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Focus This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 02.03.2020


Illustration: Tia Marchiselli

Arab League Rejects Trump Palestine Deal

by Hal Conte

Members of the Arab League trashed Trump’s proposed Israel-Palestine agreement as “unjust,” and called for a two-state solution on Saturday as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dramatically held up a map showing the gradual annexation of Palestinian land since before 1948 and stated that security and political cooperation with the U.S. would cease due to the ”disgraceful” plan. Arabs are labelling the deal “The Balfour Declaration No. 2,” after the infamous 1919 deal where the U.K. promised to create a Jewish nation-state. Palestinian factions including Fatah, Hamas and the PFLP called for “real national unity” in a rare response.

Image source: Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP


Columbia, FARC At Odds Three Years After Peace Deal

by Hal Conte

Rodrigo Londoño, leader of the ex-guerrilla Common Revolutionary Alternative Force (FARC) group, has accused Columbian President Iván Duque of violating the terms of the country’s peace agreement, with over 650 social leaders killed since 2016, many under the auspices of being connected to FARC, and ex-guerillas claim there is an “extermination plan” afoot to get rid of them. Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez has claimed that members of FARC have failed to comply with agreements.

Image source: Getty


Protesters Against Greek Migrant Camps Attacked With Gas

by Hal Conte

Hundreds of refugees, including children, on the island of Lesbos were confronted by Greek riot police who deployed teargas as the migrants attempted a march to a nearby town to protest living standards in a camp which currently holds 19,000 people but was intended for just 3,000. The Greek state is planning a floating wall made of netting with flashing lights to stop migrants fleeing from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan from entering the European mainland, a project which has drawn concern from Amnesty International. Residents are upset with the presence of refugees as well, banners displayed in recent demonstrations have read “We want our islands back” but also “No more prisons for human souls in the North Aegean.”

Image source: AFP

Switzerland Launches a Channel for Exporting Food and Medicine to Iran

By Yoona Lee

On Thursday, the Swiss government launched a channel through which companies can export food and medicines to Iran. Although the sanctions imposed on Iran since November 2018 did not ban humanitarian goods, medical supplies fell significantly due to banks not willing to keep open the business lines, wary of anger from Washington. The result was “a serious threat to Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines,” according to a report by Human Rights Watch. To fix the problem, the new mechanism ensures companies based in Switzerland to have a secure export channel through a Swiss bank. Medicine for cancer and organ transplants were bought with the pilot payment of $2.5m dollars.

Image source: Reuters


Hashtag “I’m not a virus” (#JeNeSuisPasUnVirus) is trending among Asians in France.

By Yoona Lee

Anti-Asian racism is being fueled by the fear of the coronavirus In France, the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus (I’m not a virus) is being used to report instances of abuse. “I’m Chinese, but I’m not a virus! I know everyone’s scared of the virus but no prejudice, please,” Lou Chengwang posted on Twitter. Not only Chinese have experienced hate. Shana Cheng, a Parisian of Vietnamese and Cambodian origin, was on a bus when she heard a passenger say “There’s a Chinese woman, she’s going to contaminate us, she needs to go home,” but no one stood up for her. Asian-owned businesses have also been impacted, such as Pascal Corlier’s Vietnamese restaurant in Paris whose revenue declined 40% compared to the same period last year. 

Image source: @KelyrinDraws