Conflict Weekly

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Conflict Weekly
Violence in Uganda, Migrant Crisis in the Mediterranean, State of the Climate in Europe, and Taliban Arms Management

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #181, 22 June 2023, Vol.4, No.25
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI and India Office of the KAS

Anu Maria Joseph, Nithyashree RB, Akriti Sharma and Ryan Marcus

Uganda: Resurging insurgency

Anu Maria Joseph

In the news
On 18 June, Al Jazeera reported the killing of at least 41 people in western Uganda; according to the Ugandan government, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is the suspect. The ADF is a rebel group based in Uganda that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. The militants attacked the Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe, near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. 

In response to the attack, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stated: "Their [ADF] action -- the desperate, cowardly, terrorist action -- will not save them." Ugandan police spokesperson Fred Enanga said: "As a country, we continue to stand by each other in the fight against terrorism. No matter how heinous the attack or how brutal or inhumane the methods used, the ADF will not be able to succeed in demolishing the solidarity of Ugandans in the fight against terrorism and extremism." 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack. He said: "Those responsible for this appalling act must be brought to justice." He reiterated the importance of "collective efforts, including through enhanced regional partnerships, to tackle cross-border insecurity between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda and restore durable peace in the area."

Issues at large
First, a background to the ADF insurgency. The rebel groups - the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) and the Uganda Muslim Liberation Army (UMLA), joined forces to form the ADF in 1995 opposing President Yoweri Museveni, whose government is alleged of persecution of Muslims. The group was routed from its bases in the western Rwenzori region, along the borders of Uganda and DRC, in early 2000, where its fighters had been raiding villages and schools. Since 2013, the ADF has been active in eastern DRC. According to the UN Joint Human Rights Office, they recruited 59 children and killed 1,066 civilians in the DR Congo's North Kivu and Ituri provinces between January 2019 and June 2020. The group continued its attacks in Uganda; in 2021, the Ugandan government blamed the group for suicide bombings in the capital, Kampala.

Second, the failing 'Operation Shujja.' Following escalating rebel attacks in both countries in 2021, Uganda and the DRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2021 for a military operation, "Operation Shujaa," against the ADF in eastern DRC. The operation aimed to neutralise the group's campaigns. Initially, the joint forces had made significant gains in dislodging the ADF from its bases in the Virunga forest. Subsequently, the group scattered into smaller groups as a tactic to overstretch the forces. However, most recently, the group has been conducting frequent attacks along the border regions of DRC and Uganda. 

Third, increasing insecurity in East Africa. In the previous quarterly report published in March, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reiterated that more than 485 civilians were killed in eastern DRC between 1 December 2022 and 14 March 2023 in a series of attacks carried out by several armed groups, including March23 (M23), ADF and Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO). Most recently, on 12 June, MONUSCO reported that more than 45 people were killed in an attack by CODECO in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in northeastern DRC. In Somalia, although President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had announced an "all out war" against the al-Shabab militancy in August 2022, the group continues to expand its campaign in east Africa. On 5 June, 54 Ugandan soldiers were killed in an al-Shabab attack on the African Union base in Somalia.  

In perspective
First, the attack in Mpondwe follows the previous week's ADF attack in Bukokoma village of the North Kivu province in eastern DRC near the Ugandan border, killing at least ten civilians. The increasing frequency of ADF attacks means the group is gaining ground and strengthening its intentions to return to Uganda to establish an Islamic government.

Second, recent developments highlight insurgent groups active in East Africa are expanding across borders. While the insurgent groups are expanding towards relatively stable countries like Uganda and Kenya, Ethiopia's violence in Tigray and Sudan's ongoing conflict is potential grounds for the insurgent groups to amplify.

Greece: Migrant boat disaster and humanitarian crisis

Nithyashree RB

In the News
On 14 June, a fishing vessel carrying migrants from Tobruk, Libya, sank in the Ionian Sea, 80 kilometres southwest of Pylos, Greece. On 16 June, a statement from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR informed that the number of people onboard the fishing vessel was between 400 and 750. It stated: "So far 104 people have been rescued and 78 bodies retrieved, while hundreds remain missing, and feared dead." The UN Human Rights Office reported that 500 people are missing.

On 14 June, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated: "Every person searching for a better life deserves safety and dignity." The UNHCR office in Greece stated: "We need more safe pathways for people forced to flee. They should not be left with impossible life-threatening choices." Following the incident, the Greek government arrested nine Egyptians in Kalamata, Greece, and the Pakistani government arrested 14 suspects involved in the migrant shipwreck over human trafficking charges.

Issues at Large
First, the migrants crossing across the Mediterranean Sea. Migrants and human traffickers use the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. With stricter rules levied by the EU and countries like Greece, migrants embark on deadly routes to reach Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 20,000 people have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean since 2014. Most passengers often travel in overcrowded and unsafe boats that are not seaworthy. 

Second, maritime laws regarding rescuing victims of maritime accidents. Countries and Masters of ships are bound to rescue survivors regardless of whether they are migrants, asylum seekers or refugees. Safeguarding life at sea and providing assistance are crucial laws that countries and shipping vessels are to follow. The European Union states the rescue operation should be carried out under the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines. In the current context, the Greek Coast Guard failed to oblige. Greece has been criticised for handling migrants in several similar instances. In July 2022, a boat carrying migrants sank when the Greek Coast Guards towed it away to Turkey. In May 2023, a video sent to The New York Times confirmed Greece leaving migrants stranded on rafts in international waters. 

Third lack of adequate legal mechanisms and a larger debate across Asia, Africa and Europe to deal with migration disasters across the Mediterranean. In the current context - there are three actors - the source countries from Africa and Asia, the transit countries in northern Africa and Southern Europe, and the destination countries in Europe. The legislation and mechanisms to implement the same have proved ineffective, as could be observed from continuous migrant disasters like the one witnessed recently. 

In perspective
The disaster underlines a larger problem. Despite the risk of drowning, dehydration, starvation during the crossing, and abuse by smugglers/human traffickers, migrants opt for deadly journeys. There is a need for a larger debate at multiple levels and in different places. In the EU, among those countries that are used as entry points,  in those countries in Africa, the migrants pursue their journey across the Mediterranean and also at the source countries - from the Middle East, South Asia and other regions.

State of the Climate in Europe 2022: Four Takeaways

Akriti Sharma

In the news
On 19 June, the "State of the Climate in Europe 2022" report was published jointly by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 
and the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (EUCCCS). The report underlines the new increase in temperature that Europe recorded in 2022 and its impact on the socio-economic fabric of the region. It reveals that Europe is the fastest-warming continent, and 2022 has been a dreadful year.

Following are the four major takeaways of the report.

1. The rising regional temperature anomalies in land, sea, and rivers. 
Europe has recorded high temperatures for a decade, making it the fastest-warming continent, with temperatures rising at double the global average rate. In July, the UK recorded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time. The second warmest year recorded for the region was 2022, which was 0.9 degrees Celsius warmer than average. The average sea temperature was much higher, resulting in a heatwave in the Mediterranean Sea. Rivers recorded a below-average discharge; soil moisture was the second lowest in the last 50 years. In 2022, precipitation levels were 21-28 per cent, much less than average, and the year was 10 per cent drier. The Italian Alps were the worst affected, with below-average snowfall. In the Arctic, the Svalbard region recorded 1.4 degrees Celsius above average and up to 2.5 degrees Celsius locally.

2. Increase in extreme weather events 
With exceptionally warm and dry conditions, extreme weather events were on the rise. Wildfires and droughts were common during the year. They resulted in the loss of vegetation and higher wildfire emissions. In total, 9,00,000 ha of forests were burnt in the EU countries. In 2022, Europe recorded 40 meteorological, hydrological, and climate-related hazards resulting in 16,365 reported fatalities and 156,000 people directly affected. Out of the total extreme weather events, 67 per cent were flood- and storm-related, leading to total economic damages of about USD two billion, much less than the USD 50 billion total in 2021.

3. Record-breaking melting of glaciers and ice sheets
The European Alps recorded the loss of ice glaciers by five square kilometres of area, which is 5.4 times the height of the Eiffel Tower. The Alpine ice loss was due to a lack of winter snow and the warmer summers. However, in 2022, glaciers in southwestern Scandinavia benefitted from the above-average number of winter snow days, witnessing a slight gain in ice.

4. The renewable energy sector is a hopeful solution
The report specifically focussed on the renewable energy sector due to its potential for low-carbon energy transitions. It highlighted the significance of solar, wind, and nuclear energy as a solution to Europe's climate crisis. The EU has agreed to increase the binding renewable energy target from 32 per cent to at least 42.5 per cent by 2030. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve these goals. The report also highlights the use of climate services and their role in achieving net zero.

In perspective
The impact of climate change in Europe is visibly increasing and affecting the water-food-energy security of the region. Weather anomalies are an alarm for the impending climate crisis. One of the most affected industries is the food and winter tourism industry. The region must be prepared enough to address and manage more intense impacts of climate change in the future, and this demands special attention from all sections of society, including the EU, national governments, and civil society. 

Being one of the primary greenhouse gas emitters and the fastest warming region, Europe has no choice but to step up its climate action. Even though the report only focuses on the renewable energy sector as a hopeful solution to the crisis, climate adaptation is necessary, and devising adaptation strategies and plans is equally important. 

Taliban's Arms Regulation System: Five Takeaways

Ryan Marcus

On 20 June, the Centre on Armed Groups released a Small Arms Survey report, "Taliban Arms Management Practices." During the usurpation of the Republic of Afghanistan in August 2021, significant caches of US-procured weapons were abandoned. Taliban lacks an arms management policy. 

Most commanders of Kabul, Heral, Kandahar and other parts of Afghanistan have claimed ownership of arms and distributed them within the province. Additionally, internal rivalry within the Taliban posed threats to stability and security, hindering the Taliban's implementation. The internal rivalry has resulted in a loss of control over weapon circulation amongst the factions.

The following are five takeaways from the Small Arms Survey report:

1. Emerging arms circulation challenges
During the takeover in August 2021, the Taliban acquired more than 300,000 light arms, 26,000 heavy weapons and 61,000 military vehicles; however, it lacked the system to manage them. Commanders refused to abide despite form "number 14" for approval of possessing weapons. The Taliban Government lost track of frequent transactions of weapons between local Taliban units and commanders. Due to the absence of a centralised weapons inventory, militants obtain their weapons from their commanders. 

2. Lack of a uniform system to regulate the weapons
Taliban's approach was driven by securing its ranks. Taliban are still transforming their insurgency forces into coherent state security forces and dismantling the Mahaz system. It lacks institutional capacity, coherence and digitalisation. Some republic officials are retained in their posts in weapon management. The absence of a uniform system to regulate weapons has caused the Taliban to lose control over the circulation.

3. Differences within the Taliban
Tensions have occurred between competing factions in the Taliban. The internal division hinders several militants from registering weapons and considering them as personal property. Local factions refuse to comply with the Taliban policies. A UN report stated that the Taliban officials dispute amongst themselves. This results in noncompliance of officials and militants regarding registering weapons.

4. Decentralised structures
The local officials often challenge the policies implemented by the central authorities. A decentralised system has left local authorities running regular affairs incoherent to policy positions. Subnational management of weapons varies from province to province. Most of the day-to-day administration is carried out by local officials due to a lack of uniformity from central authorities. The reporting line between local officials and central authorities is often unclear during the weapon management period.

5. Variation in provincial management of weapons
There are differences in the provinces on how the weapons are managed. For example, in the northern province of Kunduz, following the collapse of the Republic of Afghanistan, Taliban militants seized caches of weapons and ammunition from Kunduz checkpoints and stationed militants at Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) base to disembark the arms at their storage units. The documentation of weapons began after the takeover of the Taliban in August 2021. Taliban imposed a strict policy regarding the distribution of weapons in Helmand.

The Civil War in Myanmar:
Continuing Violence, the Battle of Attrition, and the Divide within ASEAN

Bibhu Prasad Routray

Continuing Violence
Between 16 and 21 June 2023, at least 53 Myanmar troops including pro-military militia forces were killed in attacks by the People’s Defence Force (PDFs) Sagaing, Magwe, Tanintharyi, and Mandalay regions, and the Karen state. The biggest of coordinated PDFs attacks took place in Tanintharyi town on 17 June targeting a military detachment near Thamee Hla village by the Kaw Thoo Lei Army (Tanintharyi), an ethnic Karen resistance group, in which at least 30 soldiers were allegedly killed. 

On 18 June, ten soldiers were killed in a PDF attack on a military gunboat in the Irrawaddy river in Myingyan town of Mandalay region. Other attacks included an ambush on a military logistics detachment in Sagaing’s Kalewa town on 16 June and a landmine attack by the Black Wolf Army PDF in Shwebo town of Sagaing region on the same day. The PDFs used drones to drop bombs on pro-military militia facilities in the pro-regime village of Mar Lal Taw in Sagaing town. 

On 19 June 2023, a People’s Defence Force (PDF) named Urban Owls claimed to have shot dead Ye Khine, Yangon International Airport’s security chief in Yangon. Sources in the Urban Owls said Ye Khine detained pro-democracy activists, including artists and striking government staff, while they tried to leave the country from the airport and sent them to the detention centres. Ye Khine’s killing symbolizes the very latest in the ongoing attritional civil war in Myanmar between the ruling military junta and the parallel National Unity Government (NUG).    

The Prolonged War and the Battle of Attrition
The attacks described above provide a peep into the military’s expansive operations against the opposition groups, which in the recent past has focused on the Kayah state with the objective of gaining control over strategic Moebye town. Although incidents like the airstrike that killed more than 100 people in April 2023 in the Sagaing region have not been repeated, sustained attacks have continued to claim civilian lives. According to the Karenni Human Rights Group, 33 civilians were killed and 13 others were injured in fighting in and around Moebye town on the border of Shan and Kayah states between 27 May and 15 June. Artillery attacks by the military have also been reported from the Karen state and Bago region claiming civilian lives.      
Amid contrasting claims of normalcy by the junta and battlefield victories by the NUG, the direction and ultimate result of the military contestation between the two remains an area of intense interest.  

Prolonged wars between the state and the insurgencies/ resistance groups operating without external support typically favour the former. The state has access to enormous resources and dedicated sources of military hardware and is inclined to use indiscriminate violence to subdue opposition. The Myanmar military has imported at least $1 billion in arms and raw materials to manufacture weapons since the coup in February 2021. While Russia supplies the bulk of the weapons for the Tatmadaw, the Justice for Myanmar Group on 20 June said that Swedish weapons manufactured by an Indian company under license are also being exported to Myanmar. These included FFV-447 projectile fuzes designed for use with Swedish 84 mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles. Such rifles earlier sold to India by Sweden had been resold by New Delhi to Myanmar. Between 2017 and 2021, India was the third-largest supplier of weapons to Myanmar. 

The opposition, on the other hand, must scourge perennially for international support, finances, military and other logistics to continue fighting. So far, the NUG and the PDFs, with the trickle of support from largely unknown entities, have done well to withstand the onslaught of the Tatmadaw and hold on to sizeable areas. However, the attacks and fatalities they claim to inflict on the troops and pro-state militia may not be enough to shake the foundation of the military-run state in the long run. 

Crack within the ASEAN
Tatmadaw’s refusal to implement any of the suggested plans under the ‘five-point consensus’ to halt violence has peeved the ASEAN member states, who in October 2021 decided to exclude Myanmar from any of the group’s proceedings. However, some members of the consensus-driven bloc, in their individual capacities, have hardly shown much commitment to such a resolve. The latest to deviate was Thailand. On 19 June, the outgoing military-backed government hosted an informal dialogue in Pattaya to discuss a proposal for the regional bloc to “fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders’ level”. Representatives from Laos, Cambodia, India, China, Brunei, and Vietnam, as well as Myanmar, attended the meeting, while Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore abstained. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former coup leader, said direct talks were necessary to protect his country. However, the leader of Move Forward, Pita Limjaroenrat, who won the recent Thai general election, has said that he is committed to ASEAN-led solutions for Myanmar and distanced himself from the outgoing government’s talks with Myanmar’s junta.

Dodging the Sanctions
Media reports on 21 June indicated that the US is planning to impose new sanctions on Myanmar, this time on the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank, with a bid to cut off finances to the junta. A junta spokesperson, however, sought to play down the possible impact of the sanctions. There are contrasting viewpoints weighing on the impact of wide-ranging sanctions. While these may have economically squeezed the Tatmadaw to an extent, shreds of evidence point to the military’s undiminishing ability to survive.   

Amid Western sanctions, the military-run government’s survival has depended critically upon a variety of assistance from a select group of countries. While countries sharing borders with Myanmar, such as India and Thailand, are concerned about the ‘instability near home’, countries like Russia and China are using their anti-US position to dig deep into Myanmar’s economy and politics. Myanmar’s economic trade with Japan has not been disrupted. On 15 June, Myanmar’s electricity minister Thaung Han, attending the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg, signed a memorandum of understanding with NovaWind, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom, and two Russian companies on wind-power feasibility studies. Another MoU was signed to start direct weekly flights between Yangon and Mandalay to Moscow and Novosibirsk. 

29 months of civil war is all set to continue into the second half of 2023. The NUG’s principal demand for the restoration of democracy has met an iron wall of the junta’s own version of stability. The bloody confrontation isn’t likely to produce a winner anytime soon.

Issues in Peace and Conflict This Week:
Regional Roundups

Rishika Yadav, Sneha Surendran, Jerry Franklin, Ryan Marcus, Femy Francis, Rashmi Ramesh, Harini Madhusudan, Padmashree Anandan and Akriti Sharma
East and Southeast Asia
North Korea: Two short-range ballistic missiles fired
On 15 June, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles after Pyongyang warned of its "inevitable" response to live-fire drills by South Korea and the United States. The missiles were fired when the national security adviser to Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, was meeting his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo. A joint statement by the US, Japan, and South Korea said: "These launches are clear violations of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and demonstrate the threat (that North Korea's)... unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to the region."

Myanmar: Five suspects killed during military interrogation
On 21 June, Myanmar Now, referring to local sources, reported that five men suspected of involvement in an attack on a police station in Myanmar's Bago Region died during military interrogation. At least 34 people were arrested on suspicion of involvement following the 27 April attack on the police station in Waw township's Nyaung Khar Shey village. 
South Asia
Pakistan: FIA to investigate human traffickers
On 20 June, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) detained more than five human traffickers in Gujarat, Guranjuwala and Lahore and registered cases against more than two dozen suspects. The FIA stated that teams had been organised in major cities nationwide to track the human smugglers, and three inquiries had initiated a probe into the Pakistani smugglers' involvement. Pakistani Minister of Interior, Rana Sanaullah Khan, stated that special legislation would be passed to prosecute those involved in human smuggling following the FIA cracking down on the traffickers.

Afghanistan: Public execution by the Taliban 
On 20 June, Al Jazeera reported that the Taliban had publicly executed a murder convict in the eastern province of Laghman. The court stated that the punishment was declared following the approval of the supreme spiritual leader and investigations of three courts. 

Afghanistan: UN terms Taliban treatment of Women as gender apartheid
On 20 June, Reuters reported on Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, calling the Taliban treatment of women as gender apartheid. Taliban spokesperson, Zabinhullah Mujahid, stated that Richard Bennett's report is a part of Western propaganda. The UN defines gender apartheid as "economic and social sexual discrimination against individuals because of their gender or sex."

Central Asia, The Middle East, and Africa
Iran: Talks with the US officials
On 18 June, Al Jazeera reported that the US and Iranian officials had conducted closed-door negotiations in Muscat on Iran's nuclear programme and the release of US prisoners. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nasser Kannani confirmed that the Muscat negotiations were not intended to be separate from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US government has denied talks with Iran. 

Israel-Palestine: Cycle of violence continues
On 19 June, Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, aiming to arrest two suspects belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They were met with resistance, which resulted in an exchange of fire, killing five Palestinians, including a teenager, and injuring at least 91 people. 

On 20 June, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to immediately halt the settlement activities, describing it as a root cause for continuing violence. On the same day, two Palestinian attackers opened fire at a restaurant and gas station in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, killing four settlers. Following the shooting, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villages, torched homes and destroyed property. 

On 21 June, Israeli drones attacked the Jenin refugee camp and hit a vehicle. Three people were killed in the air raids, which is said to be a joint operation by military and intelligence. The Israeli military issued a statement: "It identified a terrorist cell inside a suspicious vehicle after the cell carried out a shooting adjacent to the town of Jalamah." 
Mali: Foreign Minister calls for withdrawal of UN peacekeeping mission 
On 16 June, Al Jazeera reported that Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stated that the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeping force, should be withdrawn from Mali "without delay" as the violence and insecurity has surged since their deployment. Al Jazeera quoted MINUSMA head El Ghassim Wane affirming that "conducting UN peacekeeping operations without the country's consent is nearly impossible." Mali's military rulers have imposed operational restrictions on peacekeepers; more than 300 peacekeepers have been killed since the beginning of the mission in 2013. 

Europe and the Americas
Ukraine: Continuing offensive in the south
On 14 June, Ukrinform reported on Ukrainian spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk's comments on Russian shelling in southern Ukraine. In an interview with United News, Humeniuk said the shelling had decreased in south Ukraine. She added that the number of Russia's troops' attacks had reduced to 38 from 60 by 14 June. According to her, shelling continued in the flood-hit areas in Kherson. She said that Russia launched missiles from the Black Sea towards the Odesa region. She said that the Ukrainian Air defence units shot down three Kalibr cruise missiles and nine Shahed drones fired towards Odesa and Donetsk region.

Ukraine: UNHCR report on forced displacement crisis
On 14 June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published the Global Trends in Forced Displacement 2022 that 5.7 million people fled Ukraine, and 5.9 million were internally displaced due to the war in 2022. The number of refugees increased by 35 per cent, primarily due to the War in Ukraine, and 16 per cent of the world refugees were Ukrainians. The report stated that the War in Ukraine triggered the "fastest displacement crisis," and Ukraine had faced the fastest refugee outflow since the second world war. In 2022, 57 per cent of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were women in Ukraine. 

Sweden: Parliament adopts new energy target
On 20 June, Reuters reported that the Parliament adopted a new energy target of 100 per cent renewable to accomplish the government's plan to meet an expected doubling of electricity demand by 2040 and net zero emissions by 2045. This will enable the government to build new nuclear plants in the country that voted to phase out atomic power 40 years ago. The new right-wing coalition government considers nuclear reactors vital for a shift to a fossil fuel-free economy and has promised generous loan guarantees. Vattenfall, the state-owned utility, is looking forward to building at least two small modular reactors and extending the life of the country's existing reactors. Critics are concerned that nuclear power would be expensive, take a long time to build and be unsafe.

Russia: No grounds to extend grain deal 
On 21 June, the Kremlin Press Secretary, Dmitry Sergeyevich Peskov, announced that Russia sees no prerequisites to prolong the deal that allows Ukrainian grain to be exported through the black sea. The agreement is due to expire in July. Signed in July 2022, the UN and Turkey mediated agreement provided the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain through the black sea corridors. In exchange, the West was obliged to remove obstacles to exporting Russian food products and fertilisers imposed following the war. Initially, the deal lasted 120 days, after which Russia agreed to an extension, despite repeatedly claiming that the US and EU had not kept their promises. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Alexeyevich Ryabkov, claimed on 20 June that there could be further consultation with the UN to save the deal. 

Honduras: Deadly riots in women's prison
On 20 June, brutal prison riots in a women's prison in Honduras left around 41 women dead. President, Xiomara Castro, blamed the mara street gangs for the violence, terming the event "monstrous." The violence is believed to be a reaction to the government's efforts to curb the influence of street gangs. The matter of how gang members got hold of weapons is under investigation. 

Haiti: Amnesty International speaks for Haitian refugees
On 20 June, on account of International Day of Refugees, Amnesty International called upon countries across the Americas to stop their racist treatment of refugees from Haiti. Haitian refugees fleeing their country are often subjected to racist, xenophobic and gender-based violence, apart from a lack of access to basic necessities. Haiti has been facing increased gang violence since July 2021, with state institutions essentially failing to exert control.

About the authors
Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray is the Director of Mantraya, Goa. He was formerly a Deputy Director at the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India. Akriti Sharma, Rashmi Ramesh and Harini Madhusudan are PhD Scholars at NIAS. Anu Maria Joseph, Femy Francis and Rishika Yadav are Research Assistants at NIAS. Padmashree Anandhan is a Research Associate at NIAS. Nithyashree RB is a Postgraduate Scholar at the Stella Maris College, Chennai. Jerry Franklin is a Postgraduate Scholar at the Madras Christian College, Chennai. Ryan Marcus is an Undergraduate Scholar at the Kristu Jayanti College, Bangalore. Sneha Surendran is a Postgraduate Scholar from OP Jindal University, Haryana.

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