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez, and those who cannot wait to see an end to the 17 years in power of his United Socialist Party (PSUV). After the socialist leader died in 2013, Nicolas Maduro, also of the PSUV, was elected president on a promise to continue Mr Chavez’s policies. Chavistas praise the two men for using Venezuela’s oil riches to markedly reduce inequality and for lifting many Venezuelans out of poverty. But the opposition says that since it came to power in 1999, the PSUV has eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy. 







Islamic State encircled in Syria’s al-Bab

Islamic State militants are now effectively surrounded by Syrian government forces from the south and Turkish-backed rebels from the north, as Damascus and Ankara race to capture the largest Islamic State stronghold in Aleppo province.