Refuge Worldwide heads to Listen Festival
We are hosting two workshops and a talk.
UNRWA defunded | Berlin IHRA clause removed | Argentina strikes
Our weekly roundup of stories you may have missed.
UNRWA defunding means "collective punishment" of Palestinians
At least 10 Western countries, including Germany and the US, have suspended funding to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) after Israeli allegations that UNRWA staff members helped Hamas stage attacks on 7 October. The UNRWA, a vital pipeline for aid to the 2 million people under bombardment in Gaza, may be forced to suspend operations in a month due to the drop in funding. The agency’s head called the move an act of “collective punishment” against Palestinians.
In defiance of the ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israeli forces have continued their relentless assault and blocked aid deliveries to Gaza. The ICJ failed to explicitly call for a ceasefire in its ruling on Friday. However, it did call for Israel to do everything in its power to prevent genocide, and for the resumption of humanitarian aid. 26,000 people have now been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since October.
Berlin's 'IHRA clause' U-turn
Berlin’s Senate has backtracked on the new anti-discrimination clause, under pressure from cultural institutions and international artists striking in solidarity with the Strike Germany campaign. The clause forced funding recipients to sign a pledge against antisemitism according to the IHRA definition, which critics say equates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. Senator Joe Chialo said that the decision was made due to the “critical voices that saw the clause as a restriction of artistic freedom.”
Read our full statement on the strike here.
Sudan's crackdown on civil society
10 months into the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and RSF paramilitary, the Sudanese government has intensified its crackdown on grassroots activists and civil society groups. Many of these pro-democracy groups were established during the 2018 December Revolution and are dedicated to independent grassroots activism. The civil society committees have played a vital role in providing aid to local communities across the country since the start of the war. The ban on these activities amid mass displacement and a catastrophic humanitarian situation further endangers Sudanese civilians.
Venezuela and Guyana move towards de-escalation
Officials from Venezuela and Guyana met last week to discuss the territorial dispute over Guyana’s Essequibo region. In December, Venezuela held a referendum laying claim to the region, and tensions were rising after the deployment of a British warship to Guyana and Venezuelan ‘defensive exercises’. At the meeting, both parties agreed on moving forward in diplomatic exchange.
Despite this, indigenous communities in Essequibo continue to express worry over Venezuela’s plans to annex and extract oil in the region. Their decade-long efforts to get their ancestral land legally recognized by the state of Guyana could be in vain under changed governance and the exploitation of natural resources.
Argentinian workers strike
Thousands joined a general strike in Argentina in opposition to a swathe of right-wing economic reforms announced by new president Javier Milei. In a series of new decrees described by Milei as a form of ‘economic shock therapy’, Argentinian workers face mass privatisations, spending cuts, an end to rent regulation, weaker worker protection laws, the expansion of presidential powers and new restrictions on the right to protest. Organised by Argentina’s largest union the CGT, the historic mobilisation marks the earliest in a new presidential term that a general strike has ever been called in Argentinian history, the call to strike issued less than seven weeks into Milei’s leadership.
Support queer art space in Ghana
In 2023, Ghana passed an anti-LGBTQIA+ bill with an absolute majority. Under the guise of “promoting Ghanaian family values”, the bill will criminalize queer lives and sympathies towards queer people. As part of the bill, renting property to LGBTQIA+ inclusive organizations and queer people will be prosecuted. The perfocraZe International Artist Residency (pIAR) is fighting back against pending eviction. Founded in 2017, it is one of the only openly LGBTQIA+ inclusive spaces in Ghana and a sanctuary for queer artists and activism. To ensure that pIAR can persist, they are calling on international allies to support their resistance by raising awareness and donating.
AfD narrowly lose Thuringen election
The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party were defeated in a regional run-off election in the German state of Thuringia by the conservative CDU, despite holding a comfortable lead of 12% just two weeks ago. The vote was AfD’s first electoral test since reports emerged that politicians from the party had met with neo-Nazis and other extremists to discuss plans for mass deportations of so-called “unassimilated” migrants and German citizens, sparking massive protests across the country against the rise of the far-right. AfD is still polling in second place nationwide, with around 20% of the vote.