World in brief: UNICEF report on the crisis in Syria, missing travellers found in Mali, COVID-19 vaccine, new political tool: face masks

More than 4 million children were born to a disastrous environment in Syria since the start of its ongoing civil war in 2011. On Sunday, for the ninth year anniversary of the devastating war, UNICEF released a report stating that “millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement.” The data collected from 2014 to 2019 also shows that 1 million children were born as refugees in neighbouring countries, and 5,427 were killed. Inspired by the 2011 Arab Spring, uprisings against Bashar al-Assad’s regime erupted within Syria, which has since left more than 380 million people dead.

A Quebec woman and her Italian companion were found alive in Mali, after being abducted in Burkina Faso two years ago. Edith Blais and Luca Tacchetto were heading to take part in volunteering work in Togo when they disappeared on Dec. 15, 2018. It’s still unknown who kidnapped the travellers or if any ransom was paid. However, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, said preliminary information shows that Blais and Tacchetto escaped their kidnappers, according to CBC News. Photos of Blais and Tachhetto have been shared online, in which they are both smiling and look healthy.

U.S. researchers started testing a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. A total of 45 participants will get two injections one month apart to test its effectiveness. Although participants and researchers are optimistic about the development of a vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health told the Associated Press that the vaccine will not be available for widespread use for at least 12 to 18 months.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, face masks have become a scarce––but also a political campaign tool in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy parties bought masks from Honduras to distribute to the community. Pro-Beijing politicians did the same shortly after. Local pro-democracy councillor Eason Chan told the Agence France Presse that giving free face masks forced the pro-Beijing party to “up their game” to reinforce their local support. Since the beginning of the protests in March 2019, the pro-Beijing block lost a lot of support.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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