Weekly Reports Archives — CANVAS

Weekly Report: 17 August 2018

A Congolese health worker tends to patients prior to the launch of the vaccination campaign in the DRC this week. (Reuters) Syria This Monday, an explosion in the rebel-held town of Sarmada close to the Turkish border killed at least 36 people, including twelve children. According to the White Helmets rescue group, at least ten people were rescued from the rubble. The building was suspected to be storing weapons and ammunition, but also was home to many civilians that had fled the initial conflict of the war. On Tuesday, the Russian military pledged its forces to help UN peacekeepers to restore patrols along the Syrian frontier with the Golan Heights, which are currently under Israeli occupation. This reflects a growing trend of Russian trying to exert influence in the region, as the Russians have fairly good relationships with both the Israelis and the Assad regime in Syria. This week, details are beginning to emerge about the disappearance of Razan Zaitouneh, one of Syria’s most prominent human rights activists. Zaitouneh went missing at the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in December of 2013, after she was seen being abducted by unidentified gunmen at the Violation Documentation Center in Douma, a rebel-held town in the Eastern region. The most recent clue as to what happened to Zaitouneh was the appearance of graffiti in the recently reclaimed Tawbeh Prison, dated 2016 and signed by Zaitouneh. As the conflict in Syria seems to be drawing to a close, Israeli leaders are looking to seek a truce in Gaza for the time being – particularly as the Israeli government is concerned about Iranian...

Weekly Report: 3 August 2018

Riot police in Harare use water cannons to disrupt opposition protesters on August 1st, 2018. (EPA) Syria This past Sunday, Iranian and French officials to review efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria, focusing on a political solution to the protracted war. On Monday, the Syrian government revealed the deaths of an estimated 13,000 deaths among activists who disappeared and were detained by the Syrian government early on during the civil war. Thus far, 400 death certificates have been issues, listing natural causes such as heart attacks or strokes. However, this is widely disputed by groups such as Amnesty International, which claims that those imprisoned in the Saydnaya facility were likely tortured to death by the Syrian regime. Last Tuesday, pieces of footage were released depicting a Japanese journalist and Italian man respectively. It is believed that they have been held in Syria, one of whom was thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra front (a former Al-Qaeda affiliate) in 2015. A report from Human Rights Watch released this Wednesday revealed that the movement of internally displaced persons as a result of fighting near major city centers has been greatly restricted. In addition, HRW revealed that authorities at the camps for displaced persons have been taking the documentation of residents without returning it, something that makes it impossible for individuals to so much as leave the camps. Also on Wednesday, Russia implored the United States to back its efforts to repatriate Syrian refugees following the Trump-Putin summit, something that the United States had yet to comment on. Were the US to comment positively on this, it would...

Weekly Report: 27 July 2018

Protestors marching against Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila on July 23rd,2018. Associated Press, Bullit Marquez Syria At least 215 people have been killed in a series of Islamic State attacks in Sweida, a Southern Syrian province, on Wednesday. A sickening combination of suicide vests and heavy artillery wounded an additional 180. Despite its significant loss of territory in recent years following heavy foreign intervention and combat, IS maintains a considerable amount of territory centered around Southern Syria next to the Jordanian border. The Syrian government has begun confirming that hundreds of prisoners taken into their custody during the Civil War have died. At least 312 deaths have been confirmed so far, but as relatives continue to search for their loved ones the number is expected to rise. The government has detained more than 80,000 people in the last 10 years. Independent researchers have found that civilian casualties in Syria have risen by 34% due to Russian air strikes, which are supported by and partnered with the offensive tactics of Assad’s government. Russian weapons have killed at least 2,882 people in 2018. The Kremlin has maintained key interest in the success of Assad’s government following the war and has stated that they plan to employ restoration tactics in Syria akin to those used in the construction of the Soviet Union following World War II. The United States and France have implemented sanctions to combat the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s government, targeting 5 new manufactures in addition to renewing 24 previous sanctions. The new policy has heightened tensions between the US, France, and Russia, especially following the Trump-Putin...

Weekly Report: 20 July 2018

A woman holds a banner reading “Free Courts” at a protest outside the Parliament building in Warsaw, Poland on July 18, 2018. Reuters, Kacper Pempel.   Syria Last week, rebel forces in the Deraa province agreed to surrender the region to the government in return for their safe evacuation to northern Syria. Just a few days after this evacuation agreement, Assad’s forces moved into the nearby Quneitra province and continued attacking rebels. On the 19th, rebel forces surrendered and agreed to leave Quneitra. On the other hand, negotiations between the government and rebel forces in Nawa (the largest urban center in Deraa province) faltered when opposition leaders refused to capitulate their control in the region. The government proceeded to conduct an intense overnight bombing campaign between Tuesday and Wednesday, which included at least 350 launched missiles. Nawa’s only hospital was bombed, many (including doctors) were killed, and at least 150 were wounded. The government’s attacks in Deraa and Quneitra sparked a peaceful protest on Tuesday near the frontier of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Protestors waved white flags at Israeli soldiers, requesting protection from the government’s offenses. However, the protestors were quickly dispersed by Israeli soldiers who claimed they used loudspeakers to request the Syrians to turn back. On Thursday, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (an al-Qaida linked rebel group) exchanged the release of 1,5000 prisoners held by the government and Hezbollah for the safe passage of Fua and Kefraya residents to Aleppo. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham had imposed a siege on the two towns Fua and Kefraya for three years, making the civilians suffer from food and medicine shortages. The two towns...

Weekly Report: 13 July 2018

Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone speaks to the media while leaving Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar July 9, 2018. Reuters, Ann Wang   Syria Forced by weeks of Assad’s brutal offensives and Russian military involvement, opposition fighters in the Deraa province have agreed to hand over their heavy weaponry. The Assad government has also seized control of the strategic Nasib crossing, which will allow for the reestablishment of a key trade route between Syria and Jordan. In return, the government has agreed to leave four villages—Kahil, al-Sahwa, al-Jiza, and al-Misaifra—undisturbed. Furthermore, rebels who do not wish to live under government rule will be granted safe passage to the northern province of Idlib. However, the details of this passage have not yet been discussed. Perhaps the raising of the government’s flag in Deraa, home to the graffiti that sparked the Syrian war in 2011, could signify the end to seven years of displacement, death, and devastation. More than 320,000 displaced Syrians from the Deraa province have sought refuge from the brutal fighting for years, unable to return to their home region despite its being a “de-escalation zone.” Currently, an estimated 189,000 are seeking shelter along the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, although Israel has announced that it would not let Syrians through its borders. Others have been struggling to financially afford living in Jordan or to live under the appalling refugee camp conditions along the Jordanian border. Despite international pressures, the Jordanian government has refused to take in more refugees, citing security concerns linked to ISIL and Jordan’s limited capacity to accommodate more people. However, Jordan has continued to provide aid and...

Weekly Report: 6 July 2018

Supporters of President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gathered in Mexico City after the Sunday election. Reuters, Goran Tomasevic. Syria The Assad government’s offensives in Deraa province have intensified, and the regime now controls most of the region just two weeks after initial attacks. Jordan has diplomatically intervened, sparking a new round of negotiations between Russia and the rebels in the southwestern region. However, these efforts have been unsuccessful in bringing safety to Deraa province’s 800,000 civilians. In response, Jordanians have been working to supply aid to the Deraa refugees. Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon are continuing their return, with uncertainty and cautious hope. The US’s stance on Syria took a sharp turn this week. US National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that President Trump is not opposed to the reinstatement of Assad’s regime. In return, the US hopes to have Russia’s help in removing Iran from Syria. Trump and Russian Premier Vladimir Putin are scheduled to discuss this issue on July 16th. Similarly, Israel, also sensing that Assad’s complete takeover is imminent, has demanded Iranian withdrawal from the country. Furthermore, Israel has ramped up its military presence in the Golan Heights frontier, and occupation near its border with Syria. These actions raise questions about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, its role in providing humanitarian aid, as well as its alleged neutrality in the conflict despite the numerous airstrikes it has carried out. Iraq, on the other hand, has started constructing a fence along the Iraq-Syria border to keep ISIL members out.   Nicaragua This week, new reports place the death toll in Nicaragua...