Huge Water Shortages in Vanuatu One Month After Cyclone Pam

100,000 people — about half the population — lack access to clean water. This has totally dropped off the international community’s radar. “Tropical Cyclone Pam destroyed homes and infrastructure when it swept across the South Pacific island nation on March 13, leaving 11 dead and affecting the majority of the 252,800 Vanuatu population. Seventy percent of wells have been contaminated and bacteriological tests showed that water required purification before drinking at all sites tested outside the capital Port Vila, UNICEF said. The agency has been providing water purification tablets and plastic sheets for rainwater collection as a temporary substitute for the 68 percent of rainwater harvesting structures that have been damaged by the cyclone. Cyclone damage means that women and children have to walk to shower facilities and toilets further from home, or defecate in the open, lacking privacy and exposing themselves to abuse, said Rajphangthong. UNICEF needs $1.5 million to close the gap between donations and its appeal target, she said.” (Reuters )

India Kicks Al Jazeera off the Air…India has taken al-Jazeera off air for five days, claiming that it had shown wrong maps of Kashmir.The news channel showed a blue screen on Wednesday with a sign saying it would not be available until Monday.India says maps used by the channel are incorrect, as they show the region of Kashmir as divided between Pakistan, India and China.Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety but has effectively been divided since 1948. (BBC )

Happy Earth Day…Every single ocean now has a massive swirling plastic garbage patch. (Vox


An international rights group said members of a nomadic Muslim group in the Central African Republic are being held captive by radical Christian fighters and are at risk of sexual violence. (VOA

Ethiopia began three days of mourning on Tuesday with joint Christian and Muslim prayers for some 30 Ethiopian Christians killed in Libya by ISIS fighters. (Al Jazeera

Niger has shut all schools in the region around the capital, Niamey, and begun a campaign to vaccinate children aged 2 to 15 in an effort to halt a meningitis outbreak. (NYT

Hundreds of Zimbabwean nationals who fled attacks in South Africa are now being processed in a border town in Zimbabwe. (Al Jazeera


As a war of words heats up between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the civil war in Syria and sectarian violence in Yemen, there are signs that even secular Iranians are joining in the anti-Saudi chorus. (VOA

Yemeni security officials say the Saudi-led coalition has launched fresh airstrikes on Shi’ite rebels in two cities, just one day after Riyadh said it would cease such attacks.  (VOA


A wave of kidnappings followed by numerous beheadings of members of Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic group have spread alarm and anger among a people who have historically been this country’s most persecuted. (NYT

A farmer hanged himself from a tree during a political rally in New Delhi on Wednesday, in what appeared to be a desperate protest against the hardship felt by many people scratching a living in rural India. (Reuters

Hong Kong’s government unveiled electoral reform proposals but again failed to offer concessions to pro-democracy lawmakers and activists who object to China’s power to veto candidates. (WaPo

Hundreds of angry farmers in central Vietnam dumped dead fish and shrimp onto the highway in front of a local government office Tuesday to protest pollution. (VOA

The Americas

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday he will not allow peace talks with FARC rebels to collapse under political pressure from the opposition. (VOA

Rights groups seek the repeal of a tough abortion ban in El Salvador as young, poor women are convicted of homicide for stillbirths and miscarriages. (Al Jazeera

Mexico was ranked 58th out of 59 countries on the Global Impunity Index, a measure of security, justice, and human rights published by the Center for Studies on Impunity and Justice. (El País; Spanish)

The Pope is going to visit Cuba–right before he visits the USA in September. (Miami Herald

…and the rest

A prominent human rights lawyer in Azerbaijan, Intiqam Aliyev, has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison after a trial that he called politically motivated. (EIN


Malaria in the time of Ebola (ONE

Is this genocide? What four Americans saw happening to Armenians 100 years ago (WaPo

Why Europe is Dithering as Migrants are Dying (UN Dispatch

Afghan Watchdog Finds That If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come (FP

Why the Mediterranean migrant disaster is a problem for Israel, too (WaPo

Government attempts to muzzle Greenpeace India are ‘illegitimate’ and ‘repressive’ – open letter (Guardian

Imagining no malaria (The Hill