NUNZIUM

News That Matters

15/03/2024 ---- 30/03/2024

The Caribbean island of Haiti is currently grappling with a surge in gang violence and political instability. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, has been trapped in a web of escalating violence since February 29, 2024. This turbulence has driven more than 33,000 residents to flee, according to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration (IOM) report on March 22, 2024. The violence has also resulted in numerous fatalities, left around 17,000 homeless, and facilitated the escape of over 4,000 inmates from Haiti’s two main prisons.

The National Police of Haiti, outmanned and overwhelmed, have been unable to counter the gangs' potent firepower. The violence has reached such a peak that police officers in Port-au-Prince have been unable to receive their salaries for nearly a month. Meanwhile, cities like Les Cayes, Jérémie, and Léogâne in the southern region of Haiti have become a sanctuary for those fleeing the violence, adding to the existing 116,000 displaced individuals who had previously escaped gang violence.

In the political sphere, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has expressed his intention to resign once a transitional presidential council is formed. However, his return to Haiti is currently hindered by airport closures due to the ongoing gang violence. This political instability follows the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, which plunged the nation into a state of flux. The current wave of violence has been particularly destructive, with heavily armed gangs targeting police, state institutions, and even prisons.

Despite the grim circumstances, there are signs of potential relief. A multinational force, led by Kenya, is expected to assist in curbing the gang problem. Furthermore, the establishment of a US-backed transitional council of seven members is reportedly nearing fruition.

Yet, the situation remains dire for many Haitians, as exemplified by the plight of Sarah Molin, a 20-year-old former computer science student. Forced to abandon their home due to the violence, Sarah and her family now live in an abandoned cinema with around 100 other families, devoid of basic amenities like sewerage or running water. Their daily struggle for food underscores the harsh reality for many of Haiti's internally displaced people.

Adding to the crisis, the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) in Port-au-Prince, one of the few functioning institutions, was recently attacked by a criminal group, leading to at least three deaths. Police are striving to regain control of areas under the control of notorious gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, known as "Barbecue," escalating the violence further.

The international community is closely monitoring the situation, with the United States evacuating embassy staff from Port-au-Prince and planning a rescue flight for remaining US citizens. Other countries like Germany have followed suit, evacuating their embassy staff due to the ongoing violence.

The crisis in Haiti underscores the vulnerability of political institutions and the destructive power of gang violence. As Haiti attempts to reclaim stability, the resilience of its people is being severely tested. The coming weeks and months will be pivotal in shaping the future of this embattled Caribbean nation.

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The Russia-Ukraine conflict, that escalated on March 13, 2024, has become a pivotal point in international politics, with its effects reverberating globally. This complex tapestry of political maneuvering, military strategy, and international response has drawn in numerous nations, each with their unique stance and reaction.

In the political arena, various nations have been actively involved. Ukrainian Justice Minister Denys Maliuska engaged with US lawmakers in Washington, securing hopeful promises of a military aid package. On the other hand, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, affirmed Russia's refusal to participate in a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland, demonstrating an unyielding stance.

The conflict has also incited concerns about geographical expansion, given the actions of NATO member states. Russian President Vladimir Putin's assertion that Russia is prepared for a nuclear war has not prompted any change in the US's nuclear posture. Concurrently, Ukrainian armed forces are dealing with a challenging situation on the battlefield.

The conflict's effects extend beyond politics and into tangible on-the-ground impacts. The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia's southern Rostov region resumed operations post a drone attack. Meanwhile, Warsaw has allocated $30 million for security measures, including bomb shelters, in response to the escalating conflict.

The European Union has pledged to increase military aid to Ukraine, injecting an additional €5 billion into the European Peace Facility (EPF) by the end of the year. This comes on top of the €6.1 billion committed since 2022. However, the EPF's reform talks have been complicated by political considerations, with countries like Germany, France, and Greece holding differing views on its application.

Ukraine's military supplies have dwindled, leading to a withdrawal from Avdiivka in February. The situation has been exacerbated by a $60-billion support package from the US, which remains mired in bipartisan infighting.

The conflict has also led to the arrest of a South Korean missionary in Russia on spying charges, and the death of three people in Ukraine's eastern Sumy and Donetsk regions due to a Russian drone and bomb attack. Anti-Putin paramilitaries supporting Ukraine have urged civilians to evacuate Belgorod and Kursk while Russian forces have bombed Kherson, injuring a child.

The decision to send troops to Ukraine remains contentious. French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested the possibility, but British Foreign Minister David Cameron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk oppose this idea, with Poland choosing to focus on providing maximum support to Ukraine against Russian aggression.

In his annual State of the Nation address, President Putin accused the West of instigating the war in Ukraine. Despite sanctions and ongoing conflict, Putin announced that Russia's economy grew at a rate higher than the global average in 2023, outpacing the United States and other G7 countries. He also outlined Russia's production goals for 2030 and announced several state support programs.

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to evolve, the world watches with bated breath, hoping for a peaceful resolution.

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The Middle East has long been a region of unrest, and in October 2023, this tension escalated dramatically. Israel accused UNRWA, a UN Palestinian aid agency, of involvement in a deadly Hamas-led attack. The assault resulted in approximately 1,200 fatalities and over 200 hostages. Israel's retaliation caused over 30,000 casualties and displaced about 80% of Gaza's population.

In November, a ray of hope appeared amidst the destruction. Israel and Hamas negotiated the release of about 110 hostages, with discussions for a new cease-fire and further hostage releases ongoing. However, the EU, startled by the accusations against UNRWA, temporarily halted payments to the agency. In a show of resilience, they plan to resume payments with a €50 million ($54 million) contribution, followed by two €32 million installments later in the year.

The allegations against UNRWA have prompted investigations by the UN and EU. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini strongly denies involvement in the attacks. In addition, the European Commission has pledged an extra €68 million in emergency aid for Palestinians in Gaza, bringing the total humanitarian aid to €275 million for the year.

The EU, the third-largest donor to UNRWA, finds itself at a crossroads. The US and Germany, the top two donors, suspended their funding earlier in January. EU member states are divided in their views on the Gaza situation. Germany supports Israel's right to self-defense, while Spain and Ireland criticize Israel's military campaign.

The humanitarian crisis was highlighted when over 100 Palestinians were killed attempting to reach an aid convoy. Israeli officials attribute most deaths to a stampede, but Gazan health officials reported gunshot wounds. This incident has drawn global condemnation, with countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan criticizing Israeli forces. High-ranking officials such as the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned the incident. France, Italy, and Germany have called for an independent investigation.

The situation in Gaza remains critical. The UN reported that assisting Gaza's 2.3 million people is nearly impossible due to ongoing violence. Israeli airstrikes targeting police officers guarding aid trucks have endangered humanitarian workers. A quarter of Gaza’s population, roughly 576,000 people, are on the brink of famine.

In the midst of the crisis, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called for a law requiring ultra-Orthodox Jews to serve in the military. With about 60,000 ultra-Orthodox males of military age currently not serving, and 300,000 reservists mobilised following the October attack, Israel's military structure may be on the verge of a significant shift.

Further complicating the situation, Israel has ceased granting visas for international humanitarian workers, according to the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA). This has hindered efforts to deliver food and other essential supplies to Gaza, affecting more than 150 jobs.

In summary, the Middle East continues to be a region of instability, with a complex narrative of allegations, attacks, and aid. As the world watches, there is a collective hope for a resolution that will bring peace and stability to this troubled region.

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