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North Korea warning

North Korea warns of what it calls unprecedentedly strong responses if Seoul and Washington move ahead with their planned military drills next week. The North Korean foreign ministry slammed the upcoming exercises, saying they will only cause tensions to rise in the region. It also said Pyongyang would consider additional military action if the UN Security Council does not stop pressuring North Korea under the influence of the US. Washington and Seoul say they will hold tabletop drills at the Pentagon On February 22 to improve operations of American nuclear assets and strengthen deterrence. The two countries describe their exercises as defensive, citing the growing number of North Korea’s missile tests. Pyongyang, however, says the drills are in fact invasion rehearsals.

Plight of Rohingya

Concerns are growing over the grim situation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, after the United Nations announced its plan to cut food aid to the persecuted Muslim group. The World Food Program said it will reduce the monthly allowance allocated to every Rohingya refugee to 10 dollars. The WFP said the plan will come into effect as of March, blaming a lack of funding for the cuts. Following the announcement, the international NGO “save the children” warned the move would take a heavy toll on Rohingya children, who are already grappling with malnutrition in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Two UN special rapporteurs also warned of devastating consequences, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Around 730,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017 amid a brutal military crackdown in their native Myanmar.

UK strikes

Nurses in England are to stage yet another strike amid a bitter dispute with the government over what they call its refusal to negotiate over pay. The Royal College of Nursing, a union representing nurses in Britain, said the strike will run continuously for 48 hours, starting from March one. The industrial action will affect more than 120 state-run health facilities. In another sign of escalation, nursing staff working in emergency departments, intensive care units and cancer care will also join the move for the first time. The strikers demand a pay rise to cope with high inflation. It will be the latest in a series of walkouts that hit various sectors over the past year, causing widespread disruption in the country, which is grappling with a cost of living crisis.

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