MSF Pulls Out of World Humanitarian Summit

The big UN summit kicks off in Istanbul on May 22. “In a statement, MSF said it was pulling out ‘with disappointment,’ after months of preparatory discussions. MSF believes the summit may let those most responsible for spiralling humanitarian need – governments – off the hook. The summit has lost its way and become, in MSF’s opinion, ‘a fig-leaf of good intentions.’ A spokesman for the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, Herve Verhoosel, told IRIN the move was ‘disappointing’, given MSF’s ‘strong and influential voice’. Vickie Hawkins, executive director of the British branch of MSF, told IRIN: ‘this doesn’t represent a disengagement of MSF from the international system,’ and stressed that MSF would continue to engage in plenty of international forums, from the UN Security Council to the G7. However, she claimed, there’s ‘a lack of focus on the humanitarian part of the World Humanitarian Summit’”. (IRIN

Airstrike in an IDP Camp Kills Dozens…Air strikes on a camp housing Syrians uprooted by war killed 28 people near the Turkish border on Thursday, a monitoring group said, and fighting raged in parts of northern Syria despite a temporary deal to cease hostilities in the city of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included women and children and the death toll from the air strikes, which hit a camp for internally displaced people near the town of Sarmada, was likely to rise. “ (Reuters

A Plan for Forests in India…The Narendra Modi government plans to spend a staggering $6.2 billion(Rs41,000 crore) to increase India’s green cover. The bill—called the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015—has already been passed by lawmakers in India’s lower house this week. The aim of this project is to increase India’s forest cover from 21.34% of the total land to 33%. The bill is now waiting to be passed by the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. This money comes from the fee paid by various private companies and other entities to the Indian government since 2006 for allowing them to set up projects on forest land. (QZ

Stat of the Day….Between January and April of this year, the U.N. refugee agency in Mali says it counted 436 Syrian refugees passing through one small border town headed in the direction of Timbuktu. (VOA


A project to plant a wall of trees stretching across Africa aims not only to halt desertification, but also to improve food security, create jobs, and offer young people an alternative to migration and extremism. (Reuters

Kenyan authorities claim to have foiled a “large-scale” biological terrorist plot by Islamic State (IS) militants, raising fears that the group may be extending its influence in Africa. (FP

The three-year drought that has hit Ethiopia and northern Somalia is the result of four successive seasons of below-average rains, exacerbated by El Niño, and is pushing families to the brink. (ReliefWeb

A leading Sudanese human rights lawyer said Thursday that security forces raided his office while he was meeting with a group of students suspended for staging protests. (AFP

Uganda’s government says journalists reporting on the activities of the opposition FDC party will lose their licenses and could be subject to arrest. (VOA


In pursuit of more power, President Erdogan of Turkey has purged the judiciary of enemies, jailed journalists and crushed anti-government protests. Now, he has ousted his closest political ally, the country’s prime minister. (NYT

Mauritania was one of the last countries allowing free entry to Syrian refugees, but in February it began demanding visas to try to stem the flow of migrants trying to reaching Europe. (VOA

Following intense fighting inside Yarmouk camp, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that it has been able to continue its humanitarian operations. (ReliefWeb


The last known political prisoner from the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising in China may be released this October. (VOA

Myanmar has the third-highest mine casualty rate in the world after Colombia and Afghanistan, but there has been little progress on the issue despite a ceasefire. (VOA

The North Korean capital of Pyongyang is in the midst of a building boom despite tightened U.N. sanctions and political and economic isolation. (VOA

More than a dozen leaders of a small village in northwestern Pakistan were arrested Thursday and charged with burning a teenage girl to death because she helped one of her friends elope. (WaPo

The UN has welcomed a landmark ruling by Sri Lanka‘s highest court prohibiting discrimination against people living with HIV in education. (VOA

The Americas

Heartbreak and hardship go hand-in-hand for Brazilian women whose babies are born with microcephaly as Zika – which has disproportionately impacted the poor – casts deep shadow. (Guardian

A Chilean reconstruction expert is in Ecuador to share his experiences with the national authorities following the earthquake of last April 16. (Prensa Latina

Mexico City is ordering 40 percent of cars and trucks to stay off the streets Thursday, extending for a third day a traffic cutback aimed at lessening pollution. (VOA

Health authorities in Panama said Thursday that they have identified four cases of the birth defect microcephaly linked to the Zika virus. (AP

…and the rest

Mass immunization is the only way to stop yellow fever, but there is a global shortage of the vaccine, and producing more of it is not easy. (VOA

Recognising the difference in immune response between survivors and fatalities raises hope that an anti-cancer drug could be used to treat Ebola patients. (Guardian

UNICEF says nearly half a million refugee children who applied for asylum in Europe last year remain in limbo. (AP


What would happen if you gave money–no strings attached–to people living in extreme poverty? (Global Dispatches Podcast

Access to the life-saving services of a midwife is a gender rights issue (Guardian

Extending social insurance to informal workers: a gender analysis (ODI

Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta: rush for mega-mergers puts food security at risk (Guardian

A Summit in Washington DC is the future of climate diplomacy (UN Dispatch

How do we make life better for people living as refugees for generations? (Guardian

U.S. likely to play minimal role in selection of new leader of WHO (Modern Healthcare

South Africa’s topless protesters are fighting shame on their own terms. (Guardian