Global Review – 16th August

Kabul surrenders to the Taliban

Kabul is in the hands of the Taliban who have announced the rebirth of the Islamic Emirate. The white flag of the Taliban flies on the flagpole of the presidential palace as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to avoid “a bloodbath”, he said. From Doha, a spokesman for the Taliban political office told Al Jazeera that the war in Afghanistan “is over”, adding that it will be clear “soon” what kind of government there will be. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council will meet later today to discuss the Afghan situation at the request of Norway and Estonia.

President Ashraf Ghani flees

After a frantic day, characterised by the de facto surrender of the capital to the unstoppable advance of the insurgents, Afghanistan is now dramatically back in the grip of the insurgents. “The Taliban won … and now they are responsible for the honour, property and protection of their countrymen,” Ghani said in a statement posted on Facebook. Ghani did not say where he had travelled to, but leading Afghan media group Tolo News suggested he had gone to Tajikistan.

Chaos reigns supreme at Kabul airport

Foreign diplomats and civilians stormed the capital’s airport, where some countries have assured that they will maintain diplomatic representation. Emergency meetings to analyse the situation have been activated in many Western countries, while NATO has stressed that the political solution in Afghanistan is “more urgent than ever”.

Thousands flee to Pakistan border

Thousands of people have taken to the streets, on foot or by car, in search of an escape route. Afghans have reached the Friendship Gate in the city of Chaman, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, many carrying only a bag with their belongings after escaping from their homes. Total chaos is reported at the airport, with people on the runways in order to be able to get on the planes and leave the country. Pope Francis called on Sunday for dialogue to end the conflict in Afghanistan so that its people can live in peace, security and reciprocal respect.

Haiti: 724 dead, 2,800 injured in quake aftermath

The authorities in Haiti have confirmed 724 dead and over 2,800 injured in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti. Images on social media show many collapsed houses, churches and other historic buildings. But according to the USGS, the US geoseismic institute, the situation is a “red alert” and could lead to the death of thousands of people.

IOM warning to migrants on ‘the Balkan route”

The International Organisation for Migration has raised the alarm to migrants attempting to cross Western Europe via the so-called Balkan route, warning that they face the risks of drowning, abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence, but also the danger of stepping on mines scattered throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Very few migrants know that the land here is littered with mines and even if informed of this danger they do not know where to look,” said one of the instructors who works with IOM to raise awareness of the problem. It is estimated that more than 180,000 unexploded mines have been left in the ground since the wars of the 1990s.

Hong Kong front dissolved

The Front for Human and Civil Rights, the coalition that promoted mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019, announced its self-dissolution, motivating it with growing repression against protests in China’s semi-autonomous territory. “Civil society faces challenges of unprecedented difficulty,” the movement said in a statement.

Charlene of Monaco recovering from four-hour operation

Princess Charlene of Monaco is recovering from a four-hour procedure, the most recent in a series intended to correct long-haul complications from an ENT surgery last spring in Europe. The Court saidPrince Albert and their twin children, six-year old Jacques and Gabriella, will join her during herperiod of convalescence. Recently, the international celebrity press had reignited speculations about a divorce or separation of the couple.

The Big Tobacco will pay to rid French streets of cigarette butts

Cigarette manufacturers must contribute to the financing of the collection of cigarette butts thrown into French streets. The authorities aim to reduce the number of butts thrown on the ground by 40% within six years. Every year, over 23 billion unlit cigarettes are thrown on the ground and 350 tons a year are collected in Paris alone. The filters contain various toxic agents, such as nicotine, ammonia, mercury and lead and take a decade to disappear.

Indonesia army eliminates virginity test for cadets

The Indonesian military has put an end to a controversial practice of virginity testing on aspiring cadets. The tests, which doctors subjected to female recruits, also ended up in the crosshairs of Human Rights Watch, which conducted investigations in 2014 and 2015 and has repeatedly appealed for a ban on the practice.

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