The Week That Was: Global News in Review

Foreign Policy Brief #91 | By: Ibrahim Castro | September 21, 2023

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G77 Summit

Last week in Havana Cuba, The Group of 77 (G77) met to discuss the most pressing issues facing developing nations around the world. The group stands as the largest intergovernmental organization of developing nations within the United Nations. Established in 1964 it serves as a platform for Southern countries to voice and advance their collective economic interests, increase joint negotiation capabilities on international economic matters, and promote collaboration among nations of the global south for development purposes. The bloc has expanded from its original 77 members to 134 nations and now represents 80% of the world’s population. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also attended the summit and said that developing countries are “trapped in a tangle of global crises,” pointing to international instability, climate change, and foreign debt. China, though not formally a member, maintains that it supports the organization and agendas, also attended the meeting. The summit ended with a call for a special UN meeting to tackle the issues raised by member states. The final 46-point declaration iterates demands for a more equitable international economic and social order which it states is impossible without ending the monopoly on economic and technological advances by developed countries.

Earthquakes in Morocco

On September 8, 2023, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Morocco’s Atlas Mountains region. The earthquake became the country’s deadliest in more than 60 years, killing at least 2,497 people and leaving at least another 5,000 injured. The high atlas mountain region just south of the popular city of Marrakech that was hardest hit by the magnitude 6.8 quake. Both Moroccan and international rescue teams have been working to save those trapped under rubble and provide aid to affected areas. Up to now residents in most places have been provided with basic necessities, food and water, and most of the giant boulders blocking mountain roads have been removed. However long term worries remain about shelter and recovery efforts in impoverished mountain regions that were hardest hit.

Libyan floods

In Libya emergency rescue teams are currently working to find survivors and retrieve bodies after massive floods hit the country’s northeast region last week. The floods have killed at least 11,000 people so far and left another 10,000 missing making it the countries worst natural disaster to date. Entire neighborhoods in the city of Derna were swept away when storm Daniel caused two dams to collapse, unleashing tons of water onto cities that have struggled through years of the Libyan civil war. Experts have said the disaster, could have been prevented were it not for mismanagement of the dams that failed to hold back the water. More than 30,000 people have been displaced, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM). Libya is particularly vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters as it has no unified government, but instead two rival administrations that are locked in a political standoff following a civil war that began in 2014. The country has been in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Analysts have said that the politically fragmented situation in Libya only complicates rescue missions and international aid delivery. Countries willing to help have to decide whether they will send aid to the UN recognized capital, or to General Haftar’s rival administration in Benghazi. Most countries have so far sent their aid to Benghazi, as it is the closest major city to Derna and its surrounding towns.

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