News in the Humanosphere: Much ado about girls

Liberian girls in a school outside Monrovia. (Credit: UN/Christopher Herwig)

Let Girls Learn…In a visit to the UK, Michelle Obama announced a new partnership to promote the education of adolescent girls worldwide. “Obama announced plans for $200 million in programs funded by the United States and Britain to promote girls’ education worldwide.  The first projects will help 450,000 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo get a primary school education.  Sierra Leone and Liberia will also benefit. A statement from the White House said the program is expected to benefit more than 755,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 18 over the next five years. It is set to help enroll girls and boys who are currently not in school; motivate parents and communities to support girls staying in school; and improve materials and teaching methods.” (VOA http://bit.ly/1Gr5Mj5)

Girls Count…Meanwhile, the President Obama signed into law the “Girls Count Act” which supports worldwide efforts to ensure stronger data around women and girls worldwide. “According to UNICEF, the organization leading the United Nations’ efforts to support birth registration, the births of nearly 230 million children under the age of five living around the world today have never been counted. Even if officially registered, tens of millions of children do not have a birth certificate to prove it. When a child is denied a birth certificate, it can prevent him or her from going to school, getting a job, or accessing health and social services. The Girls Count Act gives Executive Branch agencies such as the State Department and USAID the authority to provide assistance to support counting of girls in developing countries.” (VOA http://bit.ly/1cZ0il3)

And in substantially less good news for children…A quarter of a million children face starvation in war-torn South Sudan, with an end to the 18-month conflict as distant as ever, the expelled UN aid chief warned Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MIBee9)

Former Top UN Official Running for President…Asha Rose Migiro, a former U.N. deputy secretary general, has joined the race to be the Tanzanian ruling party’s presidential candidate, setting her sights on becoming the country’s first woman president. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Gr1W9M)

Africa

The South African government has a week to explain to judges why it defied a court order barring the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1GR4lh6)

Scores of police and soldiers patrolled Chad’s capital N’Djamena on Tuesday, a day after twin suicide bombings blamed on Boko Haram jihadists killed 24 people and wounded more than 100 in the first such attacks in the city. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MIBh9Q)

Rwanda’s ruling party have backed calls to change the constitution that would allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power as president, reports said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MIBk5v)

Starting this week, Zimbabweans started trading in their stashes of the defunct local dollars for U.S. dollars as part of a process to phase out a currency that hasn’t been used since 2009 and features bills with at least 12 zeros. But few have taken them up on their offer. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Gr1U1r)

Helicopters have delivered life-saving supplies to thousands of people uprooted by fighting in South Sudan to help them survive the lean season, aid agencies said on Tuesday ahead of a pledging conference for the conflict-hit country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TqYlzk)

As Nigeria and neighboring countries debate the leadership of a military task force and how to fight Boko Haram, #BringBackOurGirls campaigners are pressing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue girls kidnapped by the group and end the insurgency. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Gr5NDI)

MENA

Officials say 30 more people have been found dead after they attempted to cross the Sahara desert in Niger. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TqXrCK)

Turkey accused Kurdish militia in northern Syria on Tuesday of driving out civilians in areas it occupies and said it saw signs of “a kind of ethnic cleansing”. (Retuters http://yhoo.it/1GR4nFJ)

Amnesty International criticized what it said was a “dismal” global response to the plight of Syrian refugees and urged neighboring countries struggling to cope with the influx of refugees to lift “deeply troubling” measures designed to keep them out. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Gr23C0)

Some 23,000 people have fled from Syria to Turkey between June 3 and 15, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Gr1OXG)

Death sentences against Egypt’s deposed President Mohamed Mursi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are a “massacre of law and basic rights”, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Gr1Wq7)

Asia

Pakistan’s government announced Tuesday that international aid groups can operate for another six months provided they register with officials in three months’ time, a relief for humanitarian groups worried since authorities suddenly shut the offices of Save the Children. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Gr1QyJ)

South Korea Tuesday reported three more deaths from the MERS outbreak but health authorities said they were cautiously optimistic the worst was over as the number of new cases was falling. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MIBeLl)

North Korea has been hit by its worst drought in a century, state media said Tuesday, sparking fears of worsening food shortages in the impoverished communist country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1GR4iBU)

Never mind lowering the rate of death from air pollution in India and China. Just keeping those rates steady will demand urgent action to clear the skies, according to a report published Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MIBkCA)

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of a top Islamist party leader for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the independence war against Pakistan in 1971. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MIBdH8)

Thousands of villagers are refusing to leave their homes on the slopes of one of Indonesia’s most volatile volcanoes despite warnings that it is poised for a powerful eruption. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JS4zVW)

Nestle India said it will destroy instant noodles worth $50 million following a sales ban imposed by Indian food safety authorities for unsafe levels of lead. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JS4zFl)

Fresh avalanches are disrupting efforts to recover dead bodies from a remote village in Nepal where more than 100 foreign trekkers and villagers are believed to be buried by a landslide set off by a devastating earthquake more than seven weeks ago.Five soldiers were injured in fresh snow slides on Monday temporarily halting the operation for the victims, officials said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MIBeuG)

The Americas

Rich countries must learn the lessons of the war on drugs and the U.S. prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and realize that trying to stop migrants from moving is just making the problem worse, an independent U.N. expert said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1GR4r8B)

President Nicolas Maduro says a recent meeting between Venezuelan and U.S. officials has opened an important channel that could lead toward restoration of full diplomatic relations. (AP http://bit.ly/1Gr5MzB)

...and the rest
The United Nations and other international institutions are in urgent need of reform if they are to tackle global challenges ranging from massive violence in fragile states to runaway climate change and global economic shocks, a high-level commission said in a report released Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TqXIWp)
Opinion/Blogs

The Papal Encyclical on the Environment Will Influence More than Just Catholics (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1TracND)

Visualizing stagnation: Funding stalled for global health (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1GSDSzH)

‘By letting Omar ​al-​Bashir escape, ​South Africa​ had sided with tyrants’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1BkCvHH)

Insurance Still Doesn’t Cover Childbirth For Some Young Women (NPR http://n.pr/1GR6pWz)

Secret aid worker: it’s one standard for local staff and another for expats (Guardian http://bit.ly/1BgkyKD)

Do bright ideas in aid need checks and balances? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1G0J52T)

How Healthy Is Africa’s Sovereign Bond Debt? (Africa Renewal http://bit.ly/1GR78XH)

Why Anti-Gay Sentiment Remains Strong in Much of Africa (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1Ij7v88)

Teaching the next generation of development professionals (Devex http://bit.ly/1GSvuAh)

Progress in Peru: the story of Lima’s slums (ODI http://bit.ly/1cYMJ4R)

Global Organ Trade (Roving Bandit http://bit.ly/1Traap3)

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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.