Kosovo: Trouble over tags
GLOBAL BRIEFS | European Union leaders defuse political tensions between Kosovo and Serbia over vehicle license plates
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The European Union brokered a deal between Kosovo and Serbia on Nov. 23 to defuse tensions over unauthorized vehicle license plates. Kosovo police had planned in late November to start handing out fines to cars bearing license plates issued by Serbia—and that angered the nation’s 120,000 ethnic Serbs, 10,000 of whom still have Serbian plates. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia doesn’t recognize that independence and has instead encouraged loyalty from Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority. The EU has sought to normalize ties between the two countries. In the deal, Serbia agreed to cease issuing plates with Kosovo cities’ denominations on them, and Kosovo agreed to stop requiring reregistration of Serbian-issued plates. —Jenny Lind Schmitt
Authorities in the East African country last month detained an American missionary pilot and two South Africans and accused them of supporting Islamic insurgents. Airport officials stopped the 31-year-old pilot, Ryan Koher, as he passed through security on Nov. 4. Koher was scheduled to pilot a charter flight with medications and other aid supplies to orphanages in the country’s restive northern region. His employer, Ambassador Aviation, has delivered such supplies to the city of Montepuez since 2014. Authorities also detained two South Africans who provided the items. Mission Aviation Fellowship, a U.S.-based partner of Ambassador Aviation, said local authorities moved Koher to a high-security prison near the capital. Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama—a local insurgent group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—has terrorized Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province since 2017. —Onize Ohikere
A Dec. 1 ruling from the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ended a long-simmering dispute over the Silala River, which flows from Bolivia into Chile. While Chile needs the Silala’s water for its mining industry, Bolivia claimed the Silala is not a river but a wetland that it enhanced by constructing channels and drainage mechanisms. Under international law, that would mean Chile should pay Bolivia to use the Silala. Chile took the matter to the ICJ in 2016, but the countries subsequently resolved most of the matters of contention on their own. “During the proceedings it has become clear that the parties agree that … they have the right to equitable and reasonable use according to customary international law,” said the court’s president, Judge Joan Donoghue. —Emma Freire
Among the latest in pig farming trends: a 26-story high-rise in Ezhou, a city in Hubei province. The towering farm is slated to slaughter up to 1.2 million pigs a year to provide China’s favorite meat. The $575 million farm, which according to The Guardian began operations in October, is equipped with high-level automation and includes a second skyscraper to help the site hold up to 650,000 pigs. But critics say the farm’s high animal density increases the risk for disease outbreaks. High-rise farms are part of China’s effort to upgrade its pork production after African swine fever resulted in losses of tens of millions of pigs between 2018 and 2020. —Erica Kwong
An expedition team from New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in late November reached the bottom of the Scholl Deep, only the second crewed visit to the site. At 33,000 feet, Scholl Deep is the deepest part of the nearly straight 620-mile-long Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand. Using an underwater vehicle named the Fendouzhe, the dive team collected samples and found species like the upside-down deep sea anglerfish at unexpected depths. Rock samples may help scientists better understand the tectonic plates that make up the trench. —Amy Lewis
One of the country’s last churches, the Resurrection Church of Aït-Atelli, shut down Nov. 12 after local government authorities ordered its closure. The pastoral staff taped a flyer to the outside of the shuttered building that read, “Persevere in prayer and Bible reading.” Online, church leaders urged congregants to respect authority and pray for change in their country. Since the church’s closure, they have used Facebook to share sermon videos from other churches. According to Mission Network News, only 11 churches remain open in Algeria. Only 0.2 percent of the primarily Islamic nation’s population are evangelical Christians. Despite constitutional provisions for freedom of religion, the government has closed more than 20 churches in the last four years. —Elizabeth Russell