UN Human Rights Experts Headed to Burundi

This emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council was all the more extraordinary for the fact that Burundi is actually a member of the Council. “The top U.N. human rights assembly approved a resolution on Thursday calling for the quick deployment of experts to Burundi to look into abuses amid spiraling violence in the east African country…After a U.S.-led diplomatic push, the 47-member Human Rights Council, which counts Burundi among its members, approved the text that calls for the U.N. human rights chief to send in a mission of experts who are to report regularly on the rights situation there. At least 87 people were killed on Dec. 11 in attacks on military facilities in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. U.N. officials have expressed fears the African country is headed toward civil war.”  (AP)

A Step Towards Peace in Libya?Delegates from Libya’s warring factions have signed a UN-brokered agreement to form a national unity government, a deal Western powers hope will bring stability, and help to combat a growing Islamic State presence…A group of politicians from Libya’s rival parliaments, as well as other political figures, inked the UN-sponsored accord in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat. About 80 of 188 MPs from Libya’s internationally recognised parliament and 50 of 136 members of the General National Congress (GNC) signed the deal.” (ABC – Australia)

Insensitive political gaffe of the day…The mother of James Foley, the American hostage beheaded on camera by Islamic State last year, said on Thursday she was angry at French far-right politician Marine Le Pen for posting a graphic photo depicting the act on social media. (Reuters)


The top U.N. official in Mali said on Thursday he would leave his post after just a year amid what sources said are difficulties implementing a peace deal and improving security in the north of the country. (VOA)  

A cholera outbreak has sickened more than 540 people in Kenya’s largest refugee camp and killed seven in the last few weeks, Doctors Without Borders said, warning the epidemic could worsen due to heavy rains. (Reuters)

An independent panel sharply rebuked the United Nations on Thursday for “gross institutional failure” to act on allegations that French and African troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic. (AFP)

Students from the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia have been protesting for three weeks against an urban expansion plan around the capital that they fear will lead to land grabs without proper compensation. Security forces have clashed with demonstrators, killing at least five people this week. (VOA)

A trial in Ivory Coast’s capital Abidjan for the 2002 murder of ex-military chief Robert Guei was postponed Thursday until January 21, with top officials from the former regime of Laurent Gbagbo among the accused. (AFP)

In Uganda, a court case involving two women who died in childbirth at government hospitals could have widespread legal implications. A Supreme Court ruling in the matter has opened the door to lawsuits in cases where the government fails to provide proper healthcare. (VOA)

Tanzanian President John Magufuli dismissed the head of the government’s anti-graft body for failing to tackle high-level corruption in east Africa’s second-biggest economy, Magufuli’s office said. (Reuters)



U.N.-sponsored Yemen peace talks are struggling amid disputes over releasing prisoners, sources close to the talks said on Thursday, as local officials reported intensifying clashes and fresh air strikes despite a ceasefire. (Reuters)

The U.N. Security Council warned on Thursday that some countries are failing to implement long-standing sanctions against Islamic State, as an unprecedented meeting of finance ministers put the global focus on cutting off the militant group’s funds. (Reuters)  

Hundreds of Sudanese asylum seekers slated for deportation have spent a night near Jordan’s international airport, as the U.N. refugee agency urged Jordan not to send them back to Sudan. (AP)

Pakistan has confirmed it’s part of a Saudi-led “Islamic military alliance” against terrorism in the Muslim world but remained vague about when exactly it joined the new alliance.(AP)


After months of threats and pressure, one of the Afghanistan’s few women in public office was removed from her post as the governor of a remote province and given the job of deputy provincial governor of Kabul, an Afghan official said Thursday. (VOA)

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees have vanished from camps in the northern reaches of the Indonesian island of Sumatra in recent months, raising concerns that they are once again turning to dangerous smuggling rings in a bid to reach Malaysia. (IRIN)

Indian opposition leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi will appear in court on Saturday to defend themselves against graft allegations in a case they hope to turn to their advantage by energizing their party faithful against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Reuters)

A Singapore High Court judge on Thursday ordered a blogger to pay the prime minister $106,172  in damages for defamation, his written judgment seen by Reuters showed. (Reuters)

The Americas

Haitian President Michel Martelly on Thursday ordered creation of a special commission to assess the country’s electoral process ahead of a scheduled Dec. 27 presidential and legislative runoff that opposition factions have threatened to derail because of deep suspicions of fraud. (AP)

The United States and Cuba have agreed to restore scheduled commercial airline service for the first time in more than five decades in a deal allowing 110 round-trip flights a day between the former Cold War foes. (Reuters)  

When Mirna Ramírez gave birth two months early, she was detained by the police, accused of attempted murder and jailed for 12 years. In El Salvador, where a draconian anti-abortion law holds sway, her story is an all too familiar one. (Guardian)

Supporters of embattled President Dilma Rousseff marched across Brazil protesting what they say is a “coup” aimed at toppling the leftist leader by impeachment. (AFP)

Brazil’s prosecutor general has called for the lower house of Congress speaker, Eduardo Cunha, to be sacked. (BBC)

…and the rest

Dutch police fired warning shots and arrested 14 demonstrators when a protest by hundreds of people against the opening of a refugee centre turned violent, leaving several injured, officials said Thursday. (AFP)

Up to 300 million euros ($328 million) may be set aside for compensating victims of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks and their families, France’s justice minister says. (AP)

Britain cut more renewable energy subsidies on Thursday, putting jobs at risk and drawing criticism for losing credibility in tackling climate change, a week after the landmark deal in Paris. (Reuters)

Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have supported violence and involvement with the group can be an indicator of extremism — but it should not be banned in Britain, the government said Thursday. (AP)

A “gaping hole” in international law is allowing governments to ignore their commitments to end gender-based violence, according to the former UN special rapporteur on the causes and consequences of violence against women. (Guardian)


Five humanitarian crises largely overlooked in 2015 (AlertNet http://bit.ly/1Pbun1f)

How Boko Haram is killing off farms in Nigeria (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QQ0jZ3)

Does the Paris agreement go far enough for Africa? (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1k5sc2j)

Should The World Emulate US Crop Insurance? (IPS http://bit.ly/1PbIyU9)

Fixing Yemen’s aid problem (IRIN)

Where is the most dangerous place in the world to give birth? (Guardian)