Turkey curbs flights to Belarus to ease migrant crisis
Polish soldiers and police watch migrants at the Poland/Belarus border near Kuznica, Poland
Turkey banned Syrian, Yemeni, and Iraqi citizens from flights to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Friday which closed one of the main routes into the region for migrants. There are thousands of Middle Eastern migrants sheltering in freezing conditions on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, which both refuse to allow entry. The European Union accuses Belarus of intentionally creating the crisis by distributing visas in the Middle East, flying in migrants, and pushing them to illegally cross the border into the EU. Belarus denies this but says that it cannot help in resolving the issue unless the EU eases sanctions put in place following President Alexander Lukashenko's violent crackdown on protests in 2020. Lukashenko has also threatened to cut off Russian gas supplied to Europe through Belarusian territory, though Russia has said that it was not consulted on this and that it will fulfill its delivery contracts. Despite this, Russia continues to show support for Belarus and is holding joint military drills with the country. Ukraine announced on Friday that it is sending border guards and national guard officers to Poland to share intelligence on dealing with the migrant crisis.
COP26: China and US agree to boost climate co-operation
US climate envoy John Kerry said that "cooperation is the only way to get this done"
The US and China agreed to work together over the next decade in the fight against climate change. The joint declaration addresses issues such as methane emissions, the transition to clean energy, and de-carbonization. US President Biden and Chinese President Jinping are expected to meet virtually as early as next week. This is important symbolically in that two of the world’s largest rivals have acknowledged the need for cooperation regarding climate change. This cooperation between the world’s two largest CO2 emitters could be pivotal in reducing CO2 levels to net-zero. Because there still exists a major gap between the actions countries have taken to limit emissions and what scientists say is necessary, it is essential to limit carbon within the next nine years. The agreement does fall short on some issues such as cutting back on domestic coal production in China and phasing out of petrol and diesel-powered cars in both countries.
Europe becomes COVID-19's epicentre again, some countries look at fresh curbs
Europe has again become the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreaks. The continent accounts for over half of the average seven-day infections globally and about half of the most recent deaths. European countries are taking up and planning measures to slow the spread among fears that the pandemic will derail economic recovery. Virologists and public health experts say that low vaccine turnout in some regions, waning immunity among those with early inoculations, and complacency over mask-wearing and social distancing are primarily to blame. Most EU countries are focusing on getting extra shots to the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Central and Eastern European governments have taken more drastic action to combat the spread. Latvia, one of the least vaccinated countries in the EU, has been especially strict as its parliament voted on Friday to ban unvaccinated lawmakers from voting on or discussing legislation.