The Week That Was: Global News in Review

Foreign Policy Brief #141 | By: Ibrahim Castro| May 10, 2024
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UK- Rwanda refugee deal

In the UK, authorities have begun detaining migrants to deport to Rwanda, a policy the UK high court previously declared unlawful. Rwanda has agreed to recieve asylum seekers for economic aid. The total payment will be at least £370 million over five years, according to the National Audit Office. If more than 300 people are sent to Rwanda, the UK would pay a one-off sum of £120 million, with further payments of £20,000 per individual relocated. The policy has drawn major criticism from human rights organizations and faces major logistical issues, humanitarian concerns, and the possibility that a future Labour party government will scrap it. The UK government has declared Rwanda a safe country to receive refugees, and it is the threat of being sent there that is meant to deter people from entering the UK and attempting to seek asylum there.

Irregular migration has increased in recent years, but it’s not the driver of the problems facing the UK, including its ongoing political, cost of living and housing crises. The law is part of a broader strategy by the Sunak government and the Conservative Party to win favor as they struggle to maintain support in the lead-up to The UK’s national election this year.

Brazil Floods

The death toll from a series of catastrophic floods in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has risen to at least 83, while 276 people are reportedly injured, at least 111 people are missing, and 121,000 people displaced, according to the Civil Defense of Rio Grande do Sul. Brazilian President Lula da Silva asked Congress to recognize a state of public calamity for the heavy rains. The Floods have destroyed roads and bridges in several cities triggering landslides. Rio Grande do Sul’s governor emphasized that the death toll could still substantially increase as rescue workers gain access to more of the region.

Global military spending

Global military spending hit a record high of $2.4 trillion in 2023 after increasing by 6.8% from the previous year, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Military expenditure has been rising for nine years straight, and is up in all regions of the world for the first time since 2009. Russia and Ukraine, which are actively at war, topped the list of the countries that increased their military spending the most, by 51% and 24%, respectively.

The war between Russia and Ukraine also drove military spending higher elsewhere, prompting countries to think differently about their security. Tensions and war in the Middle East also significantly contributed to the rise in global military spending. Spending in Israel, already one of the most powerful militaries in the region, rose 24% to $27.5 billion. US weapons reportedly accounts for some 15% of Israel’s defense budget, although the Biden administration is threatening to block the use of such aid if it is used to attack Rafah. Military spending was not evenly spread out because as the report said, “world military expenditure is highly concentrated among a very small group of states”. The United States remained the biggest military budget at $916bn, representing 37% of the world’s military spending. China came in a large but distant second with $296 billion, and Europe as a whole has seen military spending increase to a total of $594 billion in 2023.

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