Roundup 244

New Observations (aka ‘The Blog’)

Many in the West seem to be anticipating ‘the pandemic is [nearly] over.’ But the risks of Covid in less-developed (and ‘less-reached’) places will almost certainly continue for the short-term future, and likely for the medium-term future as well. This will continue to significantly impact mission activity. Link

My estimate on the short- and medium-term future for Myanmar: absent a miracle, a downward spiral. Link

New Events

East Africa

In a bid to boost its profile, ISIS turns to Africa’s militants. NYT
… IS using attacks to project an image of strength …
… claims attacks in Mozambique, north Nigeria …

Mozambique: Palma retaken from militants. BBC
… BBC reporting on the ground – 2min video. Link

Ethiopia says Eritrean troops have begun withdrawing from Tigray. Reuters
‘Leave no Tigrayan’: in Ethiopia, an ethnicity is erased. AP
… ‘abuses still occurring’
Though ‘improved,’ UN says humanitarian situation in Tigray remains ‘dire.’ UN
… 2.5 million in rural Tigray ‘have not had access to essential services’ in 5 months.
Border clashes between Somali & Afar regions kill 100. Reuters
Egypt, Ethiopia tensions escalate as Nile Dam talks falter. WSJ
… Egypt says ‘all options are open’ …

Northern Africa

Sudan: fighting in West Darfur triggers rising death toll, 100k IDPs. UN
… What’s behind the rising violence in Darfur? Political issues. New Humanitarian

Libya PM hails Covid vaccine delivery: 100k doses of Russian vaccine arrive. Reuters

Tarhuna: Libya’s City of Ghosts. BBC
… elections are to be held in 9 months, but already there are doubts …

Middle Africa

‘Staggering’ scale of acute hunger in DR Congo. UN

Western Africa

Biden’s strategy in the Sahel looks a lot like Trump’s. FP
… this long-ish read, aside from the political angle, explores the tangle of local situations in some depth.

Benin: protests erupt during election campaigns. AFP

Over the past five years, Ivory Coast has struggled. Link
… terrorist attacks, political violence, flooding, now Covid-19 …

Mali faces political, security, human rights, humanitarian challenges. UN
… deteriorating security situation in central, northern Mali …
… some large towns ‘live under constant threat from armed groups’

Growing insecurity is threatening Nigeria’s future: jihadist violence in NE, banditry in NW, piracy in Niger Delta, pastoralist-farmer clashes, and Igbo secessionist movement in SE. New Humanitarian

Senegal: violent protests show the fragility of its long-stable democracy. WPost

Western Asia

Saudi Arabia: only ‘immunized’ pilgrims allowed to return to Mecca. Al Jazeera

Yemen’s Taiz – the ‘city of snipers.’ BBC

US removing some forces from the Gulf, ‘realigning away from the MidEast’ – WSJ
… ‘may be redeployed to focus on China and Russia’ …

Idlib, Syria: millions displaced during the decade-long war are impoverished, insecure, and crowded into an area controlled by a rebel group once linked to Al Qaeda. NYT

South & Central Asia

Massive spike of Covid-cases in India – Link
… 93k/day, highest since the beginning of the pandemic
… Maharashtra will impose a weekend lockdown, night curfew on 110 million. Link
… India: world’s biggest vaccine maker ‘very stressed’ – NPR

India: a fierce election tests Modi’s campaign to remake India – NYT
… can anyone stop the movement to make India into a Hindu-first nation? …

Afghanistan’s vaccine rollout plans cross conflict front lines. New Humanitarian
… ‘unreached’: ‘forgotten… never had testing… doubt we will have access to the vaccine’

Afghan Kuchi nomads mourn a vanishing way of life. RFE

‘Every year we dig mass graves’: the slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara. Guardian

Pakistan’s women’s rights activists threatened with blasphemy accusations. DW
… ‘all the videos and posters have been fabricated or doctored’ …

Russia opens flights to Tajiks, but seats are scarce and prices high. Link
… ‘thousands of families in Tajikistan face severe food shortages after Russia closed borders due to Covid’

East Asia

China carrier group exercising near Taiwan, says drills will become regular. Reuters
… this + the reorientation of US forces to have more focus on China = continued rise in temps

Global brands find it hard to untangle themselves from Xinjiang’s cotton. NYT
BBC journalist pushed out of China over reporting on Xinjiang. BBC
… “never forget it is China’s citizens who face the greatest risks for telling the truth”

South-eastern Asia

Chinese dams unleash Mekong river on Laos during ‘dry’ season. Link
… too much water at the wrong time of the year can be just as bad as not enough at other times.

Cambodia shuts Angkor Wat site to tourists for 2 weeks to curb coronavirus outbreak. Link

Myanmar coup
1. Analysis: ‘Myanmar on the brink.’ Diplomat
… Myanmar is on the precipice of civil war. FP
2. Internet connectivity shut off across the country, with no timeline for its return. Link
… see also longer article on the subject, “Myanmar’s internet suppression.” Reuters
3. Myanmar’s coup has riven the Buddhist monkhood: some support, others resist. Link
4. Russia says Myanmar sanctions could lead to civil war. Reuters
5. A secret network is helping 100s of Myanmar police flee to India. Reuters
6. Minorities in borderlands face fresh fear since coup. AP
7. ‘The last fight’: the Kachin army prepares for war. Frontier
8. The deadly job of journalists covering Mandalay’s protests. Frontier

Philippines: Thousands of families displaced due to violent clashes Mindanao. Diplomat
… renewal of conflict has shaken the Bangasmoro Autonomous Region …

Data

Covid-19
… 4/9: 134.1m cases, 2.90m deaths
… 4/2: 129.2m cases, 2.82m deaths
… 3/25: 124.9m cases, 2.74m deaths
… 3/19: 121.5m cases, 2.68m deaths
… 3/12: 118.7m cases, 2.63m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYTCovidTracking

2nd Easter celebrated with Covid restrictions. UPI
Brazil’s Covid death toll passes 4,000/day. Guardian
… hospitals overwhelmed. 2/3rd USA pop, but probably end up with more deaths.
… ‘it’s a biological Fukushima’ – Reuters

Other new reports
World food prices continue to soar, hitting nearly 7-year high. Al Jazeera

Reading

Focus on your first 10 systems, not just your first 10 hires. First Round
… how many actions within agencies are treated as ‘one-offs’ or ‘known systems’? …

‘I miss school’: 800m children still not fully black in classes. Guardian
… prolonged closure puts many at risk of never returning to the classroom
… children worldwide being pushed into abuse situations: marriage to labor

Technology/Futurism

A ‘post-Covid’ return to vacation travel: spiking demand = spiking prices.
… ‘Get ready for travel prices to surge, experts say’ – WPost
… Google searches for resorts, hotels ‘highest in a decade’ – Fortune
… Uber is spending $250 million to boost drivers in USA in anticipation of surge. Bloomberg

Facebook is testing page labels to provide additional context – Link
… like “Political Leader” or “Satire Page” or “Fan Page”

ProtonMail explains why it thinks it’s better than Gmail. Link
… I still use a Gmail address for most things, because most days its fine …
… but I’m reachable at justinlong@protonmail.com. (And also on Signal.)

At least 1,800 agencies have been testing use of facial-recognition tool in the USA. Link

Russia may have found a new way to censor the Internet: slowing traffic to a crawl. Wired

USA Air Force Base begin using robot dogs in base security role. Diplomat