As the world celebrates New Year 2019, the past year, 2018, will be remembered in many ways as a year that brought sorrow to some countries just as others (including international bodies) witnessed advancement in socio-economic and scientific spheres. Below are some of the major events that occurred in 2018.
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Deadliest natural disasters
From earthquakes in Indonesia, flooding in Japan and a volcanic eruption in Guatemala, thousands lost their lives in natural disasters in 2018, and hundreds of thousands more were injured or displaced. Indonesia witnessed earthquake and tsunami with 2,783 deaths and 330,000 people made homeless. An earlier earthquake had claimed 468 lives.
In Guatemala, 425 died following a volcanic eruption in Fuego. Surrounding areas were soon engulfed in a deadly pyroclastic flow, a mixture of hot gas and volcanic rock that could move at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. Monsoon flooding killed 361 in India, mostly in the southern Indian state of Kerala. In Japan, floodwaters swept across the country in July, killing nearly 200 people and causing the evacuation of close to nine million across 23 prefectures, the same month, at least 65 people died in a heat wave that saw more than 22,000 people hospitalised, typhoon Jebi lashed western Japan with winds of up to 172km/h (107mph), the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years, and the northern island of Hokkaido was hit with a magnitude 6.7 earthquake, which triggered landslides.
In Pakistan, 180 died in a heat wave. Temperatures in the Pakistani city of Karachi stayed above 104 degrees Fahrenheit for several days, according to news reports; 151 died and 800 buildings were destroyed in North Korea floods.
In Papua New Guinea, earthquake killed 145. Half a million people were affected by the disaster. Fierce wildfires tore through a coastal area of Greece, killing 126. Some drowned in the sea as they attempted to flee the flames.
Kenya’s bitter presidential poll
Kenya’s presidential election drama continued as opposition leader Raila Odinga was sworn in as “the people’s president” during a mock inauguration, protesting what he called a manipulated vote. The government cracked down on him. Coaxed into peace, Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta finally shook hands weeks later and agreed to work together to unite a country divided once again along ethnic lines by politics.
US Democrats reclaim House
The Democrats secured majority in the House, winning up to 40 seats since the iconic Watergate class of 1974. Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate to control the upper chamber.
Zuma forced to resign
After South Africans protested sprawling corruption allegations that threatened to weaken the ruling African National Congress, President Jacob Zuma stepped down. Former President Nelson Mandela’s preferred successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, became president with the task of clearing out the rot and righting the economy.
Rohingya refugee crisis
There was global outrage as no fewer than 671,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State to escape the military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. The crisis escalated to the point that several groups and individuals called for the withdrawal of San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize. She was accused of compromising with the promoters of the ethnic cleansing campaign.
Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed home exiled opposition figures, announced one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” cabinets, survived an assassination attempt and seemed determined to hold free and fair elections in a country ruled for decades by a single coalition. Ethiopia and Eritrea made peace and renewed diplomatic ties after 20 years of war.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies
Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela, known as “Mother of the Nation,” died. Banished to a remote town for years while her husband spent more than a quarter-century in prison, she later sought punishment for perpetrators of abuse, while her husband preached reconciliation. In the end, she received 10 days of national mourning and fierce loyalty. “She gave everything she had,” one ANC official said.
Mugabe kicked out
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe was forced out under military pressure after 37 years in power.
South Sudan’s new peace
After five years of civil war and nearly 400,000 dead, South Sudan’s warring sides signed a new peace deal that the government vowed would hold. Armed opposition leader Riek Machar returned more than two years after fleeing on foot amid the ashes of the previous agreement.
Global leaders gathered in Ghana to pay their last respects to the late United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The grandson of tribal chiefs, he was the first black African to become the U.N. leader and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
Congolese surgeon wins Nobel Peace Prize
Dr. Denis Mukwege was at the operating table when the Nobel committee rang with the news that he shared the Peace Prize with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad in a powerful statement against sexual violence.
DR Congo polls
DR Congolese elected president, lawmakers and provincial governors after a two-year delay and deadly protests.
The war in Yemen entered its fourth year, becoming the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. No fewer than 14,000 died fighting while another 50,000 died due to war-induced famine, according to reports.
Biya wins new term
As deadly fighting between Anglophone separatists and security forces displaced hundreds of thousands of people, Africa’s oldest president, Paul Biya of Cameroun, calmly won a seventh term as a committee he appointed rejected all challenges to the vote.
US ex-President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara die
The longest living president in US history George H.W. Bush, died aged
94, just months after his wife, Barbara. He served as US president from 1989 to 1993, and eight years later watched as his son George W. Bush, followed in his footsteps to become commander-in-chief. He was a World War II hero, Texas congressman, UN ambassador, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president between 1981 and 1989.
Ex-First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush died at 92. She was born in the affluent New York suburb of Rye in June 1925. Just 16 when she met Bush at a school dance, the two married three years later in 1945.
Michael Jackson’s father dies
The patriarch of pop’s most famous family died in LA after suffering from cancer. In a statement, Michael Jackson’s estate said: “We are deeply saddened by Mr. Jackson’s passing and extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Katherine Jackson and the family.”
Aretha Franklin dies
The Queen of Soul died at 76 after suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. Born
on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, Aretha Franklin rose to fame in the 1960s. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Named the best singer of all time by Rolling Stone in 2013, she received 18 Grammy awards over the course of her career, which began when she was part of a gospel choir as a child.
3 deadliest occurrences in US
Deadliest shooting at an American high school: Parkland, Florida; deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century: Paradise, California; and deadliest attack on Jews in American history: Pittsburgh.
Killings of journalists rise
An international trade association said killings of journalists and news media staff rose again in 2018 following an overall decline during the past half-dozen years. The International Federation of Journalists said in an annual report that the number of media industry workers slain around the world rose to 94,
12 more than in 2017. Before the now-ended downward trend, the news industry saw 121 staff killings in 2012 and as many as 155 in 2006. The deadliest country for people who work in the news media in 2018 was Afghanistan, where 16 of the killings occurred. Mexico was next, with 11. Yemen had nine media slayings and Syria eight.
Saudi journalist murdered
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, columnist for the Washington Post, and a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel who was dismembered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, by agents of the Saudi government. After a period of denial, the Saudi government admitted Khashoggi was killed in its consulate. The international community has since been pressing for the imposition of sanctions.
Saudi anti-corruption purge
Saudi Arabia decided to hold an anti-corruption purge. As of January 30, the country seized nearly $100 billion through financial settlements.
Castro’s son commits suicide
On February 1, it was reported that Fidel Castro’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, committed suicide after being treated for depression. The 68-year-old was a nuclear scientist and the eldest son of the late Cuban leader.
Korean leaders meet
North Korea President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon-Jae met for talks in Pyongyang. The meeting was the first between Korean leaders in 10 years.
44 killed in Peru bus mishap
On February 21, a bus in Peru hurtled into a ravine, killing at least 44 passengers. The crash occurred on a curve in the road, a place common for accidents.
US Embassy moves to Jerusalem
President Donald Trump moved the US Embassy in Isaerl to Jerusalem in May, coinciding with the city’s 70th anniversary.
Iran nuclear deal
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) suffered a setback as the Trump administration pulled the United States out. Effort made by Britain, France and Germany to persuade Trump to rescind his decision failed. Rather, he called for a renegotiation just as he slammed fresh sanctions on Tehran.
New Pentagon policy
In January, the Pentagon released a National Defense Strategy that said “great power competition, not terrorism is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”
Trump, Kim in historic meeting
For the first time since the end of the Korean war, the United States president and the leader of North Korea met to mend fence. Trump and Kim Jong-Un met in Singapore where, after five hours of meetings, they signed a vague, four hundred word communique and declared that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
#MeToo goes global
The #MeToo movement took off in the US last year in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. In 2018, the movement went global as millions came forward to share their stories. In Italy the movement became #QuellaVoltaChe (“that time when”), in Spain it is #YoTambien, in France it is #BalanceTonPorc (“squeal on your pig”), and in Arab-speaking countries it is #AnaKaman.
Trump triggers a trade war
“I want tariffs,” Donald Trump told his advisers in July 2017. In 2018, he got his wish. In January the administration imposed tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels. A bigger move came in March, though, when tariffs were slapped on imported steel and aluminum from friends and foes alike because they posed a national security threat. Trump subsequently imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, which by July he had raised to $250 billion.
Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty
In October, the US informed Russia that it intended to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia was violating the terms of the treaty.
In November, Russia fired upon and then seized three Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov, escalating tensions between Moscow and Kiev.
Delegates of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) called for improved mission performance, more support to African forces, as the committee’s May Session focused on Peacekeeping Budget.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May survived an effort to oust her as head of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, leaving her standing but wounded as the government scrambled to negotiate Brexit just months before the UK was due to leave the European Union. A majority of Conservative lawmakers chose to support her in a secret ballot that was triggered when at least 48 of her colleagues wrote letters demanding a vote.
Breakthroughs in medicine
The World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a new vaccine that’s cheap and effective enough to end cholera, one of humanity’s greatest-ever killers. Cancer deaths dropped by 25% in the US since 1991, saving more than two million lives. Breast cancer deaths have fallen by 39%, saving the lives of 322,600 women. In July, UNAIDS revealed that, for the first time in history, half of all people on the planet with HIV were now getting treatment, and AIDS deaths dropped by half since 2005. Leprosy is now easily treatable. The number of worldwide cases dropped by 97% , and a new plan has set 2020 as the target for eradicating the disease. And on November 17, WHO announced that global deaths from tuberculosis have fallen by 37% since 2000, saving an estimated 53 million lives.
25 million doses of a new cholera vaccine were administered globally, and preparations began for the largest vaccination drive in history, said UNICEF.
Universal eye care
Rwanda became the first low-income country to provide universal eye care to all its citizens, by training 3,000 nurses in over 500 health clinics.
Thai cave boys
12 boys aged 11 to 16, as well as their coach, entered the 10km (6 mile) Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. When they failed to return home, a huge search operation was launched, with rescuers facing a race against time to find them as heavy rain battered the region and flooded parts of the cave. Bicycles and football boots belonging to the boys were found near the entrance of the cave. After 10 days, they were found weak but alive.
According to ReliefWeb, global deaths from terrorism dropped by 22% from their peak in 2014, thanks to significant declines in four of the five countries most impacted: Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma. In 2000, it threatened 2.8 million people (15% of the population) with blindness.
Since 2010, global HIV/AIDS infection rates have fallen by 16% in adults and by 35% for children. Most countries are now on track to eliminate infections by 2030, according to Undark. Malaysia became the first country in the Western Pacific to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Saudi women’s rights
Saudi Arabia said women would no longer need male permission to travel or study. A few months later, women received the right to drive.
Violence against women
Morocco passed a landmark law that criminalised violence against women, and imposed harsh penalties on perpetrators.
Tunisia became the first Arab nation to pass a law giving women and men equal inheritance, overturning an old provision of Sharia Islamic law.
Global youth survey
A new global youth survey showed that young people in all countries were more optimistic than adults. Nine in 10 teenagers in Kenya, Mexico, China, Nigeria, and India reported feeling positive about their future, The Guardian of London reported.
The International Energy Agency announced that nearly 1.2 billion people around the world have gained access to electricity in the last 16 years.
The UN said that the ozone hole would be fully healed over the Arctic and the northern hemisphere by the 2030s, and in the rest of the world by 2060.
In 2018, after more than 10 years of debate, 140 nations agreed to begin negotiations on a historic “Paris Agreement for the Ocean,” the first-ever international treaty to stop overfishing and protect life in the high seas.
The Journal of Peace Research said that global deaths from state-based conflicts declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower than their peak in 2014. After a decade-long effort, Herat, Afghanistan’s deadliest province for landmines, was declared free of explosive devices. Nearly 80% of the country is now mine-free. Following the collapse of ISIS, civilian deaths in Iraq decreased dramatically, 80% fewer Iraqis were killed in the first five months of 2018 compared to last year.
250 of the world’s major brands, including Coca Cola, Kellogs, and Nestle, agreed to make sure that 100% of their plastic packaging would be reused, recycled, or composted by 2025. The European Parliament passed a full ban on single-use plastics, estimated to make up over 70% of marine litter. It would come into effect in 2021. By the end of 2018, at least 32 countries around the world had plastic bag bans in place and nearly half were in Africa. Kenya enacted the world’s toughest plastic bag ban, and has reported that its waterways are clearer, the food chain is less contaminated and there are fewer ‘flying toilets.’ China said it had seen a 66% reduction in plastic bag usage since the rollout of its 2008 ban, and that it has avoided the use of an estimated 40 billion bags.
US, Mexico Wall
Trump took action to implement his vow to build “a great, great wall” across the rest of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border. Executive orders called for an increase of 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers above the 21,000 already employed. In the US, mothers and fathers were separated from children and deported.
Central American asylum seekers
Thousands of migrants (mostly Hondurans) arrived at the US-Mexico border after travelling more than 4,000km (2,500 miles) from Central America. They said they were fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many of them said their goal was to settle in the US despite warnings by US officials that anyone found entering the country illegally would face arrest, prosecution and deportation.