Kent county council is refusing to accept any more unaccompanied child migrants, after warning its services were at breaking point for the second time in less than a year. The county is locked in a battle with the Home Office, and has issued legal proceedings against the home secretary, saying the level of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the county had reached ‘unsafe’ levels. Kent’s cabinet member for integrated children’s services said the council had taken the move as it was clear that the Home Office did not intend to use existing powers to direct other local authorities to receive their fair share of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Kent has nearly double the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in care that the government says it is safe to have.
Child protection services in England do not provide enough early support, says an independent review. With council budgets squeezed over the last ten years, spending has increasingly focussed on expensive crisis services which local authorities are legally required to provide. This means that cuts to early support for vulnerable families have dwindled, causing even larger needs for investigative interventions in ‘crisis’ situations. The current system is unsustainable and failing young people. Over the last three months, the review team spoke to over 1,000 young people, families and staff working in children's services. They found a system under significant strain with an increasing number of families being investigated. Deprivation was a key factor among families needing help. Many asking for support found assessments and investigations added to their stress. The annual number of inquiries into whether a child is at risk of significant harm has risen to 201,000. But 135,000 needed no child protection plan. Concerns about risk have unnecessarily dominated workloads.
The UK has accused France of the ‘offensive’ remark that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK. Since 2016 the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU. The latest spat is centered on sausages. When Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, he asked him to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron ‘astonished’. He told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, and inaccurately said, ‘Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom’. Johnson furiously replied, ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country.’ After the testy exchange Johnson told the media, ‘Some of our friends seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory. I think they need to get that into their heads.’
Leo Varadkar, the Irish deputy prime minister and the leader of Fine Gael, says that while the views of unionists must be ‘acknowledged and respected, ‘no one group can have a veto on Ireland's future’. He told delegates at a virtual Fine Gael conference on 15 June that he wanted to see the party establish a branch north of the border. ‘We should be proud to say unification is something we aspire to, It should be part of our mission as a party to work towards it.’ He also said there was a growing middle ground in Northern Ireland, and Fine Gael should reach out towards it. However, he said unification must not be the ‘annexation’ of Northern Ireland. ‘It means a new state in which almost a million people are British. Like the new South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.’
Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, is often devastated by floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, with poverty making these disasters harsher than in richer countries. Money sent home by Haitians overseas saves lives but does not fill Haiti’s biggest needs: roads, bridges, clinics, schools and electricity. 70% of Haitians are Catholics, but many mingle their Catholicism with voodoo, which is rooted in West African animism. Evangelicals have grown in numbers, through love in action and openly standing against voodoo. Pray for good leaders at every level of society and church who will build the nation rather than loot or exploit it. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Haiti that will transform lives and communities. A truly renewed Catholic Church would be a great force for good. Pray that Catholics re-centre on simple, personal trust in Christ so that God can build their lives.
In Tigray 353,000 starving people are in phase 5 (catastrophe) and 1.769 million in phase 4 (emergency). In other words, famine, though the Ethiopian government refuses to call it famine. Huge numbers of deaths by starvation are unavoidable. In remote villages people are found dead in the morning, having perished overnight. Women who were kidnapped by soldiers and held as sexual slaves, now in hospitals or safe houses, are separated from their children, tormented by the fear they will starve without their mothers' care. Death by starvation happens when the undernourished body consumes its own organs to generate enough energy to keep a flicker of life. Most of the nation is controlled by rebels or military who do not cooperate with humanitarian agencies. Eritrean forces joined the conflict and along with the Ethiopian army they pillage, burn crops, destroy health facilities, and prevent farmers from ploughing their land. This is a man-made famine. There is no drought, and last year's locust swarms have gone.
On 11 June Uganda recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began. Cases were up 137% this week, forcing the state to impose a partial curfew. Last week, the UAE banned flights from Uganda after recording cases of the Indian virus while already struggling with the South African and British mutants. Uganda has a curfew between 9 pm and 5:30 am and has closed all learning institutions. The ministry of health announced a halt to the vaccination process citing the lack of jabs. All intensive care and high-dependency beds in the country are already occupied and vaccination against Covid-19 is progressing very slowly. Barely 750,000 people have received one dose (35,000 have received two doses), in a country of 45 million people.
A tunnel used by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza has been discovered under one of the schools run by UNRWA. The school was one of two of the organisation’s facilities damaged during the 11-day conflict. But now officials at UNRWA have confirmed that a terror tunnel ran directly underneath the school. Also Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s Jala Tower caused international outrage as the office block housed media organisations Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. However, the building was also being used by Hamas’s military intelligence services to develop electronic jamming systems against the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system. Israel has defended its reasons for targeting the high-rise building, which it gave notice to evacuate, and as a good-will gesture has offered to rebuild the media offices.