New infections are at an all time low. “The Ebola epidemic in West Africa appears to be on the decline, with new weekly infections dropping below 100 for the first time in over six months, the World Health Organization said Thursday.The UN agency said it had now shifted its efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the countries worst-hit by the virus — from slowing the spread of the virus to ending the epidemic.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1yRrzxT)

UNICEF launches mass $3.1 billion appeal for children…The United Nations is appealing for $3.1 billion to reach 62 million children at risk in humanitarian crises worldwide, including those living in Ukraine, Syria and other conflict zones and in areas affected by the Ebola epidemic. (AP http://yhoo.it/1yRrwSA)

What about these conflicts? While wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine make headlines in the West, around 30 other conflicts receive little press coverage, and the resulting lack of pressure for change could have serious implications for millions of people. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1JP6isa)

A bad year in Africa…2014 was a turbulent year for human rights in Africa, says Human Rights Watch in its annual report released Thursday. The international watchdog group says sectarian violence and “abusive responses of government forces” fueled many conflicts in the last year. Released on the eve of the African Union summit, the report also notes that African leaders have been too slow — or too unwilling — to react. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LmBbWz)

Story to monitor: Bird Flu in Nigeria…Authorities on Thursday confirmed that the H5N1 strain of bird flu has spread from seven to 11 states within a week, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of poultry but no human cases. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JP6kjN)

…Meanwhile….Boko Haram and the Nigerian Elections…Give us 15 mins, and we’ll break down how the insurgency may affect the big elections. Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1A2iZ17)

Ebola

One of the Ebola vaccines about to enter testing in Liberia may not be as potent as researchers had hoped, according to a new study, raising questions about how well it will prevent infection. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LmB90Q)

First results from a human trial of an Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline show it is safe and generates an immune response, scientists said on Wednesday, but larger trials are needed to see if it protects and if a booster is needed. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JPfwoq)

Africa

The Brussels-based section of Medecins Sans Frontieres will pull out of war-torn parts of Sudan due to a lack of cooperation from authorities, the medical charity said on Thursday, as the country sees an uptick in violence. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JPftsG)

The government of Central African Republic said on Thursday it rejected a ceasefire deal made in Kenya between two militia groups aimed at ending more than a year of clashes and attacks in which thousands have died. (Retuers http://bit.ly/1JPfvAG)

Over 38,000 Somali children are at “high risk” from dying from starvation despite hunger levels improving by almost a third across the war-torn nation, UN experts said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JP6nMB)

Mali’s president pulled out of an African Union summit Thursday to visit the restive city of Gao following the deaths of protesters in violent demonstrations against the United Nations. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Lmv1FZ)

A dozen suspects have appeared in a Ugandan court to face charges, including murder and terrorism, amid what local officials say is the budding threat of Islamic here. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JP7agx)

Uganda has issued a three-month ultimatum to Democratic Republic of Congo to relocate hundreds of ex-rebel fighters or they will be handed to the United Nations, an army spokesman said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Lmv04N)

A new report says hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of Africans are stateless because of gaps in the citizenship laws of many countries. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zijUra)

In the last two to three months, police in Cote d’Ivoire have opened 25 unexplained cases of child kidnappings, followed by murders, across the west African country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1zikiWQ)

The threat posed by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s Islamic extremist rebels, will be a focus of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he attends the African Union heads of state summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a spokesman said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1yRrB8Q)

A report into crimes committed by South Africa’s police force draws a disturbing picture: dozens of officers charged for the murders, armed robberies and rapes of citizens they are sworn to protect. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1LmyT9S)

Governments from Mongolia to Nigeria are creating new forms of insurance to protect the developing world’s small farmers, who are suffering especially badly from extreme weather events made worse by global warming, a new study said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JPfv3D)

MENA

Governments increasingly view human rights as “a luxury” they can ill afford, Human Rights Watch said Thursday, warning that abuses fuel crises in world trouble spots like Syria and Ukraine. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LmuiVp)

Syrian authorities and insurgents have allowed the Red Cross to deliver growing amounts of aid under local ceasefires since August, in a possible harbinger of reconciliation in the civil war, an ICRC official said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JP6jMN)

A group of women protested in Cairo on Thursday against the death of Shaimaa Sabbagh and around 25 other activists allegedly killed by security forces at recent rallies marking the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JP7g7P)

Libya’s warring factions who operate rival governments have agreed “in principle” to hold future talks to end the crisis in Libya, moving the negotiations away from Geneva, the United Nations said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JP748G)

A young Jordanian fighter pilot, a female al-Qaida recruit who tried to blow up a hotel ballroom in Amman and a veteran Japanese war correspondent are at the center of a life-and-death standoff with the Islamic State group. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Lmv0C3)

The Syrian arm of al Qaeda attacked a Western-backed rebel group near Aleppo on Thursday, the rebel group and an organization monitoring the civil war said, threatening one of the few remaining pockets of the non-jihadist opposition. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Lmw7ld)

The wife of a Saudi rights activist, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes last year, said Thursday her husband’s health had worsened after the first round of flogging and that he could not possibly survive the full punishment. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zik41T)

Asia

Sri Lanka is planning an investigation into accusations of human rights abuses in the final stages of a 26-year civil war amid international frustration at the failure to look into numerous civilian deaths, a government spokesman said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JP7hbY)

Thailand’s junta has forced a German foundation to cancel a prominent forum on media restrictions imposed since the military toppled an elected government last May. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zijTDD)

About 40 illegal migrants heading from Bangladesh to Malaysia to look for work were missing on Thursday after their boat sank, police said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/15LYaJS)

Sri Lanka’s new government plans to return private land seized by the military in the civil war-ravaged north and release several hundred detainees, a minister said, in an apparent move toward reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils. (AP http://yhoo.it/1yRrv1a

The Americas

U.S. authorities on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 29 suspects in Puerto Rico, Florida and Colombia who are accused of running a multimillion-dollar drug-trafficking ring. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Lmwdcx)

Mexico City’s mayor lowered the official death toll from a maternity hospital gas explosion to two people on Thursday after officials had earlier reported seven dead. (AFP http://yhoo.it/15LY6d7)

The murder of a young Argentine girl on a beach in neighbouring Uruguay shook both countries and drew attention to a kind of violence that goes almost unnoticed as a cause of death among Argentine adolescents: femicide. (IPS http://bit.ly/1LmC817)

Opinion/Blogs

Will 2015 be the turning point against climate change? (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1zimm11)

Brazil Can Help Steer SDGs Towards Ambitious Targets (IPS http://bit.ly/1JPeubY)

Ebola – is culture the real killer? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1JPfMng)

Aid Is Politics: We Need to Act (People, Spaces, Deliberation http://bit.ly/1EsB9un)

A Booster Shot for Humanity (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1EsB7mm)

Chicken parties and other ways the poorest people raise money  (The Guardian http://bit.ly/1EsB6Pl)

Why ending poverty in India means tackling rural poverty and power (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/15M3rkF)

No, Democracy Has Not Been Discarded (Dart-Throwing Chimp http://bit.ly/1EsB6Pe)

What kind of legal systems are in effect in Africa? (Rachel Strohm http://bit.ly/15M3pt8)

Do the Rusty Radiator Awards make a difference? (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1LmHnOq)

Discussion

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