A UNHCR staff member at the Jordan border hands out juice and biscuits to newly arrived Syrian refugees. Aid workers often work in dangerous areas to help the needy.
UNHCR / J. Kohler / January 2014

A Deadly Day for Aid Workers

Three terrible incidents to report:

-Gunmen in South Sudan have shot dead two aid workers, colleagues said Wednesday, taking the number killed in over two years of civil war to more than 50. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1RUgOV2)

-Three French peacekeeping soldiers died after their armoured car ran over a landmine in Mali, the French presidency said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1RUgA0d)

-The United Nations said Wednesday that one of its staff members had been captured by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s separatist east. (AFP http://yhoo.it/22uwXSB)

UN Secretary General Candidate Hearings Just Keep On Truckin’…Day two of the three day event included former president of slovenia Danilo Turk, Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic and former Moldovan foreign minister Natalia Gherman. Perhaps the most tense moment came when Saudi Arabia seemed to take great umbrage with Pusic’s outspoken and articulate support for LGBT rights. Quote of the day goes to Gherman, though, who said “I plan on being the General of the Secretariat and the Secretary of General member states.” Third and final day kicks off at 9am with Serbian diplomat Vuk Jeremic, followed by Helen Clark at 11am and Srjgn Kerem of Macedonia. Day 2 Highlights —> (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1SLCbnS)

CDC Confirms Zika-Microcephaly Link…”Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a careful review of existing research and agreed that the evidence was conclusive, Director Thomas Frieden said. It is the first time a mosquito-borne virus has been linked to congenital brain defects. “It is now clear, and CDC has concluded, that the virus causes microcephaly,” Frieden said. CDC is launching more studies to determine whether children with that rare condition, which is characterized at birth by an abnormally small head, represent the “tip of the iceberg of what we could see in damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/22vn6Mk)

Rights set-back in China…A judge on Wednesday ruled against a gay couple in China’s first same-sex marriage case that was seen as a landmark moment for the country’s emerging LGBT rights movement. (AP http://yhoo.it/1RUhwS3)


Malawi and Mozambique sounded alarm bells on Wednesday over worsening food shortages caused by severe drought as concerns grow over a hunger crisis spreading across much of southern Africa. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1N8L4eI)

A battle is shaping up in the West African nation of Liberia over a proposed overhaul of the education system that the nation’s teachers union has rejected. (VOA http://bit.ly/1S75NMS)

WHO and Ministry of Health teams in Guinea and Liberia have established epidemiological links between new Ebola cases in Liberia and a current flare-up of Ebola in neighbouring Guinea following intensified case investigations and contact tracing. (WHO http://bit.ly/1Vm54wT)

Madagascar’s new prime minister pledged he would focus on fighting poverty and corruption as he took over on Wednesday from Jean Ravelonarivo, who left office amid confusion over his resignation. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SMNBHY)

A subsidised insurance scheme is helping to bolster Kenyan herders against drought. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SML2pa)


Local ceasefire monitors arrived at three Yemeni provinces on Wednesday to consolidate a shaky truce, residents and officials said, ahead of U.N.-sponsored peace talks scheduled to start in Kuwait next week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1SML1lm)

The World Bank will provide the first $1 billion tranche of a $3 billion loan to Egypt after parliament approves the government’s economic program, World Bank vice president Hafez Ghanem said at a news conference late Tuesday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1SMKYpA)

The discovery of the sex trafficking ring and the rescue of 75 women deeply shocked tiny Lebanon, a Mediterranean Arab nation already overwhelmed by the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war, and prompted calls for investigation. (AP http://yhoo.it/22uymZj)

A suicide bomber killed a member of the security forces in Libya at a checkpoint south of Misrata on Wednesday, while five people were killed – including three who were beheaded – at a nearby military camp, officials and a hospital spokesman said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RUgxBr)


Places of worship that deny or restrict women’s entry undermine the fight for gender equality and have no constitutional right to do so, the Indian supreme court said, in the latest boost for women demanding equal access to temples, mosques and other holy sites. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SMNCvn)

Rights groups are urging the U.S. to release secret files on Indonesia’s anti-communist massacres of 1965-66, as the Southeast Asian country takes a tentative step toward a reckoning with one of the worst atrocities of the last century. (VOA http://bit.ly/1N8L520)

The Americas

Tens of thousands of supporters of Argentina’s former president beat drums and clogged traffic in Buenos Aires on Wednesday as they streamed toward the court where she is appearing in a case about irregularities at the central bank under her watch. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Vm4ZJw)

Uber launched its service in Argentina’s capital Tuesday in defiance of local authorities and despite road blocks set up by protesting taxi drivers that snarled traffic during the evening rush hour. (VOA http://bit.ly/1S75SQB)

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s approval rating has fallen to a record low, according to a poll published in one of Mexico’s leading newspapers on Wednesday, pummeled for his failure to combat corruption scandals. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/22uwZdh)

Hyper-violent gangs declared open-season on police in El Salvador in response to a government crackdown that began last year. Killings of officers nearly doubled to more than 60 in 2015, and so far this year 15 officers have been slain, including two Tuesday. Analysts say the growing attacks are a sign El Salvador’s conflict is spiraling out of control and threatening to explode into open warfare. (AP http://yhoo.it/1S75Yrh)


More than 100 migrants engaged in running battles Wednesday with Macedonian police on the other side of a fence on Greece’s border with the country, in clashes that sent clouds of tear gas wafting over a crowded tent city of stranded refugees and other migrants. (AP http://yhoo.it/22uyhVz)

With the seizure or closure in recent months of several Turkish newspapers, broadcasters taken off air and a German TV comedian facing a Turkish legal complaint for insulting Erdogan, journalists say they are having to think twice about the consequences of their work. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Vm8lMA)

A senior figure in one of Germany’s governing parties called Wednesday for a law that would prevent foreign financing of mosques in the country. (AP http://yhoo.it/1SMNADN)

A future Labour government in the UK would ban the big four accountancy firms from delivering aid projects if they continue to use tax havens, the shadow international development secretary, Diane Abbott, has said. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1RUgfKP)

As Poland’s Catholic Church prepares to celebrate 1,050 years as the national faith, a call by its bishops for a total ban on abortion has embroiled the church in a divisive and potentially harmful debate. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Vm8gsd)

…and the rest

Only a quarter of aid meets transparency standards with most donors failing to honour commitments to open their books, preventing poorer countries from making the best use of the funds they receive, a study says. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1TRrEfG)

Tax officials from the OECD countries will discuss ways governments can share and analyze data coming out of the Panama Papers cache of leaked documents, Australian officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S75VM5)

The amount of foreign aid money rich nations spend on dealing with the impact of the refugee crisis at home has almost doubled over the past year and now accounts for 9% of all development expenditure, according to the latest official OECD figures. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1RUgju8)


Syria’s Darayya needs air drops to save its people from starvation (Guardian http://bit.ly/1TRoZmo)

Despite court ruling, China gay rights movement makes gains (AP http://yhoo.it/1SMJOu6)

Hashtag fail? #BringBackOurGirls two years on (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/1RUbzVh)

Aid transparency: are we nearly there? (Owen abroad http://bit.ly/22us0Jz)

Angola’s yellow fever outbreak shows funding vaccines is critical (Guardian http://bit.ly/1SMKjEJ)

Can South Sudan’s peace deal stick? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1RUbwsx)

The world needs a humanitarian fund to assist long-term crises (Guardian http://bit.ly/22uy3h7)

Data transparency as a development effectiveness tool (Development that Works http://bit.ly/1RUhJou)

Not the “Panama Papers” But the “BVI Papers” or Better Still the “EI” Papers (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1RUhLfY)

Why Migrants Can No Longer Be Considered Society’s “Fringe” (Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/1SMONuQ)