This week Germany and Austria send medical aid to Portugal amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Russian opposition lead Alexi Navalny is jailed, and Myanmar's military takes control of the country, detaining a number of leading politicians.
Europe’s political row over delayed vaccine deliveries has abated somewhat, but there is still frustration in the EU over the slow pace of vaccinations.
Mario Draghi has accepted a request from Italy’s president to attempt to form a coalition government as the country battles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and the most severe economic crisis in its postwar history.
The surge in coronavirus cases across the country continues, with another 9,000 cases in 24 hours and the number of patients in hospital rising to 6,684.
Germany and Austria are offering medical help to Portugal, which is being hit severely by the third coronavirus wave. Austria will treat intensive care patients, to be flown from Portugal, to help ease the pressure on Portuguese hospitals. Germany has flown a team of doctors and other specialists to Portugal, along with field hospital beds and ventilators.
Russian opposition leader Alexi Navalny has been jailed despite protests across the country. He had returned to Russia after treatment in Germany for Novichok poisoning.
The country has expelled three EU diplomats, accusing them on taking part in ‘unauthorised’ rallies supporting Navalny.
Seven orphans who were kidnapped from an orphanage on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja two weeks ago, have been released. Gunmen stormed the orphanage in Abuji area on 23 January and kidnapped children aged between 10 and 13.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Nigerian finance minister, is to become the first woman, and the first African, head of the WTO.
Tanzania’s health ministry has denied claims being circulated on social media that hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. The government has repeatedly been accused of playing down the threat posed by Covid-19. The country says it has no plans to vaccinate, instead advising the public to make a concoction from onions, ginger, lemons and green peppers.
Ugandan opposition politician Bobi Wine has filed a Supreme Court lawsuit against the outcome of last month's presidential election, which he says was rigged. A lawyer for his party, the National Unity Platform, has said they wan the poll to be re-run.
Uganda’s president has ordered the suspension of a multi-million dollar fund backed by European nations, after complaining that it is run by foreigners and undermines Uganda’s sovereignty. In a letter, Mr Museveni ordered the police to investigate how the finance ministry had allowed foreign donors to have what he called a ‘free rein’ to choose which activities to finance, without needing the consent of the government. Its suspension could have a dramatic impact as it supports the work of local groups that focus on democracy and good governance.
A British-Irianian academic sentenced to nine years and three months in jail in Iran for co-operating with ‘a hostile state power’ has smuggled himself out of Iran, escaping over the country’s treacherous mountainous border, and is now in Britain.
Huge numbers of people gathered for the funerals of two prominent rabbis in Jerusalem, breaking the coronavirus restrictions announced by the government. Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz has criticised ‘unequal enforcement’ of rules over the gathering.
Asia and Oceania
At least 71 homes have been destroyed in a bushfire raging out of control near Perth. Hundreds of residents have been told to ignore the lockdown and move to evacuation centres as more warnings are issued.
At least nine people were killed and another 150 are missing and feared dead in northern India after a glacier crashed into a dam, causing major floods. Authorities said that more than 16 people were trapped inside a tunnel.
Indonesia bans mandatory religious attire in schools. The move comes after a Christian student was forced to wear a Muslim hijab in class.
The military have taken control and imposed a state of emergency, detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials. The army alleges that there were ‘huge discrepancies’ November’s election. The country has blocked the internet as it is being used to oppose the coup. Nationwide citizens have been holding noisy demonstrations, banging pots and pans, as well as taking to the streets to protest.
Vietnam’s ruling Community Party has re-elected its 76-year-old chief Nguyen Phu Trong for a rare third five-year term. He received an exemption to contest as he was above the age limit of 65.
Social media footage which shows a police officer in a southern Chilean town shooting dead a street artist has sparked violent protests. The incident took place after the juggler refused to cooperate with a police search by two uniformed men.
Cuba has announced that it is opening up its economy to private businesses. This is a major reform to the communist country’s state-controlled economy, which is struggling to deal with the worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union.
President Biden lays out his foreign policy goals: making the US a global leader again, pulling back its participation in the war in Yemen and confronting Russia and China.
Virginia votes to abolish the death penalty. It is likely to become the first southern US state to end executions as a punishment.
This week protests occur across the globe from The Netherlands to India, Poland enforces a near-total abortion ban, and Argentina imposes a tax on the super rich.
The EU and AstraZeneca try to resolve the vaccine crisis after the bloc accused AstraZeneca of breaching a ‘binding commitment’ to produce vaccines.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned following weeks of political uncertainty and a split in the governing coalition over his handing of the second wave of COVID-19 and recovery funds from the EU.
Poland enforces a near-total abortion ban. The ban has sparked protests which have been taking place in Polish cities for three nights, with thousands marching through the streets of Warsaw, chanting “freedom, equality, abortion on demand”.
A Moscow judge has rejected opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s appeal against detention. Thousands continue to protest across Russian in support of the detained opposition leader.
There have been protests across several Dutch cities against the new lockdown restrictions, including a nighttime curfew between 9pm and 4:30am. Rioters blew up a pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam, while others burned bikes, looted and vandalized property, and clashed with police. Police have described it as the worst unrest in the Netherlands for decades, with more than 180 arrests.
UK experts back AstraZeneca jab after Germany rules it should not be given to over 65s. Public Health England says the AstraZeneca jab offers “high levels of protection” against Covid-19.
Central African Republic:
Officials in the Central African Republic say government troops have killed 44 rebel fighters who had surrounded the capital, Bagui, in an attempt to overthrow the new administration. The claim comes days after it declared a state of emergency to fight the rebels, who control two-thirds of the country. They dispute the validity of President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s re-election last month.
Democratic Republic of Congo:
MPs in the Democratic Republic of Congo voted out Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba from power. The legislators accused Mr Ilukamba, an ally of former President Joseph Kabila, and his ministers of poor performance. Mr Ilunkamba has formally resigned his position.
An appeals court in The Netherlands has ordered oil giant Shell to pay compensation to three Nigerian farmers whose land was polluted by oil leaks in 2004 and 2005. This is the first time individual farmers who have had their sources of livelihood taken away by the environmental destruction in the Niger Delta hope to get justice.
Hundreds of protestors attempted to reach the parliament building in Tunis in the latest of a series of demonstrations fuelled by frustration over inequality and police abuses. The police attempted to block the rally using water cannons.
On Monday night, Lebanese demonstrators clashed with security forces in Tripoli amid protests over the round-the-clock lockdown. The demonstrators burned tires and threw rocks, to which the police responded with teargas and rubber bullets.
Asia and Oceania
The Australian Open will be allowed to admit up to 30,000 fans a day when it goes ahead in February, Victoria’s minister for sport has announced.
Nine miners have been found dead by rescuers after explosions occurred at a gold mine two weeks ago. The discovery came a day after 11 miners were rescued, having been trapped underground.
A rally against new agriculture laws in India turned violent on Tuesday, after protesting farmers broke through police barricades to storm Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex.
Following a one-day hunger strike, India’s interior ministry have blocked internet services at three locations on the outskirts of Delhi in order to ‘maintain public safety’.
Japanese fishermen kill a minke whale by drowning after he got trapped in their nets.
Argentina imposes a new tax on the super rich to fund Covid relief. It means that those with a personal fortune of over 200 million pesos ($2.4 million) - approximately 12,000 people - will have to pay a one-off tax of at least 2%. It will pay for medical supplies and economic relief measures.
President Biden has scrapped a ban stopping transgender people joining the US military, as well as a policy which blocked US funds from going to international aid groups that support abortion. The president has also signed executive orders on climate change, pausing oil ands gas extraction and agreeing to expand wind energy under a new climate plan.
A US court has agreed a $17m payout to women who accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The money comes from the liquidation of the Weinstein Co, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
Novice investors have taken on Wall Street professions by buying shares of US video games retailer Gamestop, which many hedge funds had seen as a losing bet. As a result, Gamestop saw shares jump from being worth less than $20 each at the end of December to nearly $350 on Wednesday.
This week 11 trapped gold miners are rescued in China, a snowstorm causes a 130-car pile up in Japan, and Joe Biden is inaugurated as America's 46th president.
Pfizer temporarily reduces deliveries of its vaccine to Europe while it upgrades its production capacity. Deliveries are expected to return to normal by 25th January.
The Italian PM wins a crucial vote of confidence in parliament, but failed to secure an overall majority, leaving his ruling coalition severely weakened.
At least three people have died on a suspected gas blast that destroyed four floors of a building in the centre of Madrid.
Tens of thousands of Alexei Navalny supporters protest across Russia in one of the largest demonstrations against Vladimir Putin’s rule in the past decade. More than 1,870 people have been arrested by riot police.
Central African Republic:
The Constitutional Court in the Central African Republic has confirmed the victory of Faustin Archange Touadera in last month’s elections, with 53.16% of votes cast against nearest rival Anicet Georges Dologuele’s 21.69%. The announcement of Mr Touadera’s win came despite repots of a poor voter turnout, and the loss of much of the country to rebel factions.
The country has declared a state of emergency as armed groups try to lay siege to the capital, Bangui. It will last for 15 days and allow the authorities to detain suspects without the authorisation of prosecutors. Rebel factions now control most of the country and are calling for the resignation of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.
Tropical cyclone Eloise has displaced thousands of people and caused severe flooding. In the port city of Beira, 1,000 houses have been totally destroyed and another 3,000 badly damaged.
Doctors in Sudan say more than 80 people have been killed in two days of fighting between rival ethnic groups in the Darfur region. Hundreds more have been injured during the unrest in El Geneina.
Protesters and the police have clashed in the capital, Tunis, as well as in several other cities across the country. More than 600 people have been arrested in Tunis after throwing stones and petrol bombs at police.
At least 32 people have died in a double suicide bombing in a market in Baghdad, the first deadly suicide attack in the city for three years. IS says it was behind the attack.
Israel vaccinates 16 to 18-year-olds ahead of school exams. The country has vaccinated more than a quarter of its population and now high school students are eligible.
Asia and Oceania
Rescuers in China freed 11 gold miners who were trapped hundreds of metres underground for two weeks. The entrance tunnel to the Hushan gold mine in Shandong province collapsed after an explosion on 10 January. A total of 22 miners were trapped in the blast, the cause of which is unknown. At least one died, and it is still not known if the remaining workers are alive underground.
A huge snowstorm struck a highway in Japan, causing a 130-vehicle pile-up, killing one person and injuring at least 17 people.
A huge fire broke out at the site of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, killing at least five people. The company says production of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has not been affected.
Protesting Indian farmers have rejected the government’s offer to suspend agricultural reforms for 18 months. The United Farmer’s Front said they will not stand down from the priests unless the laws are completely repealed.
A surge in coronavirus cases in the city of Manaus has led to a shortage of oxygen, forcing some hospital patients to share cylinders, while others have apparently died in bed from suffocation.
Biden is inaugurated as 46th US president, replacing Donald Trump.
President Biden has begun to undo some of Donald Trump’s key policies, including ending the travel ban on some majority-Muslim countries and other African nations. Mr Biden said the actions of Mr Trump’s administration had undermined national security: ‘They have jeopardised our global network of alliances and partnerships and are a moral blight that has dulled the power of our example the world over. And they have separated love ones, inflicting pain that will ripple for years to come. They are just plain wrong.’
Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX company deliver a record-breaking 143 satellites to orbit on a single rocket flight.
A collection of bright pink seesaws allowing children to play together from both sides of the US-Mexico border has won the prestigious Design of the Year award, with its creators saying they hoped the work encourages people to build bridges between communities.
This week curfews are imposed across the globe as countries attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Uganda cuts off internet access during its presidential election, and Trump becomes the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
France tightens its evening curfew to help combat the virus. The curfew means everyone must be home by 18:00 unless they are returning from school or work.
Former Italian PM Matteo Renzi has triggered a political crisis in the middle of the pandemic, by pulling his ministers out of the government in a row over how to spend billions of euros of EU Covid recovery funding, effectively leaving the ruling coalition without a majority in parliament. The current Prime Minister Giusseppe Conte now has to find a way to prop up his coalition.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government stepped down on Friday after it emerged that officials had wrongly pursued thousands of people over welfare fraud. The government will continue to lead the country’s coronavirus response team in a caretaker capacity.
A global health insurance card is to replace EHIC. UK residents can apply for the new card to access emergency medical care when their EHIC card runs out.
More than 100 people have been killed in renewed ethnic attacks in the restive area of Metekel in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz region. The instability poses a threat to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which has been built on the Blue Nile in Benishangul-Gumuz - and is the subject of tense negotiations over how it will affect Sudan and Egypt, countries which also use the Nile waters.
Fifteen women and six children kidnapped by Islamist militants in the gas-rich northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have been rescued by the army. Most of them had been abducted from the island of Matemo last week, according to police chief Bernadino Rafael. The militants, known locals as al-Shabab, or the youth, have launched a series of attacks on villages and towns in the are over the past three years.
On the eve of the presidential election, authorities in Uganda cut off internet access in the country. This ban came a day after the government ordered a block on all social media and messaging apps. President Yoweri Museveni said this was because Facebook had banned several accounts which backed his ruling party.
Museveni has been declared the winner of the presidential election, despite his main rival Bobi Wine alleging vote-rigging. The election commission has failed to answer how voting results were transmitted during the internet blackout, saying merely ‘we designed our own system’.
An all-day curfew has been imposed, forbidding people from leaving their homes and forcing them to rely on food deliveries.
Asia and Oceania
A former Australian soldier allegedly stormed an animal shelter in full tactical gear and pointed an assault rifle at an animal ranger because he was looking for his lost cat, a Melbourne court has heard. Mr Wittman, 44, faces charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment, armed robbery and firearm offences.
A Huawei patent has been brought to light for a system that identifies people who appear to the of Uighur origin. The company denies selling technology that can identify the ethnic group and plans to reword the patent.
India’s Supreme Court indefinitely puts on hold three controversial farm laws. Farmers have been camped outside capital Delhi demanding the repeal of the laws.
The country begins the world’s biggest Covid vaccine drive. Health and frontline workers are the first in line for jabs at vaccination centres.
An earthquake shook the island of Sulawesi on Friday, injuring hundreds and destroying a hospital. The death toll has now risen to 73.
Japan is hit by severe snow storms, killing at least eight and bringing some regions to a standstill.
Data from Brazil shows Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine to be only 50.4% effective. The UK has banned arrival from South America over concerns about a new variant.
Officials say 170 individuals are being investigated for their involvement in the deadly Capitol riots, and 70 have been charged.
Trump has been impeached for the second time for ‘inciting’ the US Capitol riot. Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats in voting for his impeachment.
The only woman on federal death row is executed. Lisa Montgomery, who killed a pregnant woman and took her baby, died by lethal injection in Indiana.
This week sales of electric cars overtake petrol and diesel in Norway, Pakistan outlaws the use of virginity testing in rape examinations, and Trump supporters storm the US Capitol in a bid to overthrow November's presidential election result.
Europe tightens restrictions as new variant spreads. The World Health Organisation has warned that the rapid spread of the so-called UK Covid variant is ‘alarming’. EU Commission chief Ursula von Der Leyen says the EU has agreed to buy an extra 300 minion doses of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine, doubling the amount of that vaccine available to EU citizens. The EU has also approved the Moderna vaccine.
Norway has become the first country in the world to see the sale of electric cars overtake sales of those powered by petrol.
Storm Filomena has blanketed parts of Spain in heavy snow causing rivers in the south to burst their banks. Four deaths have been reported as a result of the storm.
Boko Haram militants have killed 14 people in an overnight attack in the town of Mozogo, in Cameroon’s Far North region. The jihadist group has in recent days staged several attacks in the same region despite the government’s claims of success against them.
Central African Republic:
The President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, has been re-elected after securing nearly 54% of the votes. Opposition candidates have said the election was riddled with massive irregularities. The vote took place despite an often five by a coalition of armed rebel groups which left thousands unable to cast their ballots.
Democratic Republic of Congo:
More than 20 people have been killed by a rebel group in the east of the country. The civilians, 10 of them women, were ‘savagely’ attacked by militiamen from the Allied Democratic Forces in the mountainous Ruwenzori region.
Ethiopian troops have killed top officials of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in an operation, according to an announcement late Thursday. In a statement, the head of defence force deployment department, Gen Tesfaye Aylew, said nine other TPLF leaders were arrested.
Almost 500 doctors and nurses say they’ve been sacked after going on strike over poor conditions and lack of protective equipment.
Morgues ‘run out of space for Covid-19 victims’. The head of the National Funeral Practitioners Association has said this was ‘something they had never seen before’ and they were working under high pressure to cope with the high number of burials due to the pandemic.
Saudia Arabia and allies restore ties with Qatar: the nations agreed to ‘set our differences aside’ at a Gulf summit, the Saudi foreign minister says. UAE are to restore Qatar trade links ‘within a week’.
Asia and Oceania
A court in China has jailed 17 people for smuggling more than £20m worth of pangolin scales. The gang had been trafficking skin from pangolins from Nigeria to China, disguising the animals’ scales as slices of dried ginger. Some studies suggest that the coronavirus might have jumped from pangolins to humans.
More than 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have been arrested in the biggest crackdown since China imposed a new law.
Boeing 737 plane crashes in Indonesia. The passenger plane carrying 62 people is suspected to have plunged into the sea minutes after take-off. The black boxes have been located, and signals have been detected which officials think show the location of the Boeing 737’s flight recorders.
Pakistan court outlaws ‘virginity tests’, ruling that that ‘two-finger’ tests in rape cases are ‘humiliating’ and unscientific.
Flash floods have killed at least four people in the Bolivian city of Sucre. Following a heavy hailstorm which lasted about half an hour, some of the city’s steep streets became fast-flowing rivers, dragging along cars, buses and market stalls.
The New York Stock Exchange reverses its decision to delist Chinese telecoms following ‘further consultation’ with regulators.
As lawmakers met to confirm Joe Biden’s victory, violent Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, breaking through barricades and entering the building. The protesters were seen walking through the building, waving flags and clashing with security. At a rally before the riot began Trump falsely told supporters that the election had been rigged, referring to the counting of ballots as ‘explosions of bullshit’. The events have sparked dismay and criticism of America’s politics and leader, as leaders from around the world call for a peaceful transfer of power in Washington. Joe Biden says the difference in how Capitol rioters and Black Lives Matters protestors were treated is ‘unacceptable’.
The US democrats plan to introduce an article of impeachment against President Trump for his role in the invasion of the US Capitol. They accuse Trump of encouraging a riot in Congress in which five people died.
Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”.
Congress confirms Joe Biden’s victory, hours after violent protesters stormed the Capitol building.
This week the UK officially completes its separation from the EU, a strong earthquake causes destruction in Croatia, and Argentina legalises abortion in a landmark moment for women's rights.
A strong earthquake hits central Croatia, killing at least seven people and causing significant destruction in Petrinja, a town southeast of the capital Zagreb. 4.8 and 4.7 magnitude aftershocks have caused even further damage.
Ireland moves to highest level of Covid restrictions, with household visits banned, non-essential retail shut, and a travel limit imposed.
Seven bodies have been recovered after a landslide that destroyed homes in Ask village, near Oslo. Three people are said to still be missing.
Spain and the UK agree to keep the Gibraltar land border open. The deal enables Spanish workers to continue entering Gibraltar freely.
The post-brexit trade deal is signed, and the UK completes its separation from the EU. The agreement came into force at 23:00 GMT on 31st December.
Central African Republic:
Opposition parties in the Central African Republic have called for an annulment of the recent election saying it was marred by insecurity and fraud. Ten parties, known as the Democratic Opposition Coalition, say only about a third of all voters were able to take part.
Ghana’s main opposition candidate in the 7 December election has filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to annul President Nana Akufo Addo’s re-election. Former president John Mahama has said he lost unfairly to Mr Addo citing electoral irregularities and arguing that both of them did not attain a clear majority. According to the electoral commission Mr Addo garnered 51.59% of the votes while Mr Mahama got 47.37%. The opposition party NDC want the Supreme Court judges to order a re-run of the presidential election.
At least 100 killed in attacks on villages in Niger. The government said suspected jihadists ambushed two villages near Niger’s border with Mali.
South Africa passes one million Covid cases. The rise in cases comes after a new variant of coronavirus is identified in the country. The country has banned indoor and outdoor gatherings and imposed a night curfew until 15 January.
Iran is to pay compensation for victims of the shot-down Ukraine jet. Tehran will give $150,000 to the families of the 176 people killed.
Iran is to boost uranium enrichment to 20%, IAEA says: the move would be Tehran’s most serious breach of an international nuclear deal yet.
A Saudi woman activist is jailed despite international criticism from rights groups and governments. Loujain al-Hathloul was prominent in the campaign to win the right for Saudi women to drive.
At least 22 people have reportedly been killed by an explosion at Aden airport near a plane carrying cabinet ministers.
Asia and Oceania
Covid citizen journalist Zhang Zhan has been sentenced for four years in jail for her reports in Wuhan city.
China approves first general-use Covid vaccine. The Sinopharm vaccine is the first in China to be approved beyond emergency use.
India approves two coronavirus vaccines. It aims to inoculate 300m people this year in one of the world’s largest vaccination campaigns.
Pakistan coal miners killed in IS attack. The miners, who were members of a minority Shia community, were kidnapped by militants and killed.
Argentina legalises abortion: the law allows abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy in the highly Catholic nation.
Trump signs Covid relief and spending package into law after lengthy delay. The measure restores unemployment benefits and averts a partial US government shutdown.
Boeing 737 Max passenger flights return to the skies in US. The plane was grounded in March 2019 after two separate deadly crashes within five months.
The New York Stock Exchange will delist the three Chinese companies based on claimed military links.
This week whilst travel bans cause chaos for lorry drivers in Kent, the UK agrees a trade deal with the EU, and a couple in Malaysia hold a 10,000 guest drive-through wedding.
27 EU nations begin mass coronavirus vaccination programme in a ‘moment of unity’. Care home residents and health staff are first to get the jabs.
Cases of a new Covid variant appear worldwide. Several European nations as well as Canada and Japan detect the variant first reported in the UK.
Nations have begun to impose travel bans on the UK after it reported a more-infectious and ‘out of control’ coronavirus variant. France, Germany and Ireland are among those suspending flights. Dozens of travellers who flew in to Germany from the UK were forced to spend the night at the Hanover and Frankfurt/Main airports, after Germany imposed the new restrictions. Health officials and nurses at Hanover airport, some dressed in full PPE protection suits, administered immediate Covid-19 tests.
After over 3000 lorries are stuck in Kent, France agrees to ease the coronavirus travel ban. EU nationals and those transporting goods internationally can return if they have a recent negative test. Soldiers joined the NHS Test and Trace staff in Kent to carry out rapid tests on the thousands of stranded lorry drivers. However the backlog has meant over 1,500 lorries are still waiting to cross the channel, forcing thousands of lorry drivers to spend Christmas in their cabs.
UK and EU agree post-Brexit trade deal. ‘We have taken back control’ Boris Johnson says while EU chief negotiator calls it ‘a day of relief, but tinged by some sadness’.
Three police offers were killed and a fourth wounded by a gunman in central France. Police were investigating domestic violence in a village, and the suspect has now been found dead.
Portuguese officials have expressed outrage at the slaughter of more than 500 deer and wild boar by 16 Spanish hunters in a hunting zone in the centre of the country. Pictures of the massacre were shared on social media.
Central African Republic:
After rebels seized the town of Bambari in the Central African Republic on Tuesday, it has since been retaken by UN peacekeepers and national security forces. The government has accused the former president, Francois Bozize, of joining up with armed groups in an attempt to stage a coup, which he has denied.
Unknown assailants have killed at least 90 people in a village in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz state. Dozens of civilians have been killed in the state in at least four attacks since September.
Boko Haram kill villagers in an attack on Christmas Eve. The Islamist group also burnt down the church in the Christian village in northeast Nigeria.
South African scientists have said they are working with the World Health Organization to investigate a new variant of coronavirus, currently surging in many parts of the country. Local Scientists say that South Africa’s new variant appears to be unrelated to the one found in the UK.
At least 20 migrants drown after a boat sinks off Tunisia. A search continues for survivors after the boat heading to Italy capsized near the city of Sfax.
Israel makes historic direct commercial flight to Morocco. This follows the two countries’ recent agreement to upgrade their diplomatic relationship. It carried a high-level Israeli delegation for further diplomatic talks.
Asia and Oceania
Australian states and territories have begun enforcing entry bans on Sydney residents amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
An Australian has been saved in a five-day rescue in Antarctica: Australia, China and the US worked together to medically evacuate the expeditioner.
Tokyo Olympic Games sees budget increase: the organisers will spend $900m on coronavirus measures at next year’s event.
Couple holds ’10,000 guest’ drive-through wedding. It took three hours for all guests to exchange a wave and smile with the newly weds.
Mass vaccinations begin in Latin America: Mexico, Chile and Costs Rica become the first countries in Latin America to begin vaccination campaigns.
A Pakistani rights activist has been found dead in Toronto. Karima Baloch, who was living in exile, was named in the BBC’s annual list of 100 inspirational women.
US blacklists a list of Chinese and Russian companies with alleged military ties that restrict them from buying a wide range of US goods and technology. The move is part of a wider push to increase pressure on China before Donald Trump leaves office.
Trump denounces ‘wasteful’ coronavirus aid bill. He asks lawmakers to ‘remove wasteful and unnecessary items’, calling the package ‘a disgrace’. Millions of Americans temporarily lose their unemployment benefits after the deadline for signing passes.
Nashville camper van explodes in ‘intentional act’. Three people were injured in the blast and possible human remains have been found near the site.
An Antarctic research station has reported coronavirus cases, meaning the virus has now reached every continent on the planet.
This week, authorities in Paris have been penalised for hiring too many women, the first coronavirus vaccine has been administered in the US, and more than 300 Nigerian boys return home after being kidnapped from their school last week.
Europe tightens Covid restrictions ahead of Christmas. The Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, among others, will be in lockdown over the festive period after Covid-19 cases spike.
Brexit talks ‘may go on after Christmas’ as an agreement is yet to be finalised with the EU.
Northern Ireland is to get extra £200m in peace funding post-Brexit. It’s on top of £300m announced by the government las year and £105 already pledged by the EU.
Official figures show that Scotland is edging closer to the goal of having 100% of its electricity need generated by renewables.
Paris authorities have been fined for hiring too many women. City mayor Anne Hidalgo mocks the ‘absurd’ penalty for breaking equal employment rules.
One of Epstein's ex-associate is detained over sex case: the modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel faces accusations of rape and human trafficking, French media say.
The Humboldt Forum in Berlin opens amid debate over looted art. One of the exhibits set for the museum next year will be sculptures looted from Nigeria in 1897.
Hungary bans same-sex couples from adopting. A new law says only married couples can adopt, with some exceptions for single relatives.
Italy overtakes UK for worse coronavirus death toll in Europe. It has recorded 65,857 deaths, according to John Hopkins University in the US. Officials from the national statistics bureau ISTAT said total deaths for the year could top 700,000 - something that the organisation’s head, Gian Carlo Blangiardo, said had not happened since the height of the second World War. Travel between regions has been banned but there are calls for stricter measures.
Prime minister Ambrose Dlamini, 52, dies after contracting coronavirus.
The European Union has postponed nearly €90m in budget support payments to Ethiopia due to concerns over the crisis in the Tigray region. The United Nations, however, has announced a $35m emergency aid package for civilians caught up in the fighting. Nevertheless, it has been reported that two million children are cut off from this aid reach.
Malawi has been named country of the year for ‘reviving democracy in an authoritarian region’ by the Economist newspaper. The newspaper cites the nullification of the 2019 presidential election results that were marred by irregularites. The country held a presidential election re-run in June and President Peter Mutharika was beaten by President Lazarus Chakwera.
The number of civilians forced from their homes by conflict in northern Mozambique has quadrupled this year - to 420,000 - according to the United Nations. It links the crisis in Cabo Delgado province not just to attacks by Islamist militants, but to a perceived failure to distribute vast mineral and off-shore gas revenues to the local population.
Boko Haram has said it was behind the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolboys in Nigeria’s north-western Katsina State, hinting at the group’s continued expansive and deadly reach in recent weeks, the private Daily Nigerian website has reported.
Hundreds of the boys kidnapped from the school have been ‘freed’: the authorities say more than 300 are on their way home but it is unclear if all have been freed.
South Africa has announced new restrictions to try to contain a second wave of coronavirus. President Ramaphosa said nearly 1,000 young people had tested positive for the virus after just one day-long beach party. In response, he said, beaches in several provinces, but not those around Cape Town, would be shut during the holidays. A longer curfew will also come into force, and numbers at social gatherings will be capped.
A missing 5,000-year-old piece of the Great Pyramid puzzle has found in a cigar box in Aberdeen. The discover of small wood fragments was made by a staff member at the University of Aberdeen during a collection review.
Libyan forces free 18 fishermen based in Sicily who have been detained since September.
Asia and Oceania
Byron Bay beach ‘all but gone’ in Australia storms. Heavy rain and huge ocean swells batter popular tourist spots, prompting hundreds of calls for help.
New restrictions have been put in place in Sydney as coronavirus outbreak grows. Curbs on gatherings have been announced as authorities urge people to stay at home.
‘Sticky bomb’ kills Kabul’s deputy governor. Mahboobullsh Mohebi is the latest of several officials, journalists and activities to be targeted.
Heavy snow has been falling across Japan, and several snowfall records have been broken including Fujiwara which saw 176cm of snow in 46 hours. On the expressway connecting Tokto with Niigata, more than 1000 people were forced to spend the night in their cars due to road blockages.
New anti-rape law comes int force in Pakistan. The measure aims to speed up convictions and includes chemical castration for rapists.
The first coronavirus vaccine in America has been given to an ICU nurse in New York City.
US imposes sanctions on Turkey over the acquisition of a Russian-made missile defence system.
Biden’s victory is formalised after electors cast votes. The process formally acknowledges the election win, ending Donald Trump’s hope of overturning the result.
Biden’s Cabinet selection include some firsts: Pete Buttigieg would be the first openly LGBT cabinet member, and Deb Haaland would be the first Native American in a cabinet secretary role, overseeing public lands.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Russia for what is being described as the worst-ever cyber espionage attack on the US government. The hack, targeting software made by US firm SolarWinds, was found last week.
This week countries across Europe impose harsher lockdowns, four lions test positive for coronavirus, and farmers in India go on strike over new laws.
After Brexit discussions break up without agreement, the original deadline has been extended as the UK and the EU have agreed to keep talking. The three main sticking points are still open, with tentative progress being made:
Trials to combine Oxford and Sputnik vaccines have begun. The aim is to see whether mixing two vaccines could improve protection against coronavirus.
Writer John Le Carré, author of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ has died age 89 following a short illness.
From Wednesday, Denmark will impose a partial lockdown in the main cities - Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense - and dozens of other areas. The government says the infection rate is rising exponentially. The country will close eating places, sports and entertainment facilities until 3 January.
The French cabinet has approved a bill aimed at tackling radical Islamists after a series of extremist attacks. The draft laws, part of a long-term drive by President Emmanuel Macron to uphold secular values, tightens rules on home-schooling and hate speech. Some critics, both in France and abroad, have accused his government of using it to target religion.
Germany announces a Christmas lockdown as virus spikes. The authorities have been struggling to control a growing number of infections and deaths.
Greece has extended its lockdown until 7th January: schools, restaurants and sports venues are among places shut. Travel between regions is also generally banned.
Moscow distributes the Sputnik V vaccine to 70 clinics, marking Russia’s first mass coronavirus immunisation. The vaccine has been made available to medical workers, teachers and social workers first, as they run the highest risk of exposure to the disease. However, as Sputnik V is still in the midst of trials to check that it’s safe and actually works, some Russians are wary of receiving it.
Four lions test positive for coronavirus. The animals at Barcelona Zoo are thought to have been in contact with an asymptomatic staff member.
Ethiopia has said its federal forces have freed 1,000 soldiers who were ‘kidnapped’ in the northern state of Tigray by fighters linked to the now-overthrown regional administration. The federal government had two weeks ago said the conflict was over, but the UN has warned of an ‘appalling impact on civilians’.
Nana Akufo Addo was declared winner of the presidential election: he won by a slim margin securing 51.59% of the votes, while opposition leader former President John Mahama secured 47.36%. However, the main opposition party has rejected the result claiming there are irregularities. Local and international election monitors have said that the elections were transparent, free and fair.
Around 30,000 nurses and other healthcare workers in Kenya’s public hospitals have gone on strike. Officials from the nurses and clinic officer’s unions say they will not go back to work until all their demands are met - which include more training, protective gear, and compensation for the families of healthcare workers who’ve died from coronavirus.
Gunmen are believed to be holding schoolchildren hostage in north-western Nigeria. It is not clear how many students were abducted from the all-boys school, and how many ran away during the attack and have not yet been found. Nigerian government troops have since surrounded the gunmen’s hideout in a forest. The attackers are thought to be seeking ransom, an aide to President Muhammadu Bihari has said.
South Africa’s health minister has said the country is experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The minister said there was spike in infections among teenagers ‘believed to be due to large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to safety measures.’
EU powers boycott Iran forum over execution. A diplomatic row has blown up over Iran’s execution of pro-opposition journalist Ruhollah Zam. Zam ran a website that Iran accused of inciting violence.
Protestors have blocked roads in Beirut over reports that government subsidies for some basic goods will be cut.
Asia and Oceania
China bans 105 apps including TripAdvisor as the government embarks on an attempt to ‘clean up’ the internet.
A country-wide strike by farmers in India has begun amid a standoff with the government over new farm laws. Taken together, the contentious reforms will loosen rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce - rules that have protected India’s farmers from an unfettered free market for decades. They also allow private buyers to hoard essential commodities for future sales, which only government-authorised agents could do previously. Farmers are mainly concerned that the reforms will eventually lead to the end of wholesale markets and assured prices, leaving them with no backup option.
Parliament’s lower house voted to legalise abortion, but the bill must pass the Senate to become law.
Donald Trump’s Lawyer Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for coronavirus and is in hospital. He has been leading the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
Elon Musk launches the latest prototype of his ‘Mars spaceship’, SpaceX.
Trump rushes to carry out federal executions in his final weeks as president. The executions put Mr Trump on track to be the most prolific execution president in modern history. This includes the first federal execution of a female inmate in 67 years.
A driver has been charged after crashing into BLM protest: six were injured when the car ploughed into a crowd of 50 protesters on Friday in New York City.
President Maduro’s party have won in Venezuela’s legislative elections, after being boycotted by the main opposition parties.
This week Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU continue, Russia begins vaccinations against Covid- 19, and Rome bans horse drawn carriages from its streets.
A new UK immigration system has launched. Applications have opened for people applying for visas to come and work in the UK from 1 January, when free movement from the EU ends.
Following a deadlock in Brexit negotiations, EU sources say the two sides are nearing an agreement on access to UK waters by EU fishing fleets.
Five people including a baby were killed when a drunk man drove a car into a crowded pedestrian area in an apparently deliberate attack in Trier. The driver was identified by police as a 51-year-old German from the Trier area. He was overpowered and arrested at the scene after officers took his car off the road to prevent further deaths.
Italy fines Apple €10 million over iPhone water-resistance claims. The national competition authority, AGCM, found Apple’s claims did not hold up under real world conditions. Instead, the water resistance claims were valid only with pure water in laboratory conditions.
Rome bans horse-drawn carriages from its streets. The city wants to protect the animals, but some have criticised this saying it doesn’t go far enough.
Four policemen are now under criminal investigation over the beating of black music producer Michel Zecler in Paris. The assault happened at his studio earlier in November and the video surfaced last week. There have since been huge protests across France against Article 24 of a security bill, which aims to regulate how people share film or photos of police. Christopher Castaner, the head of President Emmanuel Macrons’ group of centrist MPs in parliament, said Article 24 ‘will be completely rewritten and a new version will be submitted’.
A rare excavation south of Oslo will provide new details about Viking culture.
Covid vaccinations begin in Moscow; the home-grown Sputnik vaccine is being used.
Aid agencies say that a low cost strawberry-flavoured tablet for children living with HIV will be rolled out in African countries next year. It is to be the first generic paediatric version of a key antiretroviral therapy which will even be available for babies.
Tigray politicians release thousands of federal soldiers. The officials said they had been part of the army’s northern command but were detained when Tigrayan troops attacked a federal military base.
Boko Haram says its fighters killed 78 farmers in Zabarmari area near Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria. There has been growing outrage across Nigeria over the killings, described as the worst in recent months.
A top Iranian nuclear scientist was shot ‘by remote control gun mounted on a car’. Iran accuses Israel of a hand in the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Asia and Oceania
Australia bushfire spreads across Fraser Island. The fire is sweeping through the World Heritage site off the east coast, destroying unique forests.
China gets tough on firms over single-use plastics. It is part of a wider push to improve China’s ranking as the world’s biggest producer of plastic waste.
Singapore approves lab-grown ‘chicken’ meat. It is the world’s first country to approve Eat Just’s ‘breakthrough’ chicken nuggets.
An Indian village school teacher wins the Global Teacher Prize and shares the award with the runners-up. Ranjutsinh Disale, from a village school in India, was praised for improving the education of girls.
Bangaldesh ships Rohinggya to remote island. More than a million Rohingya Muslims have fled atrocities in Myanmar for tent cities in Bangladesh. Some are now being taken to a low-slung landmass in the Bay of Bengal.
Trump raises $200m for post-election legal battles.
Venezuela is engulfed in a political crisis with two rival politicians claiming to be the country’s legitimate leader.
Sources for general further reading:
Middle East: https://www.aljazeera.net
Asia and Oceania: https://asianews.network and https://www.news.com.au