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Women and children wait for food distribution from the United Nations World Food Programme in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan, back in 2017.

REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo

South Sudan customs dispute taxes a long-suffering population

Even as three-quarters of South Sudan’s people face starvation, a squabble between the government and the UN over import taxes is leaving vital aid trucks stuck at the border.

The background: South Sudan’s trade ministry ordered this week that all goods trucks entering the East African country must pay a $300 tax. The measure was meant to ensure that the government got its share of revenue from imports that are often underbilled or misrepresented. There was supposed to be a carveout for UN aid vehicles, but if so, officials at the Ugandan border didn’t get the memo – at least not yet.

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Why the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals are not on track to be financed soon
Why the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals are not on track to be financed soon | Global Stage

Why the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals are not on track to be financed soon

The world faces a sustainable development crisis, and while most countries have strategies in place, they don’t have the cash to back them up. How far off track are we with the financing needed to support the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, ranging from quality education and health care to climate action and clean water?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 4, 2023.

Sputnik/Sergei Guneev/Pool via REUTERS

No pain, no grain

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weekend meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has failed to revive the Black Sea grain deal. The UN-brokered agreement, which guaranteed safe passage for Ukrainian grain shipments to markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, had been on hold since July. Russia refused to extend the deal, citing a failure to honor a parallel agreement to remove obstacles to its food and fertilizer exports.

On Monday, Putin reiterated this demand. "We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal … we will do this as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.” Moscow is also demanding that the Russian Agricultural Bank be reconnected to the SWIFT international payments system, from which it was cut off as part of EU sanctions for its invasion. The UN had offered to reinstate this relationship in July to keep the grain deal alive.

Erdogan offered his own prescription for reviving the deal: “Ukraine needs to especially soften its approaches in order for it to be possible for joint steps to be taken with Russia" and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba “took note” of Erdogan’s position, but added, "We should not continue to be hostages to Russian blackmail, where Russia creates problems and then invites everyone to solve them.”

To deflect criticism that Russia is starving developing nations of much-needed food, Russia is set to supply up to one million tons of grain to Turkey at reduced prices for processing at Turkish plants and shipping to countries “most in need.” Putin is also brokering a deal to send free grain to six African countries: Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea, and Central African Republic.

But Russia’s moves aren’t all bread and roses: They will also conveniently purchase political capital for Russia’s war in Ukraine and expand its influence over the African continent, an arena where Russia has been increasingly active in recent years.

Smoke rises next to sunbeams and umbrellas as a wildfire burns, at the beach of the village of Dikella in the region of Evros, Greece.

Reuters

Hard Numbers: Greece’s wildfire tragedy, Pakistan’s cable car nightmare, Japan’s radioactive water, Sudan’s hungry children

18: The Greek fire service said Tuesday that 18 bodies, possibly of migrants, were found in an area of the Dadia forest along the Turkish border that’s been hit by wildfires. Local media have reported the findings of eight additional bodies – if confirmed, this would bring the total to 26. Large swaths of southern Europe are fighting wildfires and on alert due to extreme heat and high winds.

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Untangling the global water crisis
The Global Water Crisis: UN-Water Chair On Solutions for the Future | GZERO World

Untangling the global water crisis

Access to clean and drinkable water is a significant challenge all over the world. UN-Water Chair Gilbert Houngbo joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to shed light on the complexity of the issue, which he says is “a combination of bad governance and lack of resources.”

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With a little Kelp from our friends!
With a little Kelp from our friends! | GZERO World

With a little Kelp from our friends!

Kelp! It's slimy, it's tangly, it's ... delicious! And experts say this nearly magical sea plant can help tackle two big global challenges: climate change and hunger. To learn more, GZERO Reports headed out to an oyster farm in Long Island to meet Michael Doall, associate director of shellfish research at Stony Brook University. Doall, dubbed the "Johnny Appleseed of Sugar Kelp," explains how the bounty of the sea can help address some of the problems we are creating on land.

This clip is part of an upcoming episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Check local US television listings to watch, or find the episode on GZERO's YouTube channel.

Food emergency: what to do when people are hungry now
Global Hunger Is About to Get a Lot Worse — We Need to Get on Top of It | GZERO World

Food emergency: what to do when people are hungry now

On global issues, the international community must walk and chew gum at the same time. It needs to learn to deal with simultaneous crises that play off each other, says UN Foundation President Elizabeth Cousens.

That's why we dropped the ball on hunger.

Now the needs are huge and growing. We haven't seen a lot of images of starvation yet, but they are coming, Cousens tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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"We're in this together" — UN Foundation chief
Let’s Back Spirit of “We’re in This Together” — UN Foundation Chief | GZERO World

"We're in this together" — UN Foundation chief

Global development has been going backwards since even before the pandemic, and there's no end in sight.

Extreme poverty is now rising again, and fraught politics at every level is making it harder to fight inequality around the world.

But it's not an irreversible trend, UN Foundation President Elizabeth Cousens tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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