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Amid South Sudan’s War, Miss World Pageant Carries On

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south sudan's war, chikungunya, maternal mortality
In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, the winner of Miss World South Sudan 2017, Arual Longar, poses for a portrait at a shelter for street children in Juba, South Sudan. VOA

Amid the ethnic violence, famine and mass displacement in South Sudan’s war, a Miss World pageant carries on in one of the world’s most devastated countries.

Dozens of young women are using the international beauty pageants to advocate for peace at home and abroad. Contestants call the pageant a way to help others and change global perceptions.

ALSO READ: South Sudan Artists Protest against Civil War with Peace Campaign, Pop-up Street Performances and Murals

South Sudan's war
“They think we’re just a war-torn country and then they see our girls,” one former supermodel says. Pixabay

 

Women and girls have been targets of horrific violence in South Sudan’s war. For the vast majority of people in the deeply impoverished East African country, the annual beauty pageants are unknown or simply a dream.

But organizers are determined to deliver on the theme “beauty with a purpose.” (VOA)

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Iran’s Zarif Blames Israel, U.S. Looking Forward For War

"Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, U.S. behavior is putting international law on the shelf," he said.

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Rupee Depreciation Against Dollar Leads to Sharp Rise in Crude Prices. Pixabay

Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the region.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also criticized the U.S. administration after Vice President Mike Pence this week called on European powers to pullout of the nuclear deal with Iran. Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war… Israel,” Zarif said. “The risk [of war] is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law.”

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, U.S. behavior is putting international law on the shelf,” he said.

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Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region. VOA

Speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iranian belligerence was the main destabilising factor in the entire Middle East.

“We must deny Iran nuclear weaponry and block its military entrenchment in Syria. We will continue taking constant action to ensure Israel’s security,” he said in remarks broadcast on Israeli media.

Europe falling short

Vice President Pence on Friday accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism, maintaining his harsh rhetoric against Tehran just a day he attacked European powers for trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said the U.S. had an “unhealthy” and “pathological obsession” with Iran and accused Pence of trying to bully his allies.

“All in the name of containing Iran, the U.S. claims, and some blindly parrot, that it is Iran that is interfering in the region, but has it been asked whose region?” Zarif said.

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Zarif said the U.S. had an “unhealthy” and “pathological obsession” with Iran and accused Pence of trying to bully his allies. VOA

“Look at the map, the U.S. military has traveled 10,000 kilometers to dot all our borders with its bases. There is a joke that it is Iran that put itself in the middle of U.S. bases.”

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

These three countries this month set up the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions. But diplomats say it is unlikely to allow the big transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat.

Also Read: Rupee Depreciation Against Dollar Leads to Sharp Rise in Crude Prices

Washington’s major European allies opposed last year’s decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon the deal, which also includes China and Russia, under which international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

“INSTEX falls short of commitments by the E3 [France, Germany, Britain] to save the nuclear deal,” Zarif said. “Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against the dangerous tide of U.S. unilateralism.” (VOA)