Weekly Links

Willem van de Velde the Elder, “Dutch Ships near the Coast,” early 1650s. Via National Gallery of Art.

By Patrick Pierson.

At this week’s Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a more explicit focus on addressing root causes of terrorism, declaring, “when you have to counter terrorism, it’s too late.” This comes as experts question the efficacy of recent efforts to counter groups such as al-Shabab and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Furthermore, this week also witnessed the emergence of a new terrorist group, Jahba East Africa, with pledges of allegiance to the Islamic State. This powerful story of former female slaves under Boko Haram’s control demonstrates the need for more holistic approaches to countering violence – despite success in freeing the women, the subsequent challenge of reintegration has proved exceedingly difficult. And as the two-year anniversary of the Chibok kidnappings approach, the town’s only school has yet to re-open.

The UN Security Council renewed sanctions this week on those “blocking peace” in South Sudan. The continued fighting has generated enormous humanitarian challenges. This week, Doctors Without Borders issued an urgent call for help to address the stark lack of essential medicines in the country. In Africa more broadly, recent data reveals that the diabetes rate on the continent has more than doubled over the past 35 years with the necessary healthcare infrastructure for addressing the issue sorely lacking. In Rwanda, the “autonomous distribution of medical supplies” to rural regions via drones is set to launch in the near future.

In El Salvador, the country’s two most powerful gangs have called a truce. Illegal gold mining has overtaken cocaine as “the most lucrative export” in both Peru and Colombia. In Argentina, the illegal drug Paco has become a particularly dangerous part of life for lower class teenagers. The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, with upcoming Fridays declared holidays in an effort to save electricity; relatedly, the country’s banknotes are literally becoming worthless.

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