What in the world is happening?

“Dear World,

We can do better and we will. That’s all. And that’s everything.”

-Cleo Wade

 

Lebanon:

 

 

What happened?

This past Thursday, suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, claimed the lives of 43 people and left 239 wounded. The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Why is this important?

Lebanon is certainly no stranger to suicide bombings and similar attacks. But that doesn’t mean the events of this week are any less important. With the Islamic State taking responsibility, Lebanon’s bombings are everyone’s problem. The bombings took place in a part of Beirut where Hezbollah has a strong presence. Hezbollah, a Shia Islamist militant group, has been fighting alongside the Syrian government, led by Bashar Al-Assad, against the Islamic State, a Sunni Islamist militant group that has claimed much of Syria this past year (it’s confusing, watch this video to get an idea of what’s happening). Based on what we know about the location where bombings took place, it’s pretty clear that the Islamic State was targeting Hezbollah, claiming innocent lives in the process.

Japan:

 

 

What happened?

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Japan’s southwestern coast this week, which triggered a minor tsunami. Tsunami warnings have since been issued.

Why is this important?

Thankfully, no immediate damages or injuries were reported. But tsunamis in Japan are not to be taken lightly, especially since the 2011 tsunami that claimed the lives of 18,000 people and displaced over 200,000 people.

Baghdad:

 

 

What happened?

A suicide bomber belonging to IS killed at least 18 and injured over 40 people at a funeral for a Shia soldier. The same day in Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed 5 people at a Shia shrine.

Why is this important?

As people have been pointing out, the attack in Baghdad has received substantially less coverage by the media than the attacks in Paris. Part of this is because these attacks are a frequent tragedy in Baghdad and not quite as shocking; in September alone, 717 Iraqis were killed in terrorist attacks.. However, it also begs the question, what happens when these attacks become such a common occurrence that all we give them is a brief paragraph in the world news section? From the Gulf War in the 90s to the response to 9/11 in the 2000s to the current return to Iraq, the US has had a major influence in Iraq. The daily violence deserves more attention than it has been receiving, especially if we actually want to understand the connection between all of these attacks and the root of the problems in the Middle East.

Paris:

 

 

What happened?

As you all know by now, Paris was the target of 6 different attacks by a group of 8 men. Over 129 people died, either at gunpoint or from explosives at various bars and cafes, a concert venue, and the stadium Stade de France.

Why is this important?

France has had a tense relationship with the Arab world for a while now, going back to the days of colonization, which it seems IS hasn’t forgotten. France has also been incredibly active in the fight against IS, especially after the killing of a french man in 2014, all of which has made the country a high target for the terrorist group. IS claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, and while that may or may not have been true, they are claiming responsibility for these attacks as well. There have also been rumors that other major cities including London, Rome, and D.C. will be next.

France already has a history of tension with Islam. It’s indescribably important to keep in mind that the men who planned and carried out these attacks are extremists and do not represent the views of the 2 billion people in the world who believe in Islam. Also, it’s important to remember that this is why the refugee crisis is happening in the first place--people in Syria are trying to escape this type of violence that they face everyday. These attacks should not be used as an argument in support of an anti-refugee argument. While some of the attackers were Syrian, others were Belgian and even French citizens, and refusing to let in refugees will only condemn those who are already suffering.

While there has been a lot of support for the victims of the Paris attacks, there has also been a lot of controversy surrounding how much attention Paris has received in the media while other tragedies, such as what happened in Beirut and Baghdad this week, did not receive much attention at all.

How can I help?

Thanks for asking! You’re such a great humanitarian. Here are some links that can help you find a way to support:

France:

-Donate to the French Red Cross (Croix-Rouge) here

-Donate to Secours Catholique-Caritas Catholique (a French-based Catholic relief organization) here

Lebanon:

-Donate to the Red Crescent here

-Donate to World Vision here

The world in general:

-Donate to Doctors Without Borders here

Also, VOTE! Since the next election is almost an entire year from now, you have plenty of time to educate yourself on what’s going on in the world, what the candidates believe in, and how the US impacts the rest of the world. Hopefully this article helps you learn just a little bit more about that.