New report from the UN Refugee Agency. “’The violence being perpetrated by organized, transnational criminal groups in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and certain parts of Mexico has become pervasive,’” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in Washington at a news conference to mark the release of a report on the situation entitled “Women on the Run.” ‘The dramatic refugee crises we are witnessing in the world today are not confined to the Middle East or Africa … We are seeing another refugee situation unfolding in the Americas.’ The new UNHCR report draws on interviews with 160 women who related their harrowing experiences of rape, assault, extortion and threats by members of the murderous street gangs. They talked about their families contending with gunfights, disappearances and death threats. They described seeing family members murdered or abducted and watching their children forcibly recruited by those groups. Guterres called the study an ‘early warning to raise awareness of the challenges refugee women face and a call to action to respond regionally to a looming refugee crisis.’” (UNHCR http://bit.ly/1LYORFf)

Political Unrest in Tanzania…”Major election complications cropped up on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar on Wednesday, and the main opposition party on the mainland called for a recount as Tanzania’s election limbo stretched into its third day. Observers had predicted that Sunday’s elections would be the closest and possibly most fraught in Tanzania’s history. Tanzania is considered one of the most peaceful nations in Africa, led by essentially the same political party since independence more than 50 years ago.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1LYP1MJ )

India Courts Africa…In Mozambique, India is building a solar panel plant that will help the southern African country harness renewable energy. Cameroon, in Central Africa, has sought India’s help in fighting the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. In Ethiopia, Indian technical and financial aid has helped transform the country into a major sugar producer, creating tens of thousands of jobs. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Wjhu4O)

Stat of the day: TB mortality has fallen 47% since 1990, with nearly all of that improvement taking place since 2000, when the MDGs were set. (And other facts from the WHO’s new 2015 Global Tuberculosis Report http://bit.ly/1LYOJp7)

Africa

Nigerian troops have freed 338 people, almost all of them women and children, held by Boko Haram Islamists near the group’s Sambisa forest stronghold in the volatile northeast, the army said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MtKI1t)

Both the government and rebels in South Sudan carried out war crimes against civilians and should face justice, an African Union human rights investigation has found. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MUpfsJ)

Flash floods in Somalia have destroyed thousands of makeshift homes, as well as latrines and shallow wells, the United Nations said, predicting that up to 900,000 people could be hit by the strongest El Nino weather phenomenon in decades. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1WjghKQ)

More than a dozen people were killed in clashes in Burundi on Monday and Tuesday, police said, in the latest violence linked to the disputed third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza that has sparked concern by the United Nations Security Council. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1WjhxNT)

Two weeks after South African students launched protests over proposed university fee hikes — and just days after winning a major concession from the president — the demonstrations that rocked South Africa show no signs of stopping. (VOA http://bit.ly/1WjgkGh)

Rwanda’s lower house of parliament debated on Wednesday a constitutional change that would allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term, a move opposed by the United States and other donors. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P5M2GP)

Alassane Ouattara has won a second term as Ivory Coast president in the nation’s first peaceful vote in more than a decade, cementing its return to prosperity after years of turbulence, results showed Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1jS1OK1)

Children in South Sudan are paying the highest price for 22-month conflict that has displaced millions of people and pushed the world’s youngest country close to famine. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MUpi81)

Swiss prosecutors are investigating whether the Eritrean consulate has broken the law in allegedly forcing its Swiss-based nationals to pay a 2 percent tax by withholding consular services, a spokesman said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Wjgk9t)

Nigeria has imposed a record $5.2bn fine on a South African mobile phone company for failing to register users, raising concerns that regulations are being tightened to compensate for a budget shortfall. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1iiX0vu)

A Somali refugee who alleged she was raped in Nauru will be flown to Australia for a second time to potentially have an abortion, Australia’s government said Wednesday, a day after the United Nations’ human rights agency demanded she get another opportunity to have her 15-week pregnancy terminated. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MtKM1o)

MENA

A Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on behalf of the elected government said on Tuesday that its planes had not bombed a hospital in north Yemen run by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1jS1LxG)

Iran will take part in international talks on Syria for the first time this week, giving it a voice in the effort to find a resolution to the more than 4-year-old civil war that has so far defied even the slightest progress toward peace. (AP http://bit.ly/1LYOTNd

Syria suggested that the United States could have spent $500 million tackling Syria’s refugee and humanitarian crisis instead of on a largely failed program to train and equip moderate rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1jS1PO0)

The United Nations warned Wednesday that a deadly surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians was headed toward “catastrophe” as new knife attacks took place in the volatile West Bank. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1WiapXq)

Rescuers plucked more than a thousand migrants from overcrowded boats near Libya on Wednesday morning, Italy’s coast guard said, the most reported saved in a single day in three weeks. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MUpdRV)

Asia

Afghanistan and Pakistan were scrambling Wednesday to rush aid to survivors of this week’s magnitude-7.5 earthquake as the region’s overall death toll from the temblor rose to 385. (AP http://yhoo.it/1jS1Rph)

Digging through the rubble of an earthquake less than three months after being devastated by floods, residents of the northwestern Pakistan district of Chitral cannot afford to wait for government help. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1P5M4yl)

Several districts near the epicentre of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan are contested by government forces and Taliban insurgents, complicating relief to some of those affected by Monday’s quake. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1iiGUSG)

Nepal’s parliament Wednesday elected communist lawmaker Bidhya Bhandari as the country’s first female president after the adoption of a landmark constitution last month. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MtKQ0Q)

India’s government said Wednesday it would ban foreigners from using surrogate mothers in the country, a move likely to hit the booming commercial surrogacy industry. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1jS1Txh)

The Taliban have overrun a district in northern Afghanistan’s Takhar province, and intense battles were underway Wednesday as government forces fought to retake it, an official said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1jS1RFD)

Police in Thailand announced Wednesday they are looking for more suspects in a case involving people who allegedly claimed connections to the country’s royal palace in order to enrich themselves. (AP http://yhoo.it/1WjhwK0)

Cambodia’s prime minister on Wednesday condemned a violent assault on two opposition parliamentarians as “cheap” and unforgivable and took aim at political rivals for stirring tensions with street protests that hurt the country’s image. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P5M2qe)

The Americas

A vote by the U.N. urging the United States to lift its economic embargo against Cuba will “not help move things forward,” U.S. Ambassador Ron Godard said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1jS0Ux5)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has urged leftist rebels to accelerate peace talks so the two sides can declare a bilateral cease-fire in time for the new year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MUpdkT)

Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday that evidence in two recent shootings in Mexico suggests federal police killed protesting civilians and criminal suspects who were fleeing or had surrendered. (AP http://yhoo.it/1P5M3ul)

Basking in the glory of a landslide in Guatemala’s presidential election, a former comedian with no government experience has some unorthodox policy plans: he will tag teachers with GPS trackers to ensure attendance and give poor kids smartphones. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1WjgRIj)

El Salvador’s national prosecutor’s office arrested an evangelical pastor Tuesday for allegedly having ties to a criminal gang, charging him with belonging to a terrorist organization. (AP http://yhoo.it/1WjgRZ0)

A former Venezuelan prosecutor has accused the government of jailing an opposition leader “because they feared his leadership”. (BBC http://bbc.in/1P5MaG1)

…and the rest

Images of Germans greeting refugees at Munich’s train station with cheers and teddy bears in early September were beamed around the world, but the welcome that asylum seekers receive after being dispersed to cities, towns and rural areas around the country is often quite different. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1iiXgKW)

One of eastern Ukraine’s separatist regions has agreed to lift a ban on humanitarian aid deliveries by UN agencies, an official with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1WjgRYP)

Politicians who use derogatory language about refugees and migrants may ultimately be responsible for causing violence, racism and bigotry, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein warned on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1jS1QkZ)

Austria said Wednesday it would build a fence along its border with fellow EU state Slovenia to “control” the migrant influx, in a blow to the EU’s cherished passport-free Schengen zone. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1jS1Sta)

Governments around the world will this year raise around $22 billion from schemes putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions such as taxes or emissions trading systems, a report on Wednesday showed. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MtKQy0)

Germany’s cabinet signed off on a draft law on Wednesday which will make it easier for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in the country to set up bank accounts. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MtKO9m)

Opinion/Blogs

How would we report on Scott Walker if he were a leader in another country? (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1MtMjUV)

Map of the Day: Where Tuberculosis Kills (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1MUsqRa)

Imagine a Rape-Free Delhi (IPS http://bit.ly/1P5ujPN)

Comics in Cairo metro stations rail against sexual harassment (Mada http://bit.ly/1jS4KGw)

Landmines don’t know when war is over. They continue to kill (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Wi4Gkq)

Patriarchy, Extremism and Why We Can’t Ignore Women (Fahamu http://bit.ly/1jS0uHd)

Poverty Is Driving a Rise in the Number of Nigerian Child Hawkers (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1Wjg624)

Is Somaliland Still a Good News Story? (ISS http://bit.ly/1P5JVmf)

‘How?’ – Not ‘How Much?’ to Fight Poverty (allAfrica http://bit.ly/1Wjgldj)

Info-graphic: Where all that American aid money goes (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1MtMmQO)

The Opposite of Sexting: Using Text Messages to Reduce Adolescent Pregnancy in Ghana (Development Impact http://bit.ly/1WjjpGu)

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