UN officials are sharply critical of the deal, which would forcibly transfer refugees back to Turkey, without adjudicating individual claims of asylum. “Refugees stuck at the closed border crossing between Greece and Macedonia have little hope that a summit of EU leaders on the migrant crisis this week will lead to any improvement in their desperate plight. European Union leaders will hold talks in Brussels on Thursday with Turkey’s prime minister to try to hammer out a deal to end the continent’s worst migrant crisis since World War Two. But the deal will entail returning the migrants holed up in Greece to Turkey, including more than 10,000 people living in the tent city near Idomeni on the Macedonian border who want only to be allowed to continue their trek northwards to Germany and other wealthier west European countries.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1MnEZ8z)

Zika-Linked Microcephaly Comes to Africa…Cape Verde has identified its first case of the neurological disorder microcephaly, thought to be linked to the Zika virus, in what would be a first for Africa…The Cape Verde government says more than 7,000 cases of Zika have been recorded since the beginning of the epidemic in October 2015, with heavier than normal rains last summer boosting mosquito numbers. (Reuters http://bit.ly/21vIOPO)

Canada makes UNSC seat bid...Canada will campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2021-2022, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, seeking to repair battered relations with the world body. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S4M5Tz)

Stat of the day: Some 650 million people, or one in 10 of the world’s population, do not have access to safe water, putting them at risk of infectious diseases and premature death. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1pMhiC0)

Africa

Two female suicide bombers killed at least 24 worshippers and wounded 23 in an attack during dawn prayers Wednesday on a mosque on the outskirts of the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, officials said from the birthplace of Boko Haram. (AP http://yhoo.it/21vIi4u)

The toll from a jihadist shooting rampage at an Ivory Coast resort rose to 19 Wednesday when a body washed up on the beach, as the president said the country would not be cowed. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1QYr7a4)

South Sudan rebels said 23 of their top generals are expected to arrive in Juba this coming Monday to prepare for the coming of their leader, Riek Machar, who is the designated first vice president in a soon-to-be formed national unity government. (VOA http://bit.ly/1QYseGG)

Botswana’s highest court on Wednesday rejected an attempt by the government to ban a gay rights lobby group, providing a rare victory for African gay rights campaigners on a continent where homosexuality remains highly contentious. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/21vISiA)

The United Nations’ food agency said on Wednesday it needed $220 million in funding to provide assistance to drought-hit Zimbabwe until March 2017. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1RlnX2l)

Kenya’s armed forces said they had thwarted an assault by Shebab jihadists on a military camp in southern Somalia early Wednesday, killing 19 insurgents and seizing a haul of weapons. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1RlnZXK)

MENA

Syria’s government on Wednesday firmly rejected direct negotiations with opposition envoys, dampening hopes of greater compromise at peace talks after Russia this week began drawing down its troops from the war-torn country. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1MnEM58)

Fresh humanitarian aid reached some 13,000 families in northern Aleppo province as a convoy of 26 trucks entered areas hit by recent fighting, the Red Cross said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/21vIW1Q)

Egypt will allow wheat imports with trace levels of the common ergot fungus, the country’s agriculture minister said, while government agencies try to resolve a dispute that has disrupted shipments to the world’s biggest wheat buyer. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/21vITTB)

Five years into Syria’s civil war, Israel has seen benefits despite the chaos unfolding next door, and the treatment of wounded fighters is one sign of its quiet and limited involvement. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1QYsmGl)

Morocco’s government said on Tuesday it would cut staff at the United Nations’ Western Sahara mission and threatened to pull out of United Nations peacekeeping missions after “unacceptable” comments by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the disputed region. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Rlo3qL)

Kurdish-led parties are preparing to declare a unified region in areas under their control in northern Syria, representatives said Wednesday, as they push a federal model for governing the country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Rlo3XL)

Iran on Wednesday rejected as biased and political the latest United Nations report on human rights in the Islamic republic. (AFP http://yhoo.it/21vIXTt)

Asia

The USA is imposing new sanctions on North Korea. (LAT http://lat.ms/1MnEBa5)

Over 200 infants have died this year alone in Pakistan’s desert-like region of Tharparker. The deaths are mostly blamed on malnutrition caused by severe drought. (VOA http://bit.ly/21vIXCW)

Singapore’s government announced Wednesday that it has arrested four citizens accused of links to armed conflict in Yemen and to a Kurdish militia group fighting against the Islamic State group. (AP http://yhoo.it/21vIVe8)

A newscast on whether India had become intolerant of dissent quickly spiraled into something darker after a guest on the program referred to a pamphlet that called the Hindu goddess Durga a sex worker. Though the host did not make the remarks, she was accused of disparaging the deity and was bombarded with more than 2,500 threatening calls. (AP http://yhoo.it/21vJ1m8)

Farmers in Indonesia are turning to crop insurance to deal with the uncertainty caused by El Nino. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1R3W6y8)

Scientists are developing more resistant varieties of rice to help farmers in Vietnam adapt to climate change, amid the country’s worst drought in 90 years. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1R3W49k)

The Americas

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will take over as chief of staff for his successor Dilma Rousseff in a bid to save her from impeachment, raising the prospect of a shift away from austerity to revive a moribund economy. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1R3W7Ca)

A young Havana woman is the first known person to have contracted the Zika virus in Cuba, authorities said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1R3W8pP)

Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, won the support of the lower house of Congress for a settlement with bondholders on Wednesday, leaving Argentina one Senate vote away from ending a 14-year battle with creditors. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QYsBkE)

…and the rest

Open those borders wider…The European Union told member states Wednesday they “urgently need to deliver” on commitments to resettle more refugees on the continent, as the number of refugees arriving in Greece since the start of 2015 reached the 1 million mark. (AP http://yhoo.it/1S4M4iH)

And resettle this many refugees…Europe should agree to take in half a million refugees from the Middle East over the next five years in a legal resettlement program if it wants to curb massive illegal migration, the International Rescue Committee charity said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1pMhhxL)

More than 2,400 migrants and three corpses have been recovered from people smugglers’ boats off Libya since Tuesday, Italy’s coastguard said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1R3Wc8O)

Refugees fleeing war, violence and persecution have a much higher risk of developing psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia than people who migrate for economic or social reasons, according to research. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QYsFRq)

Pope Francis appealed to nations on Wednesday to “open their hearts and open their doors” to migrants, saying those waiting at closed European borders in the cold and rain were made to feel like exiles abandoned by God. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1R3WgFK)

Work to clear the last makeshift shelters from part of the migrant camp known as “The Jungle” in the northern French port of Calais was completed Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1puKOMR)

EU leaders meeting in Brussels this week will debate the Paris Agreement on climate change, a draft EU text showed, after officials previously said the migrant crisis had knocked it off the agenda. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1puKRYP)

Opinion/Blogs

As doctors in Yemen, war wounds are not our only medical challenge (Guardian http://bit.ly/1R3WjBg)

Can Angelina Jolie Pitt Solve the Refugee Crisis? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1QYtOs5)

Which of these three books on complexity and development is right for you? Review/user’s guide (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1U7rt0Y)

What Others Can Take from Anticorruption Litigation in India (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1QYtOsg)

Leaving patients behind is the hardest thing’: when fighting reached an MSF hospital in South Sudan (Guardian http://bit.ly/1R3WlJr)

The Grammar of Impotence (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QYtLg4)

How Brazil Missed Its Golden South-South Cooperation Moment (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1puKTjt)

Brazil corruption: Is the government in crisis? (BBC http://bbc.in/1QYsO7y)

To end poverty, put science at the heart of development (Guardian http://bit.ly/1puKRIy)

Angola: Dos Santos to bid farewell in 2018 (maybe) (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1RlomBL)

How Do You Start Mapping Unmapped Streets? (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1R3X1i9)

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