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This Week Around The World

February 22 Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Italian ambassador to the DRC was killed along with two others when a U.N. convoy was attacked, according to AP News. Luca Attanasio, who had been working at the Italian embassy in Congo since 2017, Carabinieri paramilitary officer Vittorio Lacovacci and their Congolese driver Moustapha Milambo were killed while on their way to visit a school as part of the World Food Program. “Yesterday I couldn’t express to his family the deep sorrow of the entire Foreign Ministry and our sincere closeness,” wrote Elisabetta Belloni, the ministry’s secretary general, according to The New York Times. “He believed that Italy—with the European Union and the United Nations—could play an important role to promote development and peace,” Belloni stated. “To this goal he devoted himself with humbleness, but also with absolute commitment and preparedness.” Prosecutors in Rome have started an investigation and sent a team to Goma, near where the incident occured.


February 24 India: A study found that hundreds of millions of people in India face a serious threat of food insecurity due to the country’s overexploitation of water supplies, according to CNN. The team of international researchers used satellite imagery to analyze the impact on winter harvest—approximately 44% of the country’s annual crop—that relies heavily on groundwater. India is one of the world’s biggest crop producers. The study, published in Science Advances, concluded winter harvests in some regions could fall by two-thirds by 2025. “Many studies have shown that India has large groundwater depletion, but to date it has been unclear what the impacts of this depletion could have on agricultural production,” said lead author Meha Jain, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability.


February 25 Port-au-Prince, Haiti: At least 400 inmates escaped and 25 people died during a prison breakout from Haiti’s Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison, according to AP News. The deaths included the prison director, Paul Hector Joseph, and Haiti’s previously most-wanted gang leader, Arnel Joseph, according to BBC. The high security prison, known for a 2014 breakout when over 300 inmates escaped, was inaugurated in 2012. “I encourage the police to speed up investigations on the circumstances surrounding this incident, redouble its efforts to re-apprehend the escapees, and strengthen security around prisons throughout the country,” said Helen La Lime, Haiti’s special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations. “This prison break further highlights the problem of prolonged preventive detention and prison overcrowding which remains [sic] matter of concern that must be urgently addressed by Haitian authorities.”


February 27 Barcelona, Spain: At least 10 people were arrested as protests returned to the streets of Barcelona in support of jailed rap artist, Pablo Hasél, according to AP News. Several thousand people took part in the demonstrations before smaller groups split off and vandalism occurred. Hasél was arrested on Feb. 16 and was set to serve a nine-month prison sentence for glorifying domestic terrorist groups and insulting the monarch. Hasél and his supporters argue that his charges are an example of repressing the freedom of speech. “No one should face criminal prosecution only for expressing themselves on social media or for singing something that may be distasteful or shocking,” said Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain. More than 110 protesters have been arrested so far since Hasél’s arrest.