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Global Briefs: UN ships milk powder to Cuba

Amid economic crisis, Cuban officials ask World Food Program for help

Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Global Briefs: UN ships milk powder to Cuba
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Fact Box Source: The World Factbook-CIA


The island nation’s communist government has sent its first-ever aid request to the top management tier of the United Nations’ World Food Program. The WFP told leading Spanish news organization EFE that the government asked for help providing subsidized milk to Cuban children 7 years old and younger amid a spiraling economic crisis. In response, the WFP reported it delivered 144 tons of “skimmed-milk powder” to Cuba in February. That’s enough for about 48,000 children between 7 months and 3 years of age—just 6 percent of the minors who depend on the government for milk. —Grace Snell


The country’s Ministry of External Affairs announced on Feb. 29 that it has begun replacing its military personnel in the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, with civilian technical staff. The move came after the Maldives’ pro-China president, Mohamed Muizzu, demanded India withdraw its service members by March 15. India had given the country a Dornier airplane and two helicopters. It stationed at least 75 personnel on the Maldives to operate the aircraft for humanitarian services, including transporting patients from remote islands and rescuing people at sea. The Maldives previously prioritized India in its foreign policy, but tension between the two nations has risen since Muizzu took office in November. He announced plans to reduce the Maldives’ dependence on India after signing 20 agreements with China in areas including disaster management, economic development, and agriculture. —Joyce Wu

Screen grab from YouTube


Members of the global evangelism ministry Youth With a Mission (YWAM) are reeling from the effects of a Feb. 24 bus crash in Tanzania that killed 11 missionaries, including seven foreign nationals. The students and staffers were returning to Arusha from a field trip when a large truck hit one of two minibuses carrying the group back from training. Fourteen other people not affiliated with YWAM also died in the accident. In a Feb. 26 update, the ministry asked for prayer for those still hospitalized, some in intensive care, as well as the family members of those who died. —Onize Ohikere


Parliament passed a bill Feb. 28 cracking down on LGBTQ activism. Anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQ could face a prison sentence of up to three years. Those convicted of forming or funding LGBTQ groups could face sentences of up to five years. The bill, which awaits the president’s signature, also proposes jail terms of up to 10 years for those involved in LGBTQ advocacy campaigns aimed at children. The bill’s sponsors said they want to protect children and victims of abuse. Religious leaders across the country, including the Christian Council of Ghana, supported the bill, but critics say they fear it could lead to “witch hunts.” Homosexual relations are already illegal in the West African nation, punishable by a three-year prison sentence. —Jenny Lind Schmitt


In a special session, Parliament voted Mar. 4 to make abortion a constitutional right. France is the first nation in the world to do so. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Emmanuel Macron vowed to enshrine the right to the “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” into France’s constitution. In a statement, France’s National Council of Evangelicals noted the sponsor of the 1975 law legalizing abortion, Simone Veil, stressed it should always be an exception, not encouraged by society. “50 years later, from an ‘exceptional measure’ and a provision to depenalize, we slide to a constitutional right,” the statement said. The council called for the government to provide more alternatives for women in crisis pregnancies. —Jenny Lind Schmitt

POIS Peter Thompson/Royal Australian Navy via AP


Six “optionally crewed” surface combat warships will join the Australian Defence Force fleet as part of an upgrade that also includes nuclear submarines. Over the next 10 years, Australia will spend $35 billion to diversify and double its surface fleet, even as new sailor recruits decrease. Unmanned vessels use space previously reserved for crew to increase missile capacity by 75 percent. But crewless warships may run afoul of international law. The UN’s Law of the Sea Convention says ships in international waters need a commander and crew under armed forces discipline. Australia’s defense minister said that while the ships can operate remotely, the navy will send them out with on-board crews. —Amy Lewis


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