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Musings From Abroad

UN joins Sudan’s warring sides with Israel, Hamas in global list of child rights violators

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The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Wednesday, added the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Israeli armed forces, and the warring parties in Sudan to an annual global list of entities that violate children’s rights and are responsible for the deaths and injuries of children in 2023.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Guterres also denounced Hamas and Islamic Jihad for kidnapping children and the armed forces of Israel and Sudan for targeting hospitals and schools.

In addition, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces—which have been engaged in combat with the Sudanese military since April of last year—were accused of raping and abusing minors, targeting hospitals and schools, and recruiting and exploiting youngsters.

Last year, a civil war broke out in Sudan between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which has caused the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the world. In the past few days, the U.N. has been worried that the RSF might soon attack al-Fashir in Sudan’s North Darfur area.

Six serious violations are covered in the study, which was put together by Virginia Gamba, Guterres’ envoy for children and armed conflict. These include attacks on hospitals and schools, sexual assault, kidnapping, recruitment and usage, and killing and maiming.

The list that is included with the report tries to put parties to disputes to shame in the hopes that it would force them to take action to protect children. It only covers transgressions that the UN has confirmed.

“In 2023, violence against children in armed conflict reached extreme levels, with a shocking 21% increase in grave violations,” the report read. “The number of instances of killing and maiming increased by a staggering 35%.”

“The highest numbers of grave violations were verified in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan,” found the report, describing verification as “extremely challenging.”

After being put to the list last year, Russia’s armed forces and allied groups were still there for targeting hospitals and schools in Ukraine, killing and maiming children. A request for a response was not immediately answered by Russia’s U.N. mission; however, Moscow has consistently denied that it has targeted civilians since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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Musings From Abroad

Niger, Turkey expand energy, defence cooperation

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Following Niger’s request for the departure of Western military forces and the cancellation of many Western countries’ mining contracts, Turkey and Niger decided to increase their collaboration in the areas of energy, mining, intelligence, and defence.

On Wednesday, MIT intelligence chief, Ibrahim Kalin, Energy Minister, Alparslan Bayraktar, Defense Minister, Yasar Guler, and Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, of Turkey paid a visit to Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The Turkish team also met with General Abdulrahman Tiani, the leader of Niger, who assumed office in July of last year following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the military council he led and the country’s shift in allegiance.

The junta expelled the French forces, and the United States was instructed to remove its military men from the nation. Additionally, it broke security agreements with the EU.

Two months have passed since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Niger’s Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine met in Ankara, where the Turkish officials are currently on a visit.

Following their discussions on Wednesday, Fidan informed reporters that officials from Turkey and Niger had talked about enhancing their defence intelligence collaboration.

Guler talked about measures to strengthen defence and military training cooperation between Turkey and Niger, an official from the Turkish Ministry of defense said on Thursday.

The energy ministry of Turkey announced on Wednesday that the two nations had inked a statement of intent to assist and motivate Turkish enterprises to develop the oil and natural gas resources in Niger.

Niger is the seventh-largest producer of uranium in the world and possesses the highest-grade uranium ores in Africa.

However, a Turkish diplomatic source stated that Ankara is not looking to purchase uranium from Niger for its first nuclear power station, which is being built in Akkuyu in Turkey’s Mediterranean area by Russia’s Rosatom.

 

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Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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