This is What It’s Like to Be Stuck at the Macedonian Border

This report paints a vivid picture of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the Greece-Macedonia border. 10,000 people are stranded, a number that seems to be growing by the day. “Beyond a moat littered with blankets, bottles and clothes was Macedonia, the tiny Balkan state where the transit route now stops. Troops, armed with teargas and plastic bullets, guarded its perimeter. Slovene and Polish forces stood next to them; water cannons, Humvees, armoured personnel carriers glimmered in the winter sun, while behind them all were the dogs – the latest addition to Macedonia’s reinforcement of its southern frontier.

At midday, dozens of Syrians, Iraqis and Kurds – many stranded at the border for more than a week – pleaded with Greek policemen to let them through. For the first time since Monday, when Macedonian authorities abruptly cut off access, some refugees were allowed to continue their desperate journeys north. By mid-morning, 170 had been granted permission, passing through a cabin that passes for the frontier checkpoint.” (Guardian

UNSC Approves Stringent New North Korea Sanctions…The resolution, which dramatically expands existing sanctions, follows North Korea’s latest nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a Feb. 7 rocket launch that Washington and its allies said used banned ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the sanctions go further than any U.N. sanctions regime in two decades and aim to cut off funds for North Korea’s nuclear and other banned weapons programs.” (Reuters

EU bolsters migrant support…The head office of the European Union on Wednesday sought to swiftly push through a proposal to earmark $760 million in humanitarian aid to improve the situation for migrants in need of shelter. (AP

Boadway diplomacy (no joke)…The United States turned to cultural diplomacy on Tuesday to push gay rights at the United Nations by taking 15 U.N. ambassadors, including those from Russia, Gabon and Namibia, to see an award-winning lesbian musical on Broadway. (Reuters

Stat of the Day: Almost 16 million girls between the ages six and 11 will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to about 8 million boys if current trends continue. (UNESCO )


Half the population in Central African Republic are going hungry every day, double the number a year ago, U.N. officials said as they called for help to prevent the “dire” food situation deteriorating further. (Reuters

Dozens of emaciated-looking Boko Haram members begging for food have surrendered in northeast Nigeria, the military and a civilian self-defense fighter said Wednesday. (AP

A mob in southern Malawi burned seven men to death for allegedly possessing human bones for use in witchcraft, police said on Wednesday. (AFP

Rwandan prosecution lawyers called for 22-year jail sentences Wednesday against two senior military figures on trial for inciting rebellion against the central African nation’s strongman, President Paul Kagame. (AFP

More than 30 Sudanese journalists have launched a hunger strike to protest against the forced closure of their newspaper by the government. (Guardian

The lives of hundreds of thousands of people are being put at risk by Uganda’s poor management of health spending, a report finds. An audit by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published on Friday, said millions of dollars remained unspent even though drug shortages were common in health centres. (Guardian

South Africa’s farming sector may need up to $1 billion over the next three years in financial assistance to recover from a devastating drought, industry group Agri SA said on Wednesday. (Reuters


A new U.S. special operations team has been questioning a key Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and Syria leader in Iraq since seizing him in a raid last month, U.S. officials said Wednesday. It is believed to be the first case of a top ISIS militant captured alive in that country. (CBS

A top United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commander said Tuesday that Russia and Syria are using migration as a tool to destabilize their European neighbors, and warned of “resurgent and aggressive” Russian behavior in the region. (CSM

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops Wednesday after infiltrating a West Bank settlement and wounding a settler, the military said. (AFP


Thailand’s junta is intensifying intimidation of academics who criticize the general’s efforts to stay in power by sending army officers to their homes, a Thai rights group said on Wednesday. (Reuters

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of western Indonesia, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reports.No immediate reports of damage. (BBC

An Indian court granted bail on Wednesday to a student arrested for alleged sedition in a case that led to mass protests and accusations the government is trying to stifle free speech. (Reuters

Greenpeace East Asia said on Wednesday that China had a total of 210 coal power projects in the pipeline”for environmental assessment permitting at the end of 2015, despite overcapacity in the industry and pollution concerns. (Reuters

Afghan security forces on Wednesday killed four suicide bombers who targeted the Indian consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad, following an attack in which at least two people were killed and 19 wounded, officials said. (Reuters

Global aid agencies are responding to a call for assistance by Mongolia as harsh winter weather raises fears for the safety and livelihoods of the country’s traditional pastoralists, who have already been hit hard by a drought last year. (Reuters

The Americas

A lawyer for drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said Wednesday his client now wants to be extradited as soon as possible to the United States because guards at a Mexican maximum-security prison won’t let him sleep. (AP

All but one nation in the Americas have criminal defamation laws that can be used against journalists to suppress freedom of expression, according to a report released on Wednesday. (Reuters

…and the rest

Macedonia intermittently opened its border with Greece to a tiny trickle of Syrian and Iraqi refugees Wednesday, leaving about 10,000 more people camped on the Greek side, with more arriving daily. (AP


Sexual violence is​ a tool of war, but we have the weapons to end that (Guardian

How African Strongmen Defy Term Limits (Citizen

Will the sky fall when big NGOs move south? (Open Democracy

How art is helping Syrian refugees keep their culture alive (Guardian

The art of delivery – lessons from working with African governments (From Poverty to Power

The stealth aid raid: militarising Britain’s development budget (TRF

Corporate development in conflict has a gender problem (Devex

Australia’s unbalanced foreign policy (The Interpreter

Where are the ‘Digital Dividends’ from the ICT revolution? The new World Development Report (World Bank

It’s time to axe Kenya’s big dick politics (African Arguments