Humanity had its worse experience in 2020 following the sudden outbreak of the CONVID-19 pandemic. Besides the COVID-19 death toll recorded, natural disasters, insurgency, civil wars and racial attacks crippled socio-economic and political activities in some nations. Below is the summary of major events that occurred during the period under review.
COVID-19 pandemic: Few people noticed when news emerged last December that China had begun monitoring the outbreak of a new pneumonia-like virus, or even on January 11 after China reported its first death from the disease. Nearly a year later, COVID-19 had changed life as we knew it. The World Health Organization estimated in October that as much as 10 percent of the world’s population had already contracted COVID-19; by year’s end some 1.879,175 million people had died from it as at press time. As countries implemented lockdowns to stop the disease’s spread, the global economy sputtered, it may have contracted by more than 4 percent and poverty rates spiked
Targeted killings of journalists surged in 2020: More journalists were killed outside of war zones, and the overwhelming majority of the year’s grim total of at least 50 dead were deliberately targeted, many of them murdered while investigating organized crime, corruption and environmental degradation, Reporters Without Borders said. Targeted killings of journalists surged in 2020, accounting for 84% of deaths, sharply up from 63% in 2019, the group said.
Arab States Struggle in 2020 following COVID, Economic and Political Crises: The year 2020 for the Arab world stretched across North Africa and the Levant was catastrophic for many countries, according to some analysts. Regional conflicts and economic problems, exacerbated by COVID19, have created a disaster from which a number of countries are finding it difficult to recover.
UN’s global cease-fire plea falls on deaf ears: As the pandemic started to unfold early in 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a plea for a global cease-fire, saying the world needed to focus on “the true fight” against the coronavirus.
“Silencing the guns will not only support the fight against COVID-19, but also create opportunities for life-saving aid, open windows for diplomacy, and bring hope to people suffering in conflict zones who are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic,” he said. But the plea overall fell on deaf ears. Conflicts continued to rage across the world, some were the continuation of pre-pandemic wars; others, flare-ups of pre-existing disputes.
Domestic terrorism and hate exploded in US: A few weeks ago, several members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team set up a Zoom meeting with senior members of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the group that studies and tracks hate crimes, to hear recommendations for fighting domestic terrorism and right-wing extremism.
Saudi court jails women’s rights activist, posing challenge for Biden: A Saudi court sentenced prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, to nearly six years in prison, her family said, after her conviction in a trial that has drawn international condemnation. The verdict and sentence pose a challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s relationship with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has criticised Riyadh’s human rights record.
She was charged with seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national security, Saudi newspapers Sabq and al-Shark al-Awsat said, under broad counter-terrorism laws.
Australian Bushfire: Started in December 2019, the Australian bush fires showed no signs of slowing down or stopping. As per a report published in the Medical Journey of Australia, the Australian bushfire burned an estimated 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 5,900 buildings, and killed at least 34 people, while over 400 people were killed due to the residual smoke inhalation.
Devastating floods in Indonesia: Devastating floods destroyed Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta and some neighbouring areas. Over 4 lakh people were forced to flee from their homes. The floods were accompanied by heavy rains lashing the city causing further damage as rivers overflowed and people were submerged in waters that were 5ft in depth. About 66 people lost their lives to this natural disaster of 2020.
Earthquakes in Turkey, The Caribbean, China, Iran, Russia, Philippines, India: There have been so many earthquakes in 2020 that if I sat to categorise each as a natural disaster the list would be unnaturally long. So far there have been 45 earthquakes characterised over 6 magnitudes. Jamaica and Russia were the worst hit with earthquakes over magnitude 7. The earthquake in Turkey claimed 41 lives.
Locust Swarms in East Africa, parts of India, Asia: Millions of desert locusts have swarmed 5 states in India, namely Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the videos are quite scary. First detected in East Africa and then Pakistan, the deadly locusts do not affect humans but they do cause damage to crops.
Cyclone Amphan in India, Bangladesh: Cyclone Amphan created havoc in West Bengal and Odisha in May, leaving behind trails of destruction. The super cyclone reportedly killed 12 people in Bengal, while power supply and phone networks also took a hit in states.
Windstorm hits Europe: Europe was not only one of the worst-affected continents due to the pandemic but also due to natural disasters in 2020. The continent was struck by windstorms Ciara and Alex that cost nearly $6bn and killed 30 people. The worse part is that such extratropical cyclones are expected to hit Europe more often as temperatures rise due to global warming.
Floods in India, Japan, China: Very ironically, six of the ten most expensive weather events in 2020 happened in Asia. A lot of these disasters were triggered by unusually rainy monsoons. Floods that unfolded for several months in China and India cost an estimated $32bn and $10bn respectively.
Antarctica snow turns green: Antarctica normally conjures up images of an otherworldly space, with vast glaciers of white, tethering penguins and lazy seals. However, parts of the frozen continent are turning green, all thanks to climate change and massive algal blooms.
UN halt joint UN-AU peacekeeping in Darfur: U.N. Security Council members decided to end the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan’s western Darfur region when the mission’s mandate runs out Dec. 31, after pressure from the country’s transitional government, Russia and African nations.
Israeli government collapses, forcing fourth election in 2 years: Israel’s government collapsed Tuesday, pushing the country into yet another early election, the fourth in two years.
US Senate acquits President Trump of impeachment charges: Trump began the year as the third president in US history to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. The U.S. House had impeached Trump on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment trial in the Senate opened on January 16, with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. The Senate acquitted Trump.
Joe Biden defeats Trump in presidential poll: Four days after Election Day, the race was called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Trump refused to concede, however. Insisting he had won, he demanded recounts in several states, falsely claimed large-scale election fraud, and filed lawsuits in state and federal courts to overturn the results.
Kamala Harris became first female US vice president-elect American voters did not only elected their oldest President to date but also elected the first-ever female Vice President. Kamala Harris, the daughter of two immigrant parents. She is also the first Black Vice President.
Prince Harry, wife quit UK royal family: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shocked both sides of the pond on Jan. 8 when they announced they were stepping down as “senior” royals.
Beirut explosion: A massive explosion at a Beirut port, sparked Aug. 4 by the accidental detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, killed at least 190 people and injured thousands of others.
Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed in a US drone strike: One of the first international events of the new year was the announcement that Iranian general Qasem Soleimani had been killed in Baghdad by a US drone strike on January 3, 2020. At the orders of President Donald Trump, the airstrike was carried out because, according to a tweet written by the president, Soleimani had “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans … and was plotting to kill many more.”
UK withdraws from the European Union, finalizing Brexit: The controversial move was predated by years of turmoil, protests, and back-and-forth over the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
Speaker of US House tore up a copy of Trump’s speech: One of the most memorable pre-election political moments of the year before the coronavirus really took hold in the US was when Nancy Pelosi ripped up Trump’s speech after his State of the Union address on February 4, 2020. What’s more, right before the State of the Union speech, President Trump appeared to snub the House Speaker’s handshake. Reactions to Pelosi’s actions were mixed.
Rumors of death of North Korean leader swirled: Rumors ran rampant in April that Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, had passed away. Multiple news outlets reported on the rumors as well as who would be next in line to replace Jong Un in the event that he had died. However, the rumors were soon proven to be false. Resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. People across all 50 states, in more than 700 cities in US, and even in countries across the globe participated in peaceful protests with the aim of fighting for police reform and justice for Black lives across the nation and the world.