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Nigeria Eliminates Guinea Worm

The New York Times reported yesterday that Nigeria has eliminated Guinea worm. It’s been an entire year since a worm was seen. This is a big deal. Guinea worm is a horrifying monster of a parasite; the worms can grow to three feet long and come busting out of human skin through an open sore. There is no medication for someone infected with a guinea worm. READ MORE

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Stopping Smoking in Africa

The WHO just launched a major tobacco control program in Africa. It’s funded with ten million dollars from the Gates Foundation, and it’s going to focus on building the ability of African governments to enforce controls against tobacco use.

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Activist groups none-too-pleased with Darfur envoy Scott Gration

After the Obama administration rolled out its much anticipated Sudan Policy Review in mid-October, activists praised the content of the review, but adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude as to whether or not the policy recommendations would be implemented.  Well, they’ve waited. And after yesterday’s Congressional testimony from U.S. Sudan Envoy Gen. Scott Gration, they are not too happy with what they have seen.

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Clinton: Guinea violence a “vile violation” of rights

Hillary Clinton says that the United States government is formulating a response the recent flare up of violence in Guinea in which government forces shot and raped hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a soccer stadium. 

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Ethiopia-Eritrea Claims Commission issues payments

Opinio Juris’ Duncan Hollis has the goods on the payouts from the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission (set up to arbitrate damage claims from the 1998-2000 conflict between the two countries) — another topic sure to be of passionate interest to a certain subset of Dispatch readers.

You can access the damages decisions for Eritrea here, and those for Ethiopia hereAccording to the AP, both sides will accept the awards, but neither is apparently thrilled with the final results.  Ethiopia ends up with more money; its final award totals $174,036,520, while Eritrea receives $161,455,000 plus an additional $2,065,865 for individual Eritrean claimants.  Ethiopia apparently feels though that the delta between the two awards was insufficient given earlier rulings had found Eritrea violated the jus ad bellum in originally resorting to force in 1998. For its part, Eritrea remains miffed that Ethiopia has resisted the Commission’s drawing of boundary lines between the two states (e.g. giving Badme to Eritrea), a point reiterated (subtly) in its acceptance of yesterday’s award.

I’m sure that Hollis is right on both of these counts: both sides think they are in the right, but the fact of the matter is that both are responsible for not implementing parts of the peace agreement, and for forcing the premature departure of a UN peacekeeping force last year.

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Another attack on UN personnel

That it occurred in Somalia, which has seen far too many deaths of UN workers, should come as no surprise. But this time, the UN fought back.

Suspected Islamist insurgents stormed a United Nations compound overnight in southern Somalia, witnesses said on Monday, but UN guards fought back and killed three of the attackers in a gun battle.

One UN official in Wajid, 70km northwest of Baidoa, said about 10 heavily armed men attacked them overnight. The compound is used for storing humanitarian aid.

“After several minutes shooting our security guards repulsed the attackers and killed three of them,” the UN official told Reuters.

While it was very fortunate that no UN personnel were killed (one guard was injured), it must be said that this success should not be taken as a policy blueprint. UN guards are not meant to defend against bands of militants, and it’s only a matter of time until an incident like this goes much, much worse.

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