The United Nations says the number of people displaced by war, conflict and human rights abuses has topped 100 million for the first time. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi announced the grim milestone as he met with Rohingya refugees who’ve fled violence and government persecution in Burma.
Filippo Grandi: “Much as we’re all focusing on Ukraine as a catastrophic emergency, we must not forget that there’s other critical situations in the world that need attention and resources.”
In Burma, at least 17 Rohingya, including three children, drowned after their boat capsized off the coast over the weekend. Dozens more are missing and feared dead. It’s believed the Rohingya were attempting to cross the Bay of Bengal for Malaysia, fleeing persecution by Burma’s military rulers. The U.N. reports as many as 10,000 Rohingya were killed by Burmese forces during the 2017 genocide, though some estimates put the death toll at double that number. Another 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee Burma.
In Mexico, three Honduran asylum seekers died Monday after their boat capsized off the coast of Veracruz. At least four others are missing, and another four were rescued, including a 12-year-old child. This is one of the survivors.
Francisco Castañeda: “It is something sad, but just imagine. People won’t stop trying to reach the U.S., because it’s supposed to provide a better life. Don’t think things are easy in our country.”
This comes after a 36-year-old father from El Salvador and his 7-year-old son drowned in the Suchiate River as they attempted to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.
Asylum seekers trapped in the Mexican border city of Tijuana led a protest Monday denouncing the Biden administration’s use of Title 42 — a Trump-era public health order that’s been used to bar entry to over 2 million people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking refugee status. A federal judge on Friday ordered the Biden administration to continue enforcing the policy. Protesters insist they have a right under international law to claim asylum.
Edward: “For us, Title 42 ends the dream of many, because in all immigrants’ dreams, asylum is a right, and Title 42 takes that right away from us.”
Vanessa: “We’ve been here for almost a year in Tijuana. We’ve been in a shelter for five months, and we’ve been in a rented apartment for five more months, and it has been very difficult. I hope they give us support and let us enter the U.S. And we hope things there will be different, because here in Tijuana there is also a lot of danger.”
In Yemen, three people were killed Monday after a drone crashed into a residential neighborhood in the capital Sana’a. Witnesses said the Saudi-led coalition drone was shot down by Houthi rebels as it circled the skies over the capital.
Youssef Hamiduddin: “Unfortunately, it fell on citizens. This is a commercial market, and these are street vendors. The spy drone fell on them. And this is a violation of the two-month truce in Yemen.”
The United Nations is calling on Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition to extend the ceasefire, which is due to expire on June 1. The World Food Programme says five years of continuous war in Yemen has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with about two-thirds of all Yemenis — or some 20 million people — suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
In Ukraine, at least one person was injured Monday as Russian forces shelled the center of Kharkiv. Residents showed reporters remnants of what appeared to be Russian cluster bombs used in the assault. Cluster munitions are banned under a global treaty that has not been ratified by Russia, Ukraine or the United States.
On Monday, the United Nations reported more than 2 million refugees have returned to Ukraine after Russian forces failed to capture major cities.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday he was willing to negotiate an end to the war — but only through direct talks with Vladimir Putin.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “I cannot accept any kind of meeting with anyone coming from the Russian Federation but the president of the Russian Federation, and only in the case when there is one issue on the table: stopping the war. There are no other grounds for any other kind of meeting.”
A veteran Russian diplomat has resigned in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Boris Bondarev stepped down Monday from Russia’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, writing in a scathing email to his colleagues that he’s never been so ashamed of his country. His resignation letter read in part, “Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”
Pfizer reported Monday that three smaller-sized doses of its COVID-19 vaccine were safe and effective at preventing symptomatic illness in children under the age of 5. Pfizer’s announcement came as it prepared to submit a request for emergency use of its pediatric vaccine for U.S. children as young as 6 months old. Approval could come after the FDA convenes a panel of independent vaccine experts on June 15, when the agency will also consider Moderna’s application for emergency use of its vaccine in young children.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning gay and bisexual men they face an elevated risk of contracting monkeypox, after public health officials identified four suspected cases of the viral disease in the U.S. Monkeypox is endemic to Central and West Africa and is most often spread from animals to humans. It can cause rashes and painful lesions on the body that, left untreated, can sometimes be fatal. The World Health Organization has recently identified 200 confirmed and suspected cases across a dozen countries. WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said Monday the monkeypox outbreak appears to be linked to sexual activity among men.
Maria Van Kerkhove: “The transmission is really happening from close physical contact, skin-to-skin contact. So it’s quite different than COVID in that sense. … And the thing I just want to say here is that this is a containable situation, particularly in the countries like where we are seeing these outbreaks that are happening across Europe, in North America, as well.”
The Supreme Court ruled Monday two condemned prisoners in the state of Arizona cannot present new evidence in federal court that could prove they didn’t receive adequate legal representation, leading to their convictions and death sentences. The case involves David Martinez Ramirez and Barry Lee Jones, who say their lawyers failed to present evidence that could have exonerated them. Writing for the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, Justice Clarence Thomas ruled that “serial relitigation of final convictions undermines the finality that 'is essential to both the retributive and deterrent functions of criminal law.'”
Critics say the ruling will prevent people wrongfully convicted of crimes from proving their innocence. In a scathing dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision “perverse” and “illogical.” She wrote, “Two men whose trial attorneys did not provide even the bare minimum level of representation required by the Constitution may be executed because forces outside of their control prevented them from vindicating their constitutional right to counsel.”
Amnesty International said Monday the number of executions globally rose by at least 20% in 2021, while the number of death sentences grew by 40%. Over 500 people were executed, and more than 2,000 sentenced to death last year. Executions in Saudi Arabia in 2021 more than doubled.
In Georgia, former Vice President Mike Pence called Monday for Republicans to rally behind incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, who hopes to be renominated as his party’s candidate in today’s primary election.
Mike Pence: “And when you say yes to Governor Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will send a deafening message all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future.”
Kemp faces a primary challenge from David Perdue, the former Republican senator backed by Donald Trump. On Monday, a Trump spokesperson criticized Pence over his endorsement of Kemp, telling The New York Times Pence was “desperate to chase his lost relevance.” On Monday, David Perdue drew accusations of racism after he said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams should “go back to where she came from.” Abrams, who is African American, moved to Georgia with her family in 1989.
Georgia is one of five states holding primary elections today. In a closely watched race, voters in Texas’s 28th Congressional District will decide between Henry Cuellar, a conservative incumbent who’s backed by Democratic leaders, and Jessica Cisneros, a progressive supported by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In January, the FBI raided the home and office of Cuellar as part of a corruption investigation.
In North Carolina, students at Bennett College with past-due tuition bills in collection will see $1.7 million of their debts erased. The union of borrowers known as the Debt Collective purchased and paid off the student loans of nearly 500 Black women at Bennett, a historically Black, all-women liberal arts college in Greensboro. This comes as activists pressure President Biden to uphold his campaign pledge to cancel student debt — now a $1.7 trillion burden held by some 44 million people across the U.S.
The Washington Post reports the Justice Department will require federal agents to intervene if they see other law enforcement officers using excessive force. This is the first update to the DOJ’s use-of-force policy in nearly two decades. The policy change is scheduled to take place in July and comes after massive racial justice protests erupted in the U.S. and around the world in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis two years ago.
A senior consultant at Shell has resigned, condemning the fossil fuel giant for expanding its oil and gas production despite mounting scientific warnings that this would lead to a climate catastrophe. Caroline Dennett worked for the company for 11 years and was based in the United Kingdom. She shared news of her resignation in a video posted on LinkedIn.
Caroline Dennett: “Today I’m quitting because of Shell’s double-talk on climate. Shell’s stated safety ambition is to 'do no harm.' It’s called 'Goal Zero.' And it sounds honorable, but they are completely failing on it. They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms to our climate, to our environment and to people. And whatever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels. They’re expanding, with new exploration and extraction projects, against the clear warnings from scientists and dismissing the huge risks from climate change. And I just can’t be a part of this anymore.”