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Top of the Morning: Yet Another Boko Haram Attack

Yet another Boko Haram Attack…A bomb in a van carrying charcoal exploded in a busy market in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people in the latest suspected attack by Islamist militants, witnesses said. (Reuters


Food Aid Cuts for African Refugees…here’s simply not enough money, so the World Food Program and UN Refugee Agency are cutting rations for African Refugees, mostly from South Sudan and CAR. They need a combined $224 million through December. “Supplies have been cut by at least 50 per cent for nearly 450,000 refugees in remote camps and other sites in the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan. Another 338,000 refugees in Liberia, Burkina Faso,Mozambique, Ghana, Mauritania and Uganda have seen their rations reduced by between five and 43 per cent. In addition, a series of unexpected, temporary ration reductions has affected camps in several countries since early 2013 and into 2014, including in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Some cuts were also due to insecurity that affected deliveries.” (WFP


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Violence in hospitals and the destruction of health facilities are denying medical care to many of South Sudan’s most vulnerable people. (MSF

The United States on Tuesday blacklisted a Ugandan Islamic group, the Allied Democratic Forces, for targeting children in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Reuters

The United Nations says gender-based violence against Central African Republic refugees in East Cameroon is very high and is calling on the government in Yaounde to do more to protect these vulnerable women. (VOA

Funding for the Sudan coordinated humanitarian funding is in drastic decline: from USD 80 million in 2012 to USD 56 million in 2013 and down to an expected USD 43 million for 2014. (OCHA

Cameroon has cut some of its costly fuel subsidies, a move that will please international donors calling for reforms but has in the past been reversed due to the threat of protests against subsequent price rise. (Reuters

The outlook through the July to August lean season in Djibouti points to worsening household food security, attributed to reduced livestock productivity due to early erosion of key grazing resources, reduced labor opportunities, lowered access to humanitarian assistance, exacerbated by an extended lean season. (FEWS Net

The streets of Addis Ababa are increasingly turning into water-logged obstacle courses as downpours increase in the run up to Ethiopia’s July to September rainy season. (IPS

Tobacco is a big earner for many Ugandans, but a bill threatening to restrict the sale of cigarettes has sparked concern. (Guardian


Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq on Tuesday, to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported. (AP

The retaliation beings: Israeli aircraft pounded dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in revenge for the abduction and murder of three teenagers, whose funeral later in the day drew huge crowds of mourners and sparked a nationwide outpouring of grief and anger. (WaPo


Hong Kong’s largest ever pro Democracy protest drew hundreds of thousands to the streets in defiance of Beijing. (Bloomberg

Cambodian workers are returning to Thailand after a mass exodus in the past six weeks drove an estimated 200,000 to their home country, fearful of a rumored Thai government crackdown on workers. (VOA

Bangladesh is moving to boost maternal health services in poorly-served rural areas by targeting voice and text messages at expectant and pregnant mothers and their families. (IRIN

France has proposed to give India a $1.4 billion credit line to fund sustainable infrastructure and urban development projects, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. (AFP

The Americas

As fans enjoy football’s month-long World Cup, Brazilian authorities are pleased over the boost they say the tournament is giving the country’s economy. However, independent analysts who study such mega-events are less enthusiastic. (VOA


Did the Millennium Development Goals accomplish anything? (Humanosphere

Lib Dems’ bid to enshrine UN aid target in UK law is pre-election hand grenade (Guardian

Mind the gap: why UN development goals must tackle economic inequality (Guardian

Malawi: Peter Mutharika must win back donor support by showing he is more than just Bingu’s brother (African Arguments

Development must be seized, through struggle. It cannot be given. (Chris Blattman

Forced Migration as a Weapon of War in Iraq and Beyond (UN Dispatch

Is South Sudan “the World’s Most Failed State?” (Reinvenventing Peace

Please steal these killer facts: a crib sheet for advocacy on aid, development, inequality etc (From Poverty to Power

Rethinking US Foreign Assistance: Another High-Powered Advisory Group Calls for US Development Finance Bank (CGD

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image credit WFP

Standing in an Empty Warehouse, WFP Official Issues a Dire Warning

The director of the World Food Program in Chad stands in an empty warehouse and warns us of a looming catastrophe. But will the world listen?

The crises in the Central African Republic and South Sudan are placing a heavy burden on humanitarian operations in the region. The World Food Program and the UN Refugee Agency are being forced to cut rations for about 800,000 refugees in Africa. 

Across Africa, 2.4 million refugees in some 200 sites in 22 countries depend on regular food aid from the World Food Programme. Currently, a third of those refugees have seen reductions in their rations, with refugees inChad facing cuts as high as 60 per cent.

Supplies have been cut by at least 50 per cent for nearly 450,000 refugees in remote camps and other sites in the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan. Another 338,000 refugees in LiberiaBurkina Faso,MozambiqueGhanaMauritania and Uganda have seen their rations reduced by between five and 43 per cent.

In addition, a series of unexpected, temporary ration reductions has affected camps in several countries since early 2013 and into 2014, including in Uganda, KenyaEthiopiaRepublic of CongoDemocratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Some cuts were also due to insecurity that affected deliveries.

“The number of crises around the world is far outpacing the level of funding for humanitarian operations, and vulnerable refugees in critical operations are falling through the cracks,” said High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “It is unacceptable in today’s world of plenty for refugees to face chronic hunger or that their children drop out of school to help families survive,” he said, calling for a rethink on funding for displacement situations worldwide.

The agencies need a total of $224 million between now and December to restore full calorie counts to vulnerable and food insecure refugee populations in Africa. If they do not secure that funding, the consequences could be dire. Stunting  – which occurs when children do not get adequate nutrition during a critial period of childhood — is already a problem. It results in poor physical and intellectual development, and could have devastating social consequences for a generation.  Again, here’s the WFP

Nutritional surveys conducted between 2011 and 2013 showed that stunting and anaemia among children was already at critical levels in the majority of the refugee sites. Only one of 92 surveyed camps, for example, met the agencies’ goal of fewer than 20 per cent of refugee children suffering from anaemia. And fewer than 15 per cent of camps surveyed met the target of less than 20 per cent stunting among children. The surveys also showed that acute malnutrition levels among children under five years of age remain unacceptably high in more than 60 per cent of the sites.

$224 million is not an enormous sum, particularly when spread among many donors. The consequences of continued food shortages in this region could sow instability, hinder economic development and prevent durable solutions to the crisis in South Sudan and CAR. Donors need to pony up. And fast.


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Forced Migration as a Weapon of War in Iraq and Beyond

One of the most troubling trends in global politics is that, despite a steady decline in armed conflicts over the past two decades, the number of people forcibly displaced by violence has surged to levels not seen since World War II.

While forced displacement is an increasingly massive feature of contemporary wars, it is typically treated as an inadvertent byproduct of conflict, rather than a deliberate strategy of it. Yet the flight of war-affected populations from their homes is frequently orchestrated, directed, and sustained by armed actors. New displacements in Iraq, for example, are partly a consequence of renewed sectarian cleansing by both Sunni and Shia militias, a tactic intended to both secure territory and contribute to “nation-building” through social engineering. Similar cleansing of Christian and Muslim communities has accompanied a recurrence of violence in the Central African Republic, where one in five civilians remains uprooted.

But strategic displacement extends well beyond these more extreme cases of ethnic and religious cleansing. Overshadowed by events in the Middle East, within the past few weeks the Pakistani military has haphazardly relocated nearly half a million civilians from the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Villages have been systematically depopulated to clear the region for counterinsurgency operations against anti-government militias. Pakistan has employed similar measures in previous battles with rebel groups, emptying communities in the Swat Valley between 2007 and 2009, and resettling tens of thousands of civilians in Balochistan province several years earlier. Yet those displaced from FATA have nowhere to go, as the government is failing to provide temporary housing or material assistance, forcing many to cope with “appalling” living conditions.

Population displacement has long been employed as a tool of statecraft and a weapon of war. Relocating communities enables authorities to assert control over contested areas, monitor restive populations, drain rebel-held territories of recruits and resources, and limit collateral damage. While those responsible commonly justify these strategies under the auspices of protecting civilians, they rarely provide the resources needed to address the humanitarian consequences. The Ugandan government’s resettlement of Acholi communities as part of its military campaign against the Lord’s Resistance Army confined nearly two million civilians to squalid and poorly protected camps. Strategic displacements in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka have stripped thousands of civilians of their homes. Myanmar’s military leaders have repeatedly used displacement to marginalize ethnic insurgencies and repress minority groups, including the stateless Rohingya. And Colombian paramilitaries routinely expel civilians for political and economic gain.

In each instance, these state-induced relocations have caused immeasurable suffering and wreaked havoc on local communities. International relief efforts already struggle to keep pace with the needs of the uprooted (as evidenced in Syria and Iraq) and since most victims tend to be internally displaced, they lack the legal protections afforded to refugees and are at the mercy of their own governments, which sometimes block the distribution of aid. Because many displaced populations are not provided with shelter — only 10 percent of those uprooted in Pakistan are living in designated camps — the mere process of identifying those in need of assistance can be overwhelming.

The calculated use of forced displacement for strategic purposes further complicates the humanitarian response. Aid agencies confront a dilemma. By operating relocation camps and providing material supplies to the displaced, humanitarian actors shoulder what should be the government’s burden, creating perverse incentives for authorities to continue to use these tactics. To intervene can therefore amount to complicity in war crimes – an accusation that has beset organizations responsible for relieving displacement in northern Uganda. Yet if aid agencies do not intervene, they not only condemn vulnerable populations to misery; they risk exacerbating the security repercussions of forced migration, including conflict contagion, economic disruption, and social dislocation.

To address the challenges of responding to displacement, UN agencies and international actors must place a greater emphasis on prevention. Efforts to develop early warning systems for forced migration, and armed conflict more generally, are on the rise. But when combatants weaponize displacement, willfully facilitating the involuntary evacuation of civilians, the international community should undertake measures to discourage and punish them. Several multilateral treaties, including the 1948 Genocide Convention and the recently-adopted Kampala Convention, provide a legal basis for stopping strategic displacements and holding those culpable to account. If there are any types of forced migrations that we should be able to deter or prevent, it is those that are deliberately planned and executed by states and other armed actors.

Photo credit: International Organization for Migration. (Photo by Joe Lowry, 2014) 

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Top of the Morning: Israel Plans Response to Murdered Teens

Abducted Israeli Teenagers Found Slain…”Israel’s intense 18-day search for three abducted teenagers ended Monday when three bodies were found buried under a pile of rocks in an open field about 15 miles from where the youths were last seen in the occupied West Bank. A nation that had been enmeshed in hopeful prayer was instantly engulfed by a mix of grief and anger and vowed retaliation against the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which Israel says was behind the kidnapping…Israel’s crackdown in the West Bank prompted outcries of collective punishment as thousands of homes were searched, 400 Palestinians — including many of Hamas’s top leaders — were arrested, and five were killed while hurling stones at soldiers or otherwise confronting them. A parallel escalation ensued in the Gaza Strip, where militants fired rockets daily into Israel’s south, and Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes killed three suspected militants.”  (NYT

The International Crisis Group announced that Louise Arbour is stepping down as its president and CEO. Here’s Mark’s podcast interview with the human rights pioneer. (Global Dispatches Podcast

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The UN reports severe malnutrition among Central African Republic refugee children in Cameroon. (WFP

South Africa has reopened a claims process that compensates black families who were removed from their land under white rule to offer redress to those who failed to meet earlier deadlines, the government said. (Reuters

China will reopen its embassy in Somalia after signs the East African country was making progress in its efforts to restore peace decades after the end of its civil war, the foreign ministry said. (Reuters

When researchers set out to explore what work refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda had managed to find, they were struck by the breadth and scale of businesses they were engaged in – from being café owners to vegetable sellers, to farmers growing maize on a commercial scale, millers, restaurateurs, transporters and traders in fabrics and jewellery. (IRIN

At the 2014 Partners’ Forum, being held in Johannesburg, South Africa,significant commitments in finance, service delivery and policy were announced that could put an end to maternal and child deaths. (IPS


Egypt announced deep cuts in energy subsidies in its budget for the 2014/15 fiscal year on Monday, a first step toward reducing the deficit after three years of political turmoil that have battered the economy. (Reuters

An influx of cheap counterfeit pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs, coupled with rising unemployment and an increasingly disillusioned society, is driving substance abuse in Yemen, placing a growing strain on already stretched health and policing services. (IRIN

With nearly one million people currently displaced throughout North and Western Iraq, the United Nations Population Fund, warns that about 250,000 women and girls, including nearly 60,000 pregnant women, are in need of urgent care. (UNFPA

The Dutch government says it will increase its intelligence agency’s annual budget by $34 million starting in 2015 to fund efforts to prevent people from going to fight in Syria — or from committing an act of terrorism in the Netherlands when they return. (AP


Repeated bouts of violence in Timor Leste’s recent past and a persistent sense of injustice have had a lasting mental health impact, new research shows. Researchers say recovery may require more than therapeutic interventions.. (IRIN

Thai army officials acknowledge that corruption, as well as a lack of enforcing laws against human trafficking, have led the kingdom to be branded as one of the worst offenders for forced or exploited labor. (VOA

Given that so many strategies have been tried and failed to control dengue in Sri Lanka, experts are now suggesting that the authorities call in help from the national Meteorological Bureau as the latest weapon in the fight against the virus. (IPS

Lead exposure lowers children’s IQ and causes aggression. But children exposed to low levels of lead show different symptoms, including more depression and anxiety, a study of preschoolers in China finds. (NPR

The Americas

The Paraguayan government Monday declared the capital in disaster situation due to the serious flooding, the growth of river beds and the increase in the number of victims to 75,000 only in Asuncion. (Prensa Latina

Some Brazilian families whose homes were destroyed to allow for World Cup construction, say that it was all for nothing. (CNN

The April kidnapping in northern Nigeria of hundreds of girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram is still an everyday cause for rage, concern and, increasingly, grief. Nigerians living in New York and their sympathizers have been holding regular street demonstrations in front of the Nigerian Consulate. (VOA

Flooding from days of torrential rains has forced the evacuation of some 3,000 families in Argentina. (AP


Education is a powerful weapon, so let’s arm young girls with it (Guardian

U.S. Blames Victims of its own Failed Foreign Policies (IPS

Should Uganda withdraw from South Sudan? (IRIN


There is still time to fulfil the key MDG of achieving universal primary education by 2015 if the world can muster the political will to reach out to millions of marginalised children, the European commissioner for development has said. (Guardian

When a government is corrupt, and serving only the interests of a privileged few, the populace reacts in protest if it has that opportunity, according to a new report.. (VOA

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Episode 23: Jillian York

Jillian York is on the line this week. She is the online freedom of expression activist, writer and thinker, now with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Jillian tells Mark how she arrived at the right place at the right time to help the world understand how social media was propelling the Arab Spring Protests.  It’s a fun and interesting conversation. Have a listen!


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Previous episodes

Turkey’s Strategic Interests in Iraq

Episode 22: Live from the UN, 2014 (Vol 1); A special edition, featuring the President of the General Assembly,  the UN Ambassadors from Vietnam and Jamaica, the head of the UN Association, and more!

The UN’s View of the Iraq Crisis

Episode 21: Thomas Pickering, former Ambassador to the UN, Israel, Jordan, Russia, India and more.

Dying for the World Cup

Episode 20: Jessica Tuchman Matthews, foreign policy trendsetter

Egypt After the Counter Revolution 

Episode 19: Louise Arbour, human rights pioneer.

What Obama Left Out of His Big Foreign Policy Speech

Episode 18: Zalmay Khalizad, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN.

Why Libya is Suddenly on the Verge of a Civil War 

Episode 17: Gov Bill Richardson, he frees hostages.

The Foreign Policy Implications of India’s Elections

Episode 16: Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children

What Boko Haram Wants

Episode: 15 Laura Turner Seydel, philanthropist

Episode 14: Douglas Ollivant, Iraq expert

Episode 13: Gary Bass, historian

Episode 12: Mark Montgomery, demographer

Episode 11: Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watcher

Episode 10: Live from the UN, Volume 2.

Episode 9: Mia Farrow, humanitarian activist and Goodwill Ambassador

Episode 8: Suzanne Nossel, Big Thinker

Episode 7: Live from the UN, Volume 1. 

Episode 6: PJ Crowley, former State Department Spokesperson

Episode 5: Octavia Nasr, reporter

Episode 4: Arsalan Iftikhar, “The Muslim Guy”

Episode 3: Dodge Billingsley, filmmaker.

Episode 2: Laura Seay,  @TexasinAfrica

Episode 1: Heather Hurlburt, national security wonk

Podcast | Leave a comment
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Top of the Morning: Iraq Insurgency Goes Global

ISIS is making a play to oust al Qaeda. “The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and also known as ISIS, has renamed itself “Islamic State” and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “Caliph” – the head of the state, the statement said.”He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere,” the group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in the statement, which was translated into several languages and read out in an Arabic audio speech…The move poses a direct challenge to the central leadership of al Qaeda, which has already disowned it, and to conservative Gulf Arab rulers” (Reuters

Afghan Election Crisis Grows Deeper…The first post-Karzai election is not going well. “After a potential opening last week to ease Afghanistan’s political crisis, the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah signaled on Sunday that more deadlock was ahead, promising again that he would not accept any decisions made by the country’s election commission after the panel rejected a list of his demands…In the two weeks since the presidential runoff vote, the election process has been shadowed by accusations of fraud and conspiracy, with the Abdullah campaign accusing a range of officials all the way to the presidential palace of rigging the vote against him. There have been dramatic protests flooding the streets of Kabul, and secretly captured phone calls that allegedly show election officials conspiring to rig the race.” (NYT




Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 10 people on Sunday in an attack on a Nigerian village less than 3 miles from Chibok, the scene of a mass abduction of more than 200 school girls in April, survivors said. (Reuters


Sudanese authorities and U.S. officials in Khartoum are negotiating to allow a Sudanese woman, who married an American and was recently spared the death penalty for converting to Christianity, to leave Sudan, sources close to the case said. (Reuters


The latest World Bank review of government policies and institutions in Africa shows that 20 percent of countries improved their policy environment to boost growth and cut poverty in 2013. (Ghana Chronicle


The Ebola outbreak in three West African countries is already the deadliest to date with 635 cases and 367 fatalities, and is expected to be the longest on record, as some of the poorest countries in the world scramble to confront the fatal disease. (AP


The United Nations is determined to help Kenya and other countries in Africa fight “terrorism” following a series of deadly attacks, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday. (AP


A Darfur rebel leader, who experts said was responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against Sudanese forces, has been killed in action, state-linked media said on Sunday. (AFP




Egypt’s military said Saturday that devices it claimed it invented to detect and cure AIDS and hepatitis C need six more months of testing. (AP


About 1,000 African migrants have marched out of an Israeli detention center in protest at their treatment and are camped out by the border after Israel’s army prevented them from crossing into Egypt, migrant activists said Sunday. (AP


Up to 7,000 people, mostly rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad, have been killed in infighting among rival Islamic groups in Syria across opposition-held territory in the north, an activist group said in a report Sunday. (AP




As Pakistani forces target Islamist militants in the volatile northwest, the government faces a huge challenge to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people displaced because of the military operation. (VOA


A shortage of brides in China is putting young women in neighbouring countries at risk of being trafficked. (AFP


A dilapidated building collapsed in the Indian capital on Saturday, killing at least 11 people as rescuers searched for others feared trapped, a fire service official said. (AP


The Americas


Rights advocates and lawmakers are expressing increased concern over the United States’ handling of the sudden influx of tens of thousands of undocumented child and female migrants from Central America. (IPS


Banks and car dealerships near the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte had their windows boarded up in fear of protests before Brazil’s match against Chile in the second round of the World Cup on Saturday. (AP


Nearly a week of torrential rain has triggered widespread floods in southern Brazil that have forced 6,000 people from their homes, officials said. (AP


More than 125,000 people are in need of food assistance in Paraguay. (WFP




What do we know about poverty and violence? (Chris Blattman


Impact Investment: The Movement Is Growing (CGD


Postcards from reality: send us your photographs (Guardian


Disability is finally being included in debates about aid. About time too. (Guardian


Encouraging informality (Cherokee Gothic


Why is the UN raising concerns about Detroit? (UN Dispatch


How not to improve education in India (Roving Bandit


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