April 30, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers protests in Russia, opposition arrests in Zimbabwe, a new immigration bill in Hong Kong and political negotiation in Georgia.
Amid protests in support of Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s main opposition leader, 40 regional offices owned by his team are going to be disbanded as prosecutors attempt to brand his movement an extremist organization. All public activity by Navaly’s organizations has been stopped by the orders of a Moscow court, including calls for protest. Somalia’s president was supposed to have stepped down in February but instead attempted to extend his time in the position by two years. Fighting broke out in the capital this week in response to the president’s attempt to formally extend his term and he has since promised to reverse the legislation. In Palestine, parliamentary elections originally scheduled for May 22nd have been delayed indefinitely. In the Persian Gulf, a year of maritime peace came to an end as American ships have been ‘harassed’ twice by Iraian military vessels within the past month. In Baghdad, 80 people were killed when an oxygen tank exploded in a hospital for COVID-19 patients.
Global COVID-19 infections have been increasing for nine consecutive weeks while the number of deaths have increased for six consecutive weeks. In Germany, the most recent infection numbers have defied ‘worst-case predictions’ while Brazil’s death toll became the second highest in the world, as it passed 400,000 this week. India’s death toll increased to over 200,000 this week as the country grapples with nearly 400,000 infections per day and an estimated 18 million cases nationwide. Several states in India ran out of vaccines a day before the inoculation campaign was set to expand to include everyone over the age of 18. In Delhi, crematoriums have had to build makeshift funeral pyres due to a shortage of space and wood. The WHO, United Nations and over 40 foreign governments have been deploying resources like field hospitals, ventilators, oxygen, vaccines and laboratory supplies to India this week to help the country fight the recent surge. The Indian variant of COVID-19 has been detected in countries around the world, sparking fears that they could face a similar resurgence of cases.
According to a new report from the United Nations, almost half of Myanmar’s population could be forced into poverty by the end of 2021 as the country teeters on the verge of economic collapse caused by the double shock of a military coup and the Covid-19 pandemic. Rising food costs, significant losses of income and wages, the breakdown of basic services such as banking and healthcare, and an inadequate safety net is likely to push millions of already vulnerable people below the poverty line of $1.10 USD per day, with women and children hit especially hard. Analysis from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), published Thursday, warned that if the security and economic situation does not stabilize soon, up to 25 million people, or 48% of Myanmar’s population, could be living in poverty by 2022. That level of impoverishment has not been seen in Myanmar since 2005, according to the UNDP. According to the report, by the end of 2020, 83% of Myanmar’s households reported that their incomes had been, on average, cut almost in half because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The February 1 military take over further exacerbated Myanmar’s economic situation, with the UNDP estimated that the coup d’état caused a 12% increase in poverty in the country. Further, clashes between Myanmar’s security forces and regional armed groups have resulted in fresh deplacements of civilians in several parts of the country, as well as forcing many to seek refuge outside its borders. As fighting intensifies between the Myanmar Army and Karen insurgents in southeastern Myanmar, thousands of ethnic Karen villagers are poised to cross into Thailand. Karen rebels and the Myanmar army have clashed near the Thai border in the most intense fighting in the area in 25 years, leading to villagers on both sides of the border being forced from their homes. The Karen Peace Support Network says thousands of villagers are taking shelter on the Myanmar side of the Salween river and they will flee to Thailand if the violence escalates furter. Thailand’s foreign ministry spokesperson said that 2,267 civilians had crossed into Thailand from Myanmar as of Friday. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said some 40,000 people have been displaced by the conflict in eastern Myanmar, while another 11,000 have been displaced by fighting in the north and 5,800 in the northeast.