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Weekly News Digest


Compiled by Sara Anis Ali, Grey Cohen, Hayes Orr, Quinn Phillips, Ryan Simons, and Tobyn Smith

Edited by Sara Anis Ali, Hayes Orr, Quinn Phillips, Meagan McColloch, Niamh Dempsey


Europe

Russian Influence in European Elections Intensifies

Investigations into Russian influence in European elections are being triggered across Europe following reports of pro-Russian influence operations being uncovered in Czechia and Poland. This comes after the Czech government shut down the website ‘Voice of Europe’ over reports that it was run by an ally of Vladamir Putin, Viktor Medvedchuk, and paid Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to spread pro-Russian messaging in debate. Further reports came in from Poland after authorities arrested a man and seized over €50,000 in assets in connection to attempts at election manipulation. These investigations come in a critical election cycle year for Europe.


Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo condemned this behavior and questioned how this had happened in one of Europe's most prestigious settings, the European Parliament. Further, numerous political groups, such as Renew Europe and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) within the European Parliament, have asked for a complete review during the next Parliament sitting to prevent an electoral fallout similar to the one following the 2016 United States presidential election. Far-right politicians like Germay’s Maximilian Krah have denied involvement despite giving Voice of Europe two interviews in the last few years. 



Middle East and North Africa

Israeli Air Strikes Kill Seven Aid Workers

On Tuesday, Israel launched an air raid that killed seven aid workers who were volunteering for the World Central Kitchen (WCK). The charity group provides food for nations undergoing natural disasters and armed conflicts. While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the strike was “unintentional”, the founder of the World Central Kitchen and famous Spanish-American Chef, José Andrés, refutes these claims, stating that the aid workers were “targeted systematically car by car” and that “they [the Israeli Defense Forces] knew it was our team moving on that road with three cars.”


Israel’s airstrike on volunteers within an aid organization has drawn international criticism, with nations like the United Kingdom and the United States condemning the attack and again stating that Israel must take precautions to protect civilians and aid workers. While various nations have come out to criticize the horrific event, none are taking concrete action to prevent future incidents from happening. Despite the earlier passage of the UN Security Council measure to institute a ceasefire, it is evident through the attacks on aid workers that indiscriminate airstrikes will continue within Gaza. 


Given the recency of the tragedy, the WCK has temporarily suspended its work within Gaza. This comes at a severe toll on the trapped Gazans as the World Central Kitchen was working in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus to help collect and deliver 500 tons of goods to Gaza. Each week the WCK was providing over two million meals—during a time when the UN has stated that 1.1 million Gazans were facing catastrophic—and now operations are suspended indefinitely. Given the threat of attacks on aid workers, it is unclear how the actions of Israel will impact future aid delivery within Gaza.

 


North America

America-Chinese Leaders Work to Stabilize Relations

On Tuesday, United States President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conference to discuss the relationship between their countries, the first time they have talked since their in-person meeting last November. This conversation was intended to ease international concern over the U.S. and China’s growing tensions. The phone call follows Xi’s recent meeting with American business leaders in Beijing last week. The White House called the talk “candid and constructive,” while the Chinese spokesperson said relations were “beginning to stabilize.” The leaders discussed Taiwan, as next month the new Taiwanese president is set to be inaugurated, and Xi insisted that the U.S. stay committed to its “One-China” policy. Biden expressed his concerns over China impeding Filipino ships from refueling in the South China Sea last month. Biden also focused on China’s continued defense ties with Russia amid the continuing Ukraine-Russia war. 


A major component of the talk centered around heightened economic tensions. This week, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is traveling to China to meet with state officials and finance scholars about economic cooperation and competition. Yellen has expressed concerns over China’s “green-washing” of the energy industry, which she says distorts market prices and hurts the global industry. China insists that its subsidized green industry production is a counter to America’s protectionist trade and technology policies. The U.S. has recently been developing a domestic renewable energy and electric vehicle industry. The leaders of both countries must find ways to work productively as they are engaged in strategic competition in an age of interdependence. 



Central America & The Caribbean 

Crisis in Haiti Worsens As 53,000 Flee The Capital In Just Three Weeks

The United Nations released a report on Tuesday detailing that more than 53,000 people have fled Haiti’s capital in less than three weeks. This displacement is a result of the wave of unrelenting gang violence in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Most of those fleeing the conflict are headed to rural areas in the southern region of the country, according to U.N. officials. The southern region of the country has already received 116,000 Haitians who also fled from the capital. 



More than 90% of the Haitians who fled the capital this year have been crowded into buses and are being forced to abandon their homes and move in with relatives or makeshift shelters. Conditions are bleak for many of these people as shelter conditions are often unsanitary and prone to overcrowding. 


The exodus of Haitians from Port-au-Prince began when gangs attacked multiple government institutions in February. Since then, three million people have fled the capital. Two prisons have been stormed, police stations set alight, and airports shot at since the violence began. So far, there have been 1,500 reported casualties up to March 22nd, with another 17,000 people displaced. The situation has become so dire that many countries, including the U.S. and Germany, have already evacuated all of their nationals employed in the country. Honduras has claimed that at least 20 Honduran nationals are set to evacuate from Haiti within the week. 



South America

Peruvian President Dodges Latest Impeachment Attempt 

On Thursday, the Peruvian Congress rejected two separate motions to formally debate impeachment proceedings for President Dina Boluarte. President Bouluarte has been the subject of an ongoing corruption probe investigating her collection of Rolex watches. As part of the investigation, prosecutors raided her home and office in search of evidence as to how she obtained them. Following the raid, the prosecutor’s office stated that the raids had yielded “elements of interest” while President Boularte called the raid “abusive.” Although Boluarte takes a yearly salary of about $4,200, local media outlets published documents from the raid indicating at least one Rolex watch worth at least $14,800. Eight additional watches from other brands were found in the Government Palace.


President Boluarte assumed office in late 2022 after former President Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested following an attempt to dissolve Congress by decree. Since then, Peru’s political climate has become increasingly polarized. Supporters of Castillo have instigated a series of violent protests in the country, arguing that the former president had been unjustly targeted by the legislature. Despite Peruvian presidents being elected for a five-year term, the country has had six presidents since 2018. According to recent polling, both Congress and Boluarte have public approval ratings of 9 percent. These abysmal numbers represent the Peruvian public’s deep distrust for their government and constitution which allows presidents to be impeached for “moral incapacity”, a vague measure that's been used to impeach several former leaders.



Sub-Saharan Africa

Uganda’s Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Upheld By Constitutional Court

Uganda’s five-member Court of Appeals or ‘Constitutional Court’ decided against nullifying or granting an enforcement injunction regarding 2023’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, a piece of legislation outlining strict punishments including execution for those identifying as homosexual or engaging in homosexual acts. The justices did reject aspects of the legislation pertaining to health and privacy but largely accepted the contents of the 200-page legislation.


The bill is popular amongst Ugandans but has caused Uganda to face backlash from the international community. The World Bank has halted new loans to the country, and the United States has taken steps such as placing visa restrictions on officials deemed responsible for the bill’s passage and removing duty-free status from Ugandan exports.


Despite the recent decision by the Constitutional Court, LGBTQ activists in Uganda are continuing to fight against the bill. Activists have announced plans to appeal the court’s decision and bring the case all the way to Uganda’s Supreme Court.

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