TIME Crime

More Than Two Environmental Activists Were Killed Each Week in 2014

US-PERU-ENVIRONMENT-UNREST
Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images Diana Rios Rengifo, the daughter of one of the four indigenous Ashéninka leaders murdered in the Peruvian Amazon in early September, speaks during a ceremony in New York on Nov. 17, 2014

A majority of deaths were tied to disputes over hydropower, mining and agri-business

The killing of environmental activists jumped by 20% in 2014, with at least 116 deaths around the world tied to disputes involving land and natural resources, the London-based advocacy organization Global Witness claimed this week.

“[That’s] almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period,” its report said. “Disputes over the ownership, control and use of land was an underlying factor in killings of environmental and land defenders in nearly all documented cases.”

According to How Many More?, the majority of deaths took place in Central and South America; Brazil topped the list with 29 cases followed by Colombia with 25.

Global Witness dubbed Honduras as “the most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental activist,” where during the past five years 101 individuals have been killed in relation to their advocacy work.

The organization urged governments across the globe to take bolder measures to tackle the issue ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris later this year.

“Environmental and land defenders are often on the frontlines of efforts to address the climate crisis and are critical to success,” said the report. “Unless governments do more to protect these activists, any words agreed in Paris will ultimately ring hollow.”

TIME Spain

Youth Detained After Deadly School Attack in Spain

A youth suspected of having killed a teacher and wounding several schoolmates has been detained in Barcelona

(BARCELONA) — Police in the northeastern city of Barcelona have detained a youth suspected of having a killed a teacher and wounded several other people inside a school.

A regional police spokesman said the minor was detained Monday. The officer was not immediately able to confirm what weapon was used to kill the male teacher but Spanish National Television and other media outlets said it was a crossbow.

The attack took place in the Sant Andreu neighborhood of the city.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with police regulations.

TIME portfolio

Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

Fulvio Bugani, an Italian photographer, spent nearly three weeks living with a transgender community in Indonesia

When Shinta Ratri visits her family in Yogyakarta, the Indonesian city where she still lives, she sits outside her family’s home and waits. She hasn’t been allowed inside since she was 16, when as a young boy she told her family she identified as a girl.

Today, Shinta, 53, is one of the leading transgender activists in the country. She runs Pondok Pesantren Waria, an Islamic boarding school for Indonesia’s so-called waria, a portmanteau of the Indonesian words for woman (wanita) and man (pria). The school, in Shinta’s own home in Yogyakarta on the island of Java, provides a tight-knit community for transgender women from across the country who may face discrimination at home.

“They come to Yogyakarta just because they know about this school,” says Fulvio Bugani, an Italian photographer who spent nearly three weeks living with the waria community at the school. “They know that there they can pray and live like a woman in a good atmosphere.”

Bugani’s powerful images depict the daily lives of the school’s diverse waria community, and one of his shots was awarded third prize in the World Press Photo’s Contemporary Issues category this year.

About 10 women live at the school, according to Bugani, though the numbers fluctuate. Many of them make a living as sex workers or street performers, unable to find work in other areas, but the school offers a comfortable environment where, Bugani says, they can be themselves.

It also provides a unique place for the waria to pray. In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, mosques are typically segregated by gender and the transgender women are reluctant to join or barred from participating in either group. But Shinta has ensured that the women can pray together at the school.

“She is very proud to be a woman and also to be a Muslim,” Bugani says. “She wants to help the other waria to become like her.”

Bugani joined Shinta on one of her semiannual visits to her family’s home and watched as she sat outside, waiting. Then, in what has become something of a ritual, her mother emerged.

“You know, a mother is always a mother,” Bugani says.

Fulvio Bugani is a freelance photographer based in Bologna, Italy.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Noah Rayman is a reporter at TIME.

TIME China

Is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Book of Speeches Really a Best Seller?

A newsstand vendor returns change to a customer near a book titled "Xi Jinping: The governance of China" displayed on sale in central Beijing
Jason Lee—Reuters A newsstand vendor returns change to a customer near a book titled Xi Jinping: The Governance of China displayed on sale in central Beijing on Dec. 10, 2014

The publisher claims Xi's book has already sold 4 million copies since last year, including 400,000 overseas

This September, China’s President Xi Jinping will travel to the U.S., the confident leader’s first state visit there since taking helm of the world’s second largest economy in late 2012. Americans who wish to know Xi better will get a chance next month when his book will be formally launched in the U.S. during a New York City book fair.

The first book to be published by a sitting Chinese President, Xi Jinping: the Governance of China is a 516-page collection of 79 of Xi’s speeches, interviews, instructions and correspondence — all clarified by notes on China’s history and culture. The book’s plain white cover features Xi’s disembodied head floating above the title. Readers can peruse 45 biographical pictures inside. Chapters look at China’s economic development, ecology and the unfolding anticorruption campaign. An English-language hardcover edition is listed at $32.56 on Amazon.

The book’s U.S. launch in late May will occur at BookExpo America (BEA), according to its Chinese publisher, which is sending a delegation to attend the trade fair. This year, BEA will be focusing on China. The China-related books that will be on offer tend to hew to a version of Chinese history that will surely please the Chinese Communist Party. Events at the New York book fair include sessions on a 25-volume collection that gives a “panoramic view of the crimes committed to the Chinese people by Japanese militarists” and a study of the time Xi’s father Xi Zhongxun spent as a communist revolutionary in the caves of Yan’an.

During the British launch of Xi’s compendium earlier this month at the London Book Fair, China’s Ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming described it — and the man himself — in glowing terms. “Readers will appreciate President Xi’s wisdom, charisma and leadership style,” Liu said on April 15. “President Xi has a literary style that is sincere, candid, unadorned and vivid.” Late last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose social-media site is currently banned in China, was quoted by Chinese media saying he had bought the book for his employees so that they could understand China’s political system.

The Xi book’s publisher claims it has already sold 4 million copies since last year, including 400,000 copies overseas. Foreign-language editions have been published in English, French, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Japanese.

Yet on Amazon, the hardcover English edition of Xi’s book is 420,914th in the website’s April 20 sales rankings. Xi’s speeches and other musings are not included among this year’s top 100 best sellers on Dangdang, a leading Chinese online bookstore. (The book, however, is listed as the 53rd most popular book on Dangdang over the past 30 days.) Currently, Dangdang’s top-selling book is a Chinese translation of The Kite Runner.

While China-watchers, like Zuckerberg, may be poring over Xi’s tome, the reaction at home, where the book sells for roughly $13, may be different. At the Beijing Xidan bookstore, a store manager surnamed Yang said her shop was offering a deal in which people who purchased more than 1,000 copies could receive a 15% discount. But Yang admits Xi’s book isn’t selling very well. “The book is not cheap,” she says.

Chinese Communist Party members and civil servants are regularly instructed to read up on key speeches by top officials. Perhaps that’s why there’s not as much interest in buying Xi’s book. “Why should I bother reading his book if I haven’t been asked to read it?” asks a 26-year-old health and family-planning official from Sichuan, who declined to give her name because of the sensitivity of the topic. “We are actually pretty busy.”

With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

TIME Somalia

Police: Bomb Explodes Inside Bus of U.N. Employees in Somalia

A bomb ripped through a bus carrying U.N. employees in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia that has been relatively free of violence

(MOGADISHU) — A bomb blast early Monday ripped through a bus carrying U.N. employees in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia that has been relatively free of violence, according to a Somali police official.

The bombing took place in Garowe, the regional capital of Puntland, but there was no information yet on casualties, said Yusuf Ali.

The bomb was apparently planted under a seat and was detonated by remote control, according to Ali.

No group immediately claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Bomb attacks are not common in the northern parts of Somalia, unlike in the south where al-Shabab militants are waging a deadly war against the Somali government and the African Union forces bolstering it.

Last week at least 10 people were killed in an assault on the offices of Somalia’s education ministry.

Despite losing a lot of ground in recent times and losing top leaders in airstrikes, al-Shabab militants are still able to launch attacks in different parts of Somalia and even across the border, especially in Kenya.

The al-Qaida-linked armed group claimed responsibility for an attack ealier this month at a university campus in northeastern Kenya in which militants killed 148 people, most of them students.

TIME ebola

WHO Has Acknowledged the Failings of Its Ebola Crisis Response

Health workers walk inside a new graveyard for Ebola victims, on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia on March 11, 2015.
Abbas Dulleh—AP Health workers walk inside a new graveyard for Ebola victims, on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia on March 11, 2015.

“Our current systems ... simply have not coped”

Top leaders at the World Health Organization (WHO) have admitted to being “ill prepared” to handle the Ebola outbreak and released a comprehensive list of agency failings as well as suggested reforms they and global policymakers must realize moving forward.

“We can mount a highly effective response to small and medium-sized outbreaks, but when faced with an emergency of this scale, our current systems — national and international — simply have not coped,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, Deputy Director-General Anarfi Asamoa-Baah and the organization’s regional directors in a joint statement dated April 16.

The statement listed eight lessons WHO learned from the crisis, including “communicating more clearly what is needed.”

The statement also articulated nine remedies WHO must undergo to better handle large outbreaks in the future — such as intensifying “our advocacy with national authorities to keep outbreak prevention and management at the top of national and global agendas,” as well as establishing a “Global Health Emergency Workforce” and a contingency fund.

In a separate “situation report” dated April 15, WHO said there were 25,791 suspected Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with 10,689 deaths.

TIME Poland

U.S. Ambassador Apologizes to Poles Over FBI Director’s Holocaust Remarks

The 72nd anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Jakub Kaminski—EPA The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, right, lays flowers at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw on April, 19, 2015

Envoy concedes that remarks were "offensive"

The U.S. ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull has apologized for remarks made by FBI Director James Comey, who penned a Washington Post op-ed last Thursday in which he accused Poland of being a collaborator in the Holocaust.

Mull, who had been summoned by Polish authorities, conceded that Comey’s remarks were “wrong, harmful and offensive.”

During Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland in World War II, Poland was home to several extermination camps, in which over 6 million Poles died in addition to millions of Jews, Roma and other groups.

In his article, which was based on a speech he delivered at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Comey referred to Polish “murderers and accomplices” and claimed that “in their minds” they “didn’t do something evil.”

The Polish embassy in Washington, D.C., published a statement over the weekend castigating Comey’s article “especially for accusing Poles of perpetrating crimes which not only did they not commit, but which they themselves were victims of.”

On Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said, “To those who are incapable of presenting the historic truth in an honest way, I want to say that Poland was not a perpetrator but a victim of World War II.”

TIME Libya

Video Purports to Show ISIS Killing Ethiopian Christians in Libya

One day after group claims deadly suicide bombing in Afghanistan

(CAIRO) — Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians, a video purportedly from the extremists showed Sunday. The attack widens the circle of nations affected by the group’s atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.

The release of the 29-minute video comes a day after Afghanistan’s president blamed the extremists for a suicide attack in his country that killed at least 35 people — and underscores the chaos gripping Libya after its 2011 civil war and the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group’s suspected positions in Libya. Whether Ethiopia would — or could — respond with similar military force remains unclear.

Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its military’s attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim. While the militant in the video at one point said “Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” it did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government’s actions.

The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites, could not be independently verified by The Associated Press. However, it corresponded to other videos released by the Islamic State group and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.

The video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

MORE: ISIS Claims Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan That Killed 35

It shows one group of captives, identified as Ethiopian Christians, purportedly held by an Islamic State affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barqa Province. It also shows another purportedly held by an affiliate in the southern Libyan calling itself the Fazzan Province. The video then switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach. It was not immediately possible to estimate how many captives were killed or confirm their identities.

In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity. Hussein said he believed those killed likely were Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

“If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,” Hussein said.

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, told the AP he also believed the victims likely were migrants.

“I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,” Mulugeta said. “No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.”

After the February killings of the Coptic Christians, Egypt’s military responded with airstrikes targeting the militant stronghold of Darna. It has not launched further strikes, though its president is trying to form a pan-Arab military force to respond to extremist threats in the region.

The Islamic State group, which grew out of al-Qaida’s former Iraqi affiliate, now holds about a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate. It’s called on Muslims across the world to join it. Its online videos and propaganda, including scenes of its mass killings and beheadings, have caught the attention of many extremists

Its influence has grown since it seized large areas of Iraq last summer. Insurgents in Egypt’s strategic Sinai Peninsula also have pledged to the group, while another purported affiliate in Yemen claimed a series of suicide bombings in March that killed at least 137 people. On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed an affiliate in his country for an attack on a bank branch in the country’s east that killed 35 people and wounded 125. An affiliate also operates in Pakistan.

However, it remains unclear what kind of central command-and-control structure the Islamic State group operates.

“The Islamic State in Libya is still focused on this consolidation phase of announcing its presence through these very high-profile executions,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate for the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But they face some structural limits in terms of how much local support they can get because they haven’t captured real revenue streams.”

Meanwhile Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition said Kurdish forces recaptured 11 villages in Iraq’s Kirkuk province from the Islamic State group following days of intense clashes. The coalition said the area of about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) was south of the city of Kirkuk.

The coalition also said Sunday that Iraqi forces had full control over the country’s Beiji oil refinery, the nation’s largest. Islamic State group fighters had been targeting it for days in attacks and briefly held a small portion of the sprawling complex.

In Anbar province, the extremists recently captured three villages near the city of Ramadi and remain locked in heavy clashes with Iraqi troops. More than 90,000 people have fled the militant’s advance there, a United Nations humanitarian agency said.

“Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing — food, water and shelter are highest on the list of priorities,” said Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq. “Seeing people carrying what little they can and rushing for safety is heart-breaking.”

Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes managed to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month. But the troops have struggled against the militants in Anbar, which saw some of the heaviest fighting of the eight-year U.S. military occupation that ended in 2011.

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Associated Press writers Joseph Krauss in Cairo, Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Vivian Salama in Baghdad contributed to this report.

TIME europe

Sea of Sorrows: Deadliest Migrant Boat Events

ITALY-SEA-REFUGEES-IMMIGRATION
AFP Photo/Guardia Costiera In this video grab released by the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) on April 19, 2015, a ship takes part in a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily following a shipwreck last night

In the wake of Sunday's tragedy between Libya and Italy

(ROME) — Migrants seeking a better life in Europe have died by the thousands in the Mediterranean Sea in recent years while fleeing poverty and bloodshed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The precise figure of deaths is unknown. But the ill-documented toll is rising again Sunday as rescuers search for an estimated 700 passengers from a capsized boat north of Libya. The Italian Coast Guard has confirmed 24 deaths and 28 people rescued, but authorities expect the death toll to rise.

Authorities count only those bodies found in the sea, on shore, or aboard boats where migrants can die of thirst or exposure. Survivors often tell of fellow passengers who lost their lives at sea, but the bodies are never found.

Here is a list of the deadliest migrant boat events, based on bodies recovered or survivor accounts:

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Christmas 1996: 300 believed drowned in the waters between Malta and Sicily.

June 20, 2003: 50 corpses found, 160 migrants missing, 41 survivors in a shipwreck off Tunisia.

Oct. 20, 2003: At least 70 dead in waters off Sicily.

May 12, 2008: 50 dead off Sicily, including 47 who died aboard after suffering from exposure.

May 6, 2011: Boat carrying more than 600 migrants is shipwrecked off Libyan coast. Hundreds reported missing.

June 2, 2011: At least 270 missing from boat with 700 aboard sinks off Tunisian coast.

July 10, 2012: Motorized rubber dinghy deflates between Libya and tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa; 54 die.

Dec. 14-15, 2012: At least 21 people die, six missing after boat sinks off Greek island of Lesbos.

Aug. 10, 2013: Six migrants drown, 94 rescued some 15 meters (50 feet) off a crowded swimming beach in Catania, Sicily.

Oct. 3, 2013: 366 people die, 155 survive after shipwreck off Lampedusa.

Jan. 20, 2014: 12 people, including nine children, drown when boat overturns near Greek island of Farmakonis.

Feb. 6, 2014: At least 15 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa die while swimming from Moroccan coast as they try to reach Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Police fire rubber bullets at the swimmers to force them back to Morocco.

Sept. 10, 2014: Some 500 Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese drown after their boat is rammed by another boat of human traffickers off Malta.

Sept. 14, 2014: Libyan navy reports 26 rescued from a boat carrying 250 migrants off Libyan coast. About 200 missing and presumed dead.

Feb. 8-9, 2015: At least 29 die and 300 people reported missing after four boats become waterlogged in the frigid sea after leaving Libya.

April 12, 2015: Nine confirmed dead after boat capsizes off Libya. Some of the 144 survivors tell aid workers that about 400 aboard drowned.

April 15, 2015: Christian survivors from a boat of African migrants arriving in Palermo, Sicily, tell Italian authorities that Muslim passengers threw 12 migrants overboard to their deaths when fighting broke out on board.

Read next: Mediterranean Becomes Mass Grave as Europe Struggles With Migrant Crisis

TIME europe

Mediterranean Becomes Mass Grave as Europe Struggles With Migrant Crisis

Only 28 passengers are believed to have survived the overnight capsizing

Hundreds of people were likely drowned overnight in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized during a desperate attempt to reach Europe, officials said Sunday, deepening a crisis that has shaken politicians as they struggle to cope with the disaster unfolding off Europe’s southern coastlines.

Officials with the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Sunday they believed only 28 passengers had survived the capsizing in the Strait of Sicily near the coast of Libya. Survivors who finally reached Italy told the agency their boat tilted, and then sank, after hundreds of passengers rushed to one side to hail a Portuguese merchant ship, which was said to be coming to rescue them and bring them ashore to a European port.

One survivor, a man from Bangladesh, told authorities the boat had a total of 950 people aboard, the Associated Press reports. He also said some 300 people had been locked in the hold by smugglers. The official death toll on Sunday evening was 24, with 28 rescued.

As the scale of the tragedy became clear, French President François Hollande called on E.U. leaders to act to stop the spiraling death toll in the Mediterranean, where by some estimates about 1,500 migrants have drowned this year — most of them in the past week. E.U. officials scrambled to respond to what Hollande called “the worst catastrophe in recent years,” saying that they would call an emergency meeting this week. Speaking on Canal+ Television, Hollande said Europe needed “more boats, more overflights and a much more intense battle against people trafficking.”

But for many, such action will come too late.

This weekend’s huge loss of life is just the latest incident that has now made the Mediterranean the world’s most lethal sea crossing, and by a wide margin, as UNHCR estimates that about 3,419 people drowned last year while trying to make it to Europe. With warmer weather, E.U. officials expect thousands more will try their luck against death-defying odds, cramming into overloaded vessels along the North African coast, especially in Libya, where a network of traffickers have plied their cross-Mediterranean trade for many years.

For the E.U., the migrant crisis is emerging as both a failure of policy, and of the continent’s stated humanitarian values, on which Europe’s leaders have long prided themselves. Those values are now colliding headlong with the upheaval in the Middle East and parts of Africa, which has driven millions to flee. For E.U. leaders, the risk is that helping thousands of boat people could well be seen as welcoming more immigrants to Europe, a highly contentious issue when right-wing parties have campaigned successfully on border restrictions.

Italy has been overwhelmingly hard-hit, since its coast is the closest European landing point from Libya. About 10,000 migrants have landed on Italian land in the past week, and about 200,000 of them arrived last year. Exasperated by the lack of help from his E.U. colleagues, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said last week that “90% of the cost of the patrol and sea-rescue operations are falling on our shoulders, and we have not had an adequate response from the E.U.”

Indeed, the 28 E.U. countries have failed to agree on a coordinated strategy to stop vessels at sea or have simply devoted so few funds, that whatever strategy they have designed seems doomed to fail. Last year, the E.U.-run Triton search-and-rescue program on the Mediterranean replaced Mare Nostrum, an Italian-led program that had three times as much funding at about €9 million ($9.7 million) a month, compared with Triton’s €3 million ($3.2 million) a month. Under Triton, E.U. patrol boats operate only within 50 km (30 miles) off Italy’s coast — leaving thousands of migrants vulnerable to drowning on the high seas, or closer to North Africa’s coast.

Now with summer approaching, E.U. leaders are arguing over how to share the burden, with the political impasse continuing even as the humanitarian cost mounts. The E.U.’s new commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, says new policies will be up for discussion sometime in May — well into the trafficking season.

Pope Francis appealed this weekend for E.U. leaders and others to do more, just a day after saying the disaster “demands much greater involvement.” On Sunday, he told thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly Angelus address that the migrants at sea “are men and women like us, our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war.” He added: “They were looking for a better life.”

This past week has been among the worst in recent memory for fleeing migrants and has highlighted how the fate of people on the rickety boats have become embroiled in conflicts raging elsewhere. On Wednesday, a group of Nigerians trying to cross to Europe allegedly threw about 12 Christian passengers overboard after they refused to pray to Allah for help when their fishing boat sprang a leak; the migrants who the passengers said had been responsible were arrested after the group arrived in Italy.

As Italian rescue teams scoured the water for corpses, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, shocked, “How can it be that we daily are witnessing a tragedy?”

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