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News Making International Headlines: 6 April 2022

Russia Is on the Hot Seat Regarding Violence against Ukraine

INTERNATIONAL: Russia is getting more heat after the atrocities of recent reports on civilian killings, torture, and rape in Bucha came to light. Russia vehemently denied the allegations, but the international community is now in an uproar.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that no one can be a shield for Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. She pushed for a vote to suspend Russia from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. The vote will likely be in on 7 April and a two-thirds majority is needed.

In the meantime, Britain urged G7 and NATO nations to ban Russian ships from their ports and agree on a timetable to phase out oil and gas imports from Russia. British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss said that the existing sanctions had frozen $350 billion of Russian money and made over 60% of its foreign currency reserves unavailable. These coordinated sanctions are pushing the Russian economy back to the Soviet era.

Mexico Is in Its Most Dangerous Period for Journalists

INTERNATIONAL: journalists’ protection NGO Article 19 said on Tuesday (April 5) that the government of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been deadly for journalists.

"During this term, the current government has accumulated 33 murdered journalists. In spite of the authorities' denial, this is the most violent period against the press we've registered," said Article 19's According to Article 19, an organization that promotes freedom of expression, under the last two Mexican presidents Enrique Pena Nieto and Felipe Calderon, 19 and 26 journalists were murdered respectively.

So far in 2022, the organization has documented the murders of eight journalists in the country.

Hong Kong Funeral Services Overwhelmed By COVID Dead Bodies Pilling Up

INTERNATIONAL: At a Hong Kong public hospital’s mortuary, funeral director Hades Chung claimed the body of a COVID-19 victim on behalf of his family who lives in mainland China. The family could not arrive in time due to quarantine measures.

Chan, accompanied by his colleagues in full protective gear, opened the coffin and spread paper money on the body as part of a traditional ritual before sending it to a cremation site.

"I feel heartbroken," Chan, 31, who has been working round the clock to help bereaved families, as the global financial hub battles a surge in COVID-19 deaths that is overwhelming its funeral parlours.

Since the fifth wave of coronavirus hit the former British colony this year, it has reported more than a million infections and nearly 8,000 deaths. Scenes of bodies stacked in emergency rooms next to patients have shocked many as places in mortuaries run out.

"I’ve never seen so many bodies that they have been piled up together," said another funeral director Lok Chung, 37, who has been organising about 40 funerals in March, up from roughly 15 in an average month.

"I’ve never seen the family members been so upset, so disappointed," he said.

The surge in COVID-19 deaths has resulted in a long wait for documents, including death certificates, to be processed, according to Chung.

Traditional wooden coffins are running short, also in demand are the traditional paper replicas of items, from cars to homes and other personal effects, burnt as offerings at Chinese funerals for use in the afterlife. Much of the delay is blamed on a logjam in transport from the neighboring southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which supplies many of the items, but is now fighting its own outbreak of COVID-19.

China supplies more than 95% of the 250 to 300 coffins Hong Kong needs each day, authorities said.

It received more than 3,570 coffins during the period from March 14 to 26, after the government of the Chinese-ruled city coordinated with mainland authorities.

The six crematoriums now run almost round the clock to get through nearly 300 cremations a day, or double the usual figure. And public mortuaries have been expanded to accommodate 4,600 bodies from 1,350 earlier, authorities said.

Non-government body Forget Thee Not has partnered with an eco-friendly coffin maker LifeArt Asia, to donate 300 such coffins and 1,000 boxes of preservative to six public hospitals. Each coffin is made of cardboard with recycled wood fibres and can take a weight up to 200 kg (441 lb).

Placed in coffins or body bags, the powder-like preservative turns to gas, to keep the body in its natural state for up to five days.

"We are in the eye of the storm," said LifeArt Asia's chief executive, Wilson Tong. "And in the midst of this storm, we are trying to provide a moment of respite."

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