International News Briefs

Syrian refugees trying to make their way out

JORDAN: More than half a million Syrian refugees continue to put pressure on the Middle East, the BBC reports. Since Jan. 1, 26,500 refugees have arrived in Jordan alone, most of them traveling by foot, with 3,000 crossing each day. Another 50,000 refugees are waiting to cross, according to the report. The Jordan government has already threatened to close its border to Syria. United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator Andrew Harper is calling for more international aid. Conflict in Syria started two years ago when demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s government began. During this time, 60,000 people were killed and another two million were displaced.

North Korea threatens the US

CHINA: It is no secret that satellites, long-range rockets and high level nuclear tests are aimed at the United States, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said in a news statement. According to a Los Angeles Times article, the comments come after the United Nations decided earlier last week to expand sanctions over the country’s missile and nuclear programs. North Korea has already performed two nuclear tests, one in 2006 and another in 2009. South Korean intelligence believes that preparations are already underway to undergo a third test. China has been a longtime ally of North Korea, but is now calling for the UN to intervene.

Ethics of drone attacks under investigation

LONDON: The United Nations has launched an inquiry into the impact of military drones, the BBC reported. The impact of drone strikes will be investigated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and Somalia to determine the extent of civilian casualties, identity of militant targets and legality of strikes where the UN has not recognized conflict. Those in favour of drones say civilian causalities are reduced, but opponents of drones do not believe this to be true. Currently, 51 states have the technology to use drones. The UN wants to determine a legal framework around the use of drones. In some circumstances, attacking with drones could be considered a war crime.

Troops move into Mali

MALI: United Nations-mandated troops are moving towards Mali’s centre, the Mail & Guardian reported. Some 2,000 troops from Chad and 3,300 from the West African States, as well as 2,300 soldiers from France have moved in to help stop extremists, made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs. Evidence of more than 30 executions have surfaced, with allegations that some of the bodies have been dumped in wells for disposal. Reports of sexual violence have also been made. The crisis in Mali began a year ago when Tuaregs and extremists began a rebellion for independence of the North. The extremists broke off after major towns had been seized and implemented extreme forms of Islamic law.

Published in Volume 67, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 30, 2013)

Related Reads