News in the Humanosphere: Yemen showing signs of falling apart

Sana'a, Yemen. (Credit: AnasALhajj.Photography/Flickr)

Yemen is the poorest country in the region and is fast becoming the newest and hottest disaster in the Middle East. Sectarian violence and a power struggle between largely Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the largely Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Hadi has exploded into conflict. Over the weekend, rebels cemented their control over the country’s third-largest city. This explainer from the FT is quite good, if ominous. “The Houthis draw their support from Yemen’s majority-Zaydi northern highlands while Mr. Hadi’s supporters are mainly from the majority Sunni south and northern Sunni groups who share a longstanding rivalry with the Houthis. Secessionists in the south, an almost exclusively Sunni part of the country, are also exploiting the Houthis’ dominance in the north to agitate for their independence. Yemen unified into one state in 1990, before sliding into civil war when the southerners’ attempts to break from Sana’a failed. ‘War has started,’ says Abdulghani al-Iryani, a Sana’a-based political analyst. ‘It is still political, but elements of sectarian strife are visible. Increasingly, the narrative is hateful and sectarian from both sides.’” (FT http://on.ft.com/1xqyShH)

After one month virus free, Liberia confirms new Ebola case
“Liberian officials have confirmed a new case of Ebola in the country, dashing hopes that the deadly epidemic of the disease that began last year had finally been extinguished. … Officials say the new case, a woman admitted to a treatment facility in Monrovia, is particularly worrying because she has no known contact to previous Ebola patients and claims not to have traveled from neighboring countries where the virus has also spread … authorities were looking into the possibility that she was infected by a visitor from outside the country or that she had sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor. The virus can remain present in semen for up to three months after a person recovers from the initial infection.” (NPR http://n.pr/1xqyhNa)

Quote of the Day
“We want justice for Farkhunda, we want justice for Afghan women. All these injustices happening to Afghan women are unacceptable,” said a prominent women’s rights activist who goes by the name Dr. Alima. Context: “Afghan women’s rights activists dressed head-to-toe in black broke with tradition Sunday to carry the coffin of a woman who was beaten to death by a mob in the capital Kabul over allegations she had burned a Quran.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1IfOfu0)

Africa

Karim Wade, the son of a former Senegalese president and currently on trial for corruption, was chosen Saturday to be the former ruling party’s candidate in the next presidential election. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1N2hMsb)

Sierra Leone’s opposition party is considering launching impeachment proceedings against the president and will refuse all cooperation with the government because of the way the vice president was fired. (AP http://yhoo.it/1CdDKqt)

Liberians are overcoming their fears of Ebola to volunteer for a vaccine trial. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IfOpBU)

Hit by falling oil revenues, South Sudan’s economy is also troubled by a violent conflict that looks set to continue. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IfOwxg)

In a first for Africa, a public-private water fund was launched in Kenya on Friday, bringing together businesses, utilities, conservation groups, government and farmers to fund upstream water conservation through activities such as watershed protection and reforestation. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1N2pRgy)

One of South Sudan’s armed groups, the Cobra Faction, released up to 250 child soldiers on Sunday. The group of children released in the remote village of Lekuangole, in Jonglei state, included four girls – one as young as 9. (VOA http://bit.ly/1FQ423d)

MENA

Nine British medical students have traveled to Syria, apparently to work in hospitals controlled by Islamic State, Britain’s Observer newspaper reported on Saturday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1N2hPEk)

Praised as a model of Arab Spring progress, Tunisia has finally been drawn onto the global jihadi battlefield after Islamist militants gunned down foreign tourists in a brazen assault at the heart of the capital. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1N2pNNQ)

Asia

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said on Saturday it had foiled an attempt to assassinate Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum in the northerly Jawzjan province. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1N2hC45)

Lee Kuan Yew, who dominated Singapore politics for more than half a century and transformed the former British outpost into a global trade and finance powerhouse, setting a template for emerging markets around the world, died Monday. He was 91 years old. (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/1xqAyYI)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought on Sunday to stave off farmer protests against his efforts to make it easier for businesses to buy land, after opposition to the bill overshadowed a burst of progress on economic reform. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1IfOt4x)

North Korea’s military on Sunday threatened to blow up balloons that South Korean activists plan to send over the heavily-militarised border carrying 10,000 DVDs of the satirical Hollywood film “The Interview”. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1DL56WW)

Volcanic eruptions, landslides, earthquakes and cyclones: 76-year-old Lik Simelum from Vanuatu has survived them all. The AP has his story: http://yhoo.it/1DL55SU)

From her poverty-stricken roots in a Philippine backwater, via domestic service in Hong Kong to acclaim in New York, Xyza Cruz Bacani’s inspirational journey started with a camera bought with borrowed money. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1IfNRvA)

Michelle Obama urged Cambodian students to finish their education and speak up to demand greater freedoms and more equality on a landmark visit to a Southeast Asian country that has been ruled by an authoritarian strongman for decades. (AP http://yhoo.it/1CdDCHl)

The Americas

Legislators in Puerto Rico are investigating coastal erosion across the U.S. territory and its impact on tourism. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DL4RuV)

Pharmacy chain Farmatodo said on Saturday two of its managers have been freed from jail pending trial on charges in an emblematic case of what President Nicolas Maduro calls Venezuela’s “economic war.” (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1DL50yH)

The new labeling of the world’s most-popular weed killer as a likely cause of cancer is raising more questions for an aerial spraying program in Colombia that is the cornerstone of the U.S.-backed war on drugs. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DL57u6)

...and the rest

Tens of thousands of people marched in Dublin on Saturday in the latest mass protest against new water charges, keeping up the pressure on the government, which hopes Ireland’s economic growth will quell the discontent. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1N2hJfS)

The world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water in just 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource, a U.N. report warned last week. (VOA http://bit.ly/1N2qZR6)

Opinion/Blogs

What if Youth Now Fight for Social Change, But From the Right? (IPS http://bit.ly/1N2p52X)

World water day: how much do you know about H2O? – quiz (Guardian http://bit.ly/1FQ3ABS)

We leave Sendai with a new global deal on disaster risk, but does it go far enough? (TRF http://tmsnrt.rs/1DLaZDw)

Water and Sanitation in Nigeria – Playing the Numbers Game (IPS http://bit.ly/1FQ3qdX)

Communicating The Right Message About Ebola (NPR http://n.pr/1N2qBC4)

Feed the People or Save the Planet? (VOA http://bit.ly/1N2qMgM)

Ebola and HIV – How to Change Behavior for the Long Term (IRIN http://bit.ly/1N2qXc0)

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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.