Last week was a stressful news week, with all eyes watching the US presidential elections with bated breath. As news channels and websites spilled over with updates about the race between Messrs Trump and Biden, one could easily have missed other big events around the globe. We’ve compiled a list of world news updates so that you can get up to speed with some of the important things that happened while we were being distracted by US politics
Civil war brews in Ethiopia
Things have been pretty messy in Ethiopia for a while now, with tensions coming to a head as Ethiopia’s government officially declared “unexpected war on its northern Tigray state. This is important, because it jeopardises the the stability of the Horn of Africa – one of the world’s most strategic regions.
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most populous – and well-armed – countries, and the growing tensions in the region have been like “watching a train crash in slow motion”, Al Jazeera quotes Dino Mahtani with the International Crisis Group. The nation is already dealing with millions of displaced people, and the recent hostilities only add to what is already a humanitarian crisis.
Here’s what happened in Tigray last week: Communications were cut, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that troops had been ordered to respond to an alleged attack in the heavily armed Tigray region. According to Al Jazeera, both sides are accusing each other of initiating the confrontation, and the Tigray leader claimed fighter jets had bombed parts of the regional capital. There have been casualties on both sides of the conflict, and neither shows sign of backing down.
If it continues to grow, this conflict could begin to involve neighbouring countries in the region, like Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti where several global powers including the US and China have their only African bases.
“The stability of Ethiopia is important for the entire Horn of Africa region. I call for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a peaceful resolution to the dispute,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a message on Twitter, reports Al Jazeera.
UN warns 4 about countries on the brink of famine
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, hotspots in four countries have aggravated multiple levels of food insecurity, and could lead to famine over the next three to six months.
Millions of people in Burkina Faso, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria, who are already facing hunger, teeter on the brink of famine as the pandemic erodes jobs, disrupts agriculture, and sends crude prices spiralling. “Burkina Faso, Yemen, Nigeria and South Sudan were already facing a dangerous combination of conflict, mass displacement, economic crisis and climate and agricultural calamity,” reports Al Jazeera‘s Radmilla, Soleymanova. “COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions and lockdowns that followed have only exacerbated the pain”.
Another 16 countries and territories are currently at risk of acute hunger for the same reasons, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are urging developed countries to act quickly in order to avoid an international food emergency.
La Niña throws another spanner in the works
the UN’s meteorological organisation, WMO, has warned that La Niña is set to aggravate disaster risks in the coming months, and is expected to stretch through the first quarter of 2021.
According to the New Humanitarian, “the phenomenon typically brings cooler temperatures – a counterpart to El Niño’s warming – but the effects vary across the globe. Afghanistan could see hotter and drier weather, for example, while parts of East Africa may face low rains during planting season.”
According to the Guardian, it heralds a stormier, and colder winter across the northern hemisphere and increasingly intense Atlantic hurricanes. The Horn of Africa – already dealing with a lot – and central Asia are expected to experience the biggest anomalies, and global food prices may be affected, worsening the already growing food crisis.
According to Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, “El Niño and La Niña are major, naturally occurring drivers of the Earth’s climate system. But all naturally occurring climate events now take place against a background of human-induced climate change which is exacerbating extreme weather and affecting the water cycle.”
China launches world’s first 6G test satellite
Despite having only just turned on its 5G network, China has successfully launched the world’s first 6G satellite – along with 12 others – into space to test the new technology, which will be one of the core elements of sixth-generation communications.
The satellite, sent into orbit by a Long March-6 carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in the Shanxi Province, also carries technology which will be used for crop disaster monitoring and forest fire prevention.
According to Asia Times, the technology is expected to be over 100 times faster than 5G, and enable lossless transmission in space to achieve long-distance communications with a smaller power output.
“6G technology is still in its infancy and must overcome several technical hurdles in basic research, hardware design, and its environmental impact before the technology becomes commercially available,” Asia Times reports.
Mobile networks, particularly 5G, have become a politicised topic between China and the United States, but China insists that once perfected, 6G will be of great importance in the future.
“In this critical period of national development, we must attach great importance to the 6G development, coordinate its planning, promote it with efficiency, and open up for innovation in this area,” said Vice Minister Wang Xi of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Well there you have it! Some world news updates to get you back up to speed with what’s going on in other parts of the world at the moment. Keep an eye on our News & Politics page for daily news updates from all across the world.