Humanitariman's Weekly Roundup is a weekly segment dedicated to bringing you news from around the world. Each week we will highlight current events and interesting updates so that you can stay informed about what is happening around you.
Myanmar Denies U.N. Allegations of Ethnic Cleansing
This week, top military officials in Myanmar denied U.N. accusations of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Burmese media and local human rights groups have reported incidences of killings, rape, torture, unwarranted arrests, and the burning of people and homes all targeted at Rohingya Muslims, a minority ethnic group in the Rhakine State in Northwestern Myanmar. The atrocities waged by the Burmese government appear to be in response to attacks in October on three police outposts on the Myamar-Bangladesh border that reportedly left nine police officers dead. The Burmese government has been adamant that Rohingya militia groups were behind the attacks, however, these claims remain unverified. The United Nations and various human rights groups have been calling on the Burmese government to allow a special investigation into these abuses. On Thursday, the Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council called for a Commission of Inquiry, which is the United Nations strongest investigative tool. The call would allow an investigation into the treatment and abuses against the Rohingya in 2010, 2012, and most recently October of 2016. The U.N. has estimated over 70,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since October. The Burmese government has cracked down on media access to the region, making investigations into these atrocities difficult.
The Lost Generation of Yemen
Houthi rebels and pro-government forces loyal to President Hadi continue to fight in Yemen in a conflict that does not seem to be ending anytime soon. Over 10,000 people have died in the bloody civil conflict and three million people have been displaced from their homes. International involvement from the United States and Saudi Arabia has exacerbated the casualties. Saudi Arabia began airstrikes in March of 2015 after Houthi rebels forced the Saudi-backed President to flee the country. Saudi Arabia has been criticized for their airstrikes in Yemen, which have targeted schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, and prisons. The U.N. has estimated that over half of the death toll in Yemen is due to Saudi intervention and Saudi coalition forces, who are supported by the U.S and European governments. The death, destruction, and degradation of institutions has become so bad that the United Nations has warned that those young people that survive will constitute a “lost generation,” having grown up in the absence of a proper education. The U.N. currently estimates that 86% of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance.
On Thursday, the United States carried out over 20 airstrikes, continuing the military strategy seen under the Obama Administration and adding to the death total.
DROUGHT IN KENYA
In mid February, Kenya’s government declared that the current drought in their country is now a national emergency. The number of people now food insecure due to the ongoing issue is upwards of 2.7 million. As one can imagine, due to the dry climate crop production has decreased dramatically. The same goes for water accessibility. Many, especially in the more rural and isolated regions of the countryside now have to travel more than three times further to retrieve water.
The government has pledged $70 million to drought relief efforts, however according to a study led by the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Kenyan government’s current National Water Master Plan is unsustainable. This plan includes diverting water from the Tana River (Kenya’s largest river) to provide drinking water for those in desperate need and to irrigate crops that are in dire condition. The plan also includes construction of a 165 square kilometer damn which will take at least six years to complete. Where these moves will put Kenya in the long term is yet to be seen, and in even if the rains return on time in April, damage from the drought could last generations.