Nepal, One Year On

The recovery has been fitful. “Grieving relatives mourned on Sunday the thousands killed in a huge earthquake in Nepal last year, as aid agencies warned about the health risks for the millions still living in substandard temporary shelter following the country’s worst-ever disaster.The 7.8-magnitude quake struck high in the Himalayas minutes before noon on a sunny Saturday, toppling one million houses, upending roads and turning hundreds of mountain villages into ruins that left about 9,000 people dead and 22,000 injured…One year on from the quake, reconstruction has been slow and uneven in the poor Himalayan country, and most of the $4.1 billion that donors pledged for reconstruction in June last year remains unspent because of political squabbling.” (Reuters

Deadly fighting between Kurds and Shiites in Iraq…“Kurdish troops and Iraqi Shiite forces exchanged mortar and machine-gun fire Sunday, in a flare-up that killed at least 12 people and raised concerns about the state’s ability to control an array of armed militia groups as areas are freed from the Islamic State. The fighting broke out in Tuz Khurmatu, an ethnically and religiously mixed tinderbox town that is 120 miles north of Baghdad. Both sides blamed each other for the conflagration.” (WaPo

Africa’s Longest Serving Ruler Set to Serve a Little Longer…Africa’s longest-serving leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, was set to extend his 36-year hold on power Sunday as the tiny oil-rich nation of Equatorial Guinea went to the polls. Initially scheduled to be held in November, the vote was brought forward following a presidential decree, with no reason offered for the change.\ Voters lined up outside polling stations in the capital Malabo before they opened at 8:00 am (07H00 GMT). Polls are scheduled to close at 6:00 pm, with results not expected until Thursday. (AFP

Quote of the day: “Syria has been a heart-breaking situation of enormous complexity, and I don’t think there are any simple solutions. It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain, or a combination of Western states to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime. But I do believe that we can apply international pressure to all the parties, including Russia and Iran, who, essentially, are propping up Assad, as well as those moderate oppositions that exist and may be fighting inside Syria, to sit down at the table and try to broker a transition.” – U.S. Presidnet Barack Obama (AFP


Islamic extremists in northern Mali freed three staffers with the International Committee of the Red Cross they had kidnapped last week, a spokesman for the organization said Friday. (ABC

Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso named former finance minister Clement Mouamba as prime minister, bringing a one-time opposition leader into the government, state television said on Saturday. (Reuters

Africa’s longest-serving leader, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, was set to extend his 36-year hold on power Sunday as the tiny oil-rich nation of Equatorial Guinea went to the polls. (AFP

The military campaign by Nigeria and neighboring nations to combat the West African militant group Boko Haram has been hampered by a failure among those countries to share crucial intelligence — sometimes even within their own security services, American and other Western officials say. (NYT

Heads bowed, hundreds of South Sudanese prayed for peace Sunday ahead of the expected arrival in the capital of rebel chief Riek Machar, a move hoped to help end over two years of war. (AFP

Close to 50 starved and sick monkeys were rescued from filthy living conditions in a South African private zoo on Saturday, and were whisked away to a care facility, an international animal rights group said. (Reuters

Congolese Music legend, Papa Wemba, died on stage in Abidjan on Sunday. (All Africa


Israel freed 12-year-old Palestinian Dima al-Wawi from prison Sunday, more than two months after jailing her for an attempted stabbing attack, and she was warmly welcomed back in her West Bank town. (AFP

Iraq’s military called for civilians displaced from Ramadi to stop returning home after dozens of them were killed by Islamic State mines planted in the western city’s streets and buildings, officials said on Sunday. (AlertNet

Egypt’s president urged citizens to defend the state and its institutions from the “forces of evil” on Sunday, a day before planned demonstrations against his policies, including the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (AP

Rights group Amnesty International says a court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a peaceful dissident to nine years in prison and banned him from travel abroad for another nine years on charges related to his civil rights work. (AP


India on Sunday revoked the passport of a flamboyant Indian businessman accused of fleeing to London in March while owing more than a billion dollars to Indian banks. (AP

The Seychelles is helping an international investigation into the troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the state’s Financial Intelligence Unit on the Indian Ocean archipelago said. (Reuters

A tough-talking Philippine mayor has widened his lead in a poll ahead of May 9 presidential elections, but analysts said Sunday that his chances will likely be hurt by a storm of criticism over a rape joke and offensive remarks against major Western allies. (AP

Protests Sunday in Bangladesh are marking the third anniversary of the collapse of a garment factory building that killed more than 1,000 people. (VOA

China must be on guard against foreign infiltration through religion and stop “extremists” spreading their ideology, President Xi Jinping told a top-level meeting on managing religion, state media reported on Sunday. (Reuters

The Americas

U.S. President Barack Obama mounted a strong defense of international trade deals Sunday in the face of domestic and foreign opposition, saying it’s “indisputable” that such agreements strengthen the economy and make U.S. businesses more competitive worldwide. But he acknowledged that the clock is ticking on his faltering trade agenda. (AP

There is strong evidence that Mexican police tortured some of the key suspects arrested in the disappearance of 43 students, according to a report released Sunday by an outside group of experts. (AP

…and the rest

U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of Europe’s migrant crisis in which millions of refugees and migrants have fled war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. (Reuters

The world’s failure to prepare for natural disasters will have “inconceivably bad” consequences as climate change fuels a huge increase in catastrophic droughts and floods and the humanitarian crises that follow, the UN’s head of disaster planning has warned. (Guardian

Actor George Clooney presented a $1.1 million award on the 101st anniversary of a massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks to a Burundi woman who offered sanctuary to thousands of orphans in the middle of a civil war there. (AP

After weeks stranded at a closed border in northern Greece, migrants and refugees are seeking out new, irregular routes to get into Macedonia, clambering through forests and over hills under the cover of darkness. (Reuters

Protesters scuffled with police who fired tear gas at them Sunday during a march in the Moldovan capital attended by thousands who were demanding the resignation of the government and early elections. More than a dozen people were injured. (AP


Will the IMF Facility Be a Turning Point in the Economy? (IPS

Refreshing the RSS: best global health & development blogs? (Brett Keller

Western do-gooders need to resist the allure of ‘exotic problems’ (Guardian

What Can Be Done for Victims Still Fighting for Survival? (IPS

Solutions not Band-Aids: Building flood resilience with the world’s most vulnerable people (Devex

Want to beat climate change and achieve sustainability? Try paying your taxes (Guardian

One more such victory and we are lost (Cherokee Gothic

Send us food not volunteers, says quake-hit Ecuador (IRIN

‘TOSSD’? We need a new way to measure development cooperation (ODI

Give Directly and intra-household distribution (Development Policy