October 8, 2021
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report! In this issue, we cover the latest updates on the U.S.-China diplomatic tensions, updates from the conflict in Afghanistan, growing cases of media freedom restrictions in Belarus, and more.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, international attention is brought to the July walkout of Bosnian Serbs from state institutions, as well as the recent threats from Bosnian Serb groups that they intend to separate the Republika Srpska, a Serb-dominated region, from the rest of the country. This pullout would include the defecting of Bosnian Serb soldiers out of the Bosnian army, as well as the creation of a Republika Srpska army. Another measure threatened was noncompliance with the state taxation system. In the Gaza strip, Palestinians protested a deal made between the US and the United Nation’s agency for Palestinian refugees, claiming the deal violated Palestinian rights and sovereignty. Outside of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees’ , they protsted guidelines that “cancel[led] the rights of return for refugees.” The money given by the US is conditional on vetting aid receivers to make sure they are not receiving military training, part of a guerilla group, or the Palestinian Liberation Army. Another measure includes monitoring school curriculum in Palestine. Some objections by protesters were that the “UNRWA will act as a security agent for the US,” and that “The UN agency has no right to sign a contract at the expense of refugees’ interests and impose restrictions on their freedom of expression under the pretext of neutrality.” This is made more severe by the fact that this deal was penned without consultation of any Palestinian body. Early this year Colombia, due to controversial tax plans, strikes and protest movements grew commonplace, as well as violent police reactions to them. An estimated 60 protestors are dead as a result. Five years ago, the acting government signed a truce with Marxist Guerilla Front FARC. The following president scrapped this deal. Now, there are reports of 1,900 Colombia rebel groups being given safe harbor in Venezuela. Venezuela’s President Maduro has denied such claims, but in the past has expressed sympathy to the leftist rebel groups and openly welcomed some guerilla group leaders.
On Thursday, October 7, Pfizer and Biotech announced they officially submitted a request to US authorities for emergency use of their vaccine for children aged 5-11 years old. The request, which was submitted to the Food and Drug Association (FDA), will be reviewed near the end of October. According to White House Covid response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, if the companies’ request is approved, the new vaccine could be ready as early as November. Zients added: “We are ready. We have the supply.” Meanwhile, policymakers around the world have been debating whether to recommend single or double doses of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s. Officials are concerned about a rare side effect of these vaccines: myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Although this side effect is rare and only significant after the second dose, several countries like Hong Kong, Norway, and Britain, have chosen to mitigate the risks and recommend a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 and older. Also on Thursday, October 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) shipped Covid aid supplies to North Korea through the Chinese port city Dalian. The WHO had confirmed its support for North Korea in its latest weekly report for South and East Asia. The report also stated the organization will deliver more shipments to North Korea in the coming weeks for “strategic stockpiling and further dispatch.” North Korea, who has restricted cross-border traffic for the past two years and has not reported a single case of COVID-19, has previously declined its vaccine allotment from the UN-backed COVAX distribution programme. Analysts speculate North Korea is uneasy about international monitoring requirements which accompany vaccine donations.