Last Week in Foreign Affairs (March 18 - March 24)
Mozambique Takes Brunt of Cyclone Idai Devastation
Cyclone Idai, a Category 2 storm that hit Mozambique last week, is close to becoming the deadliest storm in the history of Africa with 750 confirmed dead and over 100,000 displaced. The city of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth-largest city with a population over 500,000, was 90% destroyed by the time the tropical cyclone finally passed through. Mozambique is considered to be one of the countries most susceptible to climate change, with scientists predicting the nation will lose almost 5,000 square kilometers of coastal land in just 20 years. While the links between specific natural disasters and climate change are tenuous, Cyclone Idai dropped an abnormally large amount of rain on the East African nation that may have been impacted by warmer than average ocean water off the coast. Agencies across the international community, both governments and NGOs, have pledged tens of millions of dollars in aid to help rebuild and provide basic resources for those impacted by the storm.
Thailand Election Results Delayed
The first election in Thailand since the 2014 military coup took place over the weekend, and the results are already being contested by both major parties. This is the first national election that falls under the 2016 referendum to introduce a semi-democratic voting system, but the system itself is still tightly controlled by military oversight. The elections are mostly to generate the party seat allocation for the lower house, as the upper house is still exclusively appointed by the military. At the time of the delay, the military and pro-democracy parties both had just over seven million votes each, but the pro-democracy coalitions had identified multiple potential instances of voter fraud perpetrated by the military. Until the official numbers are released by the Electoral Commission, however, the country will be left without a government. Any longer delays might lead to a louder call for justice from the pro-democracy parties.
London Flooded with Pro-Europe Supporters
Organizers claim that over one million people descended on London in a massive rally in favor of the U.K. staying in the E.U. While it’s impossible to independently verify that number, what can be agreed upon is that the rally was substantial, and many of those marching were young people. Young people in the U.K., while not a monolithic voting bloc by any means, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU by a 40-point margin. It is also argued that Brexit will hit young people the hardest, because they are in a position to enjoy the benefits of being an E.U. citizen longer, while the negatives of leaving will have an outsized impact on the younger generations. Theresa May and her Conservative Party, however, have been mostly unmoved by the protest and are currently debating moving forward with her third attempt at voting on her embattled deal.
Students March Over Climate Change in Over 100 Countries
Students in 123 countries at over 2,000 events left class last week to march in solidarity against climate change. The marches were largely inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who became famous last summer for protesting every day for almost a month after Sweden was struck by record wildfires and the hottest summer since records began 262 years ago. The common theme linking the protests together was the frustration of a younger generation of people, many of them not of legal voting age, with the slow and oftentimes nonexistent progress on combating climate change. Their argument stems from the idea that climate change policy has impacts that will be felt decades after they are implemented, and such a timeline would disproportionately harm the children of this generation. This comes amid a backdrop of major nations, led by the United States, attempting to reduce or eliminate climate agreement targets. These stakeholders often claim the near consensus within the scientific community on the dangers of climate change is exaggerated.