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Ethiopian airstrikes target civilians

An international news roundup

A soldier guards a partially blocked road in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Associated Press, file

Ethiopian airstrikes target civilians

At midnight last Saturday, the government bombed a displacement camp in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, killing at least 57 people and injuring more than 130 others. Women and children made up the majority of the camp’s residents.

Many of the residents came to the camp to seek shelter as the fighting between the government and the region’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front entered its 14th month.

Asefa Gebrehaworia, 75, fled to the camp after fighting destroyed his home in the bordering town of Humera. He burst into tears on his hospital bed as he told aid workers his friend died in the attack, Reuters reported.

The airstrike followed President Abiy Ahmed’s announcement a day earlier, on Orthodox Christmas, that his government would begin talks to usher in reconciliation. Authorities released several opposition leaders from prison in what was initially viewed as a breakthrough toward peace.

But on Monday, a drone strike hit another target near the town of Mai Tsebri, killing at least 17 civilians. A local government report said the majority of the dead were women who worked at a flour mill. Aid workers in the region have said such attacks continue on a near-daily basis.

President Joe Biden on Monday expressed concern to Ahmed about the ongoing airstrikes and urged the Ethiopian leader to improve humanitarian access to the embattled region.

Government airstrikes have killed at least 146 people and injured 251 others since the conflict began, according to Action on Armed Violence. The United Nations on Sunday said aid agencies suspended their operations in Tigray due to the “ongoing threats of drone strike.” The lack of medicine, fuel, and other essentials has also affected their services.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the patriots-only legislative session on Wednesday

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the patriots-only legislative session on Wednesday Associated Press/Photo by Kin Cheung

World radar

  • HONG KONG: China on Sunday appointed a general who led its anti-terrorism special forces in Xinjiang as the new leader of the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong. Peng Jingtang also served as the chief of staff for the Armed Police Force in the northwest region where China has reportedly targeted Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Hong Kong has its own police force, but Beijing maintains military barracks in the territory. China has intensified its crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong. Leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday vowed to introduce a string of new security laws for the city as she opened the first legislative session after a “patriots-only” election.

  • EUROPE: The European Union’s data protection watchdog this week ordered its Europol crime agency to clear out data on people with no proven link to crime. The European data protection supervisor said Europol has not set an appropriate data retention period and gave the agency a year to erase data held for more than six months. The Guardian said Europol’s information cache amounts to 4 petabytes—a fifth of the entire contents of the U.S. Library of Congress. Data protection advocates have said the volume of information amounts to mass surveillance.

  • ARGENTINA: Argentinians sought relief in pools and under trees this week as a historic heatwave pushed temperatures as high as 113 degrees in parts of the South American country. Five major cities recorded their highest readings in at least 50 years. The capital city of Buenos Aires faced a significant power outage due to increased demand. Local authorities encouraged residents to stay hydrated and out of the sun.

  • IRAN: Iranian national Aras Amiri, who worked for the British Council’s London office, returned to London this week after regaining her freedom. Iranian authorities detained Amiri while she visited her grandmother in 2018 and later sentenced her to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying on cultural activities in Iran. Her lawyer said Iran released her in recent months, but she also had to appeal a travel ban. Iran, the United Kingdom, and other world powers are meeting in Vienna to renegotiate the crumbling 2015 nuclear deal.

  • VENEZUELA: The U.S.-backed opposition secured another victory on Sunday, with its candidate winning the election for governor in the home state of late President Hugo Chávez. Sergio Garrido claimed 55.4 percent of the votes in the state of Barinas, defeating former Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. Residents were angered over the lack of basic services, poor healthcare, and hunger under Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime.

Africa brief

On Thursday morning, I opened my Twitter app and swiped down. It refreshed without a VPN for the first time in seven months. The Nigerian government announced the end of the Twitter ban on Wednesday evening, saying the social media agency agreed to its conditions. Nigeria shut down nationwide access on June 4 after Twitter deleted a post in which President Muhammadu Buhari threatened to respond to separatists “in the language they will understand.” The move sparked larger concerns of media freedoms since the government had previously introduced a social media bill. Thanks to everyone who shared alternatives with me during the ban.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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