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New Report Documents Terrible Abuses by Nigerian Military in Boko Haram Fight

The military has been more part of the problem than the solution in the fight against Boko Haram. “Nigerian military abuses have caused the deaths of some 8,000 civilians in the fight against Boko Haram extremists, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday…The soldiers have detained more than 20,000 people — some boys as young as 9 and often on scant evidence — and then held them in brutal conditions that resulted in many deaths, alleged the report. “Former detainees and senior military sources described how detainees were regularly tortured to death — hung on poles over fires, tossed into deep pits or interrogated using electric batons,” said the report. (AP http://yhoo.it/1QpJAsc)

The report: http://bit.ly/1Q7Rn2V

Yet More Horrid News from the Bay of Bengal…“Dozens of corpses have washed to shore in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine in the last month, an advocacy group and villagers said Wednesday. Some were believed to be Rohingya Muslims trying to escape trafficking ships, while others were Bangladeshi.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1QpJzEq)

El Nino is Spanish For… Farmers in Africa and East Asia are expected to suffer crop losses as extreme weather linked to the El Nino phenomenon alters rainfall patterns, scientists told a conference on climate change in Bonn on Wednesday. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1FTK5YN)

Quote of the day: “His intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on the decision by SG Ban Ki-moon to set up an independent external review of its handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Central African Republic. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JlnLLB)


Three senior officials from Nigeria’s central bank and two others from a commercial bank have been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with currency fraud. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Jl97nm)

A U.N. panel accused Senegalese authorities of arbitrarily detaining the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, and called on the government to hand over unspecified compensation, a draft report showed. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Jl9cHR)

Women in Zimbabwe are starting to venture out at night without fear of being arrested on prostitution charges after the Constitutional Court ruled it was illegal and sexist for police to indiscriminately arrest women on the streets and in public establishments. (AP http://yhoo.it/1QpJHUr)

African leaders will meet later this year in Togo to discuss drawing up a continental charter against maritime piracy, the country’s authorities have announced. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1QpJzV2)

Growing optimism over Africa’s economic future is set to draw more than 1,250 delegates from governments and international corporations Wednesday to the three-day “African Davos” in Cape Town, the World Economic Forum said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HKQVhd)

Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest logging companies are systematically violating national laws to plunder Congo’s forests, undermining efforts to protect the world’s second largest rainforest, a campaign group said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JqweeO)

Patient and leading health organisations in South Africa have now joined a Fix the Patent Laws campaign launched in 2011 by Treatment Action Campaign and Doctors Without Borders to push for reform of the country’s current patent laws. (IPS http://bit.ly/1QpTrOG)


Conflicts and instability are hampering the fight against hunger in the Middle East at a time when undernourishment is on the rise, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation warned Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1QpJFMu)

Libyan politicians and activists resumed talks on Wednesday, aimed at forming a unity government to end the power struggle between two rival administrations that mediators fear could turn the North African country into a failed state. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QpJBwc)

British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca plc signed Tuesday a deal with private Algerian firms Salhi and Hasnaoui to build a $125 million plant in the North African country, the partners announced. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JqwdaB)


Death threats to academics in Bangladesh, including the junior home minister, are fuelling a climate of fear following the killings this year of three online critics of religious nationalism in the Muslim-majority nation. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QpJz7w)

An independent Afghan anti-corruption body warned Wednesday that nepotism plays a critical role in getting a job as a diplomat in the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Jl976N

Dozens of family members walked in protest on Wednesday to the rescue site of a sunken cruise ship in the Yangtze River, asking for news of their relatives who are missing after the worst shipping disaster in modern Chinese history. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JqwgTY)

Myanmar brought ashore more than 700 “boat people” it had kept at sea for days aboard a seized vessel, as the United States on Wednesday called on the country to help solve a migrant crisis by recognizing the rights of its Muslim Rohingya minority. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1HKQOST)

The Americas

About 30 Cubans sit in a conference room for several hours each week and learn the ABCs of journalism: how to craft a news story, write a headline and check sources. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HKQRy3)

A commission called Tuesday for increased funding for education of Canada’s aboriginal population to repair the damage caused during the last century by Christian-run boarding schools for Indians, Inuits and mixed-race children. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Jqw9b5)

El Salvador recorded a grisly milestone with 635 homicides in May, believed to be the most killings for a single month since the Central American nation’s civil war ended in 1992. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HKQMdL)

Lawmakers in Colombia passed a bill imposing tough sentences for hate crimes against women. The bill was passed with 104 votes in support and three against. It still needs to be signed by the president to become law. (BBC http://bbc.in/1KEbUVW)

Several environmental groups sued the United States on Tuesday to derail Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plan to drill in the Arctic Ocean as soon as July. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JqwdYe)

A prolonged drought in the Caribbean has left farmers vulnerable and worried. (IPS http://bit.ly/1HKQjrY)

…and the rest

An international commitment to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help vulnerable countries tackle climate change is unlikely to be met if only government funding from rich nations is counted towards it, researchers said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1IhtpxV)

The world economy risks being bogged down in a low growth spiral unless measures are taken to spur demand and incite businesses to boost their stubbornly sluggish investments. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IhtBNF)

A new study by the Geneva-based Global Sanitation Fund, says 2.5 billion people, or 40 percent of the global population, lack access to decent sanitation, including more than a billion who defecate in the open. (IPS http://bit.ly/1QpT6eU)


Map of the Day: Can Sierra Leone Kick Ebola? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1JqIWtW)

Are landslides Nepal’s next big killer? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Fu7jkW)

Tijuana: From Sin City to Mexican tech hub? (CNN http://cnn.it/1JqDJ5v)

The U.S. Indictments of FIFA’s Corrupt Officials Are Legally, Morally, and Politically Justified (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1FubM6Z)

How looking through a doughnut can test if South Africa is on track for inclusive and sustainable development (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1Jlti4M)

21 ways the SDGs can have the best impact on girls (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KEc6Vh)

Are The Vaccine Court’s Requirements Too Strict? (Shots http://n.pr/1QpXM4k)

The War Story We Need Right Now (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1JqIDPN)

Why isn’t Guinea-Bissau prepared for Ebola? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Fu7gW1)

Agriculture will drive Africa’s rise to economic power (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KEcdA7)

In CAR, data is not enough (Devex http://bit.ly/1Qq35Rj)



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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)


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)


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)


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)


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)



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With no peace process to speak of, the fighting in South Sudan has escalated in recent weeks. Four civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed on Tuesday when two mortar bombs exploded inside a U.N. compound in the town of Melut in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, the U.N. reported on Wednesday as rebel forces and government troops battled for control of a strategic oil hub…Fighting has recently intensified in South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity states as government troops and rebel forces fight for control of territory. At stake are the Upper Nile oil fields of Paloch, which the rebels said they were poised to seize on Wednesday. As the country’s last remaining functional oil fields, they are crucial for South Sudan’s increasingly vulnerable economy. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HhQCKD)

A Tiny Glimmer of Hope for Rohingya Refugees Adrift at Sea...Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to provide temporary shelter and assistance to thousands of Rohingya migrants still stranded at sea in Southeast Asia, but they have stopped short of offering to find their boats and bring them ashore. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1HhLlme)

ISIS Captures UNESCO Heritage City…Destruction of Artifacts to Follow? “Islamic State insurgents stormed the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday, fighting off pro-government forces who withdrew after evacuating most of the civilian population, state television said. The capture of Palmyra is the first time the al Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces, which have already lost ground in the northwest and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks. The central city, also known as Tadmur, is built alongside the remains of a oasis civilization whose colonnaded streets, temple and theater have stood for 2,000 years.” (WaPo http://reut.rs/1dlMr9y)

Quote of the Day: “(With child marriage) we are sanctioning rape, we are sanctioning abduction, we are sanctioning a modern form of slavery, it’s trafficking, it’s forced labor.” – Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer whose mother and sister were both wed as children in her native Zimbabwe. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1HhS0wI)

World responds to Rohingya crisis

Turkey says it is donating $1 million to the International Organization for Migration and the U.N. refugee agency to help ease Southeast Asia’s migrant crisis and is exploring ways of organizing a humanitarian aid operation to reach Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis stranded at sea. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HhQGtU)

Gambia’s government says it is willing to resettle Muslim Rohingya migrants stranded at sea after fleeing predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. (AP http://yhoo.it/1dkOx9y)

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militants on Wednesday condemned Myanmar’s “savage Buddhists” and urged Southeast Asia’s Muslims to come to the aid of Rohingya Muslim boat people. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HhQxGH)


Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza delayed parliamentary and local elections until June 5, following protests and a coup attempt. (VOA http://bit.ly/1efTosI)

An unidentified gunman on Wednesday shot at United Nations vehicles in Mali’s capital Bamako and targeted a house where U.N. staff were staying, wounding a guard, the world body said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1dkPYF7)

At least 65 people are confirmed to have died in a nearly five-month-old cholera outbreak in Kenya, with infections also continuing to rise in the capital Nairobi, health officials said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HhQECl)

The only international observers during Ethiopia’s elections Sunday will be from the African Union, with opposition parties already feeling the AU observers are not demanding enough in their criticism of Ethiopia’s election process, which is dominated by the ruling party. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Lm3GCB)

It’s becoming more and more difficult to find food in Cameroon’s Far North region, residents say, not only because the annual lean season is underway, but insecurity caused by Boko Haram has severely disrupted farming and cross-border trade. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1AmeEXA)

Opposition leader Adrien Houngbedji was on Wednesday elected head of Benin’s national assembly, possibly threatening the president’s hopes of pushing through a controversial amendment to the constitution. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HhQDhv)

Nigerian prosecutors on Wednesday withdrew murder charges against a 15-year-old girl who was accused of using rat poison to kill the 35-year-old man she had married. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HhQF9a)

Guinea’s opposition leader said on Wednesday he was “disappointed” by talks with President Alpha Conde aimed at ending a political deadlock which has led to deadly nationwide protests. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1dkOHhb)

A journalist and rights activist known for his outspoken criticism of the humanitarian crisis in southeastern Niger has been arrested for “collaborating” with Boko Haram Islamists, the interior minister said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1HhQD1f)

Malawi police on Wednesday said they had arrested four people suspected of murdering an albino man five months ago to sell his bones for witchcraft. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1dkOBWR)

As the eLearning Africa conference gets underway in Addis Ababa, there is a growing recognition that online courses can boost further education access. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1HhLCWp)


U.N. aid agencies report the humanitarian impact of the nearly two month Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and a blockade of fuel and other imported relief supplies is enormous. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Lm3KSY)

Iran will allow the United Nations to inspect a Yemen-bound aid ship at the regional U.N. hub in Djibouti, Tehran’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday, offering a chance to avert a showdown with Saudi-led forces. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1dkOyKD)


Nepal must take lessons from earthquake-hit countries such as Mexico and strictly enforce existing building laws as it prepares to rebuild from two major quakes, a senior United Nations official said Wednesday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Lm3MKs)

China’s heyday as the “world’s factory” is fading as labor costs rise and export demand has faded. To address that and other challenges, the world’s second-largest economy has unveiled a plan to beef up its presence as a global manufacturing power. (VOA http://bit.ly/1efTrVm)

The Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, and it has vowed to eradicate the practice; the recruitment of children for use in combat is officially prohibited under two laws pertaining to child labor and abuse. But progress is slow. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1HhLypr)

Nepal must take lessons from earthquake-hit countries such as Mexico and strictly enforce existing building laws as it prepares to rebuild from two major quakes, a senior United Nations official said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HhQwCK)

The Americas

Rescuers in Colombia are continuing to search for victims of a landslide which hit the town of Salgar on Monday but hopes are fading for more survivors. The number of bodies retrieved from the debris in north-western Antioquia province rose to 78. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Amesrs)

Uruguay has created a commission to probe human rights violations perpetrated from 1968 to 1985 as the government cracked down brutally on a leftist rebellion. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1dkOHOb)

The decapitated body of a blogger known for denouncing corrupt politicians has been found in a rural zone in southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, police said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HhQGdl)

Rising seas, thawing permafrost and longer wildfires caused by warmer global temperatures threaten U.S. military bases and will change the way the U.S. armed services defend the country, President Barack Obama is set to say on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1HhQx9V)

…and the rest

France gave broad backing on Wednesday to an EU scheme to share out asylum-seekers among EU states to deal with a surge of migrants, after a week of ambiguity that reflected growing public opposition to immigration. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1dkQ6Eq)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday it had visited two men captured in a part of eastern Ukraine hit by separatist conflict and that they were now in hospital in the capital Kiev. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1HhQD1h)


Europe is Totally Ignoring the Root Causes of Migration Across the Mediterranean (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Amm8tQ)

From Quarantine To Appeasement–Howard French takes big issue with Gayle Smith’s USAID nomination.  (Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/1GpTtoL)

Doing development differently: Breaking the glass ceiling (Devex http://bit.ly/1GpTNDS)

Oh dear. Another unreadable European Report on Development. Good stats on finance (FFD) though. (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1Bcwyr4)

Nigeria’s bill targeting FGM is a positive step, but must be backed by investment (Guardian http://bit.ly/1efT9Os)

The U.N. at 70: Time to Prioritise Human Rights for All, for Current and Future Generations (IPS http://bit.ly/1efTe4N)

In EU, 0.7 percent aid target under threat (Devex http://bit.ly/1HtTWoz)

Financing for development: this year’s big debate (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1GpTQzJ)

Getting beyond the mirage of external validity (Development Impact http://bit.ly/1BcwqI4)
A Vision for the African Development Bank (Addis Fortune http://bit.ly/1HhRv62)



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John Kerry in Kenya

The Secretary of State is in the midst of a visit to Kenya to lay the groundwork for President Obama’s visit in July. There are many issues on the table, including terrorism, human rights issues and Kenya’s decision to shut down the Dadaab refugee camp. On that latter issue, Kerry announced $45 million aid package to convince the Kenyan government to reconsider that idea. The aid would keep the Somali refugee camp — the world’s largest –open. This AP story has a good run down of the issues on Kerry’s agenda. Later this week, he’ll become the first Secretary of State to visit Djibouti.  (AP http://yhoo.it/1JlBz5j)

Gayle Smith Has Critics…Howard French and Bill Easterly, among others, do not hold back their criticism of Obama’s pick to lead USAID.  “The controversy around Smith lays bare age-old tensions between America’s principles and realpolitik interests.The American government has forcefully withheld assistance from autocratic regimes it is hostile to (i.e. Zimbabwe and Sudan), but less willing to confront US-friendly authoritarians, for example in Rwanda, Uganda, The Gambia, DRC, or Equatorial Guinea (Quartz  http://bit.ly/1QgESyL)

Quote of the Day: “We call for an end to attacks on these vital lifelines and for the Yemeni civil aviation authority to be given the chance to repair the airports, so that humanitarian assistance can be sent to Yemen.” — A rare joint statement from MSF and the ICRC http://bit.ly/1QgDPP7

DAWNSer of the Day: Liz Braden “I am currently the Program Manager at Princeton in Africa which supports a fellowship program offering professional opportunities across the continent for recent college graduates. We are working with 30 partners in 15 countries this year. “ www.princetoninafrica.org


Three protesters were killed in Burundi’s capital on Monday, the Red Cross said, as demonstrations against a decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s to seek a third term in office ran into a second week. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1zIppU4)

A meningitis epidemic in Niger has claimed 252 lives since January, a health official said Monday, warning the country was short of vaccines to fight the outbreak. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JlBHBy)

A proposed law before Malian lawmakers would reserve one-third of government jobs for women, including in elected offices. (Washington Times http://bit.ly/1QgEzE1 )

Kenya’s deputy president has said there is “no room” for homosexuality in Kenyan society, the latest comments from an African government to anger activists and likely also to annoy Western donors who say gays are targeted on the continent. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1zIpqr8)

Youths, defying a government ban on demonstrations, clashed with security forces in Guinea’s coastal capital Conakry, as opposition leaders called for nationwide protests against the timing of elections. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1zIpqrg)

More than 500 delegates representing all stakeholders in the Central African Republic begin a week-long reconciliation forum Monday in Bangui on the future of the strife-torn country, including its proposed constitution. (VOA http://bit.ly/1I9rppu)

As Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia work to end Ebola, critical healthcare services damaged by the epidemic are beginning to be revitalised. (IPS http://bit.ly/1KHqbSa)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday a decision by Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in office “flies directly in the face” of the constitution. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1GVdQZp)


A monitor and Syria’s opposition have called for an investigation into a US-led coalition strike last week that allegedly killed 64 civilians, nearly half of them children, in northern Syria. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JlBH4N)

Senegal (!?) will send 2,100 troops to Saudi Arabia to take part in an international coalition combating Houthi fighters in neighboring Yemen, the West African nation’s foreign minister said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1GVdLVq)


Nepal’s government will need immense international support as the Himalayan nation begins turning its attention toward reconstruction in the coming weeks, in the wake of the devastating April earthquake, a top official said Monday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zIpt6s)

Thai police have arrested a man they believe is the key figure behind a brutal human trafficking network that ran a jungle camp where dozens of bodies have been found. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zIptDf)

The European Union has approved $22 million in financial support and emergency aid to help Nepal deal with the April 25 earthquake. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zIpreL)

The leader of the U.N. Development Program on Monday praised China’s relief efforts in Nepal and said the country’s importance to global development will only grow. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zIprvk)

Climate change threatens some of China’s most important infrastructure projects, China’s top meteorologist warned in a state newspaper, adding the country’s rate of warming was higher than the global average. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JlBvSR)

Two days of informal talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives produced a series of agreements that, while not binding, raised the prospect of advancement in Afghanistan’s long deadlocked peace process. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1QgEIr9)

The Americas

In Peru, the Shipibo-Konibo people’s promised relocation has been blocked by the city’s new mayor, with the future of their Cantagallo community cast into doubt. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KHpTdX)

…and the rest

The European Union will not be adopting Australia’s migration methods despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claim that some Europeans are seeking policy advice. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zIpreE)

A new study adds to growing evidence that HIV infected people have immune systems similar to those who are much older. This occurs even when they are being treated with antiretroviral drugs. The older-acting immune systems can make them more susceptible to certain diseases. (VOA http://bit.ly/1JMmFZd)

An international report says Sweden needs to urgently address the declining performance of its schools, a growing embarrassment for the Scandinavian welfare state. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JlBApL)

Belarus faced harsh criticism Monday at a UN review of its rights record, with diplomats decrying an “atmosphere of intimidation” and urging the country to ensure free and fair elections. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1zIpuqX)

Firms in Europe’s Emissions Trading System have swapped a total of 255 million U.N.-backed carbon offsets for European Union emissions allowances from April 2013-2014, data published by the European Commission showed. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1I9nCIO)


Meet the French Countess who sold her family heirlooms to start and anti-poverty NGO. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1R5D115)

Guinea Ebola diary: In the land of lost handshakes (IRIN http://bit.ly/1KHpYOO)

The West and Its Self-Assumed Right to Intervene (IPS http://bit.ly/1I9oQnz)

Lack of Media Coverage Compounds Violence in Libya (CPJ http://bit.ly/1DPMK17)

The rent seeking rebellion cycle (Reinventing Peace http://bit.ly/1bXEg1T)

The Missing Men in International Development (CFI http://bit.ly/1EShbsF)

The Long History of the Garissa Attacks (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1KHtKaT)

Why are Ethiopian Israelis protesting? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1KHqgFy)

Part II: One Standard To Rule Them All (AidSpeak http://bit.ly/1KHqlsL)



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Burundi On the Brink

You know when a government resorts to shutting down Twitter its hold on power is going to be tenuous. “Protest-hit Burundi cut mobile access to several social networks and messaging applications, a telecoms official said Wednesday, following days of demonstrations against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term…The authorities cut mobile access to several social networks and messaging applications including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, which have been used to coordinate protests. “All the roads are blocked by police… but the protests will not stop until he gives up the third term,” said Thierry, a demonstrator.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Insg6r)

Sanitation and Hygiene Gets a Big Boost from Female Leaders…“Over 50 female leaders from around the world recently published a declaration calling for the end of poor sanitation and hygiene in the developing world. Among those leaders are the first ladies of Madagascar and Malawi, both of whom announced the declaration in Washington, D.C.The United Nations’ Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, (WSSCC), paved the way for the declaration. Worldwide they said 2.5 billion people currently live without access to improved sanitation. In Africa alone, 340 million Africans still lack clean drinking water and 547 million lack access to basic sanitation. (VOA http://bit.ly/1OEKPbr)

Humanity Affirming Stat of the Day: Thanks to an exhaustive door-to-door effort, nearly 100,000 children between the ages of six months and 10 years in Guinea are now protected against measles. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QLv4hb)

New Environment and Maternal Health Link? Women in the Chinese capital in the final stage of pregnancy during the 2008 Beijing Olympics — when officials strictly controlled air pollution — gave birth to heavier babies than in years when the city was smoggier, a study said Wednesday. (Al Jazeera http://alj.am/1FyAB6B)


Burundi’s government told diplomats to stay neutral and not side with protesters who accuse President Pierre Nkurunziza of violating the constitution by announcing he will seek a third term in office. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Ag3eiL)

A top U.S. diplomat, Assistant Secy State Tom Malinowski,  was heading to Burundi to Wednesday, seeking to halt escalating unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office, a move protesters say is unconstitutional. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins3jN)


Togo’s main opposition party on Wednesday rejected official presidential election results declaring victory for incumbent Faure Gnassingbe with 58.75 percent of the vote, and instead claimed a win for its candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1beAnF7)

China’s biggest lender by assets, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said on Wednesday it had signed an infrastructure pact worth $2 billion with the oil-rich west African nation of Equatorial Guinea. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1InsfiN)

The United Nations Security Council renewed for another year the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the disputed North African territory of Western Sahara but failed to accept African Union recommendations for changes to the force’s mandate. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JAxIEH)

Zimbabwe on Wednesday shut down the country’s second largest mobile phone service provider, Telecel Zimbabwe, partly for breaching black empowerment laws, officials said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Insomz)

A leader of the Ugandan rebels accused of slaughtering over 300 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed in a clash with government forces, authorities said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ERvgIH)

In an effort to reverse tree losses in Kenya’s Nyeri Forest, an environmental initiative has turned to an unusual barter system, offering chickens, goats or solar panels in exchange for tree planting. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beAhgA)

The “guerrilla growers” in Bamako, Mali do not own the land they’re cultivating but property rules aren’t stopping them from trying to feed themselves in one of the world’s poorest countries. (TRF http://bit.ly/1Ag3i1W)

A French prosecutor is carrying out a preliminary investigation into allegations of child abuse by French soldiers stationed in Central African Republic, a Justice Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DWARXE)


Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies advanced in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, capturing parts of an upscale neighborhood and seizing men they accuse of fighting them from their homes. (AP http://yhoo.it/1beAiRF)

Yemen’s Houthi rulers have launched an investigation against dozens of public figures, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakul Karman, state news agency Saba said late on Tuesday, following a complaint that could amount to treason. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beA9O2)

Sixty-nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood supporters were each sentenced to 25 years in prison in Egypt on Wednesday for attacking and burning a church in a village near Cairo in 2013, judicial sources said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Ag3iiu)

The World Bank is seeking to finance development projects in areas in Iraq that the government has recaptured from Islamic State militants, its regional vice president said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1beAhx8)


Over 200 Nepalis protested outside parliament in the capital Kathmandu, demanding the government increase the number of buses going to the interior hills and improve distribution of aid. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JAP6Jf)

The United Nations says it is beginning to distribute food and medicine Wednesday in the area near the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, where the death toll continues to rise. (VOA http://bit.ly/1JAP5Fg)

Government agencies, and local and international aid organisations in Nepal appear initially overwhelmed by the scale of displacement as they mobilise a coordinated response effort. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1begMot)


Sri Lanka’s parliament overwhelmingly passed reforms on Tuesday reducing some of the president’s powers, in a move that did not go as far as President Maithripala Sirisena had promised but is nevertheless seen as a victory for the leader. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins8no)

An Indian state minister who heads the farmers’ wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has drawn flak from the opposition for branding as “cowards” some farmers who committed suicide after unseasonal rains destroyed their crops. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ins8E7)

In the tobacco-producing heartland of China – the world’s largest cigarette market — smoking is commonplace at work, in taxis and even in hospitals. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Ins6ft)

The U.N. human rights office has criticized Indonesia’s decision to execute eight people convicted of drug smuggling. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ins9aV)

The Americas

Venezuela says it will cut the working day for public sector workers to five-and-a-half hours to conserve energy, down from eight to nine hours. The initiative is part of a nationwide electricity rationing plan. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag46nB)

About 1% of all the tree species in the Amazon account for half of the carbon locked in the vast South American rainforest, a study has estimated. Although the region is home to an estimated 16,000 tree species, researchers found that just 182 species dominated the carbon storage process. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag4dj6)

The government’s surprise revocation of export licenses this winter for some of Venezuela’s biggest cacao exporters adds to a string of problems plaguing an industry that the socialist government once saw as a way to help wean the nation off its dependence on petroleum, which accounts for 96 percent of the country’s export revenue. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Insn21)

There have been fresh evacuations in the area surrounding the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile after it started spewing ash again on Tuesday. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Ag44fy)

Top executives from several big Brazilian construction and engineering firms have been released from prison but will remain under house arrest for their alleged role in a massive kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OEKvcB)

…and the rest

The European Union has a duty to confront the flood of migrants reaching its shores, the EU’s foreign policy chief said Wednesday as she met top US officials seeking ways to deal with the exodus. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1OEKDJ5)

EU member states reached provisional agreement that carbon market reforms should begin on Jan. 1 2019 at closed-door talks on Wednesday, paving the way for a further round of negotiations next month, diplomats said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1InsnyV)

Attorneys for Royal Dutch Shell PLC presented testimony to a federal court judge Tuesday that the company needs safety zones around its Arctic drill fleet to prevent Greenpeace USA activists from endangering company workers and themselves. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ins0V1)


Who are the Imbonerakure and is Burundi unravelling? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Ag4cLY)

Political (and some other) priorities in Nepal as of 28 April 2015 (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1OEMq0K)

Open Letter from President Jacob Zuma to Mia Couto, Mozambican writer and poet (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1begspD)

Countries that lead the switch to clean energy will reap the financial rewards (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EDi8VA)

The overlooked humanitarian crisis in Iraq: The need to address disparities (Brookings http://bit.ly/1DWB2C2)

Anti-Foreigner Discrimination ‘Fostered in South African Schools’ (IPS http://bit.ly/1ERvCPF)

Migrant crisis in the Mediterranean: What can be done? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1ERvJuz)

That moment when Senegalese writer Fatou Diome kicked European Union butt (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1DWD1GB)



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Dip in Southern Africa’s maize harvest could push up prices and boost import needs, UN warns

28 April 2015 – Southern Africa’s maize harvest is expected to shrink this year by some 26 per cent, a situation that could trigger food price increases and adversely affect recent food security gains, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.

For 2015, the early production forecast for maize – a staple food throughout the subregion – stands at about 21.1 million tonnes, some 15 per cent lower than the average for the last five years, FAO noted .

The fall is mostly due to the impact of erratic weather conditions, including the late start of seasonal rains in November, followed by heavy rains that caused flooding, and then a long dry spell in the southern areas of the subregion during February and early March.

“Last year, the subregion saw a bumper harvest, which has made this year’s harvest prospects look even weaker so we have to be cautious until governments, often with the support of FAO, have completed all the assessments in the coming days,” said David Phiri, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa.

“The carry-over stocks from 2014’s bumper maize crop is expected to partly offset the impact of lower domestic production and somewhat contribute to stabilising national supplies in some countries,” he added.

Malawi and Zambia, the second and third biggest maize producers in the subregion, are also expected to register smaller harvests compared with the 2014 bumper crop. Lower maize harvests are also anticipated in Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The poor outlook is already having some impact on cereal markets. South Africa recorded significant price increases in February – although the rise eased in March following improved rains. These price increases are expected to mostly affect those countries that rely more on maize imports such as Namibia where relatively high price increases were recorded in February.

In most countries, maize prices have remained below the same period last year due to the current ample supplies, which are expected to rapidly dwindle.

The poor outlook for 2015 is expected to result in increased imports in Southern Africa with forecasts for aggregate maize imports in the 2015/16 marketing year indicating an increase to about 1.8 million tonnes, approximately double the low level of 2014/15, the FAO said.

In Zimbabwe, large volumes of maize imports are forecast, and larger import volumes than 2014 are also forecast in the deficit-producing countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. Given the contraction in South African export availabilities, alternative export supplies may be needed.

The expected decline in 2015 maize production follows a favourable year in 2014 when ample supplies and low prices contributed to improved food security conditions that resulted in a significant decline of people in need of food assistance in the subregion, with Zimbabwe, for instance, recording a 75 per cent decrease.

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