August 2015 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of August 2015.
The Immigration Crisis Intensifies (Aug.): During the summer of 2015, the Balkans route replaces the Mediterranean as the most traveled path by migrants. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees projects that 3,000 people a day will attempt to cross the Balkans to reach Western Europe in the coming months. The German government estimates that 800,000 migrants will seek asylum there by the end of 2015, coming from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan to escape war and conflict. Europeans react to the immigration crisis in different ways. To shut off migrants, a fence is being built in Hungary along the border it shares with Serbia. More than 200 attacks on migrants have happened in Germany this year, including two fires set to asylum seeker shelters in August. The bodies of 71 migrants are found near Vienna. In Rome, migrants are evacuated by police after a protest against them turned violent. Macedonia declares a temporary state of emergency while dealing with the increasing number of migrants passing through on their way to Western Europe.
Iraq Prime Minister Calls for Overhaul of Government (Aug. 9): Iraq experiences a blistering heatwave during the summer of 2015, with daytime temperatures above 120 degrees. Despite the oppressive heat, government electrical grids can only provide a few hours of air conditioning per day. Angry citizens blame government corruption on the lack of relief and take to the streets in protest. After several weeks, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces an anti-corruption drive and an overhaul of the government, which includes abolishing the posts of three vice presidents and three deputy prime ministers and eliminating cabinet positions for Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds that are based on quotas. Parliament approves the sweeping plan and it wins the support of revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The move, though necessary, comes with the risk of further alienating minority Sunnis, who have complained of being disenfranchised.
American Flag Raised in Cuba (Aug. 14): The U.S. flag is raised outside the newly reopened embassy in Havana during a ceremony in which Secretary of State John Kerry also speaks. The ceremony is another signal to an end of fifty years of strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba. During his televised speech, Kerry says, "We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by a genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith."
Bangkok Blast Kills at Least 20 (Aug. 17): A bomb explodes inside Erawan Shrine, a popular site for tourists in Bangkok, Thailand. The blast kills at least 20 and injures more than 123 others. No one claims responsibility for the bombing. It is the worst explosion in a series of them since the military took power in May 2014. (Aug. 18): A second bomb explodes in Bangkok, but no one is injured. Police are looking for a suspect.
Germany Backs Third Bailout for Greece (Aug. 19): The German Parliament votes on and approves a third bailout for Greece. Parliament's approval is seen as a victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel who supports the bailout. The $95 billion bailout still needs to be approved by other governments in Europe. If approved, the bailout will be negotiated with Greece by international creditors. (Aug. 20): After being approved by Germany and other European governments, Greece receives $14.5 billion, the first payment of a new three-year bailout that is worth a total of $95.6 billion.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Resigns (Aug. 20): The latest bailout for Greece creates tension within Prime Minister Tsipras' Syriza party, prompting Tsipras to resign. (Aug. 27): An interim government is formed with Judge Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou taking over as prime minister until September 20, when an election will be held, Greece's third election in 2015. In assuming her temporary role, Thanou-Christophilou, also president of the Court of Cassation and the country's most senior judge, becomes Greece's first ever female prime minister.
Train Attack Thwarted by Americans and a Briton in France (Aug. 21): Three Americans: Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard, Airman First Class Spencer Stone, college student Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman overpower a man armed with an AK-47, a pistol, and a box cutter as he walks down the aisle on a train outside of Paris, France. (Aug. 24): Norman, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone are awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor by President Hollande for their bravery and thwarting a potentially devastating attack.
ISIS Destroys Ancient Temple in Palmyra (Aug. 24): ISIS militants destroy several important antiquities, including the Temple of Baalshamin, one of the most majestic and well-preserved structures in Palmyra, and a 5th-century Roman Catholic monastery. Militants also behead Khaled Asaad, the 81-year-old former director of antiquities at Palmyra. The militants reportedly torture him for information about unexcavated treasures in the city. Palmyra, a historic city in central Syria, is home to several ancient ruins and is a UN World Heritage Site.
Migrants at a train station in Bicske, Hungary
Source: AP Photo/Petr David Josek
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Source: Amel Emric for Associated Press
Former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Source: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert