This week, thousands have died in India due to a heat wave, Ireland voted “yes” in a historic referendum to legalize same-sex marriage and thousands of koalas in Australia could be culled due to a dwindling food supply.
Each Friday, we bring you a roundup of some of the biggest stories making headlines around the world. Here’s nine things that happened outside of Vancouver over the past week that you should know about (in no particular order):
May 23 to 29, 2015
1. Nigerian president signs off on a bill that outlaws female genital mutilation
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has signed off on a bill that outlaws female genital mutilation (FGM). Almost 25 per cent of Nigerian women have undergone FGM. While it has been a widespread practice around that nation, FGM often occurs at a young age without the consent of the girls or women undergoing the procedure. Moreover, FGM is extremely painful and leads to very severe health problems. Women’s health and public health advocates announced that The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act was passed in Nigerian Senate and signed by President Jonathan on Monday.
- Read more on BuzzFeed News
2. Qatar prohibits Nepalese workers from going back home to attend funerals of earthquake victims
Thousands of Nepalese migrants working in Qatar, building sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, have been told they are not allowed to return home to attend the funerals of earthquake victims. According to the Nepali government, Qatari companies have told workers they are not allowed to leave the country because they need to finish construction projects.
“After the earthquake of 25 April, we requested all companies in Qatar to give their Nepalese workers special leave and pay for their air fare home. While workers in some sectors of the economy have been given this, those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time,” Nepali labor minister, Tek Behadur Gurung, told reporters.
- Read more on The Guardian
3. Koala colony faces slaughter in Australia as food supplies decrease
Koalas in Australia’s Victoria region could be culled due to a dwindling food supply. The overcrowded colony of koalas is malnourished because their staple diet of manna gum leaves is diminishing. A team of experts will examine the koalas in order to determine whether or not they should be exterminated. “Koalas will be captured and assessed by veterinarians using strict health assessment protocols and anything that is found to be in poor condition or suffering will be humanely euthanized while it’s under sedation,” Mandy Watson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, said in a statement. Although koalas are a protected species in Australia, the government claims that culls are sometimes necessary when a colony reaches unattainable numbers and begins to starve.
- Read more on CBC
4. Deadly heat wave in India leaves nearly 2,000 people dead
A grueling heat wave in India has killed 1,826 people over the past month. Andhra Pradesh is the worst hit state, where 1,334 people have died. The high temperatures have hit much of Southern India and meteorologists predict that the heat wave will last at least several more days. Temperatures have soared up to 47 degrees Celsius, destroying crops, killing wildlife and preventing people from laboring outdoors. However, poverty in the region has forced many people to work regardless of the deadly consequences. “This is the highest death toll due to heat wave ever in the state. Last year around 447 people died due to heat. This year the heat wave is continuing for a longer period than in previous years,” Tulasi Rani, the special commissioner for disaster management in Andhra Pradesh, told reporters.
- Read more on The Times of India
5. Greece promises bail out deal by Sunday but EU remains skeptical
Greece says that it will reach a deal with its creditors by Sunday, which would allow the struggling nation to receive the last installment of its international bailout. However, creditors remain uncertain that a deal will take place. “Talks will continue in the coming days, and further progress is needed. We’re not there yet. There are open issues which need to be resolved,” Annika Breidhardt, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said in a statement.
- Read more on Reuters
6. Gun battle in Mexico leaves 43 dead
A three hour confrontation between Mexican authorities and a powerful drug cartel turned deadly leaving 43 dead. The fallout occurred after two other recent attacks by the cartel: one that shot down an army helicopter with a rocket launcher and another that killed 15 police officers. Mexican government forces have spent years trying to shut down the Jalisco New Generation gang, which dominates much of the drug trade in the region. “The full force of the Mexican state will be felt in the state of Jalisco,” Mexico’s National Security Commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, told reporters.
- Read more on BBC
7. Dutch government enforces partial ban on burqas and face coverings
The Dutch Cabinet has given approval to a bill that bans face-coverings in public places such as schools, public transit and hospitals. According to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the ban is not targeted towards religion and is only for security reasons. The new ruling does not ban the burqa or niqab to be worn publically on the street but only in situations where it is necessary to be seen by public officials. Anyone who does not follow the new ruling can be fined up to $445.
- Read more on The Guardian
8. Ireland votes for same-sex marriage to be legalized
The citizens of Ireland have voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage to be legalized in the nation. The monumental decision makes Ireland the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by a referendum. About 1.2 million people voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage and 734,000 people voted against it. Every county in Ireland had a majority vote for the change in constitution except for one. Thousands of happy supporters took to the streets to celebrate the decision.
- Read more on BBC
9. Storm leaves at least 21 dead in the southern U.S.
Rescue efforts are underway in the southern U.S. as a devastating storm has hit Texas and Oklahoma. At least 21 people have died in the two states and thirteen have been killed in Mexico. More than 80,000 people are out of power in Houston and schools were closed on Tuesday. Texas officials say that 11 people are still missing in the region.
- Read more on Reuters
Missed last week’s roundup? Read it here.
Also check out our weekly series published every Wednesday – 9 good things that happened around the world this week.