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Daily Brief: UN Summit on Refugees Opens in New York

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September 19, 2016

Daily News Brief

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UN Summit on Refugees Opens in New York

Heads of state gathered at the UN General Assembly will discuss the global refugee crisis (Globe & Mail) this week. On Monday, the UN will convene its largest-to-date conference on refugees and migrants, and on Tuesday U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders from Canada, Germany, Jordan, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Sweden will meet to establish concrete commitments from governments to assist refugees. The Obama administration is expected to raise the annual number of refugees the United States admits to 110,000 from current levels around 85,000 (USA Today). The New York events come amid security concerns following a weekend bombing in Manhattan and explosives discovered at two other sites in the region. A manhunt is underway for a a suspect in the Manhattan bombing (NYT).


"When the UN began the planning for this summit, it started with an ambitious goal in mind: a commitment to resettle 10 per cent of the world’s refugees each year. But many countries – including the U.S. – balked at the idea. So Monday’s gathering has morphed into an event that will kick off another round of negotiations, with the hopes of reaching an actual agreement in 2018. Finding a way to share responsibility for the world’s refugees has proven exceedingly difficult," Joanna Slater writes for the Globe and Mail.

"Expectations for the first meeting, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, are low. It will produce no more than a consensus declaration that is long on platitudes and short on action. The second, led by President Obama, is more promising. It should generate meaningful national pledges of aid. But to make a real dent, the assembled nations must get serious about ending chronic displacement, by focusing on cures rather than palliatives. And that, alas, is unlikely to happen," writes CFR's Stewart M. Patrick in this post for The Internationalist blog.

"The refugee issue provides yet another glaring example of the gap between what needs to be done to meet a global challenge and what the world is prepared to do. Alas, the same holds true for most such challenges, from terrorism and climate change to weapons proliferation and public health," writes CFR President Richard N. Haass for Project Syndicate.


Report: 100,000 Deaths After Indonesian Forest Fires

Months of smog following forest fires in Indonesia last year may have contributed to 100,000 premature deaths in Southeast Asia from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, according to a new study from two U.S. universities (FT). The smog is an annual hazard caused by fires set in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood production (Guardian).

CHINA: China's foreign ministry accused Japan of attempting to "confuse" the situation in the South China Sea under the pretense of acting on behalf of the international community (Reuters). The statement followed Japan's announcement that it would step up joint training patrols with the United States in the disputed body of water.

This CFR InfoGuide lays out China's maritime disputes. 


Afghan Official: U.S. Air Strikes Killed Policemen

U.S. air strikes killed eight Afghan policemen (AP) in southern Uruzgan province in an apparent incident of friendly fire, according to a provincial commander. A U.S. military spokesperson confirmed the air strike but not the casualties and said U.S. forces were attempting to support Afghan troops against a Taliban assault.

INDIA: Eighteen Indian soldiers (Hindustan Times) and four suspected militants were killed during an attack on a military base in India-controlled Kashmir (Al Jazeera).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker discusses the history of the disputed Kashmir region.


Australia Apologizes for Syria Strike on Soldiers

Australia's defense department confirmed its jets were used in a U.S.-led coalition strike on Sunday in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor that killed more than sixty Syrian government troops (BBC). Australia said it would "never intentionally" target the Syrian military (ABC). On Monday monitors said four air strikes (BBC) hit rebel-controlled parts of the city of Aleppo, the first such attacks since a cease-fire went into place a week ago.

Lina Khatib discusses the political endgame in Aleppo in this CFR interview.

IRAQ: Iraqi families began returning to the city of Fallujah over the weekend (WSJ), about three months after the Iraqi military expelled the self-proclaimed Islamic State from the city.

Ned Parker discusses whether the United States has a plan for Iraq after the removal of the Islamic State in this CFR interview.


Somali General, Bodyguards Killed by Bomber

A suicide car bomber attacked the convoy of a Somali general near the defense ministry headquarters in Mogadishu, killing the official and six of his bodyguards (BBC). The attack was claimed by the militant group al-Shabab.

AFRICA: Some four-hundred companies in Africa have annual revenues of $1 billion or more, according to a new report from McKinsey released in Addis Ababa (East African Business Review)


Berlin Elections a Loss for Merkel's Party

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party won only 17.6 percent of votes in Berlin state elections (NYT), removing it as a junior partner in the governing coalition. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party will enter the city-state's legislature for the first time following its campaign against Merkel's decision to allow about one million asylum seekers into the country.

RUSSIA: President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party backed won 54 percent of votes (Bloomberg) in parliamentary elections, giving it 343 out of 450 seats in the lower house.


Venezuela Hosts Non-Aligned Summit

Heads of state from Zimbabwe, Iran, the Palestinian territories, Cuba, and Ecuador are among the handful of leaders who participated in the non-aligned summit in Venezuela (Reuters). The summit comes as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to bolster his legitimacy following months of protests calling for a referendum to remove him from office.

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