Saudi Arabia Launches Airstrikes in Yemen

With most of the country’s major cities under rebel control and the president reportedly having fled the country by boat, Riyadh is mounting an intervention against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels. “Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it had launched military operations in Yemen, carrying out air strikes in coordination with a 10-country coalition seeking to beat back Houthi militia forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge. At a news conference in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf Arab allies and others had joined with the desert kingdom in the military campaign in a bid “to protect and defend the legitimate government” of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He declined to give any information on Hadi’s whereabouts.” (Reuters

Malawi/Global Fund Fracas…There was a report, erroneous it turns out, that the Global Fund cut $574 million to Malawi. That’s not exactly what happened. Here’s the statement from The Global Fund. “In early 2015, following concerns about financial management at the National AIDS Council, the Malawi Country Coordinating Mechanism, a panel representing a range of stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, decided to channel US$574 million in funding to be implemented through different partners. Future funding will go through the Ministry of Health and ActionAid, a non-governmental organization. The National AIDS Council will no longer be a Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants. (Global Fund “

Vanuatu is Still Being Ignored…Less than two weeks after Cyclone Pam tore through the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, 110,000 people have no safe drinking water and some 75,000 urgently need shelter, the United Nations said on Tuesday as it launched an appeal for $29.9 million. (TRF

Nigeria Elections

Your 15 minute Nigeria elections explainer: Mark interviews the Nigerian American journalist Dayo Olopade who offers a sophisticated take on elections in Africa’s biggest democracy. (Global Dispatches Podcast

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the closure of the country’s land and sea borders before this weekend’s general election, the interior ministry said on Wednesday. (AFP

As Nigerians prepare for Saturday’s presidential election, the integrity of the vote will hang in large part on the success of a new voter card system that includes thousands of hand-held electronic card readers. (VOA


A Liberian woman who last week became the country’s first Ebola patient in more than one month has not passed on the infection to anyone else, a senior official said Wednesday. (AFP

A court in Chad on Wednesday found 20 current and former security agents who served under ousted ruler Hissene Habre guilty of atrocities committed during his rule in the 1980s, including war crimes and torture. (Reuters

A row over a law banning homosexuality in Uganda has been reignited after it emerged that the government paid a US public relations firm to offset negative publicity, a report said. (AFP

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, fresh from being extended in office for another three years, said on Wednesday the threat of international sanctions would not keep him from retaliating against his rival. (Reuters

Government workers in Togo went on strike for the second consecutive day over pay, a union official said, raising pressure on the government a month ahead of an election. (Reuters

Politicians, activists and conservation experts meeting in Botswana on Wednesday vowed to fight the booming illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. (AFP

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara appointed a Catholic archbishop on Tuesday to head the West African nation’s flagging post-war reconciliation efforts ahead of elections later this year, a senior official with the presidency said. (Reuters

Some 10.5 million children in Nigeria are out of school — the largest number in the world, according to the UN. Many children in the Muslim-majority north have little choice, with schools closed or destroyed by six years of fighting between Boko Haram and the military. (AFP

Two former child brides have taken Zimbabwe’s government to court in a ground-breaking bid to get child marriages declared illegal and unconstitutional. (Reuters

Two years after Séléka rebels ousted the president of the Central African Republic and plunged the country into chaos, farmers urgently need seeds and tools to plant crops and avert food shortages. (Guardian

The EU has restored political ties to Guinea-Bissau nearly five years after a military coup threw the country into chaos and soured relations with the international community. (Guardian


Activists speaking up against abuses in war-torn Libya face reprisals from all sides in the chaotic conflict, and are increasingly being threatened, attacked, abducted and killed, the UN warned in a report Wednesday. (AFP

Sweden is seeking to quell an unprecedented diplomatic spat over human rights with Saudi Arabia which has seen ambassadors recalled and arms sales cancelled, drawing comparisons with Denmark’s Mohammed cartoons controversy. (AFP

A new U.N. report said the delivery of aid to millions inside Syria is becoming even more difficult as the Islamic State group closes down humanitarian efforts and Syria’s government puts more obstacles in the way. (VOA


Authorities in Myanmar have filed criminal charges against 69 student activists and their supporters who were arrested two weeks ago when police cracked down on peaceful protests against a new education law. (AP

US President Barack Obama’s decision to slow the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will hamper peace efforts, the Taliban said Wednesday, vowing to continue fighting. (AFP 

Sri Lanka has started releasing private land occupied by the military during the country’s 26-year civil war, in a major step at reconciliation with minority ethnic Tamils. (AP

Hong Kong’s leader said on Wednesday the city was prepared for a fresh flareup of pro-democracy street protests, while issuing a call to arms against opposition democratic lawmakers who have disrupted government policy-making in the legislature. (Reuters

Online freedom advocates in India are hailing a court ruling that struck down a controversial law seen as infringing free speech on the Internet. But in a country expected to have the world’s largest number of web users by 2018, some concerns about net censorship remain. (VOA


China says its proposed Asian bank might have regional offices in other countries in a new move to mollify concern it will be a Chinese political tool. (AP

China on Wednesday rejected growing international calls for the release of five women’s rights activists and accused critics of violating the country’s judicial sovereignty by appealing for the women’s freedom. (AP

Leaders of Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics said Wednesday the capital’s notorious air pollution will be much improved by the time of the games. (AP

The Americas

Seven people were killed and more were feared dead in Peru after a massive landslide buried parts of a town amid heavy rains, authorities said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Strong winds and unusually hot weather in southern Chile are fueling out-of-control forest fires, which are consuming large swaths of national parks and ancient woodland parched by a prolonged drought. (VOA

The European Union and Cuba will intensify negotiations aimed at normalising ties, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says. (BBC

…and the rest

A group of large companies, mainly in the food sector, have promised to reduce their role in the destruction of the world’s forests, and a new online portal launched on Wednesday aims to hold them to their word. (Reuters

The Coca-Cola Co has made a good start in axing land grabs from its supply chain, but it must work harder in proving that its bottlers and sugar suppliers do not violate land rights, development experts told the company. (TRF

Health watchdogs should regulate online sales of breast milk, so prone to contamination that babies may be placed at risk, the BMJ medical journal said in an editorial on Wednesday. (AFP


This week I may be jailed for writing a book on human rights abuses (Guardian

Death by fire in India a big risk for women (Humanosphere

Global Citizenship Essential for Gender Equality: Ambassador Chowdhury  (IPS

A Top Weedkiller Could Cause Cancer. Should We Be Scared? (NPR

Does the wage bill affect conflict? Evidence from Palestine (ODI

Innovation in Somalia: Launch of E-Transfer Cards in Bossaso (WFP

How Did Ebola Volunteers Know Where To Go In Liberia? Crowdsourcing! (Goats and Soda

Maximising effectiveness of GAVI aid: when less can mean more (Devpolicy Blog

Four trade priorities for the global development agenda in 2015 (ODI

Is Going Local the Answer?  OxFam America’s New Report: “To Fight Corruption, Localize Aid” (GAB

Ambitious goals for sustainable development (virtual economics

Making development work for humanitarian response (WhyDev