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World News Explained

RFI France

An in-depth look at one of the stories grabbing the headlines on the world stage.

An in-depth look at one of the stories grabbing the headlines on the world stage.
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Paris, France


RFI France


An in-depth look at one of the stories grabbing the headlines on the world stage.




World news explained - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas holds first talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has held what he called "positive" talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha. This meeting was the first since the rival movements signed a reconciliation deal last month in Gaza City. Israel, regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation and says it will not take part in any Palestinian peace talks backed by Hamas. Abbas's Fatah movement, which formally controls the West Bank, has been locked in years of bitter rivalry with Meshaal's Hamas since the...


World news explained - MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia reaches 111

The authorities in Saudi Arabia say the number of cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or Mers, in the country has more than doubled since the start of April. The health ministry also said over the weekend that it has seen the biggest daily increase of the mysterious syndrome also known as Mers. Earlier, the US confirmed its first case in a man who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for Mers and researchers are scrambling to...


World news explained - Obama, Merkel discuss Ukraine crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday. The crisis in Ukraine and further sanctions against Russia are expected to dominate the talks - Merkel's first in the US since the extent of the NSA’s eavesdropping was revealed nearly a year ago. Mark Fischer, managing director of the European office for the German Marshall Fund, comments.


World news explained - Syrian air raids hit Lebanese border

Latest reports from Syria say government forces have launched air raids right up to Lebanon's border town of Arsal. Observers say this is a significant advance in the Assad regime's drive to seal the Lebanese border and sever rebel supply lines. Earlier this week, Syria exchanged cross-border shelling with Israel. RFI spoke to Mona Yacoubian, a Middle East expert, about whether these attacks are likely to further escalate.


World news explained - UN Rapporteur says much more to be done on human rights in Myanmar

The United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, has presented his final report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Quintana is to be replaced at the end of the month. He has visited Myanmar nine times since his mandate began in 2008. In that time, the country has held elections - in 2011 - and has begun to implement reforms. Quintana highlighted improvements in some areas, but said a lot remains to be done in Myanmar to meet UN Human Rights standards. Ian...


World news explained - Syrian forces take full control of the rebel bastion Yabroud

The Syrian military’s recapture of Yabroud - the last rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border – has dealt the opposition a heavy strategic and symbolic blow. The town had been a rebel bastion since early in the Syrian uprising that began in March 2011. It also sits along a critical route for weapons for the rebels, pro-Assad militias, and Hezbollah. Fleeing Syrian rebels are now trying to reach hide-outs along the nearby Lebanese border. Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East...


World news explained - Women and children in war zones in Syria

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the start of the war in Syria. The violence has created a refugee crisis in Syria with no end to the conflict in sight. Women and children have been particularly affected by the violence. Leila Zerrougui, an expert on Children in armed conflict, describes the situation in some of the world's war zones.


World news explained - Russia’s historical relationship with Crimea

Russia’s intervention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea has been making headlines all over the world. RFI spoke with Edith Clowes, a specialist in Slavic studies at the University of Virginia, about Russia’s historical relationship with Crimea and how Russia’s national identity has long been tied to geographical conquest.


World news explained - Will Crimea join the Russian federation on 16 March referendum?

Ukraine's interim prime minister Arseney Yatsenyuk is due to arrive in the US later today for talks with President Obama at the White House. His visit comes on the eve of a proposed referendum in Crimea which theatens to highten international tensions over Ukraine. RFI spoke to Vasily Astrov, a Ukraine specialist about the implications of the referendum, and about the difficulties Kiev has in finding its own way between Russia and the West.


World news explained - Marine protection zones fail to protect endangered species

A study published this month has found that fish numbers in marine parks increase on average eight times after they have been in place for at least a decade. The landmark survey of sea life in 40 countries, found little difference between most conservation zones and areas opened to fishing. The study also found that only nine of the 87 marine-protected areas surveyed worldwide were functioning optimally. Graham Edgar, author if the research and Professor at the Institute for Marine Studies...


World news explained - Saudis, Bahrain, UAE withdaw Qatar ambassadors

Three Gulf monarchies recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in an unprecedented escalation of tension with fellow-members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The three countries accuse Qatar of interference in their internal affairs because it is a perceived supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in most Gulf states. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla comments on the biggest rift the council has ever experienced.


World news explained - What will China's National People's Congress decide?

The yearly session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), opens this Wednesday and will last for two weeks. The gathering serves as a show of unity of the nation and the ruling party. Overshadowing the NPC is an attack that took place over the weekend in Kunming city, where some 30 people were killed. China-watcher Michael Dillon discusses what kind of policy we can expect from Beijing in the coming year.


World news explained - Growing unease in Georgia over Crisis in Ukraine

The people of Georgia, another former Soviet state which borders the Black Sea and which has had its own problems with Russia, are following the developments in Ukraine with a sense of growing unease. RFI spoke to Tornike Gordatze, a former minister of Georgia, about the situation in Ukraine and its effects on the region.


World news explained - Ukrainians prepare for war

Ukraine began mobilising for war on Sunday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he had the right to invade the country. Western officials, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, said there would be a strong response to any Russian action and Nato allies are pushing for the deployment of international observers to Ukraine. RFI spoke to Leysa Orobets, a Ukrainian member of parliament, about her hopes after months of leading the protests.


World news explained - Myanmar women join ranks of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong

The first legal group of migrant domestic workers from Myanmar has arrived in Hong Kong. About 200 women from Myanmar are expected in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, over the next three months. Myanmar changed its migration law last year enabling recruitment agencies to arrange jobs for them. Concerns over the possible ill-treatment of migrant domestic workers increased recently after an Indonesian maid was allegedly scalded and beaten repeatedly, over an eight-month period by her...


World news explained - Brazilian performance artist Mauricio Ianès questions cultural policies at Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Being trilingual helps a performance artist from Brazil in his work, which questions cultural policies. And Mauricio Ianès is doing it in an exhibition at the part-public and part-privately funded Palais de Tokyo, in an exhibition called Des choses en plus, des choses en moins - (Something More, Something Less) - organised by the French National Centre for Visual Arts. Funnily enough, this artist plays on discretion to get himself noticed.


World news explained - Google maps global deforestation online

A new, interactive database that maps deforestation around the world is now online. The website, Global Forest Watch, shows deforestation around the world in high resolution and with frequent updates. It is a collaboration between Google, governments and environmentalists with the aim of ramping up enforcement against a major contributor to climate change. RFI spoke to Nigel Sizer, the director of the Global Forest Initiative, the organisation behind this project.


World news explained - Iran nuclear negotiators agree timetable

Iran and six big powers have agreed on a timetable and framework for a permanent nuclear agreement. Negotiators are due to meet again next month. Western powers want to see Iran scale back its nuclear activity, while Iran's priority is to get sanctions removed. Professor Arshin Moghaddam, an expert on Iranian politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, talks about the agreement.


World news explained - Floods, gales, big freeze - blame the jet stream

Volatile weather conditions in northern Europe, the United States and Canada have been worsened by what meteorologists call the jet stream, fuelled partly by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. The observation could be as a result of the recent warming of the Arctic. Helen Brown, a forecaster at the Met Office in the UK, explains how the jet stream has contributed to recent turbulent weather.


World news explained - Political prisoners excluded from Turkmenistan amnesty

The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, has pardoned 859 prisoners this week as part of celebrations for Flag Day on 19 February, a national holiday in Turkmenistan. However, political prisoners are not included in the amnesty. RFI speaks to Aaron Rhodes, a founder of Freedom Rights Project, a human rights research group.