July 30, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers new legislation in Iran, persevering protests in Thailand, and continued coverage of Tigray.
This week UNICEF announced that more than 100,000 children in Tigray, Ethiopia, could suffer from life-threatening malnutrition in the next twelve months. Tigray remains extremely dangerous and riddled in conflict, creating a significant challenge for aid organizations to operate within the region. The World Food Programme (WFP) announced that a convoy of more than 200 trucks are on their way to Tigray, but its impact is small in scale. Conditions are expected to worsen as Ethiopia’s Amhara regional president Agegnehu Teshager called on armed residents to mobilize for battle in a “survival campaign” against rebels in Tigray. Mobilization continues across the country as thousands of Ethiopian army recruits paraded farewell in Addis Ababaon Tuesday.
The Afghan government has imposed a month-long curfew across the country on Sunday. Conflict between the Taliban and Afghan government have increased dramatically over the past two months as international troops have begun to withdraw. The Taliban have been making rapid territorial gains across rural areas, leading to clashes outside the city of Kandahar. In response, the United States launched airstrikes in the region on Thursday. While the Taliban have not captured any major cities, the Afghan government and international figures are concerned over what the next few months will hold.
Following a period of unrest that left over 300 people dead in South Africa, soldiers have continued patrolling neighborhoods and streets. As tensions continue to simmer, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has begun to shift his attention abroad. On Wednesday, Ramaphoa authorized the use of 1,495 members of the military to help Mozambique fight a rising jihadist insurgency. Attacks have been steadily escalating in the Cabo Delgado province since 2017. Recent violence has disrupted major gas exploration projects and civilian life in the town of Palma. South Africa’s forces will be in Mozambique for three months as part of a deal agreed in June by the 16 nations of the Southern African Development Community.
With rising Covid cases in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday that vaccinated people should resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces. The Delta variant has been the center of concern for health officials and are calling for universal masking for teachers, staff, and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status. However, actual re-enforcement of mask mandates in the country will likely meet resistance among states and Americans.
Meanwhile, the European Union has passed the U.S in Covid-19 vaccinations, giving at least one shot to 58.3% of the total population of its member countries as of Thursday. However, the Delta variant is a worldwide concern, causing some European governments seeking approval for restrictions on those who don’t get vaccinated. France and Italy have seen small protests opposing tightening restrictions, however wide-scale opposition has not spread.
This week, COVAX reported nearly 4 million doses arriving in Africa. With only 245,000 doses shipped through the month of June, this move is a promising start to COVAX’s goal of shipping 520 million doses to the continent by the end of 2021. The African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is in charge of distribution and with only 1.6% of the continent’s population vaccinated, AVAT will be busy for the next few months. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, announced that this is a delicate light at the end of the tunnel situation and further urged “all countries with surplus doses to urgently share more in the spirit of life-saving solidarity and enlightened self-interest, because no country is safe until all countries are safe.”
Myanmar’s military government officially annulled the results of the 2020 general election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide victory. The annulment is based on the military-run election commission’s determination that a third of the ballots were invalid and that Suu Kyi’s party had abused administrative power. However, the International community continues to assert that Myanmar’s 2020 election was credible. Following the annulment, the junta officially declared a national state of emergency, promising to hold elections after an interim period of 2 years.
State media reports that 600 inmates of Myanmar’s largest prison were vaccinated against covid on Thursday, the first mass vaccination of prisoners since the coup d’état in February. The vaccinations follow a prison protest last week against the rampant spread of covid due to terrible living conditions and the junta’s mismanagement of the pandemic. Since February the junta have forced many doctors underground and failed to contain massive covid outbreaks. Even after this series of vaccinations was announced, Britain’s UN ambassador asserted his belief that half of Myanmar’s population will be infected with Covid in just two weeks if cases continue to spread at their current rate.
Over 72 hours of heavy rains caused flooding in three states this week. The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) estimates that over 48,500 people have been affected or displaced by the flooding.
On Wednesday, the ruling Georgia Dream (GD) party announced its decision to annul the “April 19 Agreement”, an EU-brokered deal that put an end to the protracted political crisis earlier this year. The agreement, originally seen as a positive turning point in Georgia’s democratic development, called on signatories to engage in judicial and electoral reform and continue working together until the next parliamentary elections. Departure from the deal highlights the ongoing challenges Georgia’s democracy faces. Leaders of the GD cite the fact that the biggest opposition party (the Uniten National Movement) is not a signatory as their explanation for the annulment. Irakli Kobakhidze, the head of the party, also stated that the agreement “had completed its mission” and that the opposition is at fault for not fulfilling their end.
The decision to annul the agreement has received international condemnation, and political leaders are calling on Georgia’s parties to work together to strengthen democracy in the nation. The U.K. has urged the parties “to abide by the spirit of the 19 April agreement, and refocus efforts to deliver the series of judicial, electoral and constitutional reforms envisaged by the agreement.” The U.S. state department warned of the risk of a return to the political crisis.