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CWA # 727, 27 April 2022

Conflict Weekly
​​​​​​​UK-Rwanda asylum deal, Mexico's continuing femicides, and Afghanistan's sectarian violence

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #121, 27 April 2022, Vol.3, No.4
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI and KAS-India Office

Apoorva Sudhakar, Sejal Sharma, and Abigail Miriam Fernandez

UK-Rwanda: Agreement to relocate asylum seekers sparks criticism

In the news

On 22 April, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame defended the latest agreement with the UK to relocate asylum seekers to Kigali and said his country was not "trading human beings." Kagame said the UK had approached Rwanda because of how the latter handled Libyans after 2018 when he decided that Rwanda would shelter migrants attempting to cross to Europe who got stuck in Libya.

On 24 April, the UK government's legal department said a "refugee pushback" policy framed earlier to push back refugees arriving on dinghies from France through the English Channel had been withdrawn.  

On 20 April, Denmark's immigration minister said they were engaging with Rwanda to frame a process to transfer asylum seekers from Denmark to the latter. The minister said this would "ensure a more dignified approach than the criminal network of human traffickers that characterizes migration across the Mediterranean today."

Issues at large

First, the case of asylum seekers in the UK. The UNHCR estimates that the UK received 63 per cent more asylum applications in 2021, accounting for the highest number of applications in nearly two decades. The UK received 48,450 asylum applications in 2021; Iran, with 9800 applications, was the top nationality applying for asylum in the UK. Other countries included Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria.

Second, profile of the Asylum Partnership Arrangement. Under the latest deal, also known as the Asylum Partnership Agreement, the UK would relocate asylum seekers who arrived in the country irregularly, by boats and trucks, to Rwanda to process the asylum requests. The asylum seekers would receive five years of training, integration, accommodation, and health care in Rwanda. After five years, the asylum seekers may choose to continue living in Rwanda. The UK believes this agreement would ensure the safety of migrants, deter migrants from taking dangerous routes, and tackle people smugglers. The UK has already paid 120 million pounds to Rwanda for a pilot project.

Third, response to the agreement. The UNHCR termed the deal a violation of international law and said it does not come within the "States' responsibility to take care of those in need of protection." The UN said the deal would increase risks as refugees opt for other routes. In Rwanda, the opposition asked the government to address issues which forced Rwandans to flee.

Fourth, the UK's anti-immigration position. The latest plan comes amid the UK government's larger anti-immigrant move. Like the now-withdrawn "refugee pushback" policy, the UK had also framed the nationality and borders bill. The UK Home Secretary had claimed the bill would ensure a safe and legal route for asylum seekers arriving in the UK; later, the Home Office reportedly admitted that the bill does not provide for any government-backed route.

In perspective

First, the UK's plan to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda is ambiguous on various fronts, including what would happen to those whose asylum requests are rejected by Rwanda. Further, several questions have been raised regarding the state of human rights in Rwanda. In 2021, the UK also expressed concerns over Rwanda's alleged inaction against reports of curbs on civil and media freedom, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances.

Second, in 2021, Denmark passed legislation to achieve its zero-refugee goal. Therefore, the UK's deal with Rwanda would act as an example to other countries like Denmark to pursue relocating asylum seekers to third countries.

Third, prior to the UK, Australia and Israel had adopted similar policies. The EU, too, signed a deal with Turkey wherein the latter would host asylum seekers who arrived in the EU countries. However, the results have varied and have not proved that relocation policies necessarily deter asylum seekers.

Mexico: Protests over continuing femicides 

In the news

On 22 April, the body of an 18-year-old girl, Debanhi Escobar, was found submerged in a cistern outside a motel in the northern territory of Nuevo Leon. Debanhi had been reported missing since 9 April, when she did not return home after a party. The corpse was found by employees at the motel despite massive police searches in and around the area consistently for two weeks. The incident is the latest in a series of disappearances of women and girls followed by death. Bodies of five other girls who were reported missing were found during the past four months while searching for Escobar.  

On 22 April, in a morning press conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: "I want to send a hug and my condolences to the young woman's family," Obrador added. "These sad things are happening everywhere, in almost every state…Although it is up to the state government, which is already dealing with it, we are expressing our desire that what happened be clarified and without bringing forward trials, to assist in the investigation if requested by the government of Nuevo León."

On 24 April, hundreds of women took to the streets demanding justice for the latest victims of Mexico's endemic gender violence. The protestors blocked a highway in Monterrey and demanded the resignation of the state secretary of Security Aldo Fasci. Debanhi's disappearance followed a series of incidents in Nuevo Leon where more than 52 women have disappeared this year, with 20 women disappearing this month alone. General attorney Gustavo Adolfo Guerrero, in a video conference, said: "Scientific proof allowed us to learn that Debanhi Susana Escobar's cause of death was a deep concussion to her head, and we will not discard any line of investigation." Subsequently, an investigation was being conducted for a homicide.

Issues at large

First, the intensity of the problem. Statistics estimate that ten women are murdered every day in Mexico. Even though the country saw a 3.6 per cent fall in its notoriously high homicide rates, last year, femicides rose by 2.7 per cent. The staggering numbers of femicide preceded by disappearances shed light on the broader crisis of gender violence in the country. According to Federal Crime Statistics, nearly 25,000 women are missing, while 155 femicides have been reported in the first two months of this year. In 2021, the number of femicides registered stood at 1,004 – more than a 145 per cent increase since 2015, when the country first started collecting data.

Second, the failure of legislation. The most glaring issue in Mexico regarding gender violence is the ambiguity surrounding the laws defining femicide. Only 13 out of the 32 states have criminalized femicide, addition to which the procedure for prosecuting the crime varies greatly across states. Consequently, perpetrators cannot be charged with femicide, and without its criminalization, the cases are seldom charged even with homicide. The investigations are often inconsistent, delayed and negligent, with authorities losing evidence and all lines of inquiry not investigated. Mexico lacks a comprehensive institutionalized policy for safeguarding women against these crimes and overlooks the gendered perspective implied while executing the crime.

Third, the culture of impunity and machismo. Gender roles and dynamics in Mexico follow a patriarchal structure which often contributes to violence against women. The mischaracterization of violence is rampant on account of sexist societal attitudes. In effect, 93 per cent of crimes go unreported or are not investigated as femicides and end up being unaccounted for years. Authorities often stigmatize women for the violence they undergo, adding to systemic impunity and underreporting of cases. Thus, for women with no institutional support or political sway, investigation and prosecution of crimes follow a grim trend.

Fourth, links between femicide and organized crime. The number of women being murdered in Mexico has risen sharply over the last decade amid the country's war on drugs. According to the National Map of Femicides in Mexico, 63 per cent of the 405 cases it tracked were linked with organized crime. Border states like Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and Morelos, with a heavy presence of organized crime gangs and military, have registered the country's highest femicide rates. In recent times, cartels have increasingly used women as "weapons of war" by sending messages to rival gangs or the authorities. Victims who have links to organized crimes are often not registered by the State, a similar trend in accounting for migrant women. As migration increases in Mexico as people try to escape the violence, statistics estimate that six out of every ten women migrating may be a victim of sexual assault or violence leading to death.

In perspective

First a feminist approach in a disenfranchised state. In 2020, Mexico became the first Latin American and global south country to implement a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP). However, the drastic surge in the persistent gender violence in the country speaks of a tokenistic representation of women on the international level. The FFP promises intersectional feminism and gender equality in politics; however, the domestic politics of the Obrador government contradict this stance. As emergency calls for violence increased during the pandemic, Obrador introduced budget cuts to women's shelters and the federal women's institute. Additionally, the president proposed withdrawing state funding for women's shelters operated by NGOs, further suggesting that women fleeing violence could be given cash payments instead. With the federal government constantly undermining women's rights and well-being, the goal of gender equality in Mexico seems like a long way to go.

Second, response to women's movements. The persistence of femicides across Mexico despite greater visibility and social condemnation through campaigns such as "Ni Una Mas" or the glitter revolution signal a catastrophic failure of governmental and societal institutions. The government's perceived indifference towards the matter and failure to address gender-based violence are reflected in the lack of access to justice for women at the local and federal levels. Furthermore, president Obrador has repeatedly clashed with the feminist movements, viewing them as political threats from his conservative rivals.

Afghanistan: The rise of sectarian violence

In the news

On 21 April, a bomb blast inside a Shiite Mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif killed over 30 people and injured several. Following the attack, the Islamic State terror group's Afghan affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), claimed responsibility for the attack stating that it was part of an ongoing global campaign to "avenge" the deaths of its former leader and spokesman.

On 22 April, another bomb exploded at a Sunni Mosque in northern Kunduz province, killing 33 people and wounding dozens of others, while a mine was detonated near a market in Kabul. However, no group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Following the attacks, Taliban officials announced the arrest of a local Islamic State leader who claimed was the "mastermind" of that attack. Meanwhile, the Taliban's deputy culture and information minister called the perpetrators of the Kunduz attack "seditionists and evil elements."

Previously, on 19 April, a roadside bomb exploded near a school in Kabul, killing six and injuring several in the predominantly Shia and Hazara neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi. Another bomb blast in Kunduz injured 11 mechanics who worked for the Taliban government. However, no group claimed responsibility for these attacks.

Issues at large

First, the resurgence of violence. The recent spate of violence in Afghanistan comes after months of relative calm. Until this week's violence, Afghanistan has not witnessed any large-scale attacks, with both resistance groups and terrorist groups being inactive. This is likely due to winter being over and spring traditionally being the fighting season. However, the resurgence of violence raises fears that these groups are back in action and that the Taliban will be unable to maintain the peace.

Second, the threat of the Islamic State. The ISKP was relatively inactive in Afghanistan for the last five months; however, the recent surge in attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan targeting Shiite Muslim communities highlights the threat the group still poses. However, the resurgence of the ISKP stems from its possible goal of establishing a branch of the ISIS caliphate in Afghanistan by capitalizing on ethnic-religious divisions to consolidate its authority.

Third, the sectarian character of the attacks. Afghanistan has traditionally not suffered from sectarian violence, unlike Iraq or Syria; however, attacks on Shia minorities in recent years have caused resentment within the community, especially among the Hazaras. This nature of the violence reveals that the cloud of sectarianism still looms over Afghanistan.

Fourth, the Taliban's struggle to counter terrorist activities. Since coming to power, the Taliban government has carried out several crackdowns on ISKP and other terrorist groups operating in the region. However, their efforts have not been able to combat the activities of such groups as most of them continue to operate from their traditional bases.

In perspective 

First, the Islamic State's fight for legitimacy. The recent attacks reveal that the group is seeking to establish a space for itself in Afghanistan. Given the deep-rooted differences between the Taliban and Islamic State, their fight for legitimacy snowballing into a fight between the two groups would not be favourable given the current Afghan crisis.

Second, the continuation of sectarian violence and spillover. The recent attacks reveal that ISKP would continue terrorizing the minority communities and look for a way to destabilize the Taliban rule. The targeting of the Shia minority is likely to continue. Additionally, the threat of violence has already moved beyond Afghanistan into several parts of Pakistan. The spillover of violence is expected to spread, and most groups across the border and in Afghanistan carry out attacks.

Third, the Taliban's inability to control. The Taliban has failed to curb the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan. This week's attacks indicate that the Taliban does not have much control over the security situation in Afghanistan. Although the Taliban has several issues to deal with, it is clear that they do not have the capacity, ability and resources to curb the threat of terrorism. Additionally, it is unclear what the Taliban's strategy is when tackling terrorism. In most instances, the Taliban is still accused of supporting many terrorist groups that operate in the country.

Also from around the World

By Padmashree Anandhan, Lavanya Ravi, Sruthi Sadhasivam

East and Southeast Asia

China: Zhang Jun urges control measures in Jerusalem
On 25 April, China's representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, in the UNSC meeting, asked both Israel and Palestinian to take up control measures to avoid further escalation. The demand comes post the clash between the police authorities in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. China condemned the attacks on the civilians and the actions which violated the historical value of the religious site. According to Jun: "Peaceful coexistence can only be achieved by upholding the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security." Apart from this, he also urged Israel to evacuate Palestinians from the West Bank and to stop the expansion activities.  

China: Xi pledges to support boosting the human health on Malaria day
On 25 April, China's President Xi Jinping, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of Artemisinin and on Building a Global Community of Health, briefed on the cure for Malaria and pledged to contribute toward the health of humanity. On artemisinin, which is observed to be the latest cure for malaria, Xi remarked that the cure was first found by China and has been successful in eradicating the disease. He said: "Millions of lives around the world, especially in developing countries, have thus been saved. This is an important contribution to the global campaign against malaria and to the protection of human health."

Malaysia: State of Rohingya refugees worsen due to non-recognition
On 27 April, Malaysia announced the search for six Rohingya asylum seekers who were found to have escaped in the previous week's breakout from the detention centre. According to the UNHCR, close to 100,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia have been registered under the UNHCR, and they are believed to be living under poor conditions, no access to jobs legally. The issue comes due to the non-recognition of refugees by Malaysia's government. According to the home minister: "We cannot allow them to easily enter the country without documents and immediately get UNHCR cards. It's not right. That's why we take a firm stance: even being a UNHCR card holder doesn't mean they can live in our country." Till now, the Rohingya refugees who have fled have been able to "live and raise their families" using the UN cards.

South Asia

Sri Lanka: IMF pledges to assist in economic recovery
On 24 April, IMF expressed its support in attenuating the financial crisis in Sri Lanka and called the latest engagement with the country's finance minister Ali Sabry led delegation fruitful. The statement by IMF said: "Going forward, the IMF team will support Sri Lanka's efforts to overcome the current economic crisis by working closely with the authorities on their economic programme, and by engaging with all other stakeholders in support of a timely resolution of the crisis." The crisis was fuelled by the country's lack of foreign currency, indicating difficulties in procuring food and fuel, causing critical shortages and rising prices. Sri Lanka requires close to USD four billion to recover from the economic downfall. Similar to the talks with IMF, the finance minister has also held talks with China, Japan and the World Bank for financial support.

Sri Lanka: SJB launches six-day protest march 
On 26 April, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the country's opposition party led by Sajith Premadasa, commenced a protest march, 'Samagi Bala Walk' from Kandy to Colombo against the economic crisis. The protests attracted participation from trade union representatives, public servants, farmers, fishermen, and civil society representatives. Premadasa claimed that the objective of the protest march was to fulfil the aspirations of the people. Further, the party has declared that the government was left with a week to resign as 120 parliamentarians favour the no-confidence motion. 

India: Government extends ceasefire agreement with Naga groups for a year
On 26 April, the Indian government extended a ceasefire agreement with three Naga groups, including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-NK (NSCN-NK), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Reformation (NSCN-R) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-K-Khango (NSCN-K-Khango) for one year. A statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs said: "It was decided to extend the ceasefire agreements for a further period of one year with effect from 28 April, 2022 to 27 April, 2023 with NSCN-NK and NSCN-R, and from 18 April, 2022 to 17 April, 2023 with NSCN-K-Khango." The development comes from the meeting between the NSCN-IM leaders, led by general secretary Muivah and the centre's representative for Naga peace talks, AK Mishra. Earlier, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio met prime minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi to discuss the Naga peace accord. 

Nepal: Wildfires threaten human life and property 
On 24 April, Nepal recorded 103 forest fire incidents in the western part of the country. While the health and environmental consequences of the wildfires are yet to be assessed, the wildfires wrecked property costing INR two billion. Dry conditions triggered forest fires in the region. Meteorological Forecasting Division, meteorologist Hira Bhattarai said: "There is no possibility of rainfall in the next three days." Wildfires which occur during the last week of April is due to lack of rainfall and rising wildfire scenarios which intensify the pollution. The problem is attributed to absence of policies and administrative mechanisms to address wildfires issues. 

Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa

Syria: Deadly air raids kill nine soldiers
On 27 April, air raids near Damascus killed nine soldiers, out of which five were Syrian. A UK based observatory has noted that the four others killed were members of an Iran-backed militia. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has noted that Israel has targeted Iran's military presence by attacking its ammunition depot on the northern frontier. This raid is considered the deadliest in 2022. Israel has not given a statement yet. Israel frequently conducts raids in Syria and justifies the attacks by stating that it was countering Iran's presence in Syria. Israel so far has not acknowledged all of the attacks.

Lebanon: Saudi Arabia and France collaborate on humanitarian projects
On 26 April, Saudi Arabia and France pledged USD 32 million on projects to alleviate Lebanon's financial crisis. This initial contribution is the first in a series, and it will focus on food insecurity, the healthcare system, cash assistance, supporting hospitals and baby formula for families in need. The upcoming projects will focus on education, energy, water and Lebanon's Internal Security Forces. The joint aid mechanism comes as Saudi Arabia tries to rebuild its ties with Lebanon.

Lebanon: Capsized boat claims six lives
On 24 April, a boat off Tripoli's coast capsized, killing six people, including one child. The boat carried 60 people, including Lebanese and Syrians, on board. The army stated that the vessel had left the coast illegally. The boat was caught when naval forces crashed into it, and the smuggler tried to escape. The army saved 47 people, but they are not sure how many were aboard, so many might still be missing. The people on board were fleeing Lebanon's economic crisis in pursuit of making it to Europe.

Israel: Raid in West Bank leaves a young man dead
On 26 April, a 20 year old Palestinian man was killed in the raids on the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp in Jericho, West Bank. Israel's forces conducted a raid on the camp just before dawn. The Fatah movement in Jericho and the Jordan Valley went on strike in retaliation to the killing. In the same week, two other young Palestinians were killed in raids in Palestinian occupied areas of the West Bank. Since the recent Al Aqsa mosque raids, tensions have been on a hike in Jerusalem and West Bank.

Israel: Israel engages in artillery shelling in Lebanon
On 25 April, Israel launched dozens of artillery shells into southern Lebanon. It comes as a response after a rocket was launched by Lebanon across the border. Israel targeted the general area where the rocket came from, and 50 artillery shells were launched into several Lebanese towns near Israel's southern border with Lebanon. No injuries or causalities have been reported by both states so far. The incident follows the Al-Aqsa mosque raids by Israel, and violence in the region is increasing.

Ethiopia: TPLF forces withdraw from Afar
On 25 April, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda stated that Trigray rebel forces have withdrawn from the region of Afar in Ethiopia. However, the Afar police commissioner said several districts in the region, the presence of rebels is still felt. TPLF forces have withdrawn in hopes of food aid arriving in Tigray upon their removal. The Ethiopian government has not given any statement yet, and it remains unclear if this was a negotiated move with Addis Ababa. The rebel withdrawal is a milestone in the Ethiopian conflict. The pull-out of forces by TPLF follows a ceasefire agreement a month ago where forces agreed to stop the violence as long as sufficient aid was promptly delivered to the region.

Sudan: West Darfur tribal massacre leaves a hundred dead and wounded
On 25 April, deadly attacks between the Arab and Masalit tribes in Kereinik, West Darfur, left 168 people dead and ten people injured. Eyewitnesses claim the joint forces deployed in the region for peacekeeping were responsible for the atrocities and violence in the area. People claim the joint forces withdrew as soon as the violence began. The attack lasted for six hours, claiming the lives of various people, including teachers, police officers, worshippers and children. The death toll is high because the injured were unable to reach the nearest El Geneina Hospital in time. The victims consider the withdrawal of the joint forces an unforgivable crime.

Mali and Burkina Faso: Soldiers and civilians killed in attacks
On 24 April, vehicles parked with explosives were ridden into military camps in central Mali. The attacks took place before dawn and claimed the lives of 15 soldiers and six civilians. The attacks were claimed by Katiba Macina, a group part of an Al-Qaeda linked alliance operating in the Sahel region. The three were hit in a near-simultaneous attack, within 5 minutes of each other. The military stated: "The situation is under control. The FAMa (Malian armed forces) are combing through the target sectors and security measures are being reinforced." UN Mission for Mali has received a request seeking the deployment of a rapid intervention force to the camps.

Horn of Africa: Severe drought causes a crisis for children
The number of kids facing severe drought conditions across the Horn of Africa has expanded by more than 40 per cent over about two months, cautions UNICEF. From February to April, the number of kids facing the effect of dry spells, including hunger, malnutrition and thirst, grew from 7.25 million to 10 million. This climate-induced emergency has increased UNICEF's emergency appeal from 119 USD million to 250 USD million. UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa stated: "We need to act now to save children's lives – but also to protect childhoods. Children are losing their homes, their education and their right to grow up safe from harm. They deserve the world's attention now."

Europe and the Americas

Moldova: Grenade attack push for a Supreme Security Council meeting
On 26 April, Moldova's president, Maia Sandu, held a meeting with the Supreme Security Council to discuss the blasts that occurred in Transnistria. Two explosions were observed to have attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades." Post the fall of the Soviet Union, Transnistria remained independent but has not gained any international recognition. As reported in RIA, Transnistria had found three infiltrators from Ukraine in the recent grenade attack on security headquarters. It named the act a "terrorist act," and observed it as a way to instigate the country to launch a war in the Ukraine conflict. At the same, Sandu said: "internal differences between various groups in Transnistria that have an interest in destabilizing the situation."

The UK: New ban on technological product export to Russia
On 26 April, the UK government announced to remove all the tariffs on all goods and imposed a ban on exports of technological products from Russia. The decision came as a response to Ukraine's President's demand to support the economy. UK's international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: "We stand unwaveringly with Ukraine in this ongoing fight and will work to ensure Ukraine survives and thrives as a free and sovereign nation." Apart from the announcement, the UK also announced to close down the loopholes to make sure Russia does buy any commodity from the UK. The UK Ministry of Defense reported on the ground development that the Kreminna city located in Luhansk had fallen and was taken under control by Russia. It also said that Russia was trying to encircle Ukraine's positions in the east and observed that Ukraine's forces were prepared in defence in Zaporizhzhia waiting for Russia's attacks.

Europe: Concerns arise about the use of hate speech on Twitter following Musk's takeover
On 26 April, the UK and EU warned Twitter that it must comply with new content regulations or face penalties ranging from fines to a complete ban. The warnings arise amid fears that hate speech may increase on the network now that Elon Musk owns it. Companies must comply with the upcoming internet safety bill, which compels platforms to safeguard consumers from dangerous information. The law would obligate social media services to allow users to identify unlawful information in a simple and effective method so that it may be quickly deleted. The UK plans to adopt a more robust regulatory system for digital platforms, requiring corporations like Twitter and Facebook to safeguard users from malicious information and issue fines of up to 10 per cent of worldwide revenue for breaches. 

Ukraine: Zelenskyy meet with the US secretary of state focuses on military assistance
On 25 April, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a meeting with US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin. The meeting focused on military assistance, increasing sanctions on Russia, and financial aid to Ukraine. Zelenskyy highlighted the USD 3.4 billion military aid received from the US till now and also remarked how US has been helpful in boosting the military capabilities of Ukraine. He said: "We understand what the next steps on this track should be. And we count on the support of our partners." Apart from this, "peace process and prospects for strengthening the anti-war coalition," were also discussed.

Russia: Putin highlights humanitarian violations and the impact on sanctions on economy
On 25 April, Russia's President Vladimir Putin highlighted the humanitarian violations carried out by the Ukraine nationalists and mercenaries. He said that such violating acts were discovered during Russia's special military operation. According to Putin: "blatant provocations against Russian Armed Forces, including via foreign mass and social media, require scrupulous investigation as well. It is also necessary to thwart any crimes on the Russian territory in the most decisive way." Apart from this, on the sanctions levied by the US and Europe, he confirmed that the it had impacted Russia's economy vastly reversing the post-cold war scenario. Former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin, predicted that Russia's GDP will fall by 10 per cent due to sanctions from the West. Putin added: "The Russian economy has every opportunity to work stably and without fail in the new realities."

Finland and Sweden: Conduct joint naval exercise
On 22 April, it was reported that the navies and Finland and Sweden have jointly conducted anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise in the Gulf of Finland. This was part of a cross border training exercise in order to improve international interoperability and to train the personnel as well. This might be all the more relevant given how both the countries are contemplating joining NATO. Finland's Commander Toni Joutsia, who led the exercise said: "The exercise is a part of the close cooperation conducted by Finland with Sweden. Participating in international training activities is important, because it demonstrates, maintains and develops our national defence."

Latin America: One in four children found to be not completely vaccinated
On 25 April, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF data unveils that the number of children acquiring complete vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) diseases has fallen from 90 per cent in 2015 to 76 per cent in 2020. UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jean Gough, said: "Recurrence of disease outbreaks due to poor immunization caused by covid pandemic threatens society." The UNICEF has called on Latin American and Caribbean governments to introduce routine immunization programs. These conduct campaigns would boost vaccine confidence and extend vaccination services to all children, adolescents and vulnerable populations. 

Latin America: IMF encourages fiscal measures to curb inflation
On 26 April, in the Russia-Ukraine war, the IMF urged the government to adopt temporary and targeted fiscal measures to assist the poor amidst soaring food and energy prices. During the war, about 40 per cent of countries adopted tax and import tariff reductions, price caps and social transfers to protect low-income groups from rising prices of essential commodities and safeguard themselves from the threat of social unrest caused by inflation. The rising costs triggered protests in Peru, forcing President Pedro Castillo to introduce a curfew in the region. 

Latin America: Climate catastrophes threaten six million to poverty
On 26 April, the World Bank reported that Latin America and the Caribbean countries lost 1.5 per cent of their GDP due to climate-induced disasters. The report predicts that 5.8 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030. It also said that poverty in Latin America surged to 27.5 per cent in 2021, beyond pre-pandemic levels. Further, it anticipates that sectors such as agriculture will be hit due to low crop yields and energy generation will be undermined due to disruptions in the hydrological cycle. The IPCC report pointed out that Latin America will be highly exposed to climate change with rising heat-related diseases, water and food insecurity. 

Mexico: 6000 foreign migrants detained at the US-Mexico border
On 26 April, National Migration Institute (INM) reported that within four days, out of 6000 migrants that were detained, 5,688 migrants were spotted in trailers or were hidden in bus compartments and truck cabins. During this period, the people largely detained were nationals from Honduras, followed by Cuba and Guatemala. Some migrant groups were noticed traversing through desert and highways to reach the US-Mexico border. Until now, 115,379 migrants have been confined by the Mexican government, indicating the rise in irregular migration trends.

About the authors
Abigail Miriam Fernandez and Padmashree Anandhan are Project Associates at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, NIAS. Sejal Sharma is a postgraduate scholar at Pondicherry University, Pondicherry. Lavanya Ravi and Sruthi Sadhasivam are postgraduate scholars at Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore.

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