Somalia Finally Gets a US Ambassador

President Barack Obama nominated career diplomat Katherine Dhanani to serve as the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia since 1991. “Dhanani has served in diplomatic assignments across Africa, including Zimbabwe, Gabon, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville. She would replace a U.S. special representative who acts as the current envoy to Somalia, operating out of Nairobi, Kenya. ‘As security conditions permit, we look forward to increasing our diplomatic presence in Somalia and eventually reopening the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu,’ State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.”  (VOA

New $1bn WHO appeal…The World Health Organization is launching a $1-billion appeal to provide life-saving health services for 21 million people in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria. The U.N. agency warns health conditions in all four countries are deteriorating because of raging conflicts that show no signs of abating. (VOA

WHO to Europe: up your vaccine game…The World Health Organization is urging Europe to step up measles vaccination efforts as countries report thousands of cases of the disease. (AP


Food aid is again flowing to thousands of refugees on the border between Niger and Nigeria, the WFP said on Wednesday, ending a suspension of deliveries by humanitarian groups because they feared attacks by Boko Haram. (Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo has launched a long-awaited offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the eastern DRC. (VOA

Two ex-presidents of Central African Republic accused of undermining the democratic transition in the war-torn country are ready to join the reconciliation process, sources close to negotiations said Wednesday. (AFP

Tanzanian parents with albino children are racing to find safe havens for their youngsters after the abduction and suspected murder of two children raised fears of more attacks on albinos ahead of elections later this year. (Reuters

A pilot program in Rwanda aims to improve the performance of water pumps as well as maintenance response times. (VOA

The U.N. Security Council this week will begin discussing imposing sanctions on South Sudan, where two factions are caught in a long-running political dispute with no solution in sight. (VOA

Islamic extremists killed 173 people in Kenya in 2014, the highest number in the three years that Kenya has experienced violence blamed on neighboring Somalia’s al-Shabab militants, Kenya’s police force said Wednesday. (AP

The Economic Community of West African States is holding its first ministerial conference on statelessness this week in Abidjan. The United Nations said at least 750,000 people in West Africa are denied a nationality. Where Sierra Leonean refugees say both Guinea and Sierra Leone refuse to recognize them as citizens. (VOA

The South African government raised taxes and scaled back spending plans in its annual budget Wednesday as Africa’s most developed economy wrestles with stalling growth, rising debt, power blackouts and rampant unemployment. (AFP

Togo’s government says presidential elections will take place April 15 after delays and amid opposition to the president’s possible nomination for another term. (AP


A cholera outbreak is feared in coming months in Syria, where other waterborne diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid are on the rise because of poor sanitation, the World Health Organization warned  (VOA

The Syrian government has killed or injured thousands of people over the past year with indiscriminate attacks from the air, including the use of barrel bombs, according to Human Rights Watch. (GlobalPost

The Islamic State has been known to use Twitter to attract recruits and supporters to its cause. But recently, the social network has been used as a weapon against it in Egypt. (GlobalPost


The ethnic Chinese leader of a group of Myanmar rebels fighting the government has denied in an interview with a Chinese paper that he has been receiving any help from Chinese citizens or mercenaries. (VOA

The United Nations says Afghanistan has made “some progress” in efforts over the last two years to prevent torture and ill-treatment at government detention facilities, but more than one third of those detained still report being mistreated. (VOA

A Bangladesh court issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for former prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, action likely to escalate tension fuelling anti-government protests in which more than 100 people have been killed over the past month. (Reuters

The Americas

Flooding has forced more than 4,000 people from their homes in the town of Cobija in northern Bolivia after the river Acre burst its banks. (BBC

A Venezuelan teenager, Kluiver Roa Nunez, has been killed in the western city of San Cristobal in a protest over the worsening economic crisis. (BBC

Soaring oil prices the past decade transformed this rural backwater into Colombia’s richest city as nearby fields pumped black gold, drawing new businesses, international pop stars and vanity art projects such as the biblical-themed arch that towers over these sweltering grasslands. (AP

…and the rest

World governments failed to protect civilians from violence by states and armed groups, Amnesty International said Wednesday, calling the global response “shameful and ineffective.” (VOA

A new licensing agreement with the pharmaceutical company MERCK allows for the manufacture of a generic version of a pediatric AIDS drug. It may be two years before it’s readily available in low- and middle-income countries. However, it’s a step toward having greater access to HIV medicines specifically designed for children. (VOA

A new study suggests reforms to help improve United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world. It includes the better matching of mandates with mission capacity and resources, and clarifying expectations surrounding UN troop deployments. (VOA


Map of the Day: Barrel Bombs in Syria (UN Dispatch

Game of Drones (IRIN

8 myths about non-violent activism (from a movement that overthrew a dictator) (From Poverty to Power

George Clooney on Sudan’s Rape of Darfur (NY Times

Empowering Women at the Grassroots (Policy Innovations

Analysis: Collaboration Key for a Clean India (Inter Press Service

Schooling isn’t education, example number 437 (Cherokee Gothic

Is the Congolese electoral calendar a pipe dream? (Congo Siasa

The critical flaw in the EU’s climate plan (The Guardian

Three words of advice for WHO Africa’s new chief (IRIN