From the Arab Spring to the death of Colonel Gaddafi and from the DSK scandal to the Eurozone crisis, 2011 has been filled with loads of events and some media already wonder if it could be an historic year. Because of the remarkable news profusion, some stories have been left out and didn’t get the attention they deserved. Here are the headlines you may have missed out:
1. The Congo war
Officially, the war in Democratic Republic of Congo ended in 2003 with the signature of a peace treaty. However, the Eastern part of the country remains in turmoil and rape is used as a systematic weapon. Eastern Congo has been named “rape capital of the world” by U.N. Special Representative Margot Wallstrom. 48 women are raped every hour according to reports.
2. The Americans troops leave Irak
On December 17th, the last US forces quit Irak ending a 9 year old conflitct that killed ten of thousands of Iraqis. The withdrawal was soon followed by sectarian violences as the 22nd of December, a dozen car explosions killed at least 60 people in Baghdad. The country is also facing a political crisis opposing the Shiite majority and the Sunni.
3. Famine in the Horn of Africa
In July, the charity Save the Children begins a fund raising campaign for East Africa. The hunger crisis is described by the United Nations as the worst drought in 60 years. Ethiopia and Kenya are among the affected areas but the war-torn Somalia is particularly hit by the situation. Despite signs of improvement, the UN estimations in November show that a quarter of a million people are under the risk of imminent starvation.
4. Riots in China
On the 20th of December, Residents of the Southern town of Haimen took to the streets to protest against a coal-fired plant. The demonstrators claim the project causes pollution and is bad for their health. In response, Riot police fired tear-gaz and beat them. Some protesters claim a 15 year old boy has been killed. A week before, the neighbouring village of Wukan was defying the authorities against illegal land grab. The University of Nankai estimates that 90 000 riots happen each year in China.
On January 27th, this Ugandan gay activist is beaten to death with a hammer after receiving threats. In October 2010, Rolling Stone, a newspaper from the capital Kampala, published pictures and details of gays and lesbians in Uganda including David Kato. Hatred against gays in Uganda is really strong. Being homosexual is illegal with punishments of 14 years in prison. The parliament even considered including the death sentence before changing its mind.
6. Ayman al-Zawahiri new head of Al-Qaida
On the 16th of June, he is appointed as the new leader of the organisation. He succeds to Osama Bin Laden who was killed by US special forces in May. The Egyptian surgeon is considered by some experts to be the “operational brain” behind the 9/11 attacks.
7. Saudi women can vote
On 25th of September, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announces that women will be able to vote and run for local elections in 2015. This represents a big step for women liberalisation in a country where they are ban from driving or travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian.
8. French handball team won the World Championships
France beats Denmark 37-35 on the 30th of January winning their fourth worlchampionships title.
9. Ecstasy doesn’t damage the brain
Contrary to common belief, Ecstasy doesn’t cause brain damage a study has shown. The experts responsible from the research estimate the previous studies that claim the opposite were flawed. Just to be clear, this doesn’t constitute an encouragement…
10. The world ends… Or not
May 21st at 6 p.m. was supposed to be judgment day. Followers of the prophecy were expecting to be taking into heaven by a process called The Rapture. Turns out the Earth decided to contradict Harold Camping’s prediction who claimed he saw the date of the world destruction in numerological calculations. The religious leader managed to convince quite a few people who organized themselves accordingly for the apocalypse. At least they are ready if the world does cease to exist on December 21st of 2012.