Suspicious Deaths in Syria and a Vaccine Campaign Suspended

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The WHO and UNICEF have suspended a measles vaccination campaign in rebel-held part of Syria after at least 15 and as many as 50 children died after taking the vaccine. “The children, some just babies, all exhibited signs of “severe allergic shock” about an hour after they were given a second round of measles vaccinations in Idlib province on Tuesday, with many suffocating to death as their bodies swelled…The Western-backed opposition based in Turkey said it had suspended the second round of measles vaccinations, which began on Monday. The campaign was meant to target 60,000 children. In a statement, it said the vaccines used Tuesday met international standards and did not say what may have caused the deaths.It is extremely unlikely that the vaccinations killed the children, said Beirut-based public health specialist Fouad Fouad, who said spoiled vaccinations were more or less harmless. “It cannot cause death,” he said.” (AP

Stat of the Day:  22 million people were displaced in 2013 by disasters brought on by natural hazard events – almost three times more than by conflict in the same year. From a new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council

Paul Farmer’s Ebola Treatment Experiment...The famed doctor is en route to Liberia to open a clinic, backed by George Soros, to provide high quality medical treatment to ebola victims.  (Forbes

What to Watch Out For Today:  The Security Council is holding an emergency session Thursday to discuss an international response to the ebola crisis.  It will be webcast at


The government in war-torn South Sudan said Wednesday it will not be expelling any foreign workers, reversing a policy announcement made the previous day that caused a storm of protests from aid agencies and neighbouring countries. (AFP

Seventy bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a collapsed church building in Lagos but remain unidentified, a Nigerian official said on Wednesday, questioning South Africa’s assertion that 67 of the victims had come from there. (Reuters

The World Bank approved a $105 million grant to bolster the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus epidemic raging in west Africa. (AFP

The largest-ever outbreak of Ebola could drain billions of dollars from economies in West Africa by the end of next year if the epidemic is not contained, the World Bank said in an analysis. (AFP

Around 80 people are missing in Central African Republic after their boat sank last week on the M’poko River south of the capital Bangui, the government said. (AFP

Zimbabwean lawyers on Wednesday decried reported assaults and the death of suspects in police custody, as well as conditions in holding cells they called unfit for human habitation. (AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo still has a long way to go to meet its pledges under a peace deal agreed last year, 10 Congolese NGOs said. (AFP

Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram violence at home and seeking refuge in Cameroon border towns are still not safe. (IRIN


Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy arms worth $3.5 billion from Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted the head of a Russian state arms agency as saying on Wednesday. (Reuters

The UN envoy to Yemen held talks Wednesday with Shiite rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi in a fresh effort to end the country’s political crisis, as deadly fighting intensified north of Sanaa. (AFP

A deal reached on war-battered Gaza’s reconstruction is set to be implemented in the coming months, with the amount of building materials entering the territory expected to quadruple. (AP

A top American intelligence official is acknowledging that the U.S. has difficulty tracking the movements and activities of Westerners in Syria who have joined rebels fighting President Bashar Assad. (AP


One-third of migrant workers in the Malaysian electronics industry, which produces goods for some of the world’s best-known brands, are trapped in forced labour, a form of modern-day slavery, according to new research. (Guardian

Doctors in the flood-ravaged Himalayan region of Kashmir said Wednesday that they were seeing outbreaks of gastroenteritis among people crowded into shelters after their homes were inundated two weeks ago. (AP

A UN human rights team looking into complaints of torture in Azerbaijan said on Wednesday it had cut short its investigations because it had been stopped from visiting some government detention centers. (Reuters

As the flood emergency deepens in Pakistan, now affecting nearly 2.3 million people, humanitarian teams have mobilized to work alongside local government authorities to assess needs in the worst-affected areas. (IRIN

The Americas

Colombia’s police chief says leftist rebels have killed seven police officers and injured five in an ambush in the country’s northwest. (AP

Opposition candidate Marina Silva has increased her lead slightly over President Dilma Rousseff in an expected second-round runoff to Brazil’s election next month, a new poll showed. (Reuters

A Caribbean trade bloc is urging governments to establish isolation facilities and take other preventive measures in case the Ebola virus reaches the region. (AP


As oil and terror intertwine, Somalis want more from their government (GlobalPost

Should Countries Be More Like Shopping Malls? A Proposal for Service Guarantees for Africa (CGD

Sierra Leone: Getting beyond nutrition as “a women’s issue” (ODI

Ebola: seven things that need to be done to tackle the outbreak (Guardian

A Climate Summit to Spark Action (IPS

Is Africa Losing the Battle Against Corruption? (ISS

As the Islamic State Expands, How Vulnerable Is Africa? (Daily Maverick

52 pick-up lines that will win the heart of an aid worker (WnyDev