Myanmar (Burma) – Plight of the Rohingya
Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country, has faced criticism and sanctions in response to its treatment of the Rohingya people. The Rohingya, who are mostly Muslim but partly Hindu, have been denied citizenship in the country since 1982, and despite being a distinct ethnic group with history dating back to 8th Century, they are described as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants by the Myanmar government. Since the 1970s the Rohingya have been subject to forced labour, as well as conditions described as being similar to the South African apartheid.
Recent events began in October of last year, when (according to the Myanmar government) armed individuals attacked border police in Rakhine State. This attack was blamed on the Rohingya, and the state response has included actions such as mass arrest, multiple killings, gang rapes and looting by the Myanmar military. There have also been allegations of the military burning down the Rohingya villages, as was done during the Tula Toli Massacre.
To date over 630,000 Rohingya have fled the country, mostly to Bangladesh. Because of the Myanmar government’s ban on foreign media in the country, coverage has relied on reports of refugees fleeing the crisis, as well as reports from NGOs. A death toll is also hard to calculate, but organisations like Amnesty International have described the actions of the government as ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Yemen – Famine & disease to kill thousands
Yemen, a country on the Arabian peninsula, has been in a civil war since 2015. Yemen also, according to the UN, imports up to 90% of its daily needs. A coalition of African and Middle-Eastern nations, led by Saudi Arabia, has been involved in the Civil War to support the side of Yemen’s President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Naval blockades, as well as airstrikes, by the Saudis has left 78% of the population in urgent need of food, water & medical aid.
Many cities, according to the UN and the Red Cross, have had issues with pumping water, which could worsen the recent outbreak of cholera in the region. There are also risks of other diseases, including diphtheria, afflicting the population in the near future.
British charity Save the Children has claimed that around 130 Yemeni children are dying every day from preventable causes, and that these deaths will total more than an estimated 500,000 by the end of the year.
Russia – Foreign journalists to be declared ‘foreign agents’
In response to the US government forcing Moscow-based television network RT to register as a ‘foreign agent’, a bill has passed through the lower house of the Russian parliament to enforce the same restrictions on all foreign media organisations working in the country. “Any attempts to encroach on the freedom of Russian media abroad… will not remain without response from Moscow,” said Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov regarding the bill.