Peace at Last!

A ceasefire between FARC and the Colombian government has been signed, ending 50 years of warfare. “‘May this be the last day of the war,’” said Farc chief Timoleón “Timochenko” Jiménez, his voice choked with tears. “We are close to a final peace accord,” he said, after shaking hands with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at the signing ceremony in Havana, which was attended by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. Although a final peace deal also will require approval in a referendum, the formal cessation of hostilities between the two main combatants and the Farc’s acceptance of disarmament are key steps towards resolving a low-intensity war that has caused more than 250,000 deaths and the displacement of more than 6 million people. Santos hailed a historic day for his country and its people – many of whom have only known war. ‘Colombia got used to living in conflict. We don’t have even the slightest memories of what it means to live in peace,’ he said. ‘Today a new chapter opens, one that brings back peace and gives our children the possibility of not reliving history.’” (Guardian

MSF: “Catastrophic humanitarian emergency” unfolding at a camp sheltering refugees who fled the Boko Haram… “Since 23 May, at least 188 people have died in the camp – almost six people per day, MSF said in a statement, adding that the deaths were mainly caused by starvation and dehydration. The aid organization said the camp hosts 24,000 people, including 15,000 children. Roughly one in five of over 800 children MSF examined had acute malnutrition. (DW

UN: At least 2.3 million people could be displaced in anti-ISIS offensive… “The prediction of such a vast humanitarian emergency creates additional complications for the Iraqi government and its U.S. allies, who have announced plans for offensives to drive Islamic State fighters this year from most of their Iraqi territory. More than 3.4 million people across Iraq have already been forced by conflict to leave their homes, according to the United Nations. In the past month, 85,000 people fled Falluja, an Islamic State stronghold an hour’s drive from Baghdad, amid a military campaign that has recaptured large parts of the city.” (Reuters

Brexit Results: The results were not yet in at time of publication,  but exit polls suggest that “remain” will eek out a victory. Results are posted here, via BBC


The World Health Organization said on Thursday that it will launch emergency yellow fever vaccination campaigns along the border between Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Congolese capital Kinshasa next month. (Reuters

United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said troops would be sent home from a U.N. mission in South Sudan due to their response to deadly violence at a compound. (Reuters

Getting water day after day to the tens of thousands of refugees stranded in the sweltering desert of Niger due to attacks by Boko Haram Islamists is nothing less than a Herculean task. (AFP

Zambia’s tax authorities have shut down a newspaper critical of the government, accusing it of failing to pay taxes, its managing editor said. (Reuters

The United Nations Security Council expressed concern on Thursday over the arrest of political opposition members in Democratic Republic of Congo and urged the president to hold elections by the end of the year as required by the constitution. (Reuters

Volunteers calling themselves the Death and Destitute Organisation bury Freetown’s unidentified bodies are frustrated by lack of action by the Sierra Leonean authorities. (Guardian

The African Union has deployed less than a quarter of the agreed 200 military and human rights observers to Burundi, amid differences with the country over their role in tackling a festering political crisis, sources close to the AU said Thursday. (AFP

Mozambique’s state-owned airline LAM has said it will suspend flights to the Angolan capital Luanda from July 1, blaming financial and operational difficulties as the government struggles with a debt crisis that is crippling the economy.  (Reuters


Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on Egypt’s government to release from detention four members of a satirical street group who posted video clips on social media that mocked President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and criticized an agreement with Saudi Arabia that would hand control over two Red Sea islands to Riyadh. (AP

Witnesses say that al-Qaida fighters have been seen in southern Yemeni cities, nearly a month after the militants withdrew from the towns following tribal-led negotiations. (AP

The UN said Thursday it would begin flying desperately-needed aid from Damascus to the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, which has been inaccessible by domestic roads for more than two years. (AP

A group of 32 trucks left for the Syrian-Jordanian border on Thursday to deliver water to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have been cut off from aid since earlier in the week, an international aid official said. (AP

The United Nations now estimates there are 5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid living in hard-to-reach areas, nearly a million more than the previous figure. (AP


In a demonstration of her popular appeal, Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi received a rapturous welcome Thursday as she presided over a town hall-type meeting with some of the huge population of migrant workers from her homeland who eke out a living in Thailand. (AP

A veteran pro-democracy lawmaker was charged Thursday by Hong Kong’s corruption bureau over a payment from one of the city’s best-known anti-China media tycoons, in a case he described as a political move. (AFP

A Pakistani provincial government has allocated $3 million to a Taliban-linked seminary in a volatile region bordering Afghanistan, a local official said Thursday, sparking criticism from the central government in Islamabad and secular groups. (AP

The United Nations refugee chief on Thursday urged Pakistanis not to blame Afghan refugees for terrorism in their country, amid growing public calls for their deportation and worsening relations between the two neighbors. (Reuters

Hurricane-force winds, freak hailstorms, pounding rain and a tornado killed 78 people in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday and injured nearly 500 others, 200 of them critically, Xinhua reported. (AFP

The Americas

Places where governments issued health advisories about Zika and pregnancies, requests for abortions through Women on Web jumped by up to 108%. These were not necessarily requests from women who’d even contracted the Zika virus. These were women who feared they might get it. (CNN

The Organization of American States is meeting to discuss what the secretary general calls serious abuses of democracy in Venezuela as international pressure mounts on the socialist country amid a deepening political and economic crisis. (AP


…and the rest

About 4,500 migrants were rescued from rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the Italian coastguard said, averting another potential high seas disaster. (AFP

Tens of thousands of people marched without incident in Paris on Thursday to protest planned labor reforms, joining a demonstration that authorities had initially considered banning due to the violence that has accompanied similar recent events. (AFP

An estimated quarter of a billion people between the ages of 15 and 64 years, abused at least one drug in 2014 but that figure and the number of drug-related deaths have remained relatively steady over recent years, according to a U.N. report published Thursday. (AP

Police in an Interpol-led operation have arrested 26 people across several countries accused of involvement in migrant-smuggling — and the international police agency wants the public’s help to find suspects still at large. (AP


Why the dispute in the South China Sea is the confluence of at least three big global trends. (Global Dispatches Podcast

Fearing Violence, LGBT Refugees Rarely Seek Help (Inter Press Service

Colombia’s future hinges on an inclusive peace deal that recognises human rights (Guardian

Direct local elections in Indonesia: When populism precedes process  (The Interpreter

Australia Election 2016: how do the parties compare on aid and development? (Dev Policy

Tackling Teen Pregnancy (With More Than Just Sex Ed) (On the Ground

A Brutally Honest Confrontation with the ICC’s Past: Thoughts on ‘The Prosecutor and the President’ (Justice in Conflict

Leave no one behind: starting now (ODI

A new era in digital health (Devex

Is Pakistan going to send Afghan refugees home? (IRIN