NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with WORLD’s Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: House passes genocide relief bill—We start today in the states, where the U.S. House passed the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, also known as HR 390. The unanimous vote authorizes funding to assist Iraqis still displaced by ISIS terror. It will also help with rebuilding efforts in key areas devastated by the militants.
Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey championed the bill. He told fellow lawmakers that Iraqi Christians in Erbil still desperately need help.
SMITH: As Archbishop Warda, again the head of the Chaldean Church there, told me today, and I quote him: “Christians in Iraq are still at the brink of extinction. H.R. 390 is vital to our survival. If it becomes law, implementation must be full and fast. Otherwise the help it provides will be too late for us.”
The Trump administration has pledged additional funding to rebuild Christian and other communities in the area. And earlier this year, it sent a special representative for minority assistance to Iraqi Kurdistan to administer the efforts.
Mexico welcomes new president—Next we go south to Mexico. There, newly elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took the oath of office Saturday.
AMLO: Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!
Lopez Obrador won election earlier this year vowing to fight rampant crime and corruption. Part of his plan includes expanding the military’s policing role through a national guard deployed across the country.
Mexico’s Supreme Court rejected lawmakers’ effort to create a similar force last year. But the new president could bypass that ruling by amending the country’s constitution.
Lopez Obrador has also launched talks with the U.S. and Canada, saying he wants “to address migration issues at the root.”
Boko Haram staging more attacks—Next to Nigeria, where the army has admitted Boko Haram is regaining some of its former strength. In a speech to troops, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari admitted the militants are staging more brazen attacks against security forces.
BUHARI: The bottom line is to have personal security, you are only secure physically and materially as long as this country is secure.
Militants killed nearly 40 Nigerian troops in November alone. Some attacks even included drones. On Sunday, a group affiliated with Boko Haram seized control of the town of Arege in Borno state.
Buhari had previously claimed the terror group’s defeat.
Netanyahu could face more corruption charges—Next to Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing more legal problems. Investigators have recommended new corruption charges based on evidence that Netanyahu’s confidants promoted regulatory changes designed to help Israel’s telecom giant Bezeq. In exchange, they say Netanyahu enjoyed positive coverage on the company’s popular news site Walla.
During a meeting of the Likud party in Tel Aviv…
NETANYAHU: [Speaking in Hebrew]
Netanyahu denied the allegations and said they have no legal significance.
Police already recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases. The decision now rests with the country’s attorney general, an ally of the prime minister.
Netanyahu is up for reelection late next year, but some observers believe he will move up the election—while his popularity is still high.
Christmas tree lighting in Bethlehem—We end today in Bethlehem. This week Palestinian Christians celebrated the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Manger Square.
AUDIO: [Sound from celebration]
Thousands of people attended the ceremony at the Nativity Church, the site widely considered the birthplace of Jesus. Palestinian Christians make up about 2 percent of the predominantly Muslim population of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.