Security Council extends UN force in Golan Heights, calling for greater support. UNDOF peacekeepers on patrol in the Golan Heights. UN Photo/Gernot Payer

UN Peacekeepers Detained by Syrian Rebels. Scores More Threatened

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Syrian rebels–quite probably the Al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra–have abducted over 40 peacekeepers are are threatening scores more. This is a very tense situation, but not an unusual one for UN Peacekeeping. ” Syrian rebels surrounded dozens of defiant Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Friday and demanded they give up their weapons, hours after taking 43 Fijian soldiers hostage, authorities said. Seventy-five Filipino members of a United Nations peacekeeping force were defending two posts on the Syrian side of Golan Heights, and were prepared to fight back rather than surrender, their commander in Manila said. ‘We can use deadly force in defence of the UN facilities,” Colonel Roberto Ancan told reporters.”I [would] just like to emphasise our troops are well-armed, they are well-trained … they are well-disciplined warrior peacekeepers.'”(Guardian

Containing Ebola is going to WAY More Expensive than realized. The WHO released a new “Roadmap” to contain the spread of the outbreak in West Africa. The top line news is that more than 20,000 people could get infected before its brought under control. But the roadmap also shows that much more funding is needed to bring this under control. “This updated document is an important step in ensuring that the world’s response to the outbreak is better coordinated and more comprehensive. But it also comes with a hefty new price tag: $490 million—a nearly five-fold increase over their previous $100 million estimate. Why did the price tag increase so much over the last few weeks? The simplest explanation is “more cases, more places.” Since the WHO’s previous estimate was released at the end of July, the Ebola epidemic has spread more rapidly and in more places than many initially anticipated, including new cases in Nigeria. But the price tag is also larger because previous estimates may not have planned for such an aggressive response.”(ONE

Open Defecation in the UN’s Crosshairs… “The world’s lack of progress in building toilets and ending open defecation is having a “staggering” effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of 2.5 billion people, the UN deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, has warned.Speaking as the UN prepares to debate a new set of development goals – and in the aftermath of the rape and murder of two Indian girls who were attacked as they ventured into a field to relieve themselves – Eliasson said the failure to address the issue of sanitation would prove disastrous for a third of humanity. “Sanitation is cross-cutting: if you make progress on sanitation, then you dramatically improve the achievement of at least four other goals,” he told the Guardian. (Guardian


Mark interviews BuzzFeed’s Jina Moore who offers an inside look at the toll Ebola is extracting in Liberia. (Global Dispatches Podcast

The worst ever outbreak of the Ebola disease is likely to lead to “sharply” lower growth in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and raise financing needs in all three West African countries, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday. (Reuters

West African states should re-open their borders and end flight bans put in place to halt the spread of Ebola, the Economic Community of West African States said on Thursday. (Reuters

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,552 people out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and “continues to accelerate”, the WHO said on Thursday. (Reuters

An experimental Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline is being fast-tracked into human studies and the company plans to build a stockpile of up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment, if results are good. (VOA


With the approach of the Gambia’s 2016 presidential elections, which will see President Yahya Jammeh seek re-election for a fifth, five-year tenure, more than a dozen opposition activists have been arrested, detained and prosecuted in the past eight months. (IPS

Zambian President Michael Sata fired Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba on Thursday, his spokesman said, removing a potential rival at a time when questions are being asked about the health of the leader of Africa’s second-largest copper producer. (Reuters

Niger’s leader of the opposition and parliamentary speaker Hama Amadou has fled to neighbouring Burkina Faso after parliamentary leaders authorised his arrest on suspicion of involvement in a baby-trafficking network, his lawyer said on Thursday. (Reuters

Security concerns are preventing the United Nations gathering data from some areas of South Sudan to determine the full scope of a food crisis that could lead to full-blown famine by the end of the year, a WFP official said. (Reuters

A thick grey swarm of locusts engulfed Madagascar’s capital on Thursday, sending children scuttling and causing florists to burn tyres in panic. A bank of ravenous insects clouded the sky over Antananarivo, with countless thousands raining down dead on to the streets.


There are no official statistics on child marriage in Lebanon, but it takes place in several rural areas in the country and has risen with the influx of Syrian refugees, experts say. Now, Lebanon is trying to tackle the problem with legislation that would give civil authorities a role in an area that is usually the preserve of clerics.

Vital humanitarian aid poured into Gaza on Thursday as residents began rebuilding their lives following a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas that experts say left no winners. Israel agreed to immediately lift restrictions on fishing, allowing boats to work up to six nautical miles from the shore in a move which went into effect early on Wednesday.


Afghanistan’s U.N. representative told President Hamid Karzai on Thursday that the audit of a disputed election would not be finished by Sept. 2, when Karzai had hoped to see a new leader inaugurated. (Reuters

A new law designed to regulate Afghanistan’s nascent mining sector could increase corruption, lead to forced displacements and even allow armed groups to take control of the sector, transparency groups have warned. (IRIN

A major protest day that Pakistan’s opposition termed decisive drew to a close on Thursday evening with thousands of activists still massed outside parliament demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign. (Reuters

A Thai criminal court on Thursday threw out charges of murder and abuse of power faced by a former prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his then deputy over a deadly crackdown on street protesters in 2010.

The Americas

Concerned that climate change could lead to an intensification of the global hydrological cycle, Caribbean stakeholders are working to ensure it is included in the region’s plans for Integrated Water Resources Management. (IPS

Problems in access to quality drinking water, supply shortages and inadequate sanitation are challenges facing development and the fight against poverty in Latin America. A new regional centre based in Brazil will monitor water to improve its management. (IPS

Police in Brazil have broken up an Amazon deforestation gang considered the worst currently active, officials said. The gang would invade public land in northern Para state, burn down forest, divided the land into parcels and sell them, federal police said in a statement.

Nicaragua is even poorer than Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — which account for the vast majority of child migrants — but it has largely fended off the drug gangs terrorizing those countries and it sends few migrants north. (Reuters


How to Sustain the AfDB’s Progress after Kaberuka (CDG

Does the global HIV response understand sex? (IRIN

What women want – gender equality post 2015 (ODI

Will 74,400 Women Be Raped This August in South Africa? (Africa Check

“Yes you dolt, diseases can expand exponentially and Ebola just may” (Chris Blattman

The best evidence yet on how Theories of Change are being used in aid and development work (From Poverty to Power

Should We Use Randomized Trials for Anticorruption Education and Training? (Global Anticorruption Blog

Has the Potential of ICTs to Reduce Conflict in Africa been Over-Hyped? (World Bank

After 150 years, time to renew our commitment to the Geneva Conventions (The Interpreter