Meet the UN’s New Humanitarian Chief

The British Parliamentarian Stephen O’Brien will replace Valerie Amos as head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This is a key post in the UN system in charge of disaster response.  “So far, the married father-of-three, who currently serves as British Prime Minister David Cameron’s envoy to the Sahel region, has received a warm – if not gushing – reception. “Better than expected,” one humanitarian professional told IRIN. “Could have been worse,” commented another. Alexander Betts, director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, said: “He has a background working on issues such as malaria and international trade and he has voiced opinions about questions relating to humanitarian affairs. “I do think it will be a steep learning curve to go from a junior ministerial position to become the most senior humanitarian official in the UN system, but I wish him well in his new post.” (IRIN

Humanity Affirming News of the Day…Maternal and child death rates fell in every one of the poorest 49 countries in the world between 2010 and 2013, largely as a result of a U.N. initiative launched in 2010, known as Every Woman, Every Child.  (TRF

An African First Lady Sentenced for Crimes Against Humanity…A court in Ivory Coast on Tuesday sentenced former first lady Simone Gbagbo to a 20-year prison term on charges of “undermining state security” during post-election violence in 2010-2011 that left nearly 3,000 dead. (AFP

Words you can’t say in Florida…Climate change activists blasted Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday for leading an “Orwellian” campaign to ban employees of the state’s lead environmental agency from using such terms as “global warming” and “climate change.” (Reuters


The World Health Organization says it has created a panel of independent experts to assess its response to the biggest-ever Ebola outbreak in history. (AP

The Red Cross on Tuesday warned of an increasingly dire situation in Nigeria and other countries circling Lake Chad, where hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee Boko Haram violence. (AFP

Mali’s foreign minister said on Monday Tuareg rebels were running out of time to seal a peace accord that would distance them from jihadi groups who are staging violent attacks in the West African country. (Reuters

At least 15 people with albinism, mostly children, have been killed, wounded, abducted or nearly abducted in East Africa in a surge in violence against albinos in the past six months, the UN said on Tuesday. (TRF

Zambian president health update…Zambian President Edgar Lungu said Tuesday he will travel to South Africa for specialised treatment after he collapsed at an International Women’s Day event at the weekend. (AFP


A U.N. expert panel tasked with investigating possible war crimes in Gaza last year has asked for more time to complete its report. (AP

Several hundred South Asian migrant workers held a rare protest Tuesday in the heart of Dubai’s ritzy downtown, temporarily blocking traffic and demanding higher wages. (AP

A contingent of Cuban health professionals has arrived in Bahrain to begin work in the tiny Gulf kingdom under a deal forged last year, the government said. (AFP

Libya’s request for UN approval to buy fighter jets, tanks and other weaponry to fight Islamic State militants has been put on hold at the request of seven Security Council members led by Spain, diplomats said. (AFP

The UN Security Council is to meet on March 27 to oppose the growing persecution of Christians in the Middle East, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. (AFP

Police say three British schoolgirls who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State group won’t be prosecuted for terrorism if they return. (AP

Hundreds of people rallied in the northern Malian town of Kidal on Tuesday to protest against a preliminary, U.N.-brokered peace deal signed by the government and not yet accepted by Tuareg rebel groups in the north, residents said. (Reuters

An attack by Islamist militants on a Libyan oilfield where they beheaded security guards and kidnapped foreign workers underlines the difficulties facing U.N.-sponsored peace talks due to resume this week. (Reuters

Warring factions in Libya have a choice between a political deal to end violence or the destruction of their oil-rich North African country, UN envoy Bernardino Leon said on Tuesday. (AFP


Hundreds of riot police charged at students protesting Myanmar’s new education law on Tuesday, pummeling them with batons and then dragging them into trucks, bringing a quick, harsh end to a weeklong standoff. Authorities said more than 120 people were arrested. (AP

A Sri Lankan court has barred the once-powerful former defense secretary from leaving the country as police investigate a large weapons cache aboard a ship that operated under his purview. (AP

Clerics in Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab will be punished if they allow underage marriages along with the parents of the youngsters under tougher penalties imposed by the second Pakistan province to act to curb child marriage. (TRF

The Americas

Rapid growth in Latin America over the past decade still left one in five residents of the region living on less than $4 a day, the World Bank said in a report. (Reuters

Tough new sentences for the gender-related killings of women and girls were signed into law by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. (AP

Colombia, one of the most mine-scarred countries in the world, could be free of landmines in a decade after the government and FARC rebels reached a historic agreement on landmine clearance during peace talks in Cuba, an anti-landmine group said. (Reuters

Venezuela has called in its top diplomat in the United States for consultations after Washington declared the South American country a national security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials. (Reuters

Cuba rallied behind Venezuela on Tuesday, offering its closest ally “unconditional support” after US President Barack Obama authorized new sanctions against officials of the turbulent South American oil producer. (AFP

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has sided with the ex-wife of a former Mexican governor as she tries to regain access to their three children. (AP

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are suing the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice, challenging the government’s Internet surveillance as overly broad. (AP

…and the rest

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will remain in office through Dec. 31, 2016, but the talk about his successor has already started, especially among U.N. watchers who’ve gone as far as scrutinizing the handwriting on paper ballots after Security Council straw polls. Ban’s successor is expected to be chosen late next year, though there is no official date. (AP

The United States on Monday called on Europe to contribute more troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions and announced that President Barack Obama would hold a summit of world leaders in New York in September to win new commitments. (Reuters

Investing in insurance programs for poor farmers today could save tens of billions of dollars in coming decades as climate change upsets growing patterns and makes harvests fail, U.N. officials said ahead of next week’s conference in Japan on disaster preparedness. (TRF


Volunteering Overseas: the best method for creating new aid workers? (Aid Leap

Stop telling people they’re doing development wrong (WhyDev

The Real Reason Hillary Clinton is at the UN Today (UN Dispatch

Boko Haram and IS tie-up is just propaganda – for now (AFP

What does the Boko Haram/ISIS alliance mean? (IRIN

Women Make Progress in Politics, But Glass Ceiling Remains Unbreakable (Inter Press Service

‘By separating nature from economics, we have walked blindly into tragedy’ (Guardian

These Pakistani sisters will make you actually want to listen to a Justin Bieber song (GlobalPost

The true cost of media restrictions in Somalia (IRIN

The World Sees Progress Against Undernutrition, but it’s Uneven (Inter Press Service

Video: Putting employment at the centre of economic transformation (ODI