Turkey rebuffs calls to open borders for Syrian refugees

Turkey’s leaders on Wednesday lashed out at the United Nations and others who are pressing the country to open its borders to tens of thousands of more Syrian refugees, accusing them of failing to shoulder the responsibility or to stop Russian bombings that have triggered the exodus. “With every refugee that we accept, in a way, we would be contributing to this ethnic cleansing aim,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “If this is a strategy to change the demography in Syria, then we all have to be vigilant against it.” (AP http://yhoo.it/20VIMSR)

Stampede of the day: A wild elephant rampaged through an east Indian town on Wednesday, smashing cars and homes and sending panicked people running before the animal was tranquilized to be returned to the forest. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KFFdwc)

Stat of the day: Around 13 million pupils in OECD countries have failed to attain a sufficient level of proficiency in either reading, maths or science by the time they reach 15, according to a new study released by the think-tank. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1msHIGt)


At least six people were killed and 30 injured in northern Cameroon on Wednesday by two Islamist suicide bombers at a Muslim funeral gathering, two officials in the region said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/20VIQlK)

Mali’s defense ministry says three soldiers have been killed after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Mali’s central Mopti region. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Q93RHO)

UNDP raised $60 million for food aid in Zimbabwe and is feeding 1 million people as the country faces its worst drought in a quarter century, the agency’s local head said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1o3gmIO)

Searchers at a South African mine on Wednesday struggled to reach three missing workers in a mobile office container that was buried under thousands of tons of rock last week. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KFFe35)

Emergency food aid for 10 million Ethiopians hit by the worst drought in 50 years will run out in April unless donors provide more funds by the end of February, the charity Save the Children said on Wednesday. (TRF http://bit.ly/20VIUlj)

More than 58,000 children in drought-hit Somalia will starve to death if they do not receive urgent support, the United Nations has warned. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/20VIVG6)

Human Rights Watch is calling on Uganda to publicly state that security forces are legally obliged to protect freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful protest in the days leading up to the nation’s February 18 election. (VOA http://bit.ly/20LBHHX)

An air of gloom hung over Africa’s biggest annual mining conference this week as corporate giants and governments wrestled with boom times gone bust in the wake of China’s downturn. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KFFbo5)


Sieges on cities across Syria must be lifted and air strikes on civilian areas must stop if the opposition is to resume talks in Geneva as planned on February 25, a top opposition leader said on Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q93Ofd)

The United Nations Security Council is held a private briefing on the humanitarian situation in Syria, where government forces backed by Russian airstrikes are waging an offensive against rebels in Aleppo. (VPA http://bit.ly/20LBEvC)

Rebel groups urged U.S. President Barack Obama to do more to stop Russian bombing raids in Syria as pressure mounted on Washington for greater commitment towards resolving the five-year-old war ahead of a new round of peace talks this week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/20LBF2G)


Millions of Indian children are getting deworming treatment in a massive national campaign to prevent parasitic worms from infecting them and impairing their mental and physical development. (AP http://yhoo.it/1O31Zc1)

A pregnant woman in Australia has tested positive for the Zika virus after traveling overseas, health officials said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KFFiQu)

China’s first case of the Zika virus has been found in a 34-year-old man who recently traveled to Venezuela and is now making a speedy recovery, the government said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1o3fZ0Z)

The Americas

The World Food Program says Haiti’s third consecutive year of drought has doubled the severely food-insecure population and driven people more deeply into poverty. (VOA http://bit.ly/20VIU4I)

An Indian-American actor and designer who was turned away from an airline flight after refusing to remove his Sikh turban during a security check said he’s “thrilled” that Aeromexico is vowing to overhaul its screening protocols. (AP http://yhoo.it/1o3fUug)

A reporter who was kidnapped by armed assailants in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz this week has been found dead, Mexican authorities said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q95V2v)

With larva-chomping fish and genetically modified insects, Latin Americans are deploying legions of little helpers to destroy mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus in the world’s latest mass health scare. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1msHPlr)

For health workers battling Zika across much of Central America, the immediate menace is not the mosquitoes that transmit the virus. It’s the gangsters who control the streets, and sometimes threaten their lives. (AP http://yhoo.it/1msHpf5)

Organizations in the U.S. helping resettle refugees might not be prepared for, and what refugees themselves might be in denial about, is the need to treat the mental scars of war, experts say. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q95JAx)

U.S. agents in Puerto Rico have seized nearly 10,000 counterfeit products imitating the brands of Apple, Cartier, Gucci, BMW, Porsche and others in one of the biggest seizures of its kind on the island. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KFFaAz)

…and the rest

The European Union appealed Wednesday for member countries to step up efforts to manage the refugee crisis, saying they are still reacting far too slowly as thousands continue to arrive. (AP http://yhoo.it/1msHPlD)

The EU on Wednesday told Athens to improve conditions for refugees so that other overstretched member states can send some of them back to Greece if they first entered the bloc there. (AFP http://yhoo.it/20VIQSB)

Three people were killed Wednesday morning in eastern Ukraine when a bus hit a landmine in a no man’s land between separatist rebels and government troops. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Q93Nbh)

A new push to give farmers in developing countries better access to markets, led by the U