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Migrants trek through the Darien Gap towards the border with Panama.

Yader Guzman / Hans Lucas

Sexual assault spikes in the Darién Gap

Some 460,000 migrants – triple last year's number – have made the treacherous, 10-day trek through the Darién Gap, the jungle linking Panama and Colombia and the only land-based pathway connecting South and Central America, this year. The vast majority were fleeing the economic crisis and authoritarian rule of Venezuela.
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Migrants gather near the border wall


Biden is (re)building the wall

No, you haven’t gone back in time to 2016. Yes, the US government is building a wall along the southern border.

The Biden administration announced this week that it will bypass environmental laws to fast-track 20 miles of barrier construction in the Rio Grande Valley – where 245,000 border arrests were made over the last year.

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Tire tubes used as improvised lifebuoys, as well as shoes and clothes, lie in a boat in which migrants from the northern coast of Africa crossed the Mediterranean Sea to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Hard Numbers: Migrant boat tragedy, Polish border build-up, new COVID strain, Indian lottery winners

41: The Italian Red Cross and rescue groups reported Wednesday that 41 people drowned after a boat carrying migrants capsized off Tunisia in rough seas. Just four survivors were rescued.

2,000: Poland announced on Wednesday it will send 2,000 troops, double the expected number, to patrol its border with Belarus. The larger-than-expected mobilization may be intended to discourage fighters from Russia’s Wagner Group from making trouble inside Poland, a NATO member. It may also be to stop Belarus and Russia from pushing Middle Eastern and African migrants across the border.

17: The EG.5 variant, known as Eris, now makes up about 17% of all COVID cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control, making it the most dominant current strain of the disease. Fortunately, it does not appear to cause serious illness.

100 million: Eleven female sanitation workers in the Indian state of Kerala have won a 100 million-rupee ($1.2 million) lottery jackpot. The women have vowed not to quit their jobs collecting non-biodegradable waste from households and public bins and prepping it for recycling.

Line Graphs of the number of migrants accepted into various EU countries

Ico Oliveira

The Graphic Truth: Where are Migrants Going in the EU?

Migration to Europe has been climbing over the last two decades, with migrants largely coming from the Middle East, North Africa, and – since 2022 – Ukraine. While some EU countries have opened their arms to migrants, others have erected fences and closed borders. We take a look at how the number of migrants EU countries have accepted in recent years.

Migrants use their phones to access the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in a shelter near the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico February 24, 2023.

REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Hard Numbers: Glitchy US border app, Japanese no-show canned, Paris stinks, Argentina’s inflation hits triple digits

2.5: A new US government app meant to speed the processing of asylum-seekers and other migrants arriving from Mexico has a rating of just 2.5 stars on Google play. Small wonder, given that the app is reportedly glitchy, difficult to use, and creates opportunities for scammers to prey on migrants and their families.

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What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees?
What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees? | GZERO World

What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees?

The recent tragedy of the migrant boat that sunk off the coast of Italy and killed 64 people raises an important question: are European leaders taking the right approach to prevent migrants from risking their lives in the first place? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer and David Miliband, the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, discuss the complex and urgent nature of the migrant crisis and the need for effective solutions.

Miliband notes that migration is not just a European issue but a global one, with people “on the move more than ever before” due to persecution, war, and disaster. He emphasizes the need to “balance fairness with humanity” and “fulfill legal as well as moral obligations for people who have been driven from their homes.”

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Israelis demonstrate during "Day of Resistance" as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist coalition government presses on with its contentious judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

What We’re Watching: Chaos in Israel, Franco-British thaw, Trump's deepening legal woes, Biden’s budget battle

Israel’s unraveling

The situation in Israel continued to unravel on Thursday when protesters against the government’s planned judicial overhaul took to the streets in a national “day of resistance.” In a bid to create a balagan (state of chaos), Israelis blocked the Ayalon Highway, a main artery leading to Tel Aviv’s international airport, to try to disrupt PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s planned trip to Rome (he got out)! Indeed, footage shows police using heavy-handed tactics to break up the crowds, but that didn’t appear tough enough for far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who proceeded to fire the Tel Aviv district commander, decrying police for “not fulfilling my orders.” Israel's attorney general has since ordered the freezing of the police chief's ouster, citing legal concerns. Meanwhile, in a very rare emotional speech, President Isaac Herzog – who holds a mostly ceremonial position and remains above the fray of day-to-day politics – urged the government to ditch the judicial reforms. Crucially, things took a turn for the worse Thursday night when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on gatherers in central Tel Aviv, wounding at least three people. With deepening twin crises at home – a constitutional catastrophe and deteriorating security situation – Bibi is going to have a harder time than ever keeping his discordant far-right coalition intact.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson pose after signing a document during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

What We're Watching: Turkey backs off, Texas migrant tragedy, bombshell Jan. 6 testimony, Iran woos BRICS

Turkey opens NATO door to Finland and Sweden

The first day of the NATO Summit in Madrid brought concrete results. Turkey, Finland, and Sweden came to an agreement that addresses Ankara’s security concerns and paves the path to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. The Nordics’ joint bid for membership, inspired by Russian aggression in Ukraine, was at the center of the summit’s agenda. Accession demands consensus, and Turkey had raised objections, making security-centric demands from Stockholm and Helsinki that threatened to slow the process. In response, Sweden and Finland have suspended a 2019 arms embargo against Ankara and agreed to cut assistance to the People’s Protection Units, an armed group affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, Turkey’s enemy. Some of Ankara’s requests still need to be discussed, but Turkey is walking away from its veto option, swinging the doors open to Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has said the expansion doesn’t threaten Russia but warned that Moscow would respond to any extension of military infrastructure into that region.

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