Roundup #231

December 18, 2020

New Events

East Africa

Desert locust re-invasion threatens millions across the Horn. Link … Ethiopia rains, Somalia cyclone = favorable breeding conditions … Link

Kenya, Somaliland agree on direct flights to Hargeisa. Link … first destination for Kenya Airways into a Somali region …

Kenyan Christians traveling for Christmas fear al-Shabaab bus attacks. LinkCT … traveling on buses near Somali border …


Some concerns that Ethiopia’s conflict could yet become a regional war. Link
As war goes on in Ethiopia, ethnic harassment is on the rise. Link
Govt orders businesses to re-open, first aid convoy arrives. Link
How Ethiopian doctors fled militia attacks. Link

Northern Africa

After 30 years, USA drops Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list. Link

“Algerians are hurting”: Dinar’s dramatic fall deepens economic woes. Link

Middle East eye has an explainer on Western Sahara. Link
EuroCFR: dispute could escalate conflicts across N Africa, Sahel. Link

“To end the killings in Libya, the cost balance needs to change.” Link
… crime has been normalized, cost of unlawful killings is zero.
… domestic courts barely functional

Sat-7 announces first Christian tv programs made in Tunisia. Link

##Western Africa

Boko Haram blamed for Niger attack: 28 killed, 800 houses burned. LinkReuters

337 students missing in Nigeria after gunmen attack (Boko Haram). LinkBloomberg Nigeria orders mobile users to link phones to ID numbers. LinkBloomberg … “196 million active phone lines, 41.5m Nigerians had req’d identity numbers”

Western Asia

After Nagorno-Karabakh war, trauma, tragedy and devastation. Link
… “It’s going to be hard to forgive.”

Years after Daesh, Iraqis forced out of refugee camps into uncertain future. Link
And in Mosul, life and resilience shines. Link
… Iraqis are slowly, resiliently breathing life back into their streets & shops

Syria’s conflict isn’t over yet: more fighting in Idlib. Link

Deepened & prolonged poverty affects Syrian refugees & their hosts. Link
… est. 4.4m people in host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan
… 1m Syrian refugees and 180,000 Iraqi IDPs pushed into poverty due to Covid-19

Turkey’s coffeehouses, a hub of male social life, may not survive virus. Link
… “Every day I used to come here … this is our second home … it’s a place I love, I see my friends, and I am happy and I play games.”

##South + Central Asia

The Virus Trains: How lockdown chaos spread Covid across India. Link
India gears up for world’s largest vaccination drives. Link
… over 300 million expected to get doses in first phase through July

India farm protests: mass strikes intensify. Link
… Indian farm widows join the protests against reforms. Link
… small farmers fear changes = end of guaranteed minimum prices for crops,
… leave them at the mercy of big retailers.
… “suicide by struggling farmers has been a problem in India for years”
… Protests are likely to continue; buses bringing more people in from Punjab

India now a ‘dangerous and violent space for Muslims.’ Link
… “South Asia State of Minorities Report 2020” - Link
Love & the law: Hindu-Muslim couple challenges marriage rule. Link \

The possibility of a currency devaluation in Iraq. Link
… would help the government, but hurt the purchasing power of Iraqis …

Victims of War and Conflicts: Child Labor in Afghanistan. Link \

Covid-19 runs unchecked in Pakistan’s overcrowded prisons. Link

Balochistan: Pakistan’s land of the disappeared. Link … claims of 55,000 kidnapped; 18,000 bodies found since 2000

Tajikistan: pandemic wreaks havoc on migration lifeline. Link
… food prices have jumped >25%, and few jobs in Tajikistan
… the country depends on remittances from workers in Russia
… 2019 remittances = $2.5b, or 33% of T’s GDP. Halved in 2020.
… Russia-Tajik travel extremely limited, migrants can’t get in to work

Uzbekistan has made progress in eliminating forced labor, but … Link
… it hasn’t entirely stopped it in the cotton sector …

Eastern Asia

China is building a ‘super’ dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River. Link
… close to line of control in Tibet
… “far-reaching impact on India’s north-east water security”
… river flows into Arunachal Pradesh, then to Assam, then to Bangladesh

China building massive Myanmar border wall after virus cases spike. Link \

More Chinese students return to China after getting degree. Link
… 700k Chinese students went abroad to study in 2019

China raises Covid penalties for incoming flights. Link
… airlines will get 2-week suspension if 5 passengers on a flight test positive

Book review: Shandong, the Revival Province. Link
… this is a very long review of the details in the book …

##Southeast Asia

In Indonesia, a blurred boundary between the living and the dead. Link
… the elaborate death rituals of the Toraja of Sulawesi (75% Christian) …

Isaan road trip: a brief travelogue in Thailand. Link \

Thailand relaxes travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries. Link
… visitors from Australia, France, USA can enter without visas now … requires pre-travel Covid-19 negative test to enter country, … still undergoing a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine

The Internet as battleground in Thailand’s Covid-19 Tinderbox moment. LinkDiplomat … “8 million Thais may be out of work by the end of 2020”

As Singapore ventures back out, migrant workers are kept in. Link … low wage workers mostly confined to dormitories … … through 2022, minorities from Covid-prevalent countries working in Covid-free countries will likely find themselves restricted …


Covid case data

… 12/18: 73.9m cases, 1.6m deaths (2%) … 11/20: 57.0m cases, 1.3m deaths (2.2%) … 11/13: 53.0m cases, 1.29m deaths (2.4% CFR) … 11/6: 49.1m cases, 1.24m deaths (2% CFR) … 10/29: 44.8m cases, 1.17m deaths … 10/23: 41m cases, 1.1m deaths Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT, CovidTracking

Australia-NZ travel bubble. Link
The hurdles to getting the Covid vaccine to Africa. LinkAll Africa
How the pandemic changed how [some] live and work. Link
One quarter of the world may not get the vaccine until 2022. Link

Chart: Blasphemy laws still common around the world. Link

Longer Reads

Spiritual Warfare in the African context. Link … interesting, useful survey …

In a pandemic, should missionaries leave or stay? Link … a mental model for the missiology of risk …

Covid-19 has posed new challenges to the world’s waste-pickers. Link … The “invisible recyclers”: Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s informal waste sector. Link

The Hole in Africa’s heart. Link … Analysis: swathes of the continent are home to people whose efforts at self-rule or traditional ways of life have challenged state attempts to deal with Covid-19. The “lawless third” of the continent – all of Libya, half of Algeria, much of the Sahara & Sahel, north Nigeria, the Horn, and a crescent of the African forest belt – is difficult to reach and engage. This by implication also discusses challenges to reaching these areas with Good News. “The people living in these zones deserve equitable access … regions that are under-serviced fall into three, sometimes interlinked categories …”

Why people still starve in an age of abundance. Link
… % undernourished dropping, but absolute number rising (similar to unevangelized)
… Hungry: 2014, 628.9m; 2019, 688m; if unchecked, 2030, 840m
… 10 extreme hunger hotspots (apparently Oxfam has a list; would like to find) #Futures

Huwaei tested AI software that could recognize Uighurs. Link
… could send automated “Uighur alarms” to authorities …

EU proposes sweeping new rules for online businesses. Link
… could cause fundamental changes for tech giants …

Passenger planes being converted to freighters. Link
… less travel, more e-commerce shipping …

AI co-pilots US military aircraft for the first time. Link
… “in 10 to 15 years, widespread/ubiquitous use of robots in most militaries”

Lack of stable electricity holds back high-growth African economies. Link

Newly-launched satellite can see inside of ‘some’ buildings. Link
… can see through clouds, and in day or night …

USA FDA authorizes first OTC fully at-home antigen test for Covid-19. Link
… test will cost ~$30 …

Amazon reveals it’s 4-seater robotaxi. Link
… looks like one of those little terminal-to-plane buses you’d see at an airport …
… guessing this will be used on company lots, airplanes, other controlled environments

Algorithms for Love: Japan will launch an AI dating service. Link
… one of the lowest birth rates in the world, below replacement level
… 25 of 47 prefectures already provide some kind of matchmaking service
… estimate population will fall from 127m (2015) to 88m (2065).