An Impending Disaster in Fallujah

The ISIS controlled city is being attacked by government and allied fighters, with civilians caught in the middle.  About 50,000 civilians are believed to remain in the city, which has been under Islamic State control since January 2014, living under the militants’ harsh and capricious rule. Conditions for residents have grown dire in recent months as a siege by government-aligned forces has aggravated shortages of food and medicine. Now, officials from Fallujah fear that the ongoing operation designed to break the militants’ grip on the city will further endanger its civilians. In recent days, a combined force of Iraqi army troops, police, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters has made progress in clearing militants from areas around Fallujah, in preparation for a push into the city in western Anbar province.” (WaPo

Prison Reform, Mugabe Style…”Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has granted amnesty to all female prisoners except those on death row or serving life sentences, as prisons struggle to feed inmates due to lack of funding from the government…Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services spokeswoman Priscilla Mthembo said on Thursday there were 580 female inmates across the country’s 46 prisons, and those eligible would be set free. At the country’s top security jail in Harare, two female prisoners serving life sentences remained after the amnesty, while vetting was ongoing at other prisons.” (Reuters

The most dangerous places to be a health worker…Syria was the most dangerous place for health care workers to operate last year, ahead of other conflict zones like the Palestinian territories, and Yemen, the World Health Organization said Thursday. (AFP

Stat of the Day...144%, which is the amount that Britain’s foreign aid has increased in 10 years. (Sky News )


A police officer was killed by stone-throwing protesters and a protester was shot dead in the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday at anti-government demonstrations, a United Nations human rights official said. (Reuters

The head of the UN mission in Central African Republic has vowed to do everything possible to wipe out sexual exploitation and abuse by his troops, pledging to bring about a rebirth of peacekeeping. (Guardian

The party of Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has won municipal elections seen as a key step in the country’s transition to democracy from the authoritarian rule of ousted strongman Blaise Compaore. (AFP

The United Nations Security Council voted to end sanctions and an arms embargo on Liberia, citing the West African country’s successful stabilization more than a decade after a 14-year civil war that killed nearly 250,000 people. (Reuters

The African Union’s insurance arm will increase its disaster cover to $1.5 billion by 2020 from $179 million currently following one of the continent’s worst droughts in decades, a senior executive said on Thursday. (Reuters

A Nigerian youth group leader confirmed on Thursday that militants had attacked a Chevron oil facility in the Niger Delta. (Reuters

The Africa Development Bank has announced a $549 million plan to support countries deal with drought and other effects of climate change on the continent. (The Monitor

The Ugandan ringleader of a 2010 bombing by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab that killed 76 people in Kampala was found guilty on Thursday of masterminding one of the region’s worst attacks in decades. (AFP

Uber is expanding in Africa. The ride-hailing company said Thursday that it plans to start operating in the capitals of Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania within a month. (AP


Many Syrian civilians will face starvation if Damascus and armed rebel groups do not allow greater access to humanitarian convoys carrying life-saving supplies, the UN envoy to the war-ravaged country said Thursday. (AFP

The U.N. special envoy for Syria says he will speak to the U.N. Security Council and announce afterward plans for the resumption of stalled peace talks between the government and the opposition. (AP

Only 800 people have been able to flee Fallujah since Iraqi forces launched a major offensive to retake the city, the United Nations said in a statement released Thursday. (AFP

A bitter divide over the Middle East could threaten Democratic Party unity as representatives of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to upend what they see as the party’s lopsided support of Israel. (NYT


A boost for maternal health in India? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on doctors Thursday to give up 12 days a year to treating poor, pregnant women free of charge, in a speech to mark the anniversary of his government’s second year in power.  (PRI

While Philippine elections this month were dominated by talk about crushing crime, the next president faces another critical early test: ensuring there is enough rice for the country’s more than 100 million people. (Reuters

The Americas

Travel to Guyana from Brazil for abortions is hardly unique in the Caribbean, home to a patchwork of regulatory jurisdictions. While abortion is legal in some countries such as Guyana, Cuba, Barbados and the Caribbean Netherlands, it is illegal or highly restricted in other areas. (Reuters

Scientists studying the Zika outbreak in Brazil are becoming increasingly concerned the virus may cause eye damage in babies. (BBC

…and the rest

Doctors Without Borders called on the Greek authorities to ensure that adequate and continuous assistance is guaranteed during the movement of people from the informal camps and in the new locations. (MSF

Five migrants – four women and one child – drowned when their boat capsized off the Greek island of Samos close to Turkey’s coast, Greek coast guard officials said on Saturday. (Reuters

Diplomats are gradually crowding out environment experts in global efforts to tackle climate change, a shift signaling a higher profile for the issue and improved chances for more coordination to fight it. (Reuters

Hundreds more migrants have made their way to Calais on France’s north coast in recent months despite the bulldozing of part of their “jungle” camp in March, and despite extra port security aimed at stopping them from reaching Britain. (Reuters

Group of Seven leaders voiced concern on Thursday about emerging economies, a senior Japanese official said, as their host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pointed comparison to the global financial crisis. (Reuters


Venezuela is Collapsing. Here’s Why (Global Dispatches Podcast

The Humanitarian Clock Is Ticking, The Powerful Feign Deafness (IPS

Why you should be critical of Professor Angelina Jolie Pitt’s LSE gig (Aidnography

After the Media Circus, What (If Anything) Have We Learned from the Panama Papers? (Global Anticorruption Blog

The Last Face isn’t the first aid drama to leave us needing emergency assistance (Guardian

Not what it used to be – Labor’s commitment to Australian aid (The Interpreter

Menstrual hygiene is a universal – but complex – human right (WhyDev

New and Old Vaccines Still Out of Reach for Many (Inter Press Service