Dec. 15–17 Somalia: After conducting a total of six air strikes between Dec. 15 and 16, the United States military confirmed Dec. 17 its Africa Command—or Africom—alongside Somali Armed Forces killed a total of 62 al-Shabab militant fighters, as reported by Deutsche Welle. The air strikes were conducted in an area along the coast south of the capital city Mogadishu. According to military officials, no civilians were injured or killed in the operation.
Dec. 17 El Salvador: Salvadoran rape survivor Imelda Cortez, who was previously accused of attempted aggravated homicide against her newborn child in 2017 and faced a sentence of 20 years in prison, was acquitted of the charges after a judge ruled she was not guilty. Cortez suffered years of rape at the hands of her 70-year-old stepfather when, unaware at the time, she became pregnant in 2016. Cortez claims she only realized she was pregnant when she gave birth in a restroom after having abdominal pains, after which she lost consciousness. The case highlights the country’s strict anti-abortion laws, which, according to Amnesty International, often sees women including minors who lose their child to miscarriages charged for suspected abortions, while making no exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
Dec. 17 Egypt: The discovery of a 4,400-year-old tomb in pristine condition was announced at a press conference Dec. 17 for the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The tomb belonged to the priest and royal supervisor Wahtye, who served King Neferirkare, pharaoh of the Old Kingdom in the 2200s BCE. Despite its age, the tomb was found intact with hieroglyphs showing his various titles as well as statues and painted reliefs detailing Wahtye and his family. “The color is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old,” said Secretary General of the SCA Mostafa Waziri, as quoted by National Geographic. The tomb also includes five shafts, four of which are sealed and, as Waziri theorizes, should contain a coffin or sarcophagus.
Dec. 17–21 Morocco: The bodies of two Scandinavian women were found on Dec. 17 in a remote area of the Atlas Mountains with stab wounds to their necks. The women—Maren Ueland from Norway and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark—were both students at a university in Norway and were on vacation in Morocco to hike through the mountains on their way to the mountain peak of Toubkal. According to Al Jazeera, one of the victims was found inside their tent while the other one was outside, and a video has surfaced showing the murder of one as well. The National Criminal Investigation Service of Norway has verified the video as legitimate, and at least 13 men have now been arrested in connection with the murders as reported by the Huffington Post. The women’s bodies were flown back to their home countries from Casablanca on Dec. 21.
Dec. 18 California; North Carolina, U.S.: After being detained in California by Border Patrol Agents on Dec. 12, a 5-month-old girl and her mother—identified only as Portillo—were kept in government holding cells for five days in what asylum seekers have called hieleras, or iceboxes, due to the freezing temperatures inside, according to Democracy Now! The girl became sick shortly after detainment, and though the mother informed agents of her worsening condition, she was denied access to a doctor and was not allowed medication while in detention, as reported by BuzzFeed News. “I said I needed a hospital because her breathing was getting worse,” Portillo said. “The agents told me I wasn’t in a position to be asking for anything and that they didn’t tell me to come to the United States.” Following Portillo and her daughter’s release to a church in San Diego, they flew to North Carolina to be with family where the girl began vomiting and developed a fever of 102.7 degrees Fahrenheit. On Dec. 18, she was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. After the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl in similar circumstances, the incident has sparked further outrage surrounding the conditions migrants and asylum seekers are held.
Dec. 19 San Francisco, U.S.: The mother of a dying two-year-old boy on life support was granted a visa after waiting more than a year due to the travel ban imposed by the Trump administration. Shaima Swileh, who fled with her son and husband to Egypt after the war in Yemen, arrived at the San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 19 after the Council on American-Islamic Relations sued the State Department in order to get a visa waiver. While her husband Ali Hassan and son Abdullah have U.S. citizenship and were able to relocate to the U.S., Swileh is a Yemeni national and was therefore denied entry. Abdullah has a rare degenerative brain disease, and his health has been declining rapidly. “Just last week I was about to pull him off life support,” Hassan said, as quoted by Al Jazeera. “This will allow us to mourn in dignity.”
Dec. 19–22 Syria: President Donald Trump announced Dec. 19 he would be withdrawing the 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria after claiming ISIS is defeated, a decision which triggered the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Dec. 20. According to a report from the Lead Inspector General published June 30, 2018, around 14,000 ISIS fighters remained in the country, controlling five percent of the territory. TIME reported the announcement caused Syria to deploy reinforcements the province Deir el-Zour near an area held by ISIS, while Vice News has reported speculation from officials formerly in top military positions that the withdrawal could possible create an “ISIS 2.0.”
Dec. 21 Germany: In a ceremony held on Dec. 21, Germany officially closed its last remaining coal mine, marking a new chapter in the country’s energy sector. According to the New York Times, coal mining had only survived for so long due to government subsidies in an amount exceeding $46 billion since 1998, and in 2007 the government began phasing them out. The Prosper-Haniel mine, once the largest employer in the Ruhr Valley as reported by Deutsche Welle, closed after seven miners delivered the last piece of coal to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in ceremony.
Dec. 21 India: A district court in India found eight men guilty of a 2016 murder involving a schoolboy and cattle trader, who
Dec. 22 Indonesia: After being triggered unexpectedly by the volcano Anak Krakatoa, a tsunami hit the islands of Sumatra and Java along the Sandra Strait late on Dec. 22, killing hundreds and injuring over 1,000. At least 281 people were killed while 57 were missing. However, those numbers were expected to increase. Video of a concert for the band 17 playing at the time shows the moment the tsunami waves crash through, which killed at least seven people. Hundreds are now displaced after homes and businesses were left destroyed, and relief organizations are still working to reach areas devastated in the tsunami.