Syria’s second largest city may soon be under a dreadful siege

The city may soon fall to government forces. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Aleppans have fled to the Turkish border in the past few days, but Turkey had closed the border.  “Aid groups and people still inside the city believe the barrage is preparing the way for a blockade. The main supply line north of Aleppo has already been cut, and it will not take long before shortages bite in a ruined, desperate city. ‘The Russian airstrikes are trying to completely destroy the area before they get on the ground and start the siege,’ said Saad, a 35-year-old aid worker who chose to stay on and is now trapped inside the city. He says the bombing campaign was hitting both morale and food supplies.” (Guardian


Quote of the day: “Yes, Turkey has reached the end of its capacity to absorb (refugees),” Kurtulmus said. “But in the end, these people have nowhere else to go. Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will … watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders.” — Deputy PM of Turkey Numan Kurtulmus (NYT




Islamic extremists have freed an Australian woman kidnapped last month in northern Burkina Faso, although her husband remains in captivity despite pleas from the family and efforts by officials to secure his release. (ABC


A Sudanese migrant in Israel stabbed and wounded a soldier in an apparent act of solidarity with Palestinians and was shot dead, police said. (Reuters


Somali government officials said Saturday airport security cameras caught two people dressed in military uniforms passing a laptop to the passenger who died after Tuesday’s mid-flight bomb blast aboard a passenger plane. (VOA


Guinean authorities have opened a murder probe after a journalist was shot and fatally wounded in clashes outside the offices of an opposition party, officials said Saturday. (AFP


Because of drought in Malawi and across southern Africa the grain has doubled in price in the space of a year, and now costs around $0.28 a kilo. Many people are struggling to pay for maize, a staple of the diet. (Reuters


Heavy rains, flooding and a spike in new arrivals could threaten the lives of over 110,000 Burundian refugees in overcrowded camps in Tanzania, six aid agencies said on Monday, amid warnings of rising political tension in Burundi. (Reuters


South Africa will not declare a national disaster in response to its worst drought in a century as it hopes ample late rains will continue to improve the situation, deputy minister of agriculture Bheki Cele said on Sunday. (Reuters


A new UNESCO publication says thousands of African children lack textbooks or must share them. Education experts say that along with skilled teachers, textbooks are essential for meeting the U.N.-backed Sustainable Development Goals, which call for inclusive and equitable quality education for all. (VOA




The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is temporarily closing its Gaza office after protesters repeatedly tried to storm it. (VOA


The Red Cross said on Sunday it had delivered more food and hygiene kits for around 3,500 people in the besieged Syrian suburb of Mouadamiya near Damascus, expecting to send more in coming days. (Reuters


A Saudi soldier and a civilian have been killed in cross-border shelling from rebel-controlled northern Yemen, authorities said. (AFP




With anxious families waiting nearby, rescuers on Sunday painstakingly pulled more survivors from the remains of a high-rise apartment building that collapsed a day earlier in a powerful earthquake that shook southern Taiwan and killed at least 26 people. More than 100 remained buried in the building’s rubble. (NYT


North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday carrying what it called a satellite, but its neighbors and the United States denounced the launch as a missile test, conducted in defiance of U.N. sanctions and just weeks after a nuclear bomb test. (Reuters


The United Nations Security Council on Sunday strongly condemned North Korea’s latest rocket launch and promised to take punitive steps, while Washington vowed to ensure the 15-nation body imposed “serious consequences” on Pyongyang as soon as possible. (Reuters


At least nine people were killed and 35 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a military convoy in Pakistan’s western city of Quetta on Saturday, police and hospital officials said. (Reuters


Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil leaders on Sunday asked the top U.N. human rights official to help determine the fate of more than 4,000 civilians reported missing in the country’s long civil war amid the government’s assertion that most of them are probably dead. (AP


Afghanistan expects to hold direct talks with the Taliban by the end of this month, an official said Sunday. (AP


The Americas


The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has called on Latin American countries hit by the Zika epidemic to allow women access to abortion and birth control, reigniting debate about reproductive rights in the predominantly Catholic region. (Guardian


Politicians in Haiti have signed a last-minute agreement to install a transitional government that keeps the country from plunging into an immediate power vacuum. (BBC


Salvadoran police have arrested four former soldiers wanted in Spain for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests during the Central American country’s brutal civil war, officials said Saturday. (AP


Men exposed to the Zika virus and who have a pregnant partner should use a condom or abstain from sex until the baby is born, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Friday in guidelines aimed at preventing sexual transmission of the virus. (CNN


The rapidly spreading Zika virus is discouraging many Americans from traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean, with 41 percent of those aware of the disease saying they are less likely to take such a trip, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows. (Reuters


A man who says he was sexually abused by a priest on Sunday delivered two letters addressed to Pope Francis from Chilean Catholics asking him to remove a Chilean bishop accused of protecting a notorious pedophile. (Reuters


…and the rest


Turkey has reached the end of its “capacity to absorb” refugees but will continue to take them in, the deputy premier said Sunday, as his country faced mounting pressure to open its border to tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled a government onslaught. (AP


Two female migrants found dead in a mountainous rural region of Bulgaria died due to freezing conditions, authorities said Sunday, as asylum seekers continue to try to reach the EU despite harsh winter weather. (AFP




Do You Know What ‘Vector’ And ‘Endemic’ Mean? We Can Help — Sort Of (Goats and Soda


The UN Stamp Collection Just Became a Little More Progressive (UN Dispatch


What Happened in Addis Over International Criminal Court? (East African


How South Sudanese pay for their leader’s war (Reinventing Peace


Why is the International Criminal Court stepping out of Africa and into Georgia? (Justice in Conflict


How technology is taking down human trafficking (Devex


The militant philosopher of Third World liberation (Africa is a Country


Too important to flail: a strategic financing mechanism for humanitarian assistance (Dev Policy


Brazilians Have To Learn To Think Like A Mosquito (Goats and Soda


I was raped in South Sudan … then went back (Guardian