Leaders at UN face global concern over regional conflicts

AP/New York
Filed on September 26, 2021 | Last updated on September 26, 2021 at 12.07 am
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York. — AP

India-Pakistan rivalry, Haiti's migrant crisis, Ethiopian government's role in Tigray region among the issues raised at UN General Assembly meeting

There’s India’s fight over the Kashmir region with bitter rival Pakistan, Haiti’s inner turmoil spilling into a migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border and questions about the Ethiopian government’s role in reported starvation deaths in the Tigray region.

All are coming into full view Saturday as leaders from those regions address the UN General Assembly.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spent part of the week meeting with US officials to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific, was measured in his push back against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scathing — albeit predictable — rhetoric that landed hours earlier.

Modi called upon the international community to help the women, children and minorities of Afghanistan and said that it was imperative the country not be used as a base from which to spread terror.

“We also need to be alert and ensure that no country tries to take advantage of the delicate situation there, and use it as a tool for its own selfish interests,” he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan, wedged in between Afghanistan and India.

On Friday, Khan had, once again, labelled Modi government “fascist” and railed against India’s crackdown on Kashmir, the disputed region divided between each country but claimed by both.

In another highly anticipated address, Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry pointedly said that inequalities and conflict drive migration, but he stopped short of directly criticising Washington, whose treatment of Haitian asylum-seekers has prompted an outcry.

“Human beings, fathers and mothers who have children, are always going to flee poverty and conflict,” Henry said. “Migration will continue as long as the planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world’s population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospects of a better life.”

Henry’s prerecorded speech came as Haiti struggles with turmoil following the assassination of its president this and a recent major earthquake.

It comes days after Henry fired his chief prosecutor, who had asked a judge to charge Henry in the slaying of Haiti President Jovenel Moise and to bar the prime minister from leaving the country.

The troubles have moved beyond Haiti’s borders, with thousands of migrants fleeing to the US. This week, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned in protest of “inhumane” large-scale US expulsions of Haitian migrants. Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination.

Ethiopia is also addressing the largest gathering of world leaders on Saturday and faces global concern for its Tigray region.

The UN has warned of famine in the embattled corner of northern Ethiopia, calling it the world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade. Starvation deaths have been reported since the government in June imposed what the UN calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade”.

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