American and British Health Workers Infected With Ebola

A British military health worker and an American aid worker with PIH are being evacuated from Sierra Leone. “The Partners In Health worker was the first in that group to be infected since it made an ambitious commitment last fall to help combat Ebola in West Africa, and was the first American health worker in months to get the disease while working in the region. The infections of both the American and Briton served as a reminder that the scourge that has ravaged Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for the past year is far from defeated, even as the number of new cases has declined drastically…The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said in a statement that the American had been ordered flown back to the United States in isolation on a chartered plane, to be admitted on Friday to the N.I.H. hospital in Bethesda. The statement did not identify the worker by name or affiliation, and the person’s precise condition was not known.” (NYT

Pretty much all the top aid NGOs jointly released a scathing report demonstrating how the Security Council’s resolutions on Syria have done nothing to stop the violence. Of course, the fact that Russia has consistently backed the Syrian government is the real reason that the resolutions have been feckless. “More than 20 international aid organisations have sharply criticised the United Nations Security Council, saying it has failed to implement three resolutions passed last year seeking to boost humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians. The 21 aid groups say the resolutions have been “ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, other UN member states, and even by members of the UNSC itself”. They said in a report released on Thursday that despite the resolutions violence in Syria has intensified, aid access has decreased and humanitarian assistance remains “chronically underfunded”. (Al Jazeera

Mercenaries Join Fight Against Boko Haram…”Hundreds of mercenaries from South Africa and other countries are playing a decisive role in Nigeria’s military campaign against Boko Haram, operating attack helicopters, armored personnel carriers and fighting to retake towns and villages captured by the Islamist militant group, according to senior officials in the region. The Nigerian government has not acknowledged the presence of the mercenaries, but a senior government official in northern Nigeria said the South Africans — camped out in a remote portion of the airport in Maiduguri, the city at the heart of Boko Haram’s uprising — conducted most of their operations at night because “they really don’t want to let people know what is going on.” (NYT )

So, So Close to Guinea Worm Eradication…The fight against the horrid Guinea Worm Disease is the topic of Mark’s podcast this week. Adam Weiss of the Carter Center discusses what the disease does to the human body, how cases have been reduced from the millions 30 years ago to just 126 last year, and what needs to be done to finally wipe this disease off the face of the earth. (Global Dispatches Podcast


Over 200 people have been arrested in Tanzania as part of a nationwide crackdown on “witchdoctors” linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders, police said Thursday. (AFP

A report by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture has found evidence of significant human rights violations in Gambia, placing pressure on European governments as they consider whether to press ahead with a major aid package. (Reuters

The United Nations has blacklisted seven officers of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s armed forces who pose a “real risk” of committing grave rights violations, a report said. (AFP

The United States supports the creation of a West African force of up to 10,000 troops to fight Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, a U.S. defense official said. (Reuters

Ethiopia’s sole opposition member of parliament said on Wednesday he would not run in the May election and his party would not field candidates because of state meddling in the party’s leadership, casting a new shadow over the vote. (Reuters

Parties in Congo’s ruling coalition have warned President Joseph Kabila that widespread worries that he wants to stay in power were draining their support, and asked to meet him to discuss their concerns, according to letters seen by Reuters.

Liberians held a church service Wednesday for Ebola victims to mark the country’s 99th National Decoration Day, a holiday normally set aside for people to clean up and re-decorate the graves of their lost relatives. (AP


The war in Syria has plunged 80 percent of its people into poverty, reduced life expectancy by 20 years, and led to massive economic losses estimated at over $200 billion since the conflict began in 2010, according to a U.N.-backed report circulated Wednesday. (AP

U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights on Wednesday blamed Syrian government forces for 88 percent of its recorded attacks on hospitals and almost all recorded killings of medical workers during the country’s four-year conflict. (Reuters


About 100 workers were feared trapped on Thursday when a cement factory collapsed in Bangladesh, a police official said. (Reuters

Myanmar on Thursday freed from jail more than a dozen students detained this week in a violent crackdown in which riot police beat protesters with batons and arrested 127 people after a lengthy standoff. (Reuters

China formally detained five women’s rights activists on Thursday, apparently for planning to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport, paving the way for police to levy formal charges. (Reuters

Cambodian garment workers making clothing for international retailers are frequently abused and exploited at work and neither the government nor major brands are doing to enough to protect them, researchers said on Thursday. (TRF

Scientists sounded warnings Wednesday over H7N9 bird flu in China and the H1N1 strain of swine flu in India that have jointly claimed more than 1,700 lives. (AFP

Pakistan and Afghanistan have announced plans to work together over the next four months to try to document about one million Afghans who are believed to be living illegally in Pakistani cities. (VOA

The head of the Green Climate Fund has confirmed Australia will not be able to dictate where its $200m contribution will be spent, contrary to the Abbott government’s assertions when it announced it was reversing its previous refusal to give money to the fund. (Guardian

The Americas

The decapitated body of a politician has been found in one of Mexico’s most violent states, Guerrero, where she had been standing for mayor in June’s elections. (BBC

The president of Chile’s right-wing Democratic Union party is quitting the party over a campaign financing scandal. (AP

Mocking remarks by Venezuela’s envoy to the Organization of American States suggesting a bullet would pass easily through the “empty” head of an opposition sympathizer have set off a social media firestorm. (Reuters

Most Argentine farmers halted crop sales on Wednesday, a farming group said, kicking off a three-day strike that will reduce the delivery of grains to port but is unlikely to affect exports because of sufficient reserves in storage. (VOA

…and the rest

In the face of the growing number of crises taking place at the same time worldwide, humanitarian aid organisations – many of which have already reached their financial and logistic limits – are in desperate need of global coordination. (IPS

Gender equality in political, economic and social arenas is a matter of human rights, said Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury on Monday to civil society organisations, ambassadors and activists in New York. (IPS


The technology behind Syria’s lights out campaign (IRIN

Four years into the Syrian conflict, we must never lose sight of the civilians behind the ‘story’ (From Poverty to Power

Why We Dev with J. (part 2): Development grab bag (WhyDev

A strange peace deal: The PSCF at two (Congo Siasa

Standing Tall for Nutrition in the Netherlands (Development Horizons

South Africa’s Domestic Workers: Invisible labor in plain sight (Africa is a Country

We must reclaim the climate change debate from the political extremes (Guardian