International News Briefs

Iran threatens oil blockade if sanctions continue

IRAN: Iran’s vice-president has warned that the country will block access to the Strait of Hormuz if the West continues to push sanctions on the country’s oil exports. The warnings are directed at the United States and Europe, who have been pressuring Iran to halt nuclear weapons development by strangling the country’s economy, reports Al Jazeera. The U.S. says any disruption in traffic to the Gulf will not be tolerated. Iranian ships and aircrafts have been dropping mines near the Gulf as part of apparent military exercises. More than one-third of the world’s tanker borne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

Egyptian travel ban stops son of U.S. transportation secretary from leaving country

CAIRO: Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has been barred from leaving Egypt because of his involvement with the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based group that has promoted democracy-building programs in Egypt since the uprising last year. According to the Washington Post, the IRI is one of hundreds of foreign NGOs that have been under investigation by the Egyptian government, who is charging the groups with failure to register their organizations and providing foreign funding. The travel ban applies to all individuals involved in NGOs being investigated and affects roughly 40 foreigners.

15,000 AIDS victims in Congo at risk of dying

CONGO: Up to 15,000 AIDS victims will likely die in the next three years, concludes a report by Médecins Sans Frontières on healthcare in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Mail and Guardian, 85 per cent of AIDS-infected people in the country are not receiving lifesaving anti-retroviral medication. The report blames horrific access to healthcare and pullback from donors as the main reason for this lack of coverage. The MSF is recommending the government provide free treatment to those living with HIV or AIDS and for donors to mobilize funding so patients are not condemned to die.

Libyan detainees die after torture

LIBYA: At least four people have died after being detained and tortured by Libyan militias, according to human rights group Amnesty International. Official Libyan military groups, as well as illegal armed militia groups, are carrying out the tortures in 60 detainment centres housing some 8,500 detainees, reports BBC News. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has discontinued medical aid in the country, claiming to have been exploited as some patients were being brought for treatment between torture sessions. Detainees are being held because of loyalties to former Libyan President Hosni Mubarak as the country struggles toward democracy.

North Korea famine worsens, U.S. wary of sending aid

SEOUL: After pulling 500,000 tons of food aid from North Korea in 2008 amid suspicion the aid was going to the military, the United States remains cautious about resuming humanitarian aid to the struggling country. According to the Los Angeles Times, South Korea and China have agreed to send food to help nearly a quarter of North Korea’s 24 million residents requiring urgent food aid. The U.S. is also wary of North Korea’s known uranium enrichment program, although the country has promised to halt nuclear development if the U.S. sends 240,000 tons of food. The plans have experienced setbacks since the death of President Kim Jong-Il.

Published in Volume 66, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 1, 2012)

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