Loren B. Landau, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato and Hannah Postel
Three years after the apex of the European refugee crisis, the European Union’s immigration and refugee policy is still in utter disarray. In July, Greek officials warned that they were unable to cope with the tens of thousands of migrants held on islands in the Aegean Sea. Italy’s new right-wing government has taken to turning rescue ships with hundreds of refugees away from its ports, leaving them adrift in the Mediterranean in search of a friendly harbor. Spain offered to take in one of the ships stuck in limbo, but soon thereafter turned away a second one.
Behind the scenes, however, European leaders have been working in concert to prevent a new upsurge in arrivals, especially from sub-Saharan Africa. Their strategy: helping would-be migrants before they ever set out for Europe by pumping money and technical aid into the states along Africa’s main migrant corridors. The idea, as an agreement hashed out at a summit in Brussels this June put it, is to generate “substantial socio-economic transformation” so people no longer want to leave for a better life. Yet the EU’s plans ignore the fact that economic development in low-income countries does not reduce migration; it encourages it. Faced with this reality, the EU will increasingly have to rely on payoffs to smugglers, autocratic regimes, and militias to curb the flow of migrants—worsening the instability that has pushed many to leave in the first place. (Read more)
The man responsible for making peace in Syria is, understandably, sounding a little bit desperate.
“Where can they go? Where can anyone go?” Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s Syria envoy, asked of the millions of civilians, half of them already displaced from elsewhere. Next week they are likely to be the latest victims of the civil war’s bombardments.
He then made an extraordinary offer: he would himself travel to the rebel enclave in Idlib and escort civilians to safety — if the regime would guarantee humanitarian corridors out of the conflict zone. “I am prepared, personally and physically, to get involved myself,” he told a press conference from the rather more placid confines of the United Nations building in Geneva.
No one took any notice and the sad truth is that hardly anyone with real power has taken any notice of Mr de Mistura’s pleas for peace since he was appointed to the most thankless job in the world four years ago.
Tomorrow, the three powers with the fate of those millions of people in their hands meet in Tehran — the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey. But, so far, the Assad regime has not shown any sign of creating humanitarian corridors and there is no other way out for those awaiting the looming attack on Idlib. (Read more)
One of Donald Trump’s senior White House staff has made a truly unprecedented move against their ultimate boss. The staffer anonymously published an opinion piece in the New York Times, in which the individual described a dilemma: should the White House’s employees stand by and watch a president who they see as “a threat to the health of our republic”, or should they quietly work to resist what they see as Trump’s “amoralism” and “misguided impulses”? Trump reacted to the piece in his usual style, accusing the author of “treason” and demanding the New York Times hand over their name.
It is easy to see the op-ed and ensuing furore as just one more indicator of the abject state of the Trump presidency. But the incident also poses a much more profound dilemma: when the elected politician they serve is a liability to the public, should staffers speak out and challenge them publicly, or remain loyal and do their boss’s bidding? (Read more)
On Thursday, Jair Bolsonaro, the controversial right-wing candidate leading the polls in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election, was stabbed in the abdomen while at a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, a city 100 miles outside Rio de Janeiro. The man arrested in the attack, Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, claims to have acted “on orders from God.” Early reports indicate that de Oliveira has a history of mental illness and is obsessed with online conspiracy theories.
After emergency surgery, Bolsonaro is stable. It is too early to know, though, whether and when he will be able to resume his heavy campaign schedule in the run-up to the first round of the election on Oct. 7. (Read more)
When Wang Yijun put Ethiopia’s most expensive real estate project on the market, he experienced a strange phenomenon. People preferred the lowest floors over those with panoramic city views. “Power cuts mean elevators in this city often don’t work,” explains Wang, the site manager. “So the bottom-floor flats became the most valuable. You won’t see this pricing in any Chinese city.”
Replicating China’s urban model in Africa has its challenges, but with limited developable space in Addis Ababa — the capital is surrounded by protected farmland — Wang believes high-rise living, such as Tsehay Real Estate’s $60 million Poli Lotus development, is inevitable. (Read more)