Global Briefs: Lebanon’s child labor crisis
Child labor is on the rise, according to a recent UNICEF report
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Child labor is on the rise, according to a June UNICEF report that surveyed over 2,000 Lebanese households. More than 10 percent of households—and 28 percent of Syrian refugee families—now send their children out to work. Jobs range from drug trafficking to agricultural labor. Some workers are as young as 6, and 15 percent of households have stopped sending their children to school. Lebanon’s economic crisis began in 2019, when soaring state debt led to a currency crash. The still-bankrupt government is often unable to provide basic services. —Elizabeth Russell
President Vladimir Putin is attempting to reassert his authority after the short-lived rebellion led by a once-loyal mercenary group. Before the war in Ukraine, Putin held a near total grip on power. But Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s very public criticism of the military’s performance, followed by his defiant march against Moscow, has analysts speculating Putin might not remain atop Russia’s power pyramid for long. Several political figures called publicly for Prigozhin’s prosecution, an implied criticism of Putin’s willingness to grant him amnesty. After aborting his revolt, Prigozhin relocated to Belarus, but it’s not clear what will happen to the thousands of heavily armed fighters who remain in Wagner’s ranks. —Leigh Jones
President William Ruto signed a trade deal with the European Union on June 19 to give the country greater access to the European market. The Economic Partnership Agreement will provide Kenyan traders duty-free and quota-free access to the 27-member bloc. In turn, Kenya will gradually open its market to European goods, reducing tariffs over 25 years. Kenya mainly exports agricultural products, including vegetables, tea, and coffee. It sends more than 70 percent of its total cut flower production to Europe. Kenya now hopes to negotiate trade deals with the United States and the United Arab Emirates. —Onize Ohikere
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced on June 12 that surrogacy would only be available to citizens from this point forward. He accused foreign nationals of profiting from Georgia’s lack of regulation, and he decried online advertising of surrogacy that exploits women and children. He also noted situations where the child’s fate becomes “unknown” once he is born and taken from the country. Because most Western European countries prohibit surrogacy, the practice has surged in poorer countries with loose regulation. Ukraine has been a leader in the world surrogacy business, but instability caused by the war with Russia has affected availability at surrogacy clinics. Georgia’s measures would also ban in vitro fertilization for foreigners. —Jenny Lind Schmitt
In June, Belize became the 42nd country to stamp out malaria. Belize recorded its last case of the deadly disease in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. The agency requires a country to have three consecutive years of zero native cases to qualify for malaria-free certification. Belize nearly eradicated the disease in 1963 but stopped residual spraying of insecticide indoors. Cases rose and peaked at 10,000 a year in 1994. Now, besides early diagnosis and control of malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes, Belize has deployed thousands of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. The country also worked with Mexico and Guatemala to control mosquitoes at their rural borders. —Amy Lewis
Amid surging suicides, leader Kim Jong Un issued a secret order for local authorities to prevent North Koreans from taking their own lives. According to a Radio Free Asia report on June 5, authorities held emergency meetings at the provincial, city, and county levels to announce the order and provide suicide statistics. In the city of Chongjin and nearby Kyongsong county, the majority of the 35 cases recorded this year involved entire families dying together, an unnamed official said. Severe poverty and starvation are the leading causes. North Korea has never been able to produce enough food to feed its 26 million people. The scarcity has worsened since the country shut its border in 2020. —Joyce Wu
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