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Malaysia, Cuba taken off US human trafficki…

NNA - The United States Monday took Malaysia and Cuba off its blacklist of countries failing to combat modern-day slavery, leaving Washington open to criticism that politics is swaying the often-contentious rankings in its annual human trafficking repo...
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Deadly Heat Wave Strikes India

Deadly heat waves are a regular occurrence in India. But this is much worse than in years past. “At least 800 people have died in a major heatwave that has swept across India, melting roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit)… ‘The state government has taken up education programmes through television and other media to tell people not to venture into the outside without a cap, to drink water and other measures,’ said P. Tulsi Rani, special commissioner for disaster management in the state. “We have also requested NGOs and government organisations to open up drinking water camps so that water will be readily available for all the people in the towns.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q8tVgO)

Quote of the Day: “This is not the year of the child but the year of fear, with 2015 already the worst year since 1945 for children being displaced, the worst year for children becoming refugees, the worst year for children seeing their schools attacked.” – former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PKwIlt)

Africa

Fighting in and around South Sudan’s Leer town has disrupted the hunger-hit region’s crucial planting season, and residents returning to the town urgently need food, water and medical help, aid workers said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1IYdlBa)

Burundi’s government on Tuesday condemned mounting diplomatic pressure over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive term, signalling it would not bow to international criticism. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1IYcGQn)

An “alarming spike” in suicide bombings by girls and women used by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria has children in danger of being seen as potential threats, the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q8usiN)

A cholera outbreak raging among Burundian refugees in Tanzania has slowed significantly with no new deaths reported in the past five days, the United Nations said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q8uqHI)

A Bangladeshi peacekeeper was shot dead and another wounded, the United Nations said Tuesday, in the second attack in days in Mali’s capital on what is considered the world’s most dangerous UN mission. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1IYdoNo)

A crippling strike over fuel that brought Nigeria to a near standstill was called off “in the national interest”, a union leader said on Tuesday, as the country limped back normal. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q8ueIh)

Pioneering HIV/AIDS research at the Africa Centre in Mtubatuba, South Africa, is saving lives and changing our understanding of the resilient virus. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PKwElv)

Islamist militants from Somalia attacked two police patrols in neighboring Kenya on Tuesday, triggering a gun battle in a rural area hit by a string of cross-border raids, both sides said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RkNKUy)

The impact of the drought in Southern Africa is looking particularly serious for Zimbabwe, where the economy has been struggling for five years to recover from a catastrophic recession that was marked by billion percent hyperinflation and widespread food shortages. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1HIyqzq)

More than 100 million condoms were distributed in Zimbabwe last year, a huge increase on previous years, indicating that more people were practising safe sex in the battle against HIV, authorities said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1RkNDYY)

African Union observers said on Tuesday that Ethiopia’s parliamentary election held on Sunday was credible except for a few irregularities, but the opposition dismissed the vote as marred by violations including ballot box theft. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RkNG7f)

MENA

The U.N. food agency is calling for a humanitarian pause in fighting in Syria to let farmers harvest their crops and get them to market. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IYcIaO)

Iraqi forces have launched a counteroffensive to retake areas of Anbar province, including Ramadi, recently captured by fighters from the ISIS. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/1dvKEPi)

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian went on trial on espionage charges behind closed doors in Tehran on Tuesday, 10 months after he was arrested at his home and imprisoned, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1dvLYSh)

Asia

UN rights experts have criticised South Korea for requiring that foreign English teachers have a negative HIV test to “check values and morality” in order to receive a visa to work. (ABC Australiahttp://ab.co/1HuK8YR)

An international gathering about the plight of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslims boasts a star-studded cast, with three Nobel Peace Prize laureates among those calling on the world to wake up to the unfolding tragedy. But fellow winner and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will not be among them. She wasn’t invited. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q8urLu)

Nepal banned children from traveling without parents or approved guardians on Tuesday in an unprecedented move to deter human traffickers who authorities fear are targeting vulnerable families after last month’s devastating earthquake. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Q8uuac)

The International Monetary Fund no longer believes China’s tightly controlled currency is undervalued, an IMF official said Tuesday, a stance that might help Beijing in its wrangling with Washington over exchange rate controls. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IYdjtc)

Russia’s rights ombudsman has slammed a controversial law approved by President Vladimir Putin that allows the authorities to ban international NGOs deemed “undesirable.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HIygIh)

Malaysian police forensic teams, digging with hoes and shovels, on Tuesday began pulling out bodies from shallow graves found in abandoned jungle camps where an inter-governmental body said hundreds of victims of human traffickers may be buried. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RkNKny)

The Americas

A commander of Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was among five rebels killed in a bombing raid, the Colombian military says. (BBC http://bbc.in/1cgkOx5)

Venezuela’s public ombudsman denied that jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was on hunger strike or in solitary confinement, saying he “had lunch with his children” the day before. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Huj4sO)

Rescue workers searched on Tuesday for 12 people missing in Texas after torrential rains slammed the state and Oklahoma during the Memorial Day weekend, killing seven people and causing floods that destroyed homes and swept away bridges. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1HIyjnq)

The thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba has led to a stunning 36 percent increase in visits by Americans to the island, including thousands who are flying into Cuba from third countries like Mexico in order to sidestep U.S. restrictions on tourism. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HIynn8)

…and the rest

The battle to eliminate extreme poverty will require rich western nations to step up their financial help and spend at least half their aid budgets in the world’s poorest countries, a leading development campaign group said on Tuesday. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1cgkBKn)

Participants in the European Union’s carbon market expect average prices to rise for the first time in four years, an annual survey published by the International Emissions Trading Association showed on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1IYdjcL)

The world’s leading migration group is urging the European Union to accept far more asylum seekers than the 20,000 it has planned to take under a new EU scheme to resettle people in need of protection. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q8utmP)

Opinion/Blogs

Global Dispatches Podcast episode 66: The Nicholas Burns interview. http://bit.ly/1AvAx73

Why proposed WHO reforms aren’t enough to deal with the next epidemic (Monkey Cage http://wapo.st/1Huovry)

Here’s what’s missing in AfDB’s 1st gender equality index (Devex http://bit.ly/1PKFIqx)

The geek heretic (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1dv7Ywq)

How clamping down on tax avoidance can unlock billions for development (Guardian http://bit.ly/1cgkwGA)

Tobacco Taxes Too Effective to Overlook in Financing for Development (IPS http://bit.ly/1esa4NX)

The limits of debunking only the pseudoscience of race (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1FBwWDm)

Joe Hockey on aid on Q&A (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1FBwYLt)

Why EU ministers must endorse aid targets (Devex http://bit.ly/1dv8drk)

Discussion

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Press release – Human rights: Zimbabwe; Thailand; Swaziland

Parliament passed three resolutions on Thursday, calling for Zimbabwean human rights activist Itai Dzarana to be found immediately; the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland; protection for Rohingya asylum seekers and action against human trafficking in Thailand.

The case of Itai Dzarana in Zimbabwe

MEPs strongly condemn the forced disappearance of human rights defender Itai Dzamara and urge the government of Zimbabwe to comply fully with the High Court order directing it to search for him and thus take all necessary measures to find him. They express concerns at the reports by human rights organisations of increasing political violence and other human rights abuses and call for concerted action by the international community.

The resolution deplores the absence of a strong and enforceable human rights clause in the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and calls on the EU delegation in Harare "to continue to offer its assistance to Zimbabwe in order to improve the human rights situation".

 

The resolution was passed by a show of hands.

The plight of Rohingya refugees and the mass graves in Thailand

Parliament expresses its concern over the plight of Rohingya refugees and calls on the Thai authorities to hold "immediate, full and credible" investigations into the mass graves of Rohingya Muslims found in May near human trafficking camps in southern Thailand.

It calls on all countries in the region to strengthen cooperation on counter-smuggling measures and to provide Rohingya asylum seekers "at least with temporary protection" and urges the leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to make saving of lives and refugees stranded on vessels in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea a top priority.

It also asks the government of Burma/Myanmar to end the persecution of the Rohingya minority and calls on the EU High Representative to address this issue "at the highest possible political level" in her contacts with Thailand and Burma/Myanmar.

 

The resolution was adopted by a show of hands.

 

The case of Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland

MEPs call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Maseko and Mr Makhubu, "given that their imprisonment relates directly to the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression" and also of all political prisoners, including Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement, and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary-General of the Swaziland Youth Congress.

Parliament considers the imprisonment of political activists and the banning of trade unions to be in clear contravention of commitments made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and also under the sustainable development chapter of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement, for which Parliament’s support will depend on respect for the commitments made.

It calls, therefore, on the Commission to honour its obligation to monitor Swaziland’s adherence to human rights and to labour and environmental conventions under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and to open an investigation to determine whether there has been a serious and systematic violation of the labour rights protected under the GSP.

The resolution was passed by 579 votes to 6, with 58 abstentions.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions

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