A worker in a protective suit swabs a woman for a COVID-19 test at a testing site in Beijing, April 27, 2022 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Wary of the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, officials in Beijing ordered 20 million residents across nearly a dozen districts to undergo mass testing earlier this week, after dozens of new coronavirus cases were detected in the Chinese capital. Though authorities have stopped short of confining residents to their homes for now, fears of an impending lockdown like the one imposed in Shanghai have prompted a wave of panic buying across the city. City residents have stocked up on food and other essential supplies, stripping the shelves of supermarkets bare. “My colleagues in Shanghai learned the lesson the hard way—they are […]

Sri Lankans hold up their mobile phone torches during a vigil outside the president’s office to condemn police shootings of protesters, Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 19, 2022 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

The ongoing economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka demonstrates more than ever that geopolitical rivalry fosters myopic decision-making, and that peace is a prerequisite for intergenerational justice. Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented emergency. Decades of financial mismanagement by governments dominated by the family of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the  Russia-Ukraine war, have now left the country on the brink of economic collapse. For the first time since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka’s government announced that it will be defaulting on all $51 billion of its sovereign debt, as it seeks an urgent bailout […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

The government of Rwanda announced earlier this month what it described as a “migration and economic development partnership” with the United Kingdom, in which the U.K. claims it would send migrants who had reached British territory to Rwanda for processing of their asylum claims for possible settlement in the U.K. But in practical terms, the asylum seekers will be transported to Rwanda permanently. Almost immediately after the agreement was announced, it came under fire, with critics calling London’s role in it a legally dubious violation of international humanitarian norms that treats human beings like commodities, all to help the U.K. “outsource its refugee problems.” But […]

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Wali Sabawoon).

A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse. Since the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, U.S. government agencies and representatives, like the wider international donor community, have been struggling to determine how best to support women’s human rights in […]

People walk across a makeshift bridge over a river, after a bridge was swept away in Ntuzuma, outside Durban, South Africa, April 12, 2022. (AP photo).

South Africa is grappling with one of the most devastating floods in the country’s history. Several days of heavy rainfall in the coastal city of Durban and its surrounding KwaZulu-Natal province have left more than 400 people dead, 4,000 homes destroyed and 40,000 people displaced, according to local officials. Many locals have gone missing, while the damage to property and infrastructure continues to run into the billions. President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster and deployed troops to help rebuild collapsed roads and bridges and to manage search and rescue efforts, including the delivery of food, water and clothing […]

Displaced Ukrainian refugees have lunch cooked by volunteers, at a restaurant that was transformed into a shelter for those who are fleeing the war from eastern region of the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine, April 20, 2022 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Amid the horror that has befallen Ukraine and its people, one rare uplifting aspect of the tragedy is the remarkably warm and generous reception that Ukrainian refugees fleeing the carnage have received from European nations. Not only have governments across the continent rushed to develop the legal and logistical infrastructure to help, but individuals outside of Ukraine scrambled almost immediately after the bombs started falling, opening their homes and their wallets to the millions seeking to escape the Russian invasion. It’s an inspiring, heartwarming story. But it’s also one that stands in sharp contrast to the callous way much of Europe, including […]

British Home Secretary Priti Patel shakes hands with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta after signing what the two countries called an “economic development partnership” in Kigali, Rwanda, April 14, 2022 (AP Photo by Muhizi Olivier).

Rwanda has announced an agreement with the United Kingdom to take in some asylum-seekers for processing in the East African country. Having pledged to control the country’s borders during the successful “Brexit” campaign to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced a crackdown on migrant crossings via routes across the English Channel, saying that migrants who do not meet strict asylum criteria will be flown more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda for processing and possible resettlement there. British Home Secretary Priti Patel traveled to Kigali, the capital, to sign the deal, which includes £120 million—approximately $160 million—in aid to […]

Afghan men sit in a bus ahead of a 300-mile trip south to Nimrooz near the Iranian border, Herat, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

If you have ever wondered what hell might feel like, ask an Afghan refugee. While you may not personally know any, there is a good chance that if you live near a major urban center in Europe, Canada or the United States, you’ve unknowingly passed someone on the street or stood in line behind someone at the grocery store who has recently fled Afghanistan. In Washington, where I live and work, it is not uncommon to run into an Afghan immigrant who just a few months ago had a house, a car and a salaried job in Kabul that would […]

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who says he was tortured for weeks while in detention, appears before a court in a failed bid to have his passport returned so he could seek medical treatment abroad, Feb. 1, 2022 (AP photo by Hajarah Nalwadda).

Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of police abuse, abduction and torture. The soldiers arrived at the Kampala home of Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, the award-winning Ugandan novelist, on a mid-afternoon in late December. Armed with machine guns and sledgehammers, they beat him and dragged him out, shoving him into the backseat of an unmarked car. The writer, desperate, attempted to call a lawyer, but his phone was swiftly confiscated by his captors. Rukirabashaija spent the next two weeks in the bowels of a detention facility, where he was tortured daily. He emerged 26 pounds lighter and unable to walk on his own, […]

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees during a visit to PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Two weeks ago, the White House announced that the United States would open its doors to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. To many observers, this was the very least the U.S. could do to protect civilians from a war characterized by displacement, atrocity and siege, and on which the West has largely decided to sit it out. But there are several enormous problems with Biden’s refugee relief plan. The first is that there is no actual plan. The announcement was made in a fact-sheet that has not yet been backed by an Executive Order. In fact, the homepage of the U.S. Embassy in Hungary […]

Protesters wearing masks portraying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stand behind a mock jail during a rally near the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Although the actual election isn’t for another six weeks, current polling suggests Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is all but a lock to succeed Rodrigo Duterte as the Philippines’ next president. Marcos, a former senator and son of the late longtime Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has opened up a massive lead against his nearest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo. A survey released by the respected Pulse Asia in March found that Marcos led Robredo by a whopping 44 points, with 60 percent of respondents expressing a preference for him. That actually increased his polling lead by 11 points from a prior Pulse Asia […]