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International news briefs

Astana, Kazakhstan – Monday, February 19

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev approved on a decree concerning an alphabet switchover without warning last Monday, likely in response to the unpopularity of the new apostrophe-heavy alphabet adopted last October. Nazarbayev signed off on a 32-letter version of the alphabet that almost nobody has seen before, and ordered officials to ensure that the alphabet be implemented within the next seven years. The new alphabet contains fewer apostrophes, which have been replaced in favour of accents. Prior to the decree, Kazakhstan used a 42-letter Cyrillic alphabet. The government has advocated for the new alphabet which they claim will be better suited for typing on computers, in order to boost to country’s modernization. Prior to the most recent alphabetical switch, one Kazakh newspaper, Arqalyq Habary, was already publishing with the new alphabet. In the Gabit Musirepov district of the North Kazakhstan region, authoritieshave already began issuing letters to residents in the new 32-letter script. They will now have to change their alphabet again.

Written with material from the official website of the President of Kazakhstan, and Eurasianet.


Lima, Peru – Wednesday, February 21

At least 44 people are dead after a bus fell approximately 200 meters into a ravine in Ocoña District of the Arequipa region in southern Peru. The operator Rey Latino stated that the bus was carrying around 45 people, but police stated that there were probably more passengers on the bus because additional passengers boarded en route and did not appear in the initial register, suggesting the official death toll with increase. The bus also did not have permission to drive on the Panamericana Sur highway, its permit having expired in 2016 according to the Regional Management of Transportation of Arequipa. Road accidents are common in Peru, where roads are not considered to be safe, and bus drivers lack training. Nevertheless, Peruvian judicial authorities and police claim that these high crash rates are due to the speeding and imprudence of drivers. This is the second most deadly crash of the year, however: in early January, a bus collided with a truck careened off a cliff, killing 48.

Written with material from El Mercurio.


Victoria, Seychelles – Thursday, February 22

A new marine protected area has been created in the Indian Ocean around the Seychelle islands. The zone is 210,000-square kilometres wide, an area equivalent to nearly half of the Black Sea. The government’s goal in creating this sanctuary is to protect the sea and the archipelago’s economy, which is heavily reliant on fishing and tourism. The new zone is the result of a financial deal brokered by American NGO The Nature Conservancy. The NGO levied $21 million to pay off an outstanding sovereign debt, in exchange for conservation funding to protect this ocean-dependent nation. Environment minister Didier Dogley said that by 2020, close to a third of Seychelles waters will be protected against deep-sea mining, dredging, oil and gas exploration, and unregulated and illegal fishing. Like many other oceanic nations, Seychelles is one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification, as its economy is almost totally reliant on marine resources.

Written with material from AFP.


Juba, South Sudan – Friday, February 23

South Sudan’s northern state of Tonj was recently the site of brutal clashes that caused the death of at least 30 people. The new governor of the state, appointed two days earlier, blamed tribal clashes between two Dinka tribes subclans, but also vengeance following cattle raids. These conflicts remain, according to the politician, “the major challenges in the state.” On the same day, UN investigators said they had identified more than 40 South Sudanese officials and military officers alledgedly responsible of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The civil war started five years ago in 2013, following a split between President Kiir and his former Vice President, Riek Machar. Tens of thousands of people have died, and between 2.5 and 4 million people have been displaced.

Written with material from IOL.