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Conflict Weekly
Decriminalisation of Abortion in Mexico, Continuing Violence in Sudan, Floods in Libya, and Earthquake in Morocco

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #193, 14 September 2023, Vol.4, No.37
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI and the India Office of the KAS

Dhriti Mukherjee, Anu Maria Joseph, Jerry Franklin A and Akriti Sharma 

Mexico: Abortion decriminalisation unveils a 'Green Wave' of change
Dhriti Mukherjee

In the news
On 7 September, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled on the decriminalisation of abortion. Mexico has become the fifth Latin American country to legalise elective abortion following Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, and Argentina. The decision has been hailed by proponents of the “green wave” movement, which is in favour of abortion rights. The Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE) stated: “The decriminalisation of abortion is a major step forward for women's rights in Mexico. This ruling will help to protect women's health and lives.” 
 
The President of the Supreme Court Arturo Zaldívar marked this decision as “a watershed moment in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.” 
 
Meanwhile, the country's conservative National Action Party rejected the court’s decision, stating: “We are in favour of defending life from the moment of conception until natural death.”  

Issues at large
First, a background to Mexico's abortion laws. In 1931, Mexico legalised abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life was in danger; however, intense pressure from the influential Catholic church led to the repeal of this law in 1933. In 1973, Mexico City legalised abortion for pregnancies within the first 12 weeks; this too faced reversal by the court in 1989. 
 
Second, the role of the Catholic church and conservative parties. Despite a secular government, the influence of the church on legislation extends to the matter of abortions. Its pro-life stance was reflected in a statement to the judges on 6 September: “Don’t create a huge setback just to please an ideology in vogue, or due to peer pressure.” In tandem with the church's influence, conservative political parties including the National Action Party have consistently opposed any moves to liberalise abortion laws. 
 
Third, the role of the judiciary. The Mexican judiciary under the country’s first female Chief Justice, Norma Lucía Piña, had a major role in this decision. With an increase in the number of liberal judges and women judges in the Mexican Supreme Court, the judiciary has become increasingly receptive to the perspectives of the marginalised. Its independence from legislatures and executives has made the court more equitable, allowing rulings unaffected by conservative political and religious pressure. 
 
Fourth, the role of civil rights groups. Protests, marches and mass mobilisations orchestrated by civil rights groups contributed to the decision. The GIRE, a non-profit organisation advocating reproductive rights, took a political stance, filing a lawsuit against the abortion ban in the state of Aguascalientes in 2019. Marea Verde Mexico, a feminist movement fighting for abortion rights, organised protests in 2021 and launched a social media campaign called #YoAborte, meaning “I Aborted,”to encourage women to share their views about abortion in 2022. 

In perspective
First, the victory of the pro-choice group. In 2020, Mexico recorded 45,000 deaths stemming from unsafe abortion. Decriminalising abortions is a step to reduce unsafe abortions by giving women control over their bodies.
 
Second, uncertain response from the Senate. In the upcoming weeks the Senate will vote on the legislation. While the stances of the National Action Party (PAN) and the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) are clear, there is uncertainty as the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) senators stand divided. 
 
Third, impact on Latin America. Mexico's judicial ruling is a paradigm of a trend in Latin America towards not only acknowledging women's rights but also challenging the influence of the Catholic church in politics. This is highlighted by Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for the Mexican feminist organisation, GIRE, who stated: “It will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region.” 


Sudan: Fighting continues, as parties gather internal and regional support 
Anu Maria Joseph

In the news
On 11 September, BBC Africa reported that at least 35 people were killed and 60 others were injured in an air strike at a market in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began in April. Neither the SAF nor the RSF has claimed the latest attack. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated that Khartoum was hit with “explosive weapons'' and shelling continued in “another day of unthinkable suffering and loss of life.” 
 
The same day, UN humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Clemente Nkweta Salami condemned the attack stating: The attack is “completely unacceptable and violates international humanitarian law.” The RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, in his conversation with the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, promised to support humanitarian organisations to deliver aid to those affected by the conflict. 
 
On 8 September, the RSF condemned the sanctions imposed by the US on 6 September describing it as "unfair and shocking.” Sanctions included financial restrictions on the RSF deputy leader, Abdel Rahim Dagalo and a travel ban on the group's commander in the state of West Darfur, Gen Abdul Rahman Juma, over alleged human rights abuses.

Issues at large
First, the use of heavy weapons and continuing air strikes. Despite several ceasefire efforts, the fighting is continuing in Sudan. Both warring parties are accused of using explosive weapons including tanks, artillery, rockets and air-delivered munitions. The use of explosive weapons has severely impacted civilian lives and properties. At least 20 people were killed in an SAF air strike in the Kalakla Al-Qubba neighbourhood of south-west Khartoum. The SAF has been carrying out frequent air strikes to dislodge the RSF who have control over much of Khartoum and its twin cities of Omdurman and Bahri. Air strikes were also reported in the Darfur region where the tensions have erupted into an ethnic conflict. 
 
Second, conflicting parties gathering allies internally and regionally. Since the beginning of the conflict,the  RSF and SAF have been seeking alliances with Arab and non-Arab militias respectively. On 11 September, the Sudan Tribune reported that the SAF leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has held a meeting with the leader of the rebel group Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, requesting to support its fight against the RSF. Besides, Al-Burhan visited South Sudan, Qatar, and Eritrea in its bid for political and humanitarian support. Meanwhile, the RSF political advisor and special envoy, Yousif Izzat, met with the chairperson of the African Union, the Chadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Moussa Faki Mahamat, on 3 September to discuss RSF’s vision to end the conflict.
 
Third, failing efforts to end the conflict. Several rounds of ceasefires and talks led by external actors failed. The US-Saudi-led ceasefires and peace mediations in May and June failed with little compliance from both the warring sides. In May, the Arab League had offered a draft resolution calling for “immediate and comprehensive cessation” of the conflict; however, failed in bringing a resolution. In August, the RSF called for a negotiated settlement with its vision of resolution through the restoration of a civilian-led government. However, after SAF denied a settlement, RSF announced that its troops “have a strong presence in the capital” and “will fight on to the last soldier.” Mistrust between the parties prompts them to seek military advantage over each other.
 
Fourth, increase in humanitarian suffering. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than seven million people have been forced to leave their homes. The UN has warned that the humanitarian situation could lead the region into catastrophe. Air strikes on civilian areas have caused major casualties, damage to critical infrastructure and left millions without access to basic needs. According to Human Rights Watch, 42 per cent of the population faces acute food insecurity. At least 498 children have died of hunger. Widespread sexual violence and further severe human rights violations are recorded in the conflict-hit regions. 

In perspective
First, the fighting in Sudan appears to be continuing with a slow expansion. Persisting hostilities imply that a peace talk will be difficult to hold, and thus that international and regional efforts would be ineffective. Each side attempting to gather international and regional support implies that both sides try to prove their legitimacy with external actors.  
 
As long as the RSF and SAF continue the strife for legitimacy, a chance for negotiations will not be in sight. Hence, a road towards peace talks and a lasting resolution remains elusive. The continuing and slow expansion in the fighting implies the humanitarian catastrophe that is yet to come.     


 Libya: Destructive floods kill more than ten thousand
Jerry Franklin

In the news
On 14 September, the Libyan Red Crescent reported that more than 11,300 people died and more than 10,000 went missing after Storm Daniel struck the city of Derna in eastern Libya on 10 September. Two dams, the Derna Dam and the Abu Mansur Dam, collapsed, unleashing torrents of water into the city through a dry riverbed. 
 
On 14 September, the international and domestic effort to aid Libya's numerous victims gained momentum despite political divisions. According to Al Jazeera, other countries including Algeria, Egypt, France, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union assisted in several capacities.
 
On 13 September, the UN described the storm as a “calamity of epic proportions” and expressed condolences to the victims.
 
On 12 September, the deputy mayor of Derna, Ahmed Madroud, stated that the dams in Derna in eastern Libya, which were battered by the storm, had not been maintained for more than 20 years and hence were not designed to survive the disastrous floods. Additionally, Madroud stated that the damage in the city of Dern caused by Storm Daniel will be challenging to restore. 

Issues at large
First, weather anomalies. Storm Daniel developed in Greece and as it approached Libya it evolved into a so-called medicane - a Mediterranean hurricane - which is a combination of mid-latitude storms and tropical cyclones. The storm reached its highest intensity in Libya, with winds gusting up to 70 to 80 kilometres per hour. Torrential rains ranging from 150 to 240 millimetres caused flash floods in multiple cities. According to Libya’s National Meteorological Centre, Al-Bayda, the industrial city in eastern Libya recorded the highest rainfall rate of 414.1 mm (more than 16 inches) within 24 hours. 
 
Second, Derna’s geographical challenges and frail dam infrastructure. The city of Derna is a low-lying area located at the end of a valley, which is bisected by the Wadi Derna, a seasonal river that runs from the mountains towards the sea and is typically shielded from floods by dams. Approximately 90,000 people are residing in the city. The city of Derna consists of two dams. The Derna Dam, 75 metres tall, is located where two river valleys join 12 kilometres upstream from the city. Meanwhile, the Abu Mansur Dam, 45 metres tall, is located one kilometre upstream from the city. The dams can hold only 18 million and 1.5 million cubic metres of water respectively. These 50-year-old dams failed, causing a deluge of water to flow through the centre of the city along the Wadi Derna River. The collapse caused the discharge of almost 30 million cubic metres of water. Having not been maintained for more than two decades, the dams collapsed causing the surrounding mountains to become a collection system and direct the overflowing water directly into the city, leading to a devastating flood.
 
Third, the divided government. The conflict-torn eastern and western governments of Libya have been operating independently since the NATO-backed revolt deposed Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah is in charge of Libya's internationally acclaimed government in Tripoli. The eastern administration in Benghazi is led by the rival prime minister Osama Hamad and is supported by the strong military leader Khalifa Hiftar. The addressing of socio economic development, the maintenance and new construction of quality infrastructure has been pushed to the sidelines in between the power struggle. Roads, bridges and other important infrastructure are in a terrible state, making emergency responses difficult. Additionally, the political divisions in Libya that lack a powerful central authority make rescue operations more difficult to reach the affected area. According to the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), due to inadequate early warning and crisis management systems in Libya, individuals were unable to be evacuated in the quickest possible time, which resulted in a tragic loss of life. 

In perspective
First, the effect of climate change. The temperature of the Mediterranean Sea has warmed by two to three degrees Celsius compared to previous years. Medicanes are renowned for being brief and feeble storms. However, warmer sea surface temperatures make storms more intense as they absorb more heat and water vapour while crossing warm waters. It results in powerful winds and heavier rain when they hit land. This is an adverse effect of global warming.
 
Second, a severe humanitarian crisis. The floods have caused a humanitarian catastrophe. Hundreds of people have lost their houses and desperately require shelter, water and food. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), up to 35,000 individuals have been forced to leave the impacted eastern sites after their homes were either entirely drowned or collapsed.
 
Third, the inefficiency of the authorities in power. The devastating flood can be attributed to the negligence of the authorities as the warnings had been issued days before; however, the eastern authorities failed to respond in time. The impacted regions lack effective drainage systems. The two dams that collapsed serve as an example of Libya's crumbling infrastructure. Inadequate financial management and corruption are to blame for the infrastructure degradation. 


Morocco: Devastating earthquake kills thousands
Akriti Sharma

In the news
On 8 September, Morocco was hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicentre was in the Atlas Mountains. More than 2,900 people have died and 5,600 people have been injured.
 
On 9 September, the Royal Office of His Majesty King Mohammed VI issued a statement which instructed to “immediately set up an inter-ministerial commission in charge of carrying out an emergency rehabilitation and aid program to reconstruct as soon as possible the destroyed homes in the affected areas.”
 
On 9 September, US President Joe Biden stated: “My administration is in contact with Moroccan officials. The United States stands by Morocco and my friend King Mohammed VI at this difficult moment.”
 
On 9 September, the head of the African Union Commission stated: “I learnt with great sadness of the tragic consequences of the earthquake that hit the kingdom of Morocco.”   

Issues at large
First, a brief background and the lack of preparedness. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the western Atlas Mountains in the south of Marrakesh in the province of Al Haouz. According to the US Geological Survey and Morocco's National Institute of Geophysics, the depth was eight kilometres to 26 kilometres. It was caused by “reverse fault,” which occurs when tectonic plates collide resulting in the thickening of Earth’s crust. The stress caused by the fault lines induces earthquakes.
 
The damage caused by the earthquake was unusually large considering that the magnitude was not that high. In February 2023, the earthquake in Syria and Turkey had a larger magnitude of 7.8. According to seismologists, North Africa is moderately prone to seismic activity. The damage was mainly due to a lack of disaster-resilient infrastructure in the region. The region is largely rural and the buildings are made of masonry and particulate matter such as gravel or sand which is highly prone to collapse. Additionally, most hit areas of the country were impoverished areas with already existing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition which has exacerbated the economic and human loss. Additionally, such remote areas are left to cope with the disaster on their own.
 
Second, the slow response and resistance to foreign aid. The Moroccan government has been criticised for a delayed and slow response. The official statement of the royal office came after a day of the earthquake that buried thousands of people. According to the New York Times, there were no rescue operations over the weekend. Rescue efforts started on 11 September after the help started flowing in. The government has been irregular and tight-lipped regarding the rescue operations and updating the death count. It has failed in disseminating critical information in the public sphere.
 
Additionally, the government has been criticised for not allowing international aid to step in. So far, teams from the UK, Spain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been allowed to carry out search and rescue operations. Other countries including Tunisia, Algeria, France, Germany, Italy and Canada along with the UN are waiting for the government to allow them to carry out rescue operations. The Moroccan government quoted by Al Jazeera that the acceptance of aid from four countries initially is a decision that was made “based on a precise assessment of needs on the ground” and poorly coordinated aid “would be counterproductive.”

In perspective
First, an increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters. Decades ago, an earthquake of such a magnitude used to be a rare phenomenon. However, disasters are increasingly frequent and require effective early warning, preparedness, management and response. A lack of efficient disaster management will further increase losses.
 
Second, the need for loss and damage funds. Globally disasters are on the rise but the response depends on the capability of the country to respond to disasters. Not every country or region is equipped enough to manage the disaster. Loss and damage funds would be a help to vulnerable and less developed countries to seek help in addressing disasters and recover from the losses caused.


Issues in Peace and Conflict This Week:
Regional Roundups

Rishika Yadav, Anu Maria Joseph, Femy Francis, Padmashree Anandan, Dhriti Mukherjee and Akriti Sharma

East and Southeast Asia 
Taiwan: China accused of expanding air defence against Taiwan coast
On 12 September, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence published its annual National Defence Report stating that China aims to further airpower defence on the coast facing Taiwan. It stated: "The Chinese communists have been completing the expansion of airfields along the coastline of its eastern and southern theatre commands, realigning new fighters and drones to be permanently stationed there." Taiwan has expedited its efforts on the strategy of asymmetric defence, improving long-range, unmanned, and artificial intelligence capabilities in light of growing Chinese aggression. The report called all espionage efforts including the weather balloon "grey zone" tactics. The report added that China is carrying out "realistic combat training" to prepare itself against Taiwan. 

South Korea: President Yoon urges China to play a “responsible” role against North Korea’s aggression
On 12 September, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol urged the Chinese government to play a “responsible” role in curbing North Korean nuclear aggression. He stated that North Korea should not be the "stumbling block" between China-South Korea relations. Yoon added: "Noting that South Korea-US-Japan relations are bound to become more solid as the North Korean nuclear issue becomes more serious, I asked China to play a responsible role in the development of our bilateral relations, and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council." Yoon made the comments during his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sideline of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

North Korea: Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia
On 12 September, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin over potential arms deals between the two countries. The Korean Central News Agency reported that the delegation would include the North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui, unnamed members in charge of the defence industry and military affairs, and munitions industry department Director Jo Chun-ryong. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated: “There will be negotiations between two delegations, and after that, if necessary, the leaders will continue their communication in a one-on-one format.” According to the Guardian perspective, the visit focused on supplies of North Korean artillery and ammunition for Russia in the war in Ukraine; Kim in return seeks energy and food aid and advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated: “I will remind both countries that any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”

North Korea: New submarine with nuclear missile launch capability unveiled
On 8 September, according to the state-run news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea launched its new "tactical nuclear attack submarine" to bolster its naval power. During the launching ceremony, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un emphasised plans to enhance naval modernisation and pursue the "nuclear weaponization of the Navy." Kim stated that the submarine, Hero Kim Kun Ok, would operate as an “underwater offensive means of the naval force” in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. He added that the submarine would carry out “both preemptive and retaliatory strikes” to counter the US and South Korean “invasion fleets.”

South Asia
Pakistan: Clashes near Afghanistan border
On 6 September, clashes erupted at the Torkham border between the Pakistani military and Afghanistan forces. The clash happened after an objection from the Pakistani side over the construction of a check post in the region, which both sides had mutually decided to not use. The objection led to the opening of fire from Afghanistan’s side and a retaliatory response from Pakistan. Later, the border, which is the main point of transit for travelers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan, was closed. The relationship between the two countries has soured since Afghanistan’s Taliban takeover in 2021 with Pakistan accusing Afghanistan of harbouring terrorists.

India: Three security officials killed in an anti-terrorism operation in J&K
On 13 September, three security officials from the Army and J&K police were killed during an anti-terrorism operation in the Anantnag district in Kashmir valley. The officials were pursuing the militants following a tip regarding the movement of militants in the area. The raiding team came under fire from the militants who were hiding in the forests.

India: A police officer killed in Manipur
On 13 September, a sub-inspector belonging to Manipur Police was killed in a gun attack. The killing took place in the Churachandpur district of Manipur; the district has been the centre of ethnic violence in the state during the last few months. The Indian Express quoted a statement by the Manipur police that the sub-inspector was “martyred in a firing incident by miscreants.”

Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa
Lebanon: Violent clashes return to the Palestinian camp
On 11 September, Reuters reported on intense fighting between factions in Ein el-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon that left 10 people dead. Ein el-Hilweh is said to be the largest refugee camp in Lebanon housing nearly 55,000 registered Palestinian refugees. After hostilities between the Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas and Islamist militants resumed on 7 September, hundreds of families left the camp. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the present escalation is thought to be related to fights between rival groups, the Fatah faction and the  Junud al-Sham, which happened in March and resurfaced in July.

Israel: Defence minister complains of Iran's terrorist base in Lebanon near Israel's border
On 11 September, the Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant complained of an Iranian base for terrorists in southern Lebanon, 20 kilometres away from the Israel border. Gallant stated that Israel must "remain aware and ready, with our eyes trained on the binoculars and our fingers on the trigger." He added that despite occasionally using Hezbollah and other proxies to fight against Israel, Iran continues to pose the biggest threat to the country and that Hezbollah "will pay a high price" if it decides to engage in fighting. Additionally, he raised concerns about Iran’s increasing nuclear weapons capabilities that the defence establishment would not take lightly.

Ethiopia: Prime Minister announced filling of the GERD; Egypt protests against it
On 11 September, Ethiopia announced that it had filled the reservoir at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).  Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated: "It is with great pleasure that I announce the successful completion of the fourth and final filling of the Renaissance Dam.” Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Ethiopia was disregarding the interests of the other countries; a statement from Egypt reads: "Ethiopia's unilateral measures are considered a disregard for the interests and rights of the downstream countries and their water security, as guaranteed by principles of international law.” Egypt claims that Ethiopia’s “unilateral filling” violates the Declaration of Principles signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in 2015 and accused Ethiopia’s action as “illegal.” The Declaration of Principles prioritised cooperation and the peaceful settlement of disputes over GERD.

Mali: 49 civilians killed in Islamist militant attack
On 8 September, Al Jazeera reported that at least 49 civilians and 15 soldiers were killed in two attacks by Islamist militant groups. The militants attacked a passenger boat which was travelling on the Niger River from the town of Gao to Mopti and a military camp in the Bourem Circle, part of the Gao region. Nearly 50 assailants were killed during the clashes. Al Jazeera quoted an AFP report in which a group affiliated with al-Qaeda claimed both attacks. The UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has raised concerns regarding the developments stating: “The region has experienced a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets; the humanitarian consequences are alarming.” Since August, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, known as the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JMIN),  has carried out a blockade around the Malian city of Timbuktu close to the Niger River where the boat was attacked.

Europe and the Americas
Ukraine: Military intelligence claims recapturing drilling platforms in the Black Sea
On 11 September, Ukrainian military intelligence reported on regaining control of several oil and gas drilling platforms including Petro Godovenets, Ukraina, Tavryda and Syvash in the Black Sea. The adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, claimed that these platforms were used by Russia for “all sorts of monitoring, control, and surveillance sensors, expanding the Russian operational capabilities” in the Black Sea. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, a “stockpile of helicopter ammunition and a Neva radar system” were detained. The drilling platforms were earlier purchased and built in 2011 near Odessa gas field which was later taken control by Russia in 2015 during the annexation of Crimea.

Finland: Satellite images reveal buildings built by Russia near the border
On 10 September, satellite images found by the Finnish public broadcaster, Yle, revealed three large halls at the Alakurti garrison which is located 50 kilometres from the Finland-Russia border and a large equipment warehouse in Petrozavodsk built by Russia. Based on the Yle report, the halls are assumed to be the largest concentration of military material near the border that can accommodate one battalion of combat vehicles. According to Finland's military intelligence spokesperson Marko Eklun: "This is the first time that this technology has reportedly been used in the northern region. The material can withstand severe frost." As per the report, these projects are the first indication of Russia investing in its military targets near its borders with Finland after long years of inactivity.
 
Nicaragua: UN panel expresses concern over human rights abuses in Nicaragua
On 12 September, a United Nations panel released a statement expressing concern over Nicaragua’s worsening human rights situation, as it is “being stripped of its intellectual capital and critical voices.” The statement comes following the seizing of assets and property belonging to the Central American University (UCA) by President Daniel Ortega. The UCA is the 27th university to be seized by Ortega’s government after being accused of functioning as a “centre of terrorism” for its role in the 2014 anti-government protests. The panel alleges that the “students were murdered, illegally imprisoned and tortured” and are living under “constant fear” due to “daily threats.” It has urged the international community to help the students and impose sanctions on the country.
 
Mexico: US-Mexico border is the world’s most dangerous route for migrants says IOM
On 12 September, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a statement describing the United States-Mexico border as the deadliest route for asylum seekers. The statement claims that the hazardous crossing of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts caused half of the 1,457 migrant deaths throughout the Americas in 2022. However, the IOM stated that several cases have not been documented, serving as a “stark reminder of the need for decisive action by states” and the importance of “enhancing data collection.”
 
Canada: Sikh leader calls for “balkanizing” India during Khalistan referendum in Vancouver
On 10 September, several thousands of Canadian Sikhs cast their votes in the Khalistan Referendum in the city of Brampton. The referendum was organised by the secessionist group, Sikh for Justice (SFJ). SFJ founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun commented: "Indian diplomats in Canada, Indian intelligence agencies, Ajit Doval, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are directly involved in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar. India’s political death is a writing on the wall. Sikhs will stop at nothing less than the Balkanisation of India.” Meanwhile, on the same day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a media interaction during the G20 summit in New Delhi commented: "Diaspora Canadians make up a huge proportion of our country and they should be able to express themselves and make their choices without interference from any of the many countries that we know are involved in interference challenges."


About the authors
Rohini Reenum and Ankit Singh 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. Dhriti Mukherjee and Shamini Velayudham are Research Assistants at NIAS. Nithyashree RB is a Postgraduate Scholar at Stella Maris College, Chennai.

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