Roundup 248

New Events

Lots of Covid-19 links in this issue. I’m getting anecdotal reports from numerous sources of the impact of the virus on agencies and churches in non-Western nations. It deserves attention as it will continue to be one of the most significant issues challenging ministry (strategy, tactics, responses, risks) for those working among the unreached.

Northern Africa (266m)

Unrest in Chad casts pall over debt deal, global relief push. Reuters *

Covid-19: Egypt to close stores, restaurants early for 2 weeks – Reuters

UN discusses risk of dispersal of mercenaries from Libya to the region. Link
… after 2011, Tuareg fighters moved from Libya to Mali …
… in recent months Chadian fighters crossed from Libya to their home country …

Covid-19 in Sudan: cases rise in North Kordofan. Dabanga
… Ministry of Health warns of overcrowding, case rise, health situation ‘dire’. Link
… 90% of Khartoum exposed to high-risk environments due to overcrowding
South Kordofan violence resurfaces in tribal clashes. Dabanga

Covid-19 in Tunisia: doctors warn of health system collapse. DW
… hospitals full, oxygen supplies low, doctors are exhausted …

East Africa (520m)

Why Eritrea won’t leave Ethiopia – FP *
… access to Ethiopia’s economy, at the expense of Ethiopian sovereignty …
… “as late as mid-April, heavy fighting was happening on three fronts in Tigray”
5,000 children separated from families during Tigray crisis. BBC

Somalia: who’s afraid of Covid-19? New Humanitarian
… “People more concerned by the political crisis than Covid”
… officially 14k cases, 720 deaths, “but this is the tip of the iceberg”

Somalia “moves to defuse tensions at home and abroad.” NYT *
… leader drops divisive bid to extend term
… country moves to ‘mend fences’ with neighbor Kenya

Joy in South Sudan as schools reopen after 14-month Covid lockdown. UN

Western Africa (457m)

China is looking to establish a West Africa base on the Atlantic as well. Link

Burkina Faso’s secret peace talks and fragile jihadist ceasefire. New Humanitarian

Map of security incidents in central Sahel, in March 2021. Link

Nigeria bans travellers from India, Brazil, Turkey due to Covid-19. Reuters *

Western Asia (303m)

Saudi Arabia considers barring overseas haj pilgrims for second year. Reuters *
… 2.5m pilgrims earned the kingdom $12 billion p.a. …

Iraq pushes Covid-19 vaccine rollout amid widespread distrust. AP
… new cases spiked to 8k/day last month …

A thousand Hezbollahs: Iraq’s emerging militia state. Link
… Iranian-linked groups, taking control of oil fields, lots of bribe money …

Turkey in midst of nationwide lockdown (29 April to 17 May). Hurriyet

Water drop in Euphrates increases tensions between Syrian Kurds, Turkey. VOA

Video: how the escalation of Yemen’s conflict is impacting children. Link

South + Central Asia (2b)

India Covid-19 surge
India’s deadly second wave may not peak before June. QZ *
… study suggests waves peak when incremental cases hit 2% of population
In several cities, obituaries reveal missing coronavirus deaths. WPost
… 240 death notices in local newspaper – but official count is just 12.
“Horrible weeks ahead” as India’s virus catastrophe worsens. AP
… total case counts doubled in past three weeks, deaths > 220k
Inside India’s Covid-19 surge – New Yorker
… At a hospital in New Delhi, supplies & space running out, patients keep coming
Modi fiddles while India burns – FP
… “a devastating carnage precipitated by its self-enamored leader”
… “Covid crisis shakes Modi’s image of strength” – NYT
“Our lives don’t matter”: India’s female community health workers – Time
… “they say we are frontline workers… but when sick, they refuse us admission”
“Grief is overwhelming India.” Washington Post
India’s super-rich beat deadline, evacuate to UK. Times of India
Indians forced to change rituals for their dead as Covid-19 rages. Conversation
… interesting long read around the rituals of death in India, and changes

Pakistan Covid-19 surge
Warns of new strictures as it sets new record Covid daily death toll. NYT *
Tightens border to stem influx of new virus variants. VOA
Fears of “impending doom” in Pakistan. BBC

Also: a decade after Bin Laden’s killing, terrorism still haunts Pakistan. RFE

Nepal Covid-19 surge
Health ministry says the situation is unmanageable. Kathmandu Post
… hospitals run out of beds, cases > 5,000
Positive Covid tests at Everest base camp – Link

Iran Covid-19 surge
Tehran: Shame, despair and astronomical food prices. Link

Afghanistan:
Will Pamir Kyrgyz leave ‘the roof of the world’ – RFE
… an anthropologist’s work, in photos – Link
Scenes from Day 1 of the end of the US war in Afghanistan. NYT *
Afghanistan reels from economic fallout of international troop withdrawal. RFE
… 11.5m Afghans (40%) lived within a 5km radius of at least one base …
… 90% of Kabul 5 million livelihoods directly tied to foreign military presence …
… poverty rate rose to 72% in 2020 …
US report: Taliban would roll back Afghan women’s rights. Reuters *
Taliban target journalists, women in media. HRW

Kazakhstan: the last captains of the Ural River. Eurasianet
… the river’s water level has dropped so much it impedes river traffic …

Uzbekistan: police uncover underground Islamic classes. Eurasianet
… “appetite for religious education is strong, but the law does not allow it”

Deadly border conflict over water. RFE
… “promises to change how Kyrgyz, Tajiks see one another, leaders”
… tempers flaring as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan come to deadly blows. Eurasianet
… Communities take stock of destruction wrought by border unreset. Eurasianet

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China is seeing a domestic travel resurgence. Link

“China is a paper dragon.” Atlantic
… an examination of the actual abilities and power of China …

Ramadan in China: the faithful dwindle under restrictions on religion. AP

“The Anti-Islamic movement in China.” Hudson
… there’s nothing new about China’s attitudes toward Muslims …

RAND report: China’s disappeared Uighurs: what satellite images reveal. Link
… brightly lit compounds, wall after wall of barbed wire, fortified preschools …

Southeast Asia (700m)

Cambodia ends blanket Covid-19 lockdown despite more infections. Reuters *

Indonesia bans travel during Eid al-Fitr to contain virus spread. AP

No ID, no vaccines for Indonesia’s ‘invisible people.’ Link
… A long read exploration of the role of the identity card, and how it is obtained …

Three months after coup, Myanmar returns to the ‘Bad Old Days’ – NYT *
… police stopping random people on the streets, groups of secret informers, more
Myanmar: authorities arrest young Christians behind community pantries. Link
… distributing vegetables, food stuffs to those affected by Covid-19
Attacks on health care jeopardizing Covid-19 response. UN
… 158 attacks, 139 doctors arrested
Myanmar’s military disappearing young men to crush uprising. AP

Singapore imposes 21-day restrictions. SCMP
… quarantining international travellers, closing gyms to manage virus flareups …

Vietnam intensifies border checks to stop outbreak. Bloomberg
… extends quarantine for international travellers. Bloomberg

N America / W Europe

Be aware of protests in Colombia that have turned fatal. NYT *
… “could spread to other countries in the region” …

Workplace religious discrimination in the USA has declined to a 10 year low. Link 

Data

Covid case data

… 5/7: 155.4m (+5.5) cases, 3.24m deaths
… 4/30: 149.9m (+5.1) cases, 3.15m deaths
… 4/23: 144.8m (+6.32) cases, 3.07m deaths.
… 4/16: 138.48m (+4.38) cases, 2.97m deaths
… 4/9: 134.1m (+4.9) cases, 2.90m deaths
… 4/2: 129.2m (+4.3) cases, 2.82m deaths
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT, CovidTracking.com

India’s crisis has Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine drives scrambling. QZ *
India’s national crisis with global ripples. New Humanitarian
Vaccine supply turmoil far beyond India’s borders. WPost

Covid ravages poorer countries while rich nations spring back to life. NYT
… “developed world has done little to promote global vaccination”
… developed world’s general population will think the ‘pandemic is over’

Covid-19 retreats in the West but the Pandemic fight is far from over. WSJ
… “fueling sickness & death that could exceed the totals of 2020”

Other new data

Over 155 million faced acute food insecurity in 2020. UN

Longer Reads

“The future of Christians in the Middle East.” National Review

“Deconstructing the Great Commission.” Ted Esler, MissioNexus
… well worth the read – really consolidated my thinking around these issues.
… perhaps better titled “Rethinking Rethinking” or “Deconstructing Deconstructing”

… Key passage is at the end: “Perhaps what we need is rediscovery.”
… also bits about the interplay between the Great Commission & the Great Commandment.

“The world’s Muslims are facing unprecedented repression.” Axios
… camps in China, genocide in Myanmar, India’s citizenship laws, US travel bans

One grain [rice] is keeping the world’s food crisis from getting worse. Bloomberg

Futures

SpaceX successfully landed a Starship prototype for the first time. Link

China’s launching modules for its space station. Link

Instagram fuels rise in black market sales of maids into Persian Gulf servitude. WPost

AI-driven robotic weeders eradicate 95% of weeds without chemicals. Forbes

Rio de Janeiro is making a digital map of one of Brazil’s largest favelas. MIT *
… illegal, unplanned settlements grow as urbanization accelerates
… digital mapping can help residents connect to services they need

The robot surgeon will see you now. NYT
… “aim is not to remove surgeons from the room but automate parts and increase accuracy”

“Making skin for robots is hard, but could bring huge benefits.” ZDNet
… Yeah, I could think of a few downsides, too. Still, fascinating examination of the tech.

Google to start automatically enrolling users in 2-step verification. ZDNet
… can’t come soon enough in my opinion. One of the quickest ways to secure accounts

Twitter launches “Spaces”–Twitter’s version of Clubhouse–for people with >600 followers. Not something I’m planning to use any time soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a variety of agencies experiment with it. BuzzFeed