El Niño will drive global food aid needs even higher in the coming months, a new analysis warns. The prediction comes as food aid agencies are already making ration cuts amid a budget squeeze. In July, meteorologists declared the onset of El Niño, a periodic climate phenomenon that usually brings drought to large stretches of the globe and wetter weather elsewhere. The analysis by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network says that humanitarian groups must prepare for "high food assistance needs." Another climate phenomenon, the Indian Ocean Dipole, could amplify El Niño's effects—with both compounded by the climate crisis. This September was the hottest ever recorded. "The temperature anomalies are enormous—far bigger than anything we have ever seen in the past," Petteri Taalas, head of the UN's meteorological agency, WMO, said in a press release. ACAPS, the Geneva-based analysis outfit, says Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mozambique, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Sudan may be the countries at the highest risk.
More than 50 were killed and dozens injured in a suicide attack in Pakistan's Balochistan province Sept. 29 as people gathered to celebrate the festival marking the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Mawlid an-Nabi. Those targeted in the blast at the town of Mastung were overwhelmingly members of the Baluch ethnicity. The attack is believed to have been carried out by the local ISIS franchise, Islamic State-Khorasan. That same day, at least five were killed in a separate blast at a mosque in Hangu, outside Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (BBC News, Al Jazeera, AP, NWorld, UAE)
In Episode 189 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that despite all the tankie pseudo-left enthusiasm for the BRICS summit in South Africa, the notion of a unified bloc against Western hegemony is illusory. The Johannesburg confab was immediately followed by a diplomatic spat between China and India, sparked by Beijing's release of an official map of the territory of the People's Republic—showing two Himalayan enclaves claimed by India as Chinese territory: Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which have both been the scene of border skirmishes in recent years. The map also shows an island in the Amur River, by mutual agreement half controlled by Russia, as entirely Chinese. Moscow, depending on China's acquiescence in the Ukraine war, has lodged no protest over this. But the border disputes between nuclear-armed India and China have the potential to escalate to the unthinkable. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague dismissed India's objections concerning its authority to address the ongoing Indus River disputes between India and Pakistan on July 6. The ruling reinstates a case that had been impeded for several years. Pakistan asserts that India's proposed hydroelectric energy projects will substantially diminish the Indus' flow, negatively affecting Pakistani agriculture. Pakistan initiated legal proceedings against India in 2016, seeking arbitration to address the issue. India raised objections regarding the jurisdiction of the PCA.
The United Nations released the Global Trend Report 2022 June 14, on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people worldwide. It finds that the number of forcibly displaced people stands at 108.4 million, with 29.4 million falling under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both figures are at an historic high. The increase in forcible displacement within one year is also the largest since UNHCR started tracking these statistics in 1975. In light of the continuing significant increase, the report says forcible displacement likely exceeds 110 million as of May 2023.
Despite worsening economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani government is intensifying its crackdown on Afghan refugees, adding new movement restrictions on top of a wave of detentions and deportations. On March 18, some 330 Afghans were returned from Pakistan, including 70 who had been imprisoned for lacking documentation—just the latest to be sent home as Islamabad doubles down on its hardline approach.
More than 271,000 Ukrainians have been admitted to the United States since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year–far exceeding the goal of 100,000 set by President Joe Biden's administration last March. More than 117,000 entered through a private sponsorship program that allows US citizens to financially support Ukrainians to come to the country and stay for up to two years. Other Ukrainians crossed the US-Mexico border before the private sponsorship initiative was launched, or entered the United States through the official refugee resettlement program.
In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a "loss and damage" fund stops short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow's hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia's war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary response to the crisis.