News in the Humanosphere: The Green Climate Fund is … funded. (sort of)

Credit: Schub@

A pledging conference in Berlin netted $9.3 billion toward a $10 billion goal. The Green Climate Fund is a lynchpin of international efforts to curb climate emissions by helping developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and desertification. It will also help fund the development of cleaner energy sources so developing countries need not rely so heavily on fossil fuels. Despite the shortfall, Germany’s environment minister said she was satisfied by the result because some countries had indicated they would increase their contribution in the coming months. “I’m confident that we will reach the $10 billion goal,” Barbara Hendricks told reporters. “$9.3 billion is already pretty close.” Hendricks said Canada had made a surprise announcement that it would contribute, without saying yet how much. Campaign group Oxfam described the amount collected so far as “only a bare minimum,” noting that rich countries such as Australia, Austria and Belgium hadn’t offered anything yet.”  (AP http://yhoo.it/1xH9x1I)

There’s hope for international crisis reporting, after all! … IRIN gets a new life, thanks to a $25 million boost. IRIN, one of the few media organizations dedicated to reporting on the complexities of humanitarian relief, will be relaunched next year after facing closure. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1xH9B1l)

Quote of the Day … The inimitable Swedish epidemiologist Hans Rosling, from a New York Times article detailing disputes between donors and the Liberian government over Ebola response and data collection. “‘We are absolutely sure that we cannot be sure about the data.” In an interview, he said that to improve reporting of cases, he gave a $13,000 Swedish government grant to “a chronically honest church lady to buy cellphone scratch cards for health officials in remote areas.” http://nyti.ms/1x4I2cW

Comings and Goings … Nancy Lindborg is going to be the next president of the United States Institute for Peace. She currently serves as an acting assistant administrator at USAID and will replace USIP President Bill Taylor on Feb. 2. (USIP  http://bit.ly/11kk1WG)

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Ebola
The spread of Ebola remains “intense” in most of Sierra Leone even as things have improved somewhat in the two other countries hardest hit, the World Health Organization says. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zH2gwH)

Thieves in Guinea have stolen a cooler containing the blood samples of suspected Ebola patients. The robbers took the samples after attacking a vehicle on a remote highway Thursday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xHaxmk)

While many West African countries, including Sierra Leone, generally have a strong social network that supports children during times of hardship and need, some of these orphans are facing stigmatization and even rejection. Many of the children are also experiencing severe stress and fear after having watched the death of a loved one, or perhaps from even having survived the virus themselves. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1zH8WuJ)

Knowing where the Ebola hot spots are in a country is crucial to getting an outbreak quickly under control. Many have criticized the initial slow response to the West Africa outbreak, saying it’s a big reason the virus quickly spread. Now, a German research center is developing a project to monitor Ebola and other outbreaks in real time. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xHbOKl)
Health authorities in Mali say they are monitoring 338 people linked with the country’s six fatal Ebola cases, and most of them under daily surveillance. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xHbP0M)

Africa
Nigerian police fired tear gas and prevented the Speaker of the lower house of parliament, who has defected to the opposition, from presiding over a session on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1tlgnT2)

The leader of a vigilante fighter group in Nigeria says Boko Haram militants have killed about 45 people in an attack on a village. (WaPo http://wapo.st/11knqoD)

The contest to replace Zambia’s recently deceased president is becoming a family affair as the late president’s widow said Wednesday she will seek to become the ruling party’s presidential candidate. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xH8H57)

Somalia’s president said on Thursday a military campaign would push Islamist al Shabaab fighters out of all towns and major territories by the end of the year, though the militants would still be able to mount guerrilla attacks. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1xH93sr)

The United Nations has begun to investigate suspected human rights abuses in Eritrea blamed for an exodus of migrants from the Horn of Africa country, U.N. officials said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1xH9jHV)

Longstanding humanitarian needs in South Sudan’s Aweil North County, where some 30,000 people are displaced, are largely unmet. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1xHaGGD)

With a virus threatening the crops of up to 70 percent of Kenya’s maize farmers, a number of lawmakers are calling for the country’s controversial ban on GMOs – genetically modified organisms – to be lifted for the sake of food security. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xHbzyW)

In some remote Zimbabwean districts, local communities and governments have created “maternity waiting homes” at hospitals, where expecting mothers can stay during the last six weeks of their pregnancies. The homes, built with European Union funding, are aimed at reducing maternal mortality and educating new mothers about how to look after their newborns. (VOA http://bit.ly/1zH9GQx)

Mozambique has one of the world’s highest rates of cervical cancer, a disease that kills 4,000 women there every year. A new plan to vaccinate 10-year-old girls could turn the tide in the fight against a devastating illness. (VOA http://bit.ly/1zH9KQn)

A social cash transfer program in Ghana under which funds and health insurance premiums are provided by government to extremely poor families now covers more than 77,000 households throughout the country. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xHbQSq)

MENA
UN chief Ban Ki-moon cautioned against tackling violent Islamic extremism through military means alone and urged governments to avoid counter-terrorism responses that could lead to rights abuses. (AP http://yhoo.it/1qAhqUz)

With Turkey’s government-run refugee camps operating at full capacity, more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have flocked to Turkey to escape fighting at home are struggling to survive on their own, according to an Amnesty International report. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xH2vd6)

The first doctor to be brought to trial in Egypt on charges of female genital mutilation has been acquitted, crushing hopes that the landmark verdict would discourage Egyptian doctors from conducting the endemic practice. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1zH8bSz)

Yemen’s security crisis is leading to a rapid expansion in the people smuggling trade, with thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa desperate to use the country as a gateway to Saudi Arabia. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1zH8NaF)

Asia
The smuggling of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar is so lucrative that Thai fishermen are converting their boats to carry humans, police, locals and officials in southern Thailand said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zH268F)

A self-styled Indian religious leader was charged on Thursday with sedition and waging war against the state after a days-long siege of his sprawling compound ended in his arrest along with 450 hardcore followers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1qAiwzK)

Three Thai university students were taken into police custody on Thursday for handing out free tickets to the latest film in the Hunger Games series, from which Thai protesters have borrowed a gesture of resistance to a totalitarian government. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zH6jJu)

Slowly but surely, NGOs and U.N. bodies are admitting it publicly – they are dealing with the Taliban again. While such deals have been developing in private for several years, NGOs have been hesitant to discuss their relations with the Afghan Islamist group because of political pressure and counter terrorism legislation. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1xHb4oh)

The Americas

Cloth diapers, baking soda to make deodorant and vinegar to mop the floor. That’s not the shopping list of an eco-friendly hipster, it’s how an increasing number of resourceful Venezuelans are making do in a time of severe shortages. (AP http://yhoo.it/1qAhTGp)

Mass protests are expected across Mexico for 43 missing students, whom the authorities say were murdered by a drugs gang. (BBC http://bbc.in/1xH8gHV)

Facing conflict of interest accusations over the Mexican first lady’s mansion, President Enrique Pena Nieto disclosed late on Wednesday he owned nine separate real estate properties among his total personal assets worth at least 45.2 million pesos ($3.3 million). (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zH7Fnu)

Opinion/Blogs
The Geopolitical implications of success or failure at the Iran Nuke Talks, which have a  looming deadline (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1x4UCsL

Here are 9 facts that show every day is International Men’s Day (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1xH88Z0)

Child labor laws: A step back for advancing Bolivia? (BBC http://bbc.in/1zH7990)

Payment by Results: One Size Doesn’t Fit All (CGD http://bit.ly/1xH8qPm)

Are Mass Killings by IS Group Genocide? (VOA http://bit.ly/1zH95ym)

True Gender Equality for Both Women and Men (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1zH9AZf)

After Ebola: Five Lessons for Outbreak Response (Center For Global Development http://bit.ly/1xHbnQf)

Research/Reports
Four human rights groups have released a tool that lets users check whether their computer has been infected with surveillance software. (AP http://yhoo.it/1zH5EaP)

Children suffering abuse and exploitation would have the right to take their governments to an international human rights court under proposals announced by Gordon Brown. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1zH8kVX)

The global cost of obesity has risen to $2 trillion annually — nearly as much as smoking or the combined impact of armed violence, war and terrorism, according to a new report released Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xHa3g0)

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About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.