Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 10:41 am
At least 51.2 million people are now living under forced displacement, a U.N. agency says, announcing its tally of people who are seeking refuge or asylum, or who are internally displaced. It's the first time the number has topped 50 million since World War II.
The figures mean that worldwide, the number of displaced people is roughly equivalent to the entire population of nations such as Spain and South Korea. If all of them were put into one country, it would be the 26th largest in the world, the U.N. says.
Soccer's World Cup always produces some great underdog stories. One of them, this year, comes from Ecuador. That tiny South American nation is making a rare World Cup appearance. And nearly half of its players come from the same poor and sparsely populated coastal province called Esmeraldas. John Otis has the story.
OMAR ESTUPINAN: (Reading) Segundo Castillo, Walter Ayovi...
As they steamrolled across northern Iraq, Sunni militants had important help from an old power in the country — former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and his army.
One retired air force colonel said he is a member of a newly formed military council overseeing Mosul, the large city captured last week by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and its allies from Sunni Arab armed factions.
More now, on Ukraine and other matters confronting the U.S. and its allies. We're going to talk with Ursula von der Leyen, who is the defense minister of Germany a very high-ranking member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union. Welcome to the program.
An injured German cave explorer, who spent two weeks trapped underground in the Alps, has reached the surface after an operation involving hundreds of rescuers workers.
Johann Westhauser, 52, a researcher who was taking measurements of Germany's deepest cave system, hit his head during a fall more than 3,000 feet down. As we reported last week, it took one of the injured man's two companions 12 hours just to get outside and get help.
It's common to hear of soccer hooligans taunting players and fighting in the stands. In Japan, though, it's a different story: Soccer followers there even have a tradition of cleaning up the stadium after matches. Melissa Block speaks with Japanese soccer fan Kei Kawai, who's attending Thursday's match between Japan and Greece.
The kidnapping of 40 Indian construction workers in Iraq by suspected militants has rapidly become the first foreign policy test for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, barely a month after he assumed office.
The workers are believed to have been captured by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) when the jihadist group overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul this past week.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama announced today that the U.S. will send up to 300 special forces advisers into Iraq. He says they'll gather intelligence and assist Iraqi security forces. This comes as radical Islamists continue to march toward Baghdad. And as NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports, the president also is not ruling out airstrikes.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Obama is clear about this...
One year from million-strong protest marches in Brazil, Brazilians are marking the anniversary with more demonstrations. There are fewer protesters than a year ago, when Brazilians expressed their anger over World Cup costs and the government's neglect of housing, health, transportation and employment issues at home.
Before the White House press corps Thursday, President Obama laid out his proposal for a U.S. military response in Iraq. He said he's prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to support Iraq's security forces, leaving open the possibility of targeted air strikes in the future. Melissa Block talks to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero about Obama's plan.
It was not long before the legitimacy of Afghanistan's presidential election was called into question. Within hours of polls' close, candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed the vote was rigged in favor of his opponent, Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah has suspended his cooperation with elections commissions and called for a halt to vote counting. His claims of fraud — engineered by former President Hamid Karzai, he says — set the stage for an impending political crisis.
As police helicopters hovered overhead, Spain's new king rolled up to Parliament in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce.
Felipe VI saluted Spanish troops lined up outside, as the country's national anthem blasted from speakers. He wore a navy blue military uniform and a red sash, representing the highest rank in Spain's armed forces. It had been bestowed upon him an hour earlier, by his father.
He ducked inside Parliament, took an oath and was proclaimed king. It was the first-ever royal handover in Spain's democratic era.
A vigilante attack against a Roma teenager has shocked France and put pressure on the French government to improve conditions for the ethnic minority. Human rights advocates say the rise of a xenophobic climate in the country may have contributed to the attack.
The current crisis in Iraq has focused on the Sunni-Shiite conflict, but relatively little has been heard from the other major ethnic group in Iraq, the Kurds. And that's just the way the Kurds would like it.
The Kurds have been seeking an independent state for a century but have been stymied at every turn. As the Shiites and the Sunnis slug it out, the Kurds are demonstrating, so far at least, that they can maintain peace and stability in their semi-autonomous region in the northeastern part of the country.
In an attempt to stop the juggernaut advance of the Sunni extremist group ISIS, Iraq's central government says the fight for the country's largest oil refinery is far from over. A military official says 40 militants have been killed.
"Iraqi government officials say an elite special operations force is holding off ISIS militants at the Beiji refinery 160 miles north of the capital," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Erbil. "But local police report ISIS is tightening a grip on the facility."
An 89-year-old man accused of aiding and abetting the killing of 216,000 Jews as a Nazi camp guard at the concentration camp located in Auschwitz, Poland, during World War II, has been arrested in Philadelphia.
Johann "Hans" Breyer, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1952, was arrested by U.S. authorities Tuesday night. He is being held without bail.
Iraq has a long history of roiling American politics. And that doesn't appear about to change anytime soon.
With the Shiite-led Iraqi government losing control of large parts of its country to the Sunni extremist group known as ISIS, the question of who lost Iraq is starting to reverberate through Washington the way "who lost Vietnam" and "who lost China" did in earlier eras.
That all of this is happening during a midterm election stirs even more politics into the mix than if the current violence and ISIS inroads had occurred last year.