Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Taliban Bans Vaccinations in Pakistan Over Drone Strikes

Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur of the Taliban in Pakistan North Waziristan said that vaccines will be banned until drone strikes in the region are terminated. “Mr. Bahadur said the decision had been taken by the shura-e-mujahedeen, a council that unites the myriad jihadi factions in the area, including Taliban, Qaeda and Punjabi extremists.” The region has the highest polio rate in the world, and such an announcement proves to be a setback in the effort to eradicate the disease. “Dr. Muhammad Sadiq, the surgeon general for North Waziristan, said he had already received Taliban orders to cancel the vaccination drive planned for Wednesday and Thursday. “Under these circumstances,” he said in a telephone interview, “we cannot continue.”” (NYT http://nyti.ms/PexrIQ)

World Leaders Meet in Brussels to Discuss Sahel Crisis

18 million people are at risk from the food crisis in the Sahel, but funding for the support is well short. Aid groups and donors have tried to raise awareness and funds to little avail. Yesterday, a meeting in Geneva sought to coordinate efforts. “Leaders from Sahel countries and donors such as the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development met in anticipation of the region’s “hunger season”, worsened by the failure of last year’s rains across the Sahel belt. They pledged 940 million euros to resolve the immediate emergency, and said they plan to increase resilience to future crises.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/MBLpEk)

UN Peacekeepers Off the Hook for Haiti Cholera Outbreak?

Not exactly, but University of Maryland researchers say they uncovered two distinct strains of cholera in people at the onset of the outbreak. “What can this mean? It’s not clear, but the leader of the team, Rita Colwell, thinks cholera germs have been lurking undetected in the Haitian environment for a long time. “This suggests that it’s very likely that local (Haitian) strains are involved,” Colwell told Shots. “Because no one has tested for pathogenic cholera strains in that country before, we have no evidence that it wasn’t there already.” I asked Colwell if she thinks one strain was introduced by the Nepalese soldiers and the other was native to Haiti, or at least predated the current epidemic. “The introduction (from Nepal) can’t be ruled out but it can’t be proven either,” she replied. “I think the evidence is at best circumstantial, and it is not sufficient to account for the entire epidemic.”” (NPR http://n.pr/Lasov9)

Rio+20 Brief

There are lots of big issues on the table at Rio+20. One of the thorniest is the question of the Sustainable Development Goals. These would be a set of goals that would compliment/replace/supplant the MDGs. There’s not much debate that there *should* be SDGs. Rather, the big question is what they should be. Or, more accurately, who or what should decide them. The developing world is adamant that this be a country-driven process; that is, countries in a big future conference decide on them. The EU and USA fairly strongly believe that these should be decided in a top-down fashion by the Secretary General. So, going into the last leg of the negotiations in Rio, this is one of the big sticking points and no-one knows for sure how it will end.  — Mark Leon Goldberg, reporting for all my DAWNSers down in Rio.

Rio+20 Round Up

Little progress in pre-conference negotiations leaves low expectations for Rio+20. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/LtpPnf)

Moses Shaha, National Chairman of the Kenya Small Scale Farmer Forum, examines the opportunity for meaningful change to come out of Rio+20. (Think Africa Press http://bit.ly/Kg7ep7)

Don’t watch the European Commission’s Rio+20 video says Philip Inman. (Guardian http://bit.ly/LsSXLq)

Rio+20 should take on inclusive innovation as a way to access a sustainable future say Adrian Smith and Adrian Ely. (Guardian http://bit.ly/PemdEc)

Will Rio+20 be effective or just another useless meeting? Tom Paulson shares some links of people who are hopeful and pessimistic. (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/MJt7xv)

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