As the people of Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga gear up as the first nations to welcome 2021, communities around the Asia-Pacific region and beyond look forward to bidding farewell to the most tumultuous year in recent decades.
The currently available Covid-19 vaccines have been authorized for ‘emergency use ‘in Europe and North America. This is due to an apparent spike in Covid-19 flu cases in the northern hemisphere as winter advances. Highly advertised vaccines are being produced and rolled out at ‘warped speed’ by powerful pharmaceutical and bio-technology companies headquartered in Euro-America although their efficacy including how long their immunity lasts is not clear.
If the coronavirus is not deemed a biological weapon, is the heavily-publicized Covid-19 vaccine in danger of being weaponized when over 159,000 Palestinians who have tested positive in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are being denied treatment during a deadly pandemic?
Oh, Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So, oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
Janis Joplin, 1970
COVID-19 has made several of us aware of the frailty of our bodies, the certainty of death and how valuable health, companionship and compassion are. Such insights are not uncommon in poor societies where a person’s main and perhaps only asset is her/his body and what s/he is able to do with her/his hands. However, wealthy and privileged people are surrounded by, dependent on, and even integrated with an ever more sophisticated technology, which increasingly, for better or worse, is separating us from what human existence has been for thousands of years.
On 1st January 2021, trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement commenced after months of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ANTICOV COVID-19 clinical trial, aimed at identifying treatments that prevent mild cases from progressing to severe forms of the disease, is crucial to Africa, researchers say. The trial will investigate home-based treatments to help prevent local health systems from being overwhelmed.
Most people around the world were glad to see the back of 2020: From the devastating bushfires in Australia to the plagues of locusts through East Africa stretching across Arabia to Pakistan, extreme weather, melting ice sheets at the poles, and Covid-19 that still engulfs the globe.
Sir Brian Urquhart, who died on January 2 at the age of 101, served the United Nations in high posts for four decades, beginning in the organization’s earliest days.
Goodbye 2020, but unfortunately, not good riddance, as we all have to live with its legacy. It has been a disastrous year for much of the world for various reasons, Elizabeth II’s annus horribilis
. The crisis has exposed previously unacknowledged realities, including frailties and vulnerabilities.
Happy New Year, Kenya.
Several milestones in my personal and professional life have made Kenya a cherished place for me. I started my UNICEF career in Rumbek, South Sudan in June 2000, and my rest and recuperation breaks were in Nairobi. In fact Kenya was the first African country I had ever visited and, frankly, it was love at first sight.
A cherished snapshot of a happy mother and a smiling grandmother is universally associated with a good childhood. In the movies, TV, or media, a broken or depressed mother’s face is hardly seen. But the reality is somewhat different. The measures communities and society take to ensure that women and girls are protected and supported are often questioned.
Local communities in the vicinity of the abandoned Panguna copper mine, have taken decisive action to hold the global mining multinational, Rio Tinto, accountable for alleged environmental and human rights violations during the mine’s operations between 1972 and 1989.
In Nepal, a dominating culture traditionally representing the elites, the so-called higher castes of the society according to the Hindu culture, still endures and prevails.
Agricultural mechanisation is on the rise in Africa, replacing hand hoes and animal traction across the continent. While around 80-90%
of all farmers still rely on manual labour or draught animals, this is changing, driven by falling machinery prices and rising rural wages. During the last couple of years, tractor sales grew by around 10% annually
Recently, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, wrote a piece
sharing about her miscarriage. I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second
, she wrote. She is part of a growing list of celebrities who have publicly shared their experiences with miscarriages.
"We are no longer familiar with the Xingú River," whose waters govern "our way of life, our income, our food and our navigation," lamented Bel Juruna, a young indigenous leader from Brazil´s Amazon rainforest.
What a challenging year 2020 has been! A year of living dangerously – “Tahun vivere pericoloso”- perhaps these words of late President Soekarno of Indonesia are the best description.
Fortunately, I managed to remain sane, reading and writing op-eds (mostly about the pandemic, here
While 2020 will be remembered most for the way COVID-19 changed our lives in nearly every way and in every part of the world, we made some strides for women’s rights and gender equality.
Cuisine formed a notable portion of the latest inscriptions on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with hawker food in Singapore and couscous traditions in North Africa being celebrated.
Despite its grim record of multiple natural disasters and a deepening climate crisis, one could be forgiven for looking back on 2019 with a degree of nostalgia. There is no disguising the extent of the calamity wrought this year by COVID-19, yet as we approach the end of 2020 we may also draw strength from positive developments emerging.
Cristián Samper is working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization that concerns itself with the health of wildlife all over the globe. And he warned --even before the Covid-19 pandemic – about the dangers of a viral pandemic.