Nurses wait in the corridor of a vaccination center where Algerians get the COVID-19 vaccine, Algiers, Feb.3, 2021 (AP photo by Fateh Guidoum).

Many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, region have faced critical challenges in ensuring the effective and equitable vaccination of their citizens against COVID-19. With a few exceptions, like Morocco, Israel and several Gulf states, countries in the region have faced difficulties in securing sufficient doses due to logistical constraints, poor planning and vaccine hesitancy. As of mid-August, only 21 percent of the region’s population had received at least one dose, and less than 13 percent were fully vaccinated. This puts the region far behind the developing country average of 36 percent with at least one […]

A destroyed tank by the side of the road in western Tigray, Ethiopia, May 1, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Millions of people in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region are currently at risk of famine, a situation brought on by the government’s invasion of the region last fall after a long-running political dispute, as well as an unofficial blockade imposed on Tigray since June by federal troops, allied Eritrean forces and ethnic militias. Throughout the conflict, reports of unspeakable atrocities have been a near-daily occurrence, and the warring parties appear more resolved than ever to seek victory on the battlefield.  With no end in sight to the fighting, it’s time for the U.S. to accept that its efforts to coax the […]

Mercy Wambua, center, the CEO of the Law Society of Kenya and other lawyers march to protest the Kenyan government’s deportation of an opposition politician, Feb. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber,  adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last Friday, Kenya’s Court of Appeal upheld a May judgment by the High Court blocking a government bid to make fundamental changes to the country’s constitution. The ruling marks a setback to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy-building project and is certain to shift the political landscape […]

President Joe Biden pauses as he listens to a question about the bombings at the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 U.S. service members, Washington, Aug. 26, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. By now, the shock of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has begun to wear off. But the outrage over the Biden administration’s handling of the evacuation of Western civilians and Afghan nationals at risk of Taliban retaliation seems to have only risen this week, even as the airlift gathered pace. That outrage turned to horror Thursday, when […]

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye is inaugurated in Gitega, Burundi, June 18, 2020 (AP photo by Berthier Mugiraneza).

On July 1, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente visited Burundi to mark the country’s Independence Day—the first high-level visit between the two neighbors in years. Apparently seeking to turn the page on years of sometimes violent tensions, Ngirente said, “This is the right time for Burundi and Rwanda to build on our existing strong foundation of historical and cultural linkages in order to achieve prosperity and development.” Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimeye issued a similarly forward-looking statement in response: “Let us leave the past behind, and open a new chapter.”  Only a year ago, few observers of the region would have […]

The Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda, Jan. 30, 2021 (photo by Reaching the Last Mile, via AP Images).

The extraordinary demographic change currently sweeping Africa is one of the most important challenges facing humankind over the remainder of this century. United Nations projections predict that from its present population of nearly 1.4 billion people, the continent’s population will approach 4.5 billion people by 2100, which is the staggering equivalent in population terms of two Chinas and one India. Other carefully considered efforts to project global population trends, such as a recent study published in the Lancet, predict an even larger African population two generations hence. Demographic growth on such a scale will affect nearly every human question one […]

Older residents watching children play with bubbles at a residential compound in Beijing, Oct. 14, 2016 (AP file photo by Andy Wong).

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the world’s population, two of the world’s most powerful countries, China and the United States, have released troubling new census data. Both countries, it seems, are facing national demographic declines that may soon threaten their economic prosperity—though the former will be much more affected than the latter. In April, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the slowest population growth—7.7 percent in a decade—since the 1930s. The nosedive was due to a combination of a declining birth rate, decreased immigration flows and significant mortality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the […]

Farmers in a drought-stricken field in Changfeng county, Hefei city, Anhui province, China, Oct. 20, 2019 (Imaginechina via AP Images).

This month’s harrowing report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has particularly disquieting implications for the world’s poor. Global warming and associated biodiversity loss will hinder progress toward each of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, a set of 17 internationally agreed objectives for advancing global prosperity, social welfare and environmental conservation through the end of the decade. COVID-19 has already dealt these aspirations a massive blow. But these pandemic setbacks pale in comparison to the long-term challenges that climate change presents for meeting and exceeding basic human needs, and placing developing countries on the path toward sustained—and sustainable—growth. United Nations member states unanimously endorsed the […]

Voters wait to vote at a polling station during Zambia’s presidential election in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber,  adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. In a dramatic rebuke to the tenure of incumbent President Edgar Lungu, Hakainde Hichilema—the leader of Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development, or UPND—scored a resounding victory in last week’s presidential election. According to results released by the country’s electoral commission, Hichilema, […]

Work in progress on an outdoor observation deck on the 30 Hudson Yards office building in New York, March 8, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

Ever since the first cities emerged as a form of human settlement, urbanites have pondered their future. Plato’s “Republic,” written 2,400 years ago and still read on college campuses today, put forth a vision of Kallipolis, a beautiful “just” city-state run by a philosopher king who prioritized the “power of knowledge,” but who nevertheless resembles a benevolent dictator. A millennium and a half later, Thomas More’s landmark “Utopia” imagined a peaceful island metropolis where citizens would share goods and meals, learn a given trade and worship freely—albeit while also enslaving people, though many believe the inclusion of slavery was more ironic […]

Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai, left, and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng celebrate after Chemutai won gold and Kiyeng won silver in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 4, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Stansall).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox.  No sooner had the 2020 Summer Olympics commenced than now-familiar tales of inadequate preparation and administrative snags involving African Olympic athletes began to trickle out of Tokyo. And by the closing ceremony and the handover to Paris for the 2024 Olympics, millions of Africans who tuned in […]

Afghan security personnel work at the site of a powerful explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul)

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. This week, the Taliban continued its offensive, which has now overrun 11 provincial capitals in Afghanistan, including in parts of the country outside of the group’s historical base of support. Today’s Weekly Wrap-Up recaps and distills several WPR articles from the past week, including three that take a closer look at the roots of the Afghan army’s […]

People line up for a free, cooked meal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 29, 2021 (AP photo by Bruna Prado).

According to a United Nations report released last month, just under one-tenth of the global population was undernourished in 2020, up from 8.4 percent in 2019. Much of that spike was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely strained global food systems that were already under pressure due to climate change, population growth, conflict and migration. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Julie Howard, a senior adviser to the global food security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the U.N. report’s findings. Listen to the full conversation here: If you like […]

A man distributes free food outside an eatery in Ahmedabad, India, Jan. 20, 2021 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

2020 will forever be known as the plague year, but it was also a year of increased hunger around the world. That’s according to a multiagency United Nations report released last month, which found that the number of undernourished people in the world rose by 118 million, to a total of about 768 million—nearly one-tenth of the global population. Much of that increase was due to COVID-19, a crisis that “continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems,” the report warned. Today on Trend Lines, Julie Howard, a senior adviser to the global food security program at the Center for […]

President Edgar Lungu arrives at the state funeral of Kenneth Kaunda, in Lusaka, Zambia, July 2, 2021 (AP phoot by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Zambia will hold general elections Thursday amid rising uncertainty about whether President Edgar Lungu will relinquish power if he loses. Political tensions are high, as Lungu deployed the army last week to several parts of the country, including Lusaka, the capital, in a controversial and unprecedented move. Lungu justified the decision by citing the need to maintain order amid flare-ups of preelection violence that left at least two people dead.  But opposition and civil society leaders have pointed to the fact that the military has been deployed to a number of areas without high levels of violence as evidence that […]

Refugees and migrants arrive on an inflatable vessel from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Dec. 3, 2015 (AP photo by Santi Palacios).

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Refugee Convention, one of the signal moral advances in human history. Negotiated in the wake of World War II and initially limited to Europe, the treaty established the first binding legal protections for individuals forced to flee their countries. These rights and responsibilities, which were made universal in the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1967, remain a cornerstone of the global humanitarian regime. The convention is, however, showing its age. Many governments are failing to fulfil their legal obligations under it, and the convention does little to […]

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta hold the flags of their countries after a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5, 2016 (AP photo by Sayyid Abdul Azim).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Last month, the African Union granted observer status to Israel, after nearly 20 years of Israeli diplomatic efforts to that effect. Israel had previously held observer status in the Organization of African Unity, or OAU, the AU’s predecessor. But it lapsed after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 […]

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