International Current Affairs February 2017

Qatar Abolished Controversial ‘Kafala’ Labour System

  • Qatar ended its labour sponsorship system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer’s permission to change jobs or leave the country on December 13,2016.
  • It says a new contract-based law will replace the ‘kafala’ system, ensuring greater flexibility and protection.
  • Human rights groups say the change leaves the system—which they describe as modern-day slavery.
  • Earlier this year, Amnesty accused Qatar of using forced labour to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

World’s Longest Rail Tunnel began Regular Service in Switzerland

  • The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work on December 9, 2016.
  • The 57 km (35 mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Rio de Janeiro got UNESCO World Heritage Status

  • Rio de Janeiro, officially entered the UN’s list of world heritage sites in recognition of its soaring granite cliffs, urban rainforest and beaches on December 13, 2016.
  • The UN cultural body, UNESCO, highlighted the ‘extraordinary fusion’ of man-made and natural beauty in certifying Rio on the world heritage list.
  • That blend has “created an urban landscape perceived to be of great beauty by many writers and travelers and one that has shaped the culture of the city’, the UN said.
  • Rio got a big tourism boost during the 2014 football World Cup and this August’s Olympic Games.

Venezuela Banned 100 : Bolivars Banknote to ; Fight Black Money

  • Venezuela has banned the circulation of the country’s largest banknote, 100 bolivars, in a bid to fight ‘mafias’ who have stashed billipns of these currencies in Colombia on December 12, 2016.
  • The oil-rich nation is currently facing recession and has seen a sharp price rise of essential commodities on the back of fall in oil prices.
  • To beat such hyperinflation, the country is now preparing to issue new banknotes and coins in values up to 200 times of the existing denominations.

European Union, Mali Signed Deal to Return Migrants

  • The European Union signed an agreement with the Malian government aimed at enabling the return of migrants who have reached Europe’s shores, and whose asylum requests have been refused on December 11, 2016.
  • It is the first time, the EU establishes such a precise mechanism with an African country with regards to returning failed asylum seekers, said a I statement from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, which signed the agreement on the EU’s behalf.
  • The accord seeks to fight ‘the root causes of illegal migration’ and to ‘enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants’.
  • The EU-Mali deal lays the foundations for schemes to help young people find work, and seeks to strengthen the country’s security forces.

Venezuela Suspended from MERCOSUR

  • South American regional economic group MERCOSUR notified Caracas that Venezuela’s membership suspended for violating the bloc’s democratic principles on December 4, 2016.
  • Founding members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay reached the decision to revoke the MEkCOSUR membership of Venezuela, which is in the midst of an economic collapse despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves.
  • Venezuela had been a full member since 2012 in MERCOSUR, which calls itself the common market of the South.
  • In September, MERCOSUR issued a three-month deadline for Socialist President Nicolas Maduro to restore human rights and press freedoms in Venezuela.

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Updated: January 24, 2017 — 10:51 am

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