International Current Affairs
november 3rd week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : International Current Affairs
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1) El Nino worst in over 15 years, severe impact likely: UN

  • UN weather agency has warned that this year`s El Nino phenomenon is the worst in more than 15 years. World Meteorological Association Chief Michel Jarraud said that this El Nino which resurfaced a few months ago has already caused severe droughts and flooding. And it is expected to become even more powerful by the end of the year.
  • El Nino is triggered by a warming in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It can cause unusually heavy rains and severe droughts. The phenomenon usually leaves countries like India, Indonesia and Australia drier, increasing chances of wildfires and lower crop production. The UN also warned that El Nino could significantly increase the number of people going hungry.
2) Turning back Syrian refugees not a solution: UNICEF head
  • Turning back Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks is "not a solution" and will pile huge pressure on neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, the head of the UN children`s agency has said.
  • Anthony Lake, the executive director of UNICEF, said in an interview yesterday that countries bordering war-torn Syria were already struggling with a massive influx of displaced people. Turkey has taken in two million Syrian refugees, Lebanon more than one million and Jordan more than 500,000. 
  • France and other European countries are facing calls to deny entry to Syrian refugees after French investigators said that one of the Paris attackers may have slipped into Europe as part of the influx of asylum-seekers. 
  • Lake called for a redoubling of efforts to end the war in Syria and help neighboring countries cope with the refugee crisis. Syrian children in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon must be able to receive an education to develop skills "to rebuild Syria" and keep alive "the desire to find reconciliation in Syria," he said. Turkey is hosting 600,000 school-age Syrian children but only 200,000 of them are attending classes.
3) Sri Lanka told to probe disappearance cases
  • A working group of the UN has called for the prosecution of all cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka. The group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, which on 18th November concluded its 10-day visit to Sri Lanka, stated that “prosecuting and trying only [a] few emblematic cases will not be sufficient to comply with Sri Lanka’s international obligations nor to satisfy the expectations of the victims and important sectors of society”. 
  • The prosecution of all the cases would require equipping prosecutors and courts with the capacity to handle such high demand.
  • The group stated that over 12,000 cases were referred to the Sri Lankan government, of which 5,750 were still outstanding. A “very high number of cases” before the group related to disappearances occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s in relation to the “violent targeting of Sinhalese youth suspected of links to the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna.”
  • Another “very considerable number” pertained to the disappearance of Tamils during the Eelam War, which ended in May 2009. 
  • There were other types of disappearances including the “white-van” disappearances, disappearances in the context of anti-terrorism operations or disappearances conducted for ransom or economic extortion purposes, or a combination of all three.

4) Unified global front to fight against terrorism urged

  • Russia and China have stepped up their campaign to form a unified international front to counter terrorism following the bloodbath in Paris and the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt. 
  • The Russians have already energised their diplomacy to form a “unified front” by their bid to rope in France as a partner in the air campaign in Syria, which targets the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) – the alleged perpetrator of the Paris horror. The ISIS is also the prime suspect in the crash of the Russian passenger airliner. 
  • French participation in coordination with Moscow, if it materialises, would mean the first NATO country joining the expansion of an anti-IS front in Syria, which has so far included Russia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian army troops.
5) Bangladesh Supreme Court upholds death sentences of two top opposition leaders
  • Bangladesh`s Supreme Court on 17th November upheld the death sentences of two top opposition leaders convicted for war crimes committed during 1971 independence war against Pakistan, paving the way for their execution. 
  • The four-member bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha rejected the final review petitions of Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.
  • Mujahid, and Chowdhury, were senior ministers in ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia`s BNP-led coalition government with the fundamentalist Jamaat being its key partner.
  • Mujahid, the second most senior member of Jamaat, was found to be a key mastermind of the massacre of the country`s top intelligentsia just ahead of the December 16, 1971 independence war victory. 
  • Chowdhury, a top aide to BNP chief Zia, carried out atrocities particularly at his home district of southeastern Chittagong, leading a violent campaign against the Hindus.
  • Bangladesh`s International Crimes Tribunal had handed down death sentences to them in separate cases of crimes against humanity in 2013, convicting them of several charges, including genocide and rape during the war and the apex court upheld the death penalty to Mujahid in June and to Chowdhury in July this year.
  • Immediately after the apex court verdict, authorities fearing violence by supporters of two opposition leaders shut down Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp aimed at preventing Jamaat supporters mobilising to protest against the ruling. 
6) TPP leaders agree to act on PH, South Korea, Indonesia membership bids
  • Leaders from the 12-member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed to act on the interest of the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia for membership even as they also moved to implement the newly-minted high-level 21st century free trade agreement as early as possible.
  • According to the Japanese Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura the 12 Leaders met for one and a half hours on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders’ Summit to mark the recent conclusion of negotiations on the TTP agreement. US President Barack Obama, chair of TPP, has asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to chair the meeting. TPP groups Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. 
  • Interested countries are expected to conduct full technical discussion with each of the TPP members. In the case of the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry has already started consultations with at least 6 of the 12-member countries. 
  • The leaders have also agreed to expedite the completion of their respective domestic processes for the full implementation of the TPP agreement. 
  • TPP member countries have to work on their domestic processes to be able to get domestic support for the agreement’s ratification. Each government has to ratify the TPP agreement before it can be implemented. This interest affirms that through TPP we are creating a new and compelling model for trade in one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic regions,” the TPP Leaders added.

7) Paris prosecutor: Suspected Paris mastermind killed in raid

  • The Belgian national suspected of masterminding deadly attacks in Paris was killed in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, the city prosecutor`s office announced 19th November. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins` office said Abdelhamid Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples. His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on 18th November.
  • Police launched the operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tip offs suggesting that Abaaoud was holed up there. Killed along with Abaaoud was a woman who blew herself up with an explosives vest at the beginning of the raid. Eight people were arrested.
8) Biggest diamond in more than a century unearthed in Botswana
  • A 1,111 carat gem-quality diamond, second in size only to the Cullinan diamond cut into the British Crown jewels, has been unearthed by Lucara Diamond Corp. in Botswana. The Type-IIa stone, just smaller than a tennis ball, is the largest diamond discovery for more than 100 years, according to Vancouver-based Lucara. It was recovered by machines at the south lobe of Karowe mine in central Botswana 
  • Lucara`s Karowe mine in Botswana is rivaling Gem Diamonds Ltd`s Letseng operation in Lesotho as a source of the world`s biggest and best stones. Gem Diamonds previously held the record for the largest discovered this century with the 603-carat Lesotho Promise.
  • Lucara sold a 341.9-carat Type-IIa diamond in July for $20.6 million, or $60,000 a carat, Sterck said. The company`s shares jumped as much as 37 percent in Toronto trading, the steepest intraday gain since 2008. 
  • The value of the find and who will want to buy it will depend on the size and quality of the polished stones that can be cut from it. While Lucara will likely sell it at a tender in Botswana, the cutting, polishing and eventual sale to a final owner may take many years. Antwerp and New York are the leading cutting centers for exceptional gems. 
  • So far the biggest diamond discovered is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. Lucara also said it found two other very large white diamonds. The first weighs 813 carats before cleaning, meaning it`s likely to rank among the 10 largest found. The second is 374 carats.
9) UNSC approves resolution to prevent further attacks by IS
  • The United Nations Security Council, UNSC, has unanimously approved a French-sponsored resolution calling on all nations to re-double and co-ordinate action to prevent further attacks by Islamic State, IS, terrorists and other extremist groups. 
  • The resolution urged UN member-states to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing on terrorism.
  •  The resolution, however, does not constitute an authorisation for military action, as the resolution is not drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is the only way the United Nations can give a green light to the use of force. 
  • The resolution was adopted a week after extremists launched a coordinated gun and bomb assault that killed 130 people in Paris. Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack. It also comes eight days after twin suicide bombings in Beirut killed 43 people, and three weeks after a Russian airliner crashed over Egypt`s Sinai peninsula killing all 224 people on board. Both attacks were also claimed by IS.
10) Hostage crisis ends in Mali, 27 killed
  • The siege by armed gunmen on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali`s capital Bamako has ended. Armed Islamic extremists on 20th November stormed a deluxe hotel in Mali locking in 170 people, killing at least 27 of them, while 20 captured Indians were evacuated without any harm.
  • Nine hours after the siege of the Radisson Blu hotel by extremists in a hail of fire from automatic guns, security minister Salif Traore announced the end of the hostage crisis after two gunmen were killed by security forces. The jihadist group Al Mourabitoun, allied to al Qaeda and based in the desert north of the former French colony, has claimed responsibility for the attack. 
  • At least 27 people have died and two soldiers wounded while 2 terrorists have been killed. One of those killed was Geoffrey Dieudonne, a member of parliament in Belgium`s Wallonia region. The US-owned hotel is popular with foreign businesses and airline crews. 
  • US Special Forces had helped in the hostage rescue operation. French Special Forces were also dispatched to the scene. Malian security forces have been working their way up the building to where the gunmen were reportedly entrenched. Meanwhile, 10 days state emergency has been declared in Mali following hotel attacks.
11) Nepal’s children in a crisis: UN
  • The UN has warned that Nepal’s children, already hit by the devastating earthquakes, are facing a new humanitarian crisis as the country reels under political strife and blockade in the Terai region bordering India, severely impacting their health. 
  • United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake issued a statement and warned that natural devastation following the earthquake and political conflict are compounding the misery for Nepal’s children.