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July 26, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

IOM: More Than 3,000 Migrant Deaths in Mediterranean in 2016

More than three thousand migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration. The intergovernmental organization reported a toll much higher than the same period last year, when 1,917 migrants had died at sea (IOM). On Saturday, the bodies of sixty migrants washed up on Libyan shores (Libya Herald). The IOM says some 250,000 migrants have made the sea journey to Europe in 2016 (AFP), arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, or Spain. In an interview with a German public broadcaster, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused (DW) European authorities of not following through on pledges of $3 billion in aid for Turkey following a March deal to stem sea crossings of refugees from Turkey to Europe.

ANALYSIS

"Unlike the millions of people forcibly displaced by Syria's brutal five-year civil war, migrants that pass through Libya do so amid a complex web of forces that have uprooted entire generations. For years, broad regions of sub-Saharan Africa have been swallowed by squalor and extreme poverty, crushed under the rule of oppressive governments or caught in the crosshairs of deadly groups that thrive on terror. But suddenly, technology made the world much smaller and dreams more concrete. Facebook feeds were now flooded with pictures of friends and family who had made it to Europe, projecting the notion that a dramatically improved lifestyle was easily within reach," Amanda Sakuma writes for MSNBC.

"Libyan smugglers use two methods to send people to sea, and a Western warship can do little to stop either. The first and most popular involves vast inflatable rafts. These are loaded with passengers onshore and sent to sea without a smuggler onboard. EU navies already intercept these boats within international waters; catching them in Libyan waters would have little impact on the smuggling process. The second, much rarer method involves repurposed wooden fishing trawlers bought at a few days’ notice from local fishermen. These are moored out at sea on the night of a smuggling trip, and passengers are ferried there via inflatable boats. Once filled, they then proceed towards Europe with a couple of low-level, expendable smugglers to keep the engine going," Patrick Kinglsey writes for the Guardian.

"There are about 2.7 million Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders, more than any other country and nearly three times the number of asylum applications filed by Syrians in Europe over the past five years. About 90 percent of Syrians here try to eke out a living outside official camps, and 1.9 million, or 70 percent, are under 30, including nearly one million 14 or younger. Many children are not in school, instead working across the country," Lauren Zanolli writes for Al Jazeera. 

PACIFIC RIM

Top Chinese General Gets Life in Prison on Corruption Charges

The most senior member of China's military to ever be tried for corruption was handed a life sentence (NYT) for charges he took bribes in exchange for military promotions. Gen. Guo Boxiong had risen to second-in-command in China's Central Military Commission before his retirement.

JAPAN: An attacker armed with a knife killed nineteen people and wounded twenty-five more in a facility for disabled patients in Sagamihara (Japan Times) outside Tokyo. The incident is one of the worst mass killings in decades in Japan (Guardian).

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Police Kill Nine Suspected Militants in Dhaka Raid

Bangladesh's national police chief said security forces killed nine suspected militants who allegedly belonged to a cell that pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Authorities say they were planning an attack similar to one on a Dhaka cafe earlier this month (Reuters).

CFR's Alyssa Ayres discusses the rise of extremist violence in Bangladesh in this interview.

INDIA: Indians are expected to carry out $500 billion in cashless transactions by 2020 due to the rise of smartphone usage, according to a new study (WSJ) from Google India and the Boston Consulting Group. Currently, about 78 percent of commercial transactions in India are made with cash, compared to about 20 percent in the United States.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Record Heat Recorded in Kuwait

The UN weather agency believes a temperature of 129.2 degrees recorded in Kuwait is the highest on record in the eastern hemisphere (AP). The agency recently said that the first six months of 2016 broke all previous global warming records (VOA).  

SYRIA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a Laos meeting of Southeast Asian nations and said that the United States could announce further details of intelligence cooperation in Syria's civil war by August (RFE/RL). The proposal would see the two countries coordinating strikes on the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front and prohibiting the Syrian military from striking against moderate rebel groups (Reuters).

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Car Bombs Kill Ten at Mogadishu Airport

At least ten people were killed in at least two bombings at the Mogadishu airport (VOA), which also serves as a base for African Union peacekeepers (BBC).

NIGERIA: The naira fell 55 percent against the dollar in the last month after it tumbled on Monday (FT). Nigeria's central bank dropped the naira's currency peg last month.

EUROPE

Normandy Attack Leaves Priest, Two Assailants Dead

Two men who took hostages at a church and killed a priest in France's Normandy region were shot and killed by security forces (France 24). President Francois Hollande said the self-proclaimed Islamic State was to blame. Meanwhile in Germany, authorities said a Syrian asylum seeker who detonated a suicide vest outside a music festival in Bavaria had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (FT)

AMERICAS

Colombia Declares Zika Epidemic Over

Colombia became the first South American country to declare its Zika virus epidemic over (NYT). Health officials said the number of new infections in the country had dropped to six hundred per week. Health officials said 18,000 of those infected were pregnant women and that they expected a spike in cases of Zika-related microcephaly in coming months.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the spread of the Zika virus

BRAZIL: Nineteen of the thirty-one buildings constructed to house athletes during the Summer Olympics, which begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, have yet to pass safety tests, Rio's local organizing committee said (Guardian).

This CFR Backgrounder examines the economics of the Olympics Games for host countries.