Refugee camp in western Burma

The Rohingya who are on the run in Burma are in great need of humanitarian aid. Photo: DFID Burma (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Current debate

Debaters are calling for emergency humanitarian aid in Yemen and Myanmar

This week's debate draws attention to two current conflicts that call for urgent international humanitarian support - the war in Yemen and the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar. In addition, Swedish aid to Tanzania and several threats to women's rights are discussed.

The war in Yemen and the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar are in great need of the support of the international community in times of severe humanitarian catastrophe, several debaters write. In Yemen, the civilian population is soon facing a famine - hospitals and infrastructure are being attacked, ports and airports are being blocked and more than a million people have been affected by a cholera epidemic last year.

Margareta Wahlström, chair of the Red Cross, demands that the outside world do more and that international humanitarian law is respected by all parties involved. Despite the fact that the Red Cross and the Red Crescent are in place, Wahlström writes that "the help we and other humanitarian organizations provide is far from sufficient and will never be able to solve the humanitarian crisis".

However, the Social Democrat Anders Österberg is skeptical that Wahlström - in an attempt to point out the acute nature of the humanitarian catastrophe - expressed that "it is promising that peace talks are planned in Sweden in the next month, but getting to the negotiating table is not enough". In a debate article in Aftonbladet, Österberg answers and writes: "I am completely convinced that the precondition for coming from the conflict to a solution is precisely to initiate talks between the parties".

The humanitarian situation in Myanmar is also difficult. There is a genocide against the minority group Rohingya. Dorothy Sang of the aid organization Oxfam writes in today's ETC that 2 people have now been sent back to Myanmar from the refugee camps in Bangladesh. The decision to send the refugees back has been criticized by the UN. Sang calls on the international community to work for the rights of the Rohingya and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Tanzania has also been on the agenda over the past week. There are divided opinions about Swedish aid to the country, where the democratic space has diminished and homosexuals are increasingly being persecuted. Environmentalist Annica Hjerling writes in Expressen that the development is worrying, but defends continued Swedish aid. "If Sweden were to withdraw all aid to Tanzania now, we would abandon LGBTQI people, human rights activists, journalists, women and girls in a very vulnerable situation," she writes.

DN's editorial board, on the other hand, wants to reconsider Swedish development assistance "to this country and to all other oppressive regimes".

Women's rights have also been highlighted over the past week. In an editorial in Aftonbladet, the author Pernilla Ericson writes about the threat that abortion law faces in several parts of the world. She tells of her meeting with Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, who suffered a miscarriage but was sentenced to 30 years in prison for an abortion in El Salvador. "The outside world needs to hear about the injustices we are facing," Vásquez was quoted as saying by Ericson.

Petra Tötterman Andorff, Secretary General of Kvinna till Kvinna, writes that "The world's women's rights defender is under attack." and calls on Sweden to put pressure on "regimes that do not protect women's rights defenders". Amineh Kakabahev, Member of Parliament for the Left Party, writes in Svenska Dagbladet that she wants to see a global ban in the UN on surrogacy, as according to her it is to use the woman's body as a commodity.

Demands for outside support for two acute humanitarian disasters

"Yes, talks are the solution to the conflict in Yemen"
Anders Österberg, Aftonbladet

"The people of Yemen are starving to death - we must act"
Margareta Wahlström, Aftonbladet

"Do not force Rohingya back to oppression"
Dorothy Sang, ETC.

Swedish aid to Tanzania

"Our assistance helps LGBTQI people"
Annica Hjerling, Expressen

"Tax money should not go to persecuting homosexuals"
The editorial staff, Dagens Nyheter 

Current threats to women's rights and organization

"Hold on to the right to abortion with everything you have"
Pernilla Ericson, Aftonbladet

"Kakabaveh: Prohibit Surrogacy"
Amineh Kakabahev, Svenska Dagbladet

"The world's women's rights defender is under attack"
Petra Tötterman Andorff, Southern Sweden

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