Athena Tacet is a visual journalist and international reporter specializing in geopolitics and human rights. She's also a freelance data journalist and illustrator, who enjoys trying to make sense of the world using one dataset and one data visualization at a time.
She writes political analyses and feature articles in both English and French for several publications including Al Jazeera English, The Economist, The World Post, The Huffington Post, Slate, Embassy Magazine, a weekly Canadian foreign policy newspaper, and others.
Some of the topics that Athena has covered through foreign reporting include the historical place of Islam in South Korean society, the dire situation in which Vietnam's Christian communities find themselves living as stateless refugees in Thailand, the integration of Roma in Southern Europe, the EU Asylum Policy, Taiwan’s small Muslim minority, statelessness and international law, Greece’s rise of extreme right amid the country’s economic crisis, and Syria’s beleaguered Christian community.
She previously worked as a fellow and digital editor as part of a featured series on capitalism and environmental reporting (Finding Roots of Capitalism through Environmental Reporting) presented at the 2015 World Resources Forum in Davos, Switzerland; and another featured series (Feeding The World Project) presented at the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF).
She's also worked with USAID, Journalists for Human Rights (Canada), Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (USA), Global Voices, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, and The Korea Observer (South Korea).
Athena has visited more than 40 countries and has lived in the US, Cyprus, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea. She graduated from Concordia University (Canada) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a Certificate in Modern Arabic Language and Culture, and a Graduate diploma in Journalism.
She speaks English, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and some Arabic (Modern Standard and Levantine).
Feature articles, analyses, and on the ground dispatches from South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Greece, and Canada.
Al Jazeera English
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan, which was a turning point in the history of Islam in Korea. Today, South Korean Muslims make up a tiny minority, 0.2 percent, of the predominantly Christian and Confucian society.
As South Korea is opening its doors to Muslim tourists, trying to fill the vacuum left by the declining number of Chinese tourists following the debacle launched with the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, various generations of native Korean Muslims reflect on their double identity as Koreans and Muslims in South Korea.
(Photo: Radu Diaconu)
Al Jazeera English
In the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, a small community says it is escaping religious persecutions by the Vietnamese authorities. (Photo: Radu Diaconu)
The European Union is at a crossroads between facing more divisions and hostilities on the one hand, and working towards the integration of various heritages into the creation of a unified identity on the other. (Photo: Institute for Cultural Diplomacy)
Politheor & The World Post
It is urgent for national governments to establish frameworks through which victims of discrimination can become aware of their rights and receive fair remedy. (Photo: EU Observer)
The European Union, which started a process of legitimizing itself as an Arctic actor, and created a basis for its own foreign policy in the Arctic in 2008, was once again denied the status of full Arctic Council observer. (Photo: US Government)
Politheor & The World Post
A growing and significant partner for the European Union, Russia has also often played a double game aimed at destabilizing the Old Continent and continuing its policy of balkanization within the EU. (Photo: CyprusMail 2015)
Politheor & The Huffington Post
It’s a problem of responsibility. For more than a decade, EU Member States and EU institutions have combined their efforts to draft a EU Asylum Policy that would tackle the migration issue, and allocate the responsibility to process asylum cases on the principle of responsibility-shifting, rather than responsibility-sharing. (Photo: EU Observer)
Dans la Belle Province, le débat fait rage sur une «Charte des valeurs québécoises» prohibant les signes religieux visibles dans la fonction publique. (Photo: Kevstan via Wikimedia Commons)
The Huffington Post
Greece's state of democracy is at a crossroads. The country that gave birth to the Western model of democracy 4000 years ago is at the heart of a crisis, which is now affecting one of its main sources of information to the public. (Photo: Reuters/Phasma)
The Huffington Post
À première vue, l'idée de se retrouver sur une petite île de la Polynésie n'est pas tout à fait des plus déplaisantes. Mais pour Mikhail Sebastian, 39 ans, son séjour prolongé forcé aux Samoa occidentales est le récit d'une histoire bien moins onirique. Car Mikhail Sebastian est apatride. Il n'a pas de nationalité et par conséquent n'est protégé par aucun État. (Photo: Mikhail Sebastian)
The Huffington Post
Les chrétiens de Syrie se retrouvent aujourd'hui engloutis dans un gouffre social et politique où certains demeurent fidèles au gouvernement Assad pour assurer leur survie, tandis que d'autres auraient refusé les armes que leur proposait le gouvernement, pour choisir de se battre au côté de l'Armée syrienne libre ou bien encore se retrouvant soit déplacés dans leur propre pays ou bien dans les camps de réfugiés en Turquie, en Jordanie et au Liban. (Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
Mali is in the middle of a civil war. But, it isn’t Canada’s war. For more than a year, conflicts between the central government and Islamist factions in Northern Mali including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi) and the Touareg-led Ansari Dine, have threatened the country’s stability. Last January 10, former colonial power France decided to intervene to support the local government after President Dioncounda Traoré publically asked for assistance to liberate the country from rebels. (Photo: Kambou Sia/AFP/Getty Images)
Data visualizations and infographics that I've worked on as a data journalist and visual creator.
Latin America's Public Security Crisis
According to a recent report published in April 2018 by independent Brazilian-based "think and do tank" Igarapé Institute, one-quarter of all global homicides are concentrated in four Latin American countries: 1) Brazil (13 percent), 2) Mexico (6 percent), 3) Venezuela (4 percent) and 4) Colombia (4 percent). All of these countries are currently getting ready for presidential elections in which public security is a central issue.
Refugees in Paris
According to a recent study conducted by Refugee Rights Europe (27-30 January 2018) on 283 refugees and displaced people currently living in Paris, France, 85.46 percent of respondents have declared living on the streets of the French capital, either under bridges or in tents provided by NGOs.
Shark Finning Crisis
According to a recent report entitled "Sharks In Crisis: Evidence of Positive Behavioral Change in China as New Threats Emerge," published by WildAid, the hunting and selling of sharks for their fin, meat, and oil kills about 100 million sharks each year. As a result, about 28 percent of the world's shark species are now threatened with extinction (IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species). The report also indicates that despite mainland China's recent efforts to decrease the imports, sales, and consumption of shark fin, new markets have emerge in other parts of the world, including Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, and Brazil.
According to recent data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, children account for 48 percent of the population living in the Gaza Strip.
Canada's Food Loss and Waste
A recent paper prepared for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) entitled "Characterization and Management of Food Loss and Waste in North America," has revealed that from farm to table, an average of 396 kilograms of food is wasted or lost annually per capita in Canada, right behind the United States (415 kilograms per year per capita).
The Reality of Child Soldiers
According to the Child Soldiers World Index, a first-ever online database on child soldiers developed by human rights group Child Soldiers International and released on February 21st, 2018, the exploitation of children as soldiers remains a reality around the world. Among the 197 United Nations Member States that were mapped online, the index reveals that 46 countries continue to recruit children under 18 into the state armed forces. This represents about 23 percent of the countries worldwide. #SouthSudan, #Somalia, and #Myanmar are some of the countries affected by this issue.
Land Degradation and Biodiversity
A new worldwide land degradation and restoration assessment report conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reveals that more than 50 percent of bird and mammal species in Africa could be extinct by 2100 due to climate change.
What's in your bottled water?
A new study conducted on 259 water bottles from 11 brands sold around the world by Orb Media, a US-based nonprofit journalism organization, has revealed that 93 percent of the bottled water tested contained tiny plastic particles. This represents an average of 325 microplastic particles for every liter of water. This report prompted the World Health Organisation to begin its own investigation on the potential risks of plastic in drinking bottled water.
Women in Science
Recent data released by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics reveal that the average of women working in research and development remain low in every region of the world, but some countries are ahead of the curve with the highest percentages of women researchers.
Greece's Dwindling Population
Did you know that Greece lost 3 percent of its population over the 2011-2016 period due to decreasing birth rates and higher emigration rates as a result of the economic crisis? With more than 1 in 5 Greeks aged 65 and older, Greece is Europe's second aging country right after Italy. Based on recent predictions, the Greek population (estimated at 10.8 million in 2016), is expected to drop to 9.9 million by 2030 and to 8.9 million by 2050.
Pangolins: The world's most trafficked wild mammals
Have you ever heard of pangolins? This tiny and harmless ant-eating animal originates in Africa and Asia and is one of the most ancient creatures still existing today. After being on the planet for about 80 million years, today all 8 species of pangolins are threatened with extinction. 1 million pangolins have been trafficked globally since 2000 for their meat and scaled used in Chinese medicine. 0.4 to 2.7 million pangolins are hunted annually in Central African forests for Chinese consumption. The number of hunted pangolins have seen a 150 percent increase over the past four decades. The price of 1 kilo of pangolins scales is estimated at $600; in the 1990s, 1 kilo was worth $14.
World's Top Cycling Countries
A recent survey conducted in 2017 by Dalia Research reveals that 39 percent of the population of the Netherlands uses a bicycle for regular weekday journeys and commuting, or the equivalent to 2 out of 5 people. This makes the Netherlands the first cycling country in the world, followed by Denmark, Sweden, Japan, and Germany.
North Korean Refugees
A recent data research conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute on January 3rd, 2018 reveals that 80% of North Korean refugees are women, and among them, 75% are victims of sexual trafficking.
Food Insecurity in Syria
According to a recent 2017 report by the World Food Programme and MasterCard entitled "Counting the Beans: The True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World, 50 percent of Syria's population needed food assistance in 2016, that is the equivalent of 9 million people or the population of the city of London, United Kingdom.
The Extinction of Chocolate
Cocoa plantations are expected to disappear by 2050 due to rising temperatures and drier weather conditions. In other words, given that many cocoa producing countries around the world, such as Ivory Coast and Ghana, are severely affected by climate change - partly due to the global chocolate industry itself - chocolate as we know it may soon become a rare commodity or even go extinct.
Climate Change and Rising Temperatures
A recent study published on January 1st, 2018 in Nature Climate Change reveals that over 25 percent of the world's land will dry up if the Paris Agreement goals are not met and if the global average temperature rises by 2 percent in the next 30 years.
The True Cost of Fashion
A recent report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation entitled "A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future," (2017) reveals that the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is burned or landfilled every second. This corresponds to about 86,400 of garbage trucks full of textiles every 24 hours.
Did you know that air pollution was responsible for a large number of deaths and cases of respiratory diseases around the world? Recent UN Environment (UNEP) data reveal that 50 percent of the world lives in urban areas but only 12 percent of cities have air quality measures that meet standards established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
2018 Cyprus Presidential Elections
A recent survey conducted on November 28th and 30th, 2017 by the Cyprus Institute of Statisticians reveals a very low voter turnout among the young population of Cyprus, as 62% of the youth aged 18 to 35 will not vote in the elections on January 2018. This reflects a lack of trust in political institutions and limited hopes in economic prospects among the local population.
Despite efforts put into place to tackle the issue of conflict or blood diamonds since the 1990s, a research conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute in 2016 reveals that they still account for 4 percent of the world’s total diamond production. Until this day, it is estimated that 3 million people have died as a result of conflict diamond mining, a number that represents the equivalent of the population of a major city like Toronto, Canada.