Friday news roundup August 16, 2019
Ethiopia launched a national plan to end child marriage and FGM. On Wednesday, the Ethiopian Minister of Women, Children and Youth, Yalem Tsegaye, launched a roadmap to end child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country by 2025. According to UNICEF, one in every five girls below the age of 18 is married in Ethiopia. The new initiative, aims to create public awareness campaigns, improve policy platforms, provide efficient services, and enhance data provision schemes. It is believed the new plan will provide the much-needed impetus for Ethiopia’s aspiration to achieve global and African commitments to counter the health and socio-economic impacts of child marriage and FGM, practices which are seen as part of traditional and cultural life among some Ethiopian communities.
Australia’s deputy prime minister made controversial comments about the Pacific islanders’ climate crisis fears. Michael McCormack said that Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis will continue to survive “because many of their workers come here to pick [Australia’s] fruit.” The minister’s comments were made as critical talks at the Pacific Islands Forum almost collapsed over Australia’s positions on coal and climate change. Opposition leader, Richard Marles, described the comments as “ignorant,” saying that McCormack “should know better.” Before McCormack’s comments were made public, former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had told ABC Radio National: “it’s critically important that we show respect to the Pacific islanders and that we are seen to be helping climate change, both in reducing our emissions as part of a global effort, and of course as we do providing them with substantial resources to adapt to climate change.”
Argentina’s president unveiled a series of economic “relief” measures after a defeat in the country’s presidential primaries. Argentinian President Mauricio Macri announced income tax cuts and increases in welfare subsidies after opposition centre-left candidate Alberto Fernández won presidential primaries at the weekend. Macri also said petrol prices will be frozen for 90 days as part of a series of measures aimed at helping 17 million workers. Macri came to power in 2015 and pledged to boost Argentina’s ailing economy with liberal economic reforms. However, more than a third of the population is in poverty, while the country is in recession and posted 22% inflation for the first six months of the year (one of the highest rates globally). There are concerns that Mr Fernández return Argentina to populist economic policies.
Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to start repatriating Rohingya refugees. Over 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine state in Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017. Many refugees do not want to return as they fear more violence. On Thursday, officials from the two countries said a fresh attempt will begin next week to repatriate those who want to return. A total of 3,540 refugees have been cleared for return by Myanmar from a list of more than 22,000 names recently sent by Bangladesh. However, a Rohingya activist with the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, said refugees had not been consulted about the process. The UN has also said that conditions in Rakhine state, where government troops have been fighting an insurgency for months, are not conducive for the return of refugees.