Start paying attention to these tropical diseases…

Meliodosis could be killing as many people in the world as measles, yet it’s hardly known. “Researchers in the journal Nature Microbiology called for the bacterial infection meliodosis, which is resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, to be given a higher priority by international health organizations and policy makers. At the same time, scientists at Britain’s Oxford University warned that a virus known as Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes and has caused a major outbreak in Brazil, has “the potential of rapid spread to new areas.” Zika was first detected in Africa in the 1940s and was unknown in the Americas until last year, but has now been confirmed in Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, El Salvador, Mexico, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala and Paraguay, according to public health officials. (Reuters

Meanwhile…”A traveler who recently returned to the Houston area from El Salvador has a confirmed case of Zika, a virus borne by mosquitoes, health officials in Harris County, Texas, said on Tuesday.” (Reuters

Istanbul bombings. A suicide bomber said by Turkey to be affiliated with Islamic State was responsible for a blast near Istanbul’s grandest tourist attractions that has killed 10 people, most of them German.” The Latest: Guardian

Quote of the day: From a WHO official who made it to Madaya yesterday:  “I am really alarmed. People gathered in the market place. You could see many were malnourished, starving. They were skinny, tired, severely distressed. There was no smile on anybody’s face. It is not what you want to see when you arrive with a convoy. The children I talked to said they had no strength to play.” (VOA

Stat of the day: Nearly one in four children growing up in conflict zones are missing out on education, with South Sudan, Niger, Sudan and Afghanistan the worst-affected countries, UNICEF said. (Reuters


The World Bank pulled the plug on a $265 million transport scheme in Uganda after allegations that construction workers targeted schoolgirls and reports of poor treatment of workers. (Guardian

Hama Amadou, a major opposition figure approved to stand in Niger’s February elections just two days ago, failed on Monday in an attempt to gain release from prison in a plea to the country’s appeals court. (VOA

Six people have been killed in three days of unrest in Sudan’s Darfur region, a local official said, as a joint U.N. -African Union peacekeeping mission to the area urged the government to contain and investigate the violence. (Reuters

Two Yemenis transferred to Ghana after their release from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba said on Monday they hoped to live peacefully and rebuild their lives in the West African country. (Reuters

Worsening drought in Zimbabwe has dried up water holes, crops and pasture, leaving farmers unable to feed their animals – and unable to sell them for much either. (Reuters

A Burundi court will announce its verdict this week in the trial of the former defence minister and 27 others accused of being behind a foiled coup in May, a Justice Ministry official said on Tuesday. (Reuters

The Sierra Leone government has distanced itself from a letter supposedly written by a senior adviser to President Ernest Bai Koroma granting permission to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce for the “importation of baled and non-hazardous Municipal waste” into Sierra Leone as long as the materials are not toxic in nature. (VOA

As the world awaits the announcement on Friday that the worst-ever Ebola epidemic has been beaten in west Africa, the three most affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are taking grim stock of the devastation wrought on their economies. (AFP

South Africa has been given a March 15 deadline to allow U.S. poultry into the country or lose duty-free access for its farming exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, according to a proclamation issued by U.S. President Barack Obama. (VOA

During the six-week holiday season, nearly 1,800 South Africans were killed in 1,400 crashes on the country’s roads. (VOA


The U.N. humanitarian chief has called for Monday’s delivery of aid to three besieged towns in Syria to be the first of many and welcomed a Syrian statement that such deliveries should be repeated and sustained. (AP

Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are detaining them on Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.  (NBC

The United States and its allies conducted 23 strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Monday, the coalition leading the operations said in a statement. (Reuters

The resumption of Yemen peace talks won’t take place this week as originally hoped, following renewed fighting and air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite Houthi rebels, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday. (AP

The World Health Organization has asked the Syrian government for permission to send mobile clinics and medical teams to the besieged town of Madaya to assess the extent of malnutrition and evacuate the worst cases, its representative said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Syria’s army and allied forces “took full control” on Tuesday of the rebel-held town of Salma, in the northwestern province of Latakia, state television reported. (AFP


A group of Indian women who were subjected to female genital mutilation as children are calling on the government to ban the ancient ritual, describing it as child abuse. (TRF

Islamic State militants have no known links with Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines, security officials said on Tuesday, dismissing a video suggesting as much as propaganda. (Reuters

A Pakistani paramilitary force raided the home of the New York Times’ national correspondent on Tuesday in what officials called a routine search operation for a terrorism suspect. (Reuters

China formally arrested several Chinese human rights lawyers on suspicion of subverting state power after months of secret detention, one of their colleagues said on Tuesday, the latest move by authorities to crackdown on dissent. (Reuters

More of Myanmar’s ethnic minority rebel groups should be brought into peace talks and the effort to end conflict should not divide groups that are involved in negotiations and those that have shunned the process, Aung San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday. (Reuters

The Americas

Actor Sean Penn dismissed criticism of his interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a supposedly secret meeting that authorities say helped them track down the world’s most-wanted trafficker. (AP

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri says prison escapes have become such a problem that he’s creating a special agency at the Ministry of Security to deal with them. (AP

Deputies and senators took their seats in Haiti’s parliament, enabling the fragile democracy’s legislature to reconvene after a prolonged crisis but still facing a credibility shortfall. (AFP

…and the rest

Austria will take tougher action to turn away economic migrants in order to reduce overall immigration as it sees little help from other European countries in stemming the flow of migrants arriving at its border, ministers said on Tuesday. (Reuters

German ministers outlined plans on Tuesday to speed up the deportation of foreigners who commit crimes, responding to sexual attacks on women by migrants in Cologne which have deepened doubts about the country’s open-door refugee policy. (Reuters


Uganda’s president epitomises Africa’s perceived democratic deficit (Guardian

Diaspora Can Aid Drought Relief, Unlock Value (The Herald

Why has Sudan ditched Iran in favour of Saudi Arabia? (AFP

Did Sean Penn break the law? (BBC

Things Are Changing and Africa Might Just Be On Track to Winning War On Graft (Nation

Nigeria: Lagarde, the IMF and Us (Premium Times

Another Climate Strategy Is Possible (Fahamu

What (Else) to Expect in Africa in 2016? (ISS

Secret aid worker:  I feel disillusioned by the favoritism in my organisation (Guardian

Once Auctioned, What to Do with Syrian Refugees? (Inter Press Service

5 countries spew more plastic into the oceans than the rest of the world together (GlobalPost