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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Uehara

Weekly News Blast | Dec 12 - 17

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

North Korean missiles lined up in an airfield.

Tensions in East Asia continues to rise as North Korea launches another round of ballistic missiles (Daniel Foster, Flickr)

North Korea Launches Possible Ballistic Missile

According to Japan’s Ministry of Defense, North Korea launched a possible long-range ballistic missile on Wednesday, around the same time that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia for a high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that they had detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Sunan area into the East Sea. The U.S. is working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare for additional launches. 

The first missile was launched off the west coast of North Korea. It was identified as a short-range projectile and fell near the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. A second missile was launched less than 12 hours after Pyongyang condemned the U.S. for orchestrating a “preview of a nuclear war” by conducting drills, displays of force, and nuclear war planning. The Japanese government believes the projectile has already fallen into the sea, and no damage has been reported. After the first launch, senior U.S., Japanese, and South Korean officials in charge of North Korean issues condemned Pyongyang over phone talks. Japan and South Korea have labeled the launching as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, as all of North Korea’s ballistic missile activities were banned. However, North Korea has argued it has a right to self-defense.

North Korea warned that there would be further retaliation to the Nuclear Consultative Group meetings between the U.S. and South Korea. North Korea’s Central News Agency reported, “Hostile forces’...attempt[ing] to use armed forces against the DPRK [North Korea] will face a preemptive and deadly counteraction.” The tension between the countries continues as Japan, the U.S., and South Korea work to create a system to share real-time information on North Korean ballistic missiles due to be done this month.

Heavy Rain Across the East Coast

The storm first hit Florida earlier this week and has been moving up the East Coast, putting more than 2 million people at risk of severe thunderstorms and damaging winds in the Carolinas and up to New England. More than 32 million Americans are under a wind advisory, and 60 million are facing a flood watch.

In South Carolina, a flash flood emergency has been issued. Between 4.5 and 7 inches of rain have fallen, and tides have reached 9.86 feet high. In North Carolina, a tornado watch has been issued to more than 1 million people as they will experience “gusts of up to 65 mph,” according to one weather service. More than 25,000 people are without power in North and South Carolina. The National Weather Service has also issued high wind warnings to portions of southern Connecticut, southeast New York, and Boston.

Hours of steady rainfall may lead to flooding in urban areas and or areas with poor drainage, including rivers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and much of New England. Gusty winds and reduced visibility may also delay air travel. The heavy rain is expected to head towards the Southeast U.S. coast, but taper off as it spreads into the Mid-Atlantic states.

The Global Refugee Forum Meets After Four Years

Countries and businesses met at the Global Refugee Forum to work towards solving the global displacement crisis. Since 2019, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has hosted a forum every four years to share the responsibilities of refugees fairly. The objective of these forums is to ease pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions, and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. These conferences are meant to mobilize political will and gain more support for the cause.

To build a sustainable future for the world’s refugees, the forum is working towards supporting host countries and making refugees self-reliant by protecting and including refugees in immigration discussions. Multistakeholder pledges were made to bring access to tertiary education by 2030 to 15 percent of refugee youth. In just three years, the forum has been able to raise the percentage of refugee youth participating in higher education from 1 to 6 percent. Pledges were also made to provide healthcare to refugees, including access to mental health and psychosocial support. Resettlement programs have also been created for those who choose to take permanent residence in a Third World country. Finally, commitments were made to secure access to housing, land, and property, peacebuilding, and conflict prevention in countries of origin.

This year, the forum made approximately 1,300 financial pledges to spend $2.2 billion towards the crisis and promised jobs for tens of thousands of refugees to change the lives of over 36 million refugees. Countries pledged to take in 1 million refugees from third-world countries by 2030. Several companies said they would help 100,000 refugees find jobs.



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