From the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “Thirty-four countries, including 27 in Africa, are currently in need of external assistance for food due to drought, flooding and civil conflicts, according to a new edition of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released today. The figure has grown from 33 last December, after the addition of Swaziland. Drought associated with El Nino has “sharply reduced” 2016 crop production prospects in Southern Africa, while expectations for the harvest in Morocco and Algeria have been lowered due to dry conditions. Also in areas of Central America and the Caribbean, ongoing dry conditions linked to El Nino may affect sowings of the main season crops for the third consecutive year. Moreover, persistent conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have taken a heavy toll on the agricultural sector, further worsening the humanitarian crisis in those countries.” (FAO http://bit.ly/1Wd1Tot)

Security Council Clashes Over Proposal to Curb Peacekeeper Misconduct…”Egypt and Russia led a charge at the UN Security Council on Thursday against plans to send peacekeeping contingents home if their soldiers are accused of sexual abuse while serving under the UN flag. Facing a surge in the number of allegations of sex abuse by peacekeepers, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will order troops who face repeated allegations to be repatriated, amid warnings the misconduct is damaging the reputation of the whole UN. The new policy is a key part of a US-drafted resolution under negotiation for nearly a week, the first by the Security Council aimed at addressing the scandal.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Wd2qGW)

Longread of the Day: President Obama gets philosophical about his foreign policy and America’s role in the world. (The Atlantic http://theatln.tc/1Wd16Uu)

Quote of the day: “The United States’ failure in Syria and Iraq has had a significant impact on the cause of the flow of refugees. If the United States had gotten rid of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad and kept Iraq under control, we wouldn’t be experiencing the refugee crisis that we are today,” said Sen John McCain in an interview with VOA http://bit.ly/1YBG6s6)

Africa

Former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said police broke into his lawyers’ offices and seized computers and documents containing affidavits of witnesses to electoral fraud in the country’s February 18 national poll. (VOA http://bit.ly/1M93eXN)

The African Union will send a mission to northern Mali in the next few weeks to look into setting up a counter-terrorism force to support vulnerable U.N. peacekeepers, sources familiar with the matter said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1TwhQsb)

One South African soldier was killed in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and another was wounded in an ambush on a military convoy escorting humanitarian aid trucks, Pretoria said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TwhYaZ)

Health workers in Sierra Leone face suspicion and a lack of cold storage as they test the Ebola vaccine and also try to reach children who have missed inoculations against other diseases. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1P1HsFd)

A South Sudanese journalist has been abducted, tortured, burned and dumped near a graveyard, according to local media reports, in the latest attack on the media in the country.  (AFP http://bit.ly/1nzv0GF)

Activist groups in Democratic Republic of Congo urged the government on Thursday to revive plans for a new mining code, saying the higher revenues it would generate were vital to supporting a young democracy. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LTLTHu)

U.S.-based Uber plans to expand in Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana this year and will focus on convincing traditional taxi drivers to work for the ride-hailing service. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1TwhQbv)

Kenya is losing a third of its state budget – the equivalent of about $6 billion – to corruption every year, the country’s new anti-graft chief told Reuters, saying his agency was badly short of staff and modern equipment to tackle the problem. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1RBJldV)

MENA

Aid agencies working in Iraq say there is a desperate need to train more mental health professionals to treat the survivors of Islamic State kidnappings and attacks. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UhTBwv)

For a month, more than 25,000 teachers in the West Bank have been on strike over pay and benefits, causing chaos for schools, pupils and parents, and prompting the Palestinian Authority to deploy military police on the streets of Ramallah. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RBJnCi)

Asia

The Indian arm of global consumer giant Unilever has reached a settlement with hundreds of former employees 15 years after its thermometer plant in southern India was shut following accusations of mercury contamination. (AP http://yhoo.it/24SP2xL)

Pakistan has urged the International Court of Justice to dismiss a case filed by the Marshall Islands, a tiny South Pacific state, to force India, Britain and Pakistan to pursue nuclear disarmament. (AP http://yhoo.it/1RBJoGo)

The Americas

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was charged in a money laundering investigation led by Sao Paulo state prosecutors, intensifying scrutiny of the politician questioned in a separate federal graft probe last week. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UhTEbC)

Jamaican women are largely cut off from positions of political power and need affirmative action as well as commitment from political parties to boost opportunities and train women for leadership, according to a United Nations report. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UhTvVB)

Panama is aiming to inaugurate its newly expanded canal at the end of June, the head of the state canal authority said, nearly two years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UhTyAV)

President Nicolas Maduro recalled Venezuela’s top diplomat from the United States in protest at the renewal of a year-old US decree calling his country a security threat. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UhTyRx)

The Brazilian government will monitor political tensions before deciding whether to move ahead with a controversial bill to reform Brazil’s pension system in April, Pension and Labor Minister Miguel Rossetto told Reuters. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RBJpdC)

Demolitions Tuesday were the latest carried out by Rio authorities in Vila Autodromo, a community dating back to the 1960s that was once home to around 800 families but has now been largely leveled. Rio de Janeiro officials insist the removals are necessary to make room for an access route into the Olympic Park. (AP http://yhoo.it/1P1HCg1)

…and the rest

A wave of right-wing populism has swept across Europe in recent months as the continent struggles with its biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TwhMZt)

Opinion/Blogs

What now for Myanmar’s Suu Kyi and her presidential proxy? (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TwhXnl)

As drought hits Ethiopia again, food aid risks breaking resilience (Guardian http://bit.ly/24SOVCg)

FAQ: coal, development and poverty (ODI http://bit.ly/1LTLMMi)

Brazil Must Fight Corruption, But Preserve the Rule of Law (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1nzNU00)

No way out: How Syrians are struggling to find an exit (IRIN http://bit.ly/1P1Tsqe)

What will make the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment a true game changer? (ODI http://bit.ly/1P1Tv5t)

Making Nigeria safer for girls (Vanguard News http://bit.ly/1LU4q6B)

Book Review: What can Activists learn from the AIDS Drugs Movement? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1LU4yDc)

Hard truths about the Kenyan economy (Africanist Perspective http://bit.ly/24T0cCE)

Discussion

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