Sparks to Watch
1. We continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. There are no obvious exits for any of the sides. Scenes of violence are rampant. The war in some ways seems to have bogged down, although Russia is making some advances and both Russia and Ukraine both publicly say they will fight ‘to the end,’ although talks are happening. Pray especially for the many Christians who are opening their homes to the more than 1 million refugees who have fled Ukraine.
2. Less visible are the many other conflicts that simmer in the background. One notable example is Cameroon, which also features 1 million displaced as a result of a five-year-old conflict. Pray for the various churches, missions, and movements active in these regions to be a blessing to those in the midst of suffering.
3. As many emergency measures surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic are being reduced or eliminated altogether, many countries are opening, and that means many migratory workers will be headed back out. One example this week is Bangladesh’s goal of sending 1 million workers abroad. Pray for the ministries that will be reaching out to migrant workers and students.
North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)
“Axis of Abraham”: Arab-Israeli normalization could remake the Middle East. FA
… led to Israeli-UAE trade, over $1 billion in 2021, up from $180 million in 2020
Kurdish GenZ in Turkey is apolitical, wants to live abroad: survey. Link
… 63.2% don’t think Turkey is a safe place to live.
Libya parliament approves new government as crisis escalates. Al Jazeera
… but the current PM has rejected Parliament’s decision, leading to two rival govts. NYT $
Sudanese pound plunges: ‘basic daily needs unaffordable.’ Dabanga
… ‘fear of famine… hunger already prevalent… encroaching on Khartoum…’
East Africa (520m)
West + Middle Africa (600m)
Burkina Faso has named a new prime minister, president during transition. Link
Africa’s Sahel region facing ‘horrendous food crisis.’ UN
Cameroon’s forgotten war leaves refugees in limbo. AFP
… over a million are uprooted in a 5-year-old conflict nearly forgotten in the rest of world
… (as many Cameroonian refugees as Ukrainian…)
South + Central Asia (2b)
In Afghanistan, Taliban launched sweeping house-to-house raids. WPost
… searching across Kabul for weapons: “We know you had relations with former regime”
Where 67,000 Afghan refugees have resettled in the USA, mapped. CBS
Bangladesh sets target to send 1 million workers abroad in 2022. Arab News
… over 10 million Bangladeshis live and work abroad, mainly in the Middle East.
Iran Story update: nine converts officially acquitted. CT
Photos: Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri celebrated in Nepal, India. Al Jazeera
… a million people expected to visit temple in Nepal’s capital.
Pakistan: suicide bomber attacks Shiite mosque in Peshawar: 56 dead. Link
Sri Lanka ‘runs out of fuel’ as dollar crisis worsens, public transport crippled. AFP
In Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains, tensions simmer dangerously. Diplomat
… in the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous region, no contact w/outside for 3 months
… “local leaders often part of an anti-systemic grey zone”
ILO declares Uzbek cotton is free from systemic child, forced labor. Link
Kyrgyzstan: More than just grains of rice… Diplomat
… shedding light on community & precarious nature of life in Batken
… dependency on remittances from abroad… and severe poverty widespread…
Eastern Asia (1.6b)
Two Sessions 2022: calls for family planning restrictions to be abolished. SCMP
… eventually, might inverse penalties (‘too few children’) be implemented?
It costs $76k to raise a child in China (7x per capita GDP). Sixth Tone
Southeast Asia (700m)
Russia’s ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarize’ (but not occupy) Ukraine.
Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: USA Today, Reuters
In photos: destruction, death in Ukraine under bombardment. AP
Lot of chatter about Russians attacking Ukrainian nuclear plant. AP
… in the end, Russian troops took control, no radiation released.
Analysis: Despite early tactical failures, Russia has made gains in last 3 days. @johnstanly
… Russian FM Lavrov says its military operation will press on till ‘the end.’ Reuters
… The coming Ukrainian insurgency: sovereign Ukrainian govt will not stop. FA
… Kyiv prepares for a grueling siege. Economist $
More international political maneuvers, threats:
… Russia threatens consequences if Finland, Sweden try joining NATO. The Hill
… War is a severe test for China’s new axis with Russia. Guardian
… Central Asian nations are silent on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. WPost, VOA
… worried they might be next? but also interdependent on Russia.
… and hard hit by Western sanctions on Russia and the falling ruble.
Some countries looking to resupply Ukraine’s military forces
… Turkish drones are on the way. Ahval
… Turkey says war exists in Black Sea, will block the Russian Navy. WSJ $
… NATO countries pour weapons into Ukraine, risking conflict with Russia. NYT $
Global finance turns against Russia:
… EU air space closed to Russian flights. [US airspace closed, too.] @EU
… Numbers of companies pulling out of Russia, increasing its isolation. Reuters
… US, 30 countries to release 60 million barrels of oil to stabilize energy markets. Link
… China’s state-owned finance institutions quietly distancing themselves. Al Jazeera
… Central Bank assets frozen, directly impacts Russian oligarchs and ‘war chest’. NYT $
… How Putin prepared for sanctions with tonnes of African gold. Telegraph
… Russian billionaires see fortunes tumble amid sanctions against them. Forbes
… Oligarch yachts are being seized where possible. Link
… One conversation I had: missionaries may have to leave region due to funds cut off
What are the motivations behind Russia’s campaign?
… The Man behind Putin’s Military looks at the military’s role in the ramp up. FA
… BBC 3-minute video tracks origins of conflict from 1990s. @BBC
Is this the beginning of the end for Putin? Foreign Affairs
… ‘prevailing wisdom: Putin will survive any domestic backlash. Probably true.’
… ‘But authoritarian regimes look stable right up to the point where they are not.’
… Putin’s rage: the Russian President won’t be easy to topple. Spectator
… How might the war end? Five scenarios: short war, long war, European war… BBC
Over a million Ukrainian refugees have fled the country. UNHCR Situation Report
… also, non-Ukrainians, but these less desired in Europe?
… Mass exodus & disbelief: how invasion caught civilians, aid response off guard. NewHum
… 100k refugees went to Moldova, where evangelicals are opening their doors. CT
… First day as a Ukrainian refugee: warm bed, guilt and cursing Putin (Moldova). WPost
… if current rates continue, there could be 4-7 million refugees. Times, Economist $
Expat communities at somewhat more risk.
… 20% of Ukraine’s foreign students are Africans: 8k Moroccans, 4k Nigerian, 4k Egyptian
… 8K Indian students : why student’s death complicates Indian diplomacy. Indian Express
How travel is being impacted by the Ukraine invasion. CNN
… all US citizens urged to leave Russia. Link
… Airlines reroute flight paths to avoid Russia, Ukraine. WSJ
… Closure of Russian airspace means United can’t fly from US to India. Link
The Ukrainian Church: ‘We need more Bibles.’ CT
… As Eastern Europe goes to war, Scripture is in higher demand, say some.
… From 2008: the development of Ukraine as Eastern Europe’s Evangelical hub. CT
Covid global case data
EU lifts non-essential travel ban for vaccinated, recovered travelers from 3rd ctrys. Link
Kazakhstan cancels mandatory PCR testing of vaccinated entering the country.
… but a certificate of a test is still required.
About 5 million children worldwide lost a parent or guardian to Covid. SCMP
I read “Making Numbers Count” by Chris Heath & Karla Starr. It’s a useful and interesting read, but I’m glad I got it on sale. At 180 pages (most of them feel quite short), it’s not worth $15. Pick it up at a library or at a used book sale.
The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.
Tech & Futures
Trapped in Silicon Valley’s Hidden Caste System. Wired
… born in a cowshed in India, works for Meta in California, hides his background as a Dalit
10 breakthrough technologies in 2022? MIT Tech Review
SpaceX sent Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine, but they could paint a giant ‘target’ on users backs, experts say. CNN
A new method for securing digital currency, called “proof of stake,” apparently could cut the energy requirements for cryptocurrencies by more than 99%. This could bring a sea change in the use of blockchain and crypto apps. MIT Tech Review
“The enthusiasm of (and for) the kingdom is missing because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.” Andrew Murray