News in the Humanosphere: Cuba sets global health milestone

Cuba became the first country in the world to receive validation from WHO that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. “Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation” she added. (WHO http://bit.ly/1Ko8R5Y)

A U.S.-Brazil climate pact
Rousseff and Obama met at the White House yesterday, and had some welcome news to share. The two leaders pledged to increase the use of wind and solar power sources to 20 percent of each nation’s electricity production by 2030, which would triple power generation from renewable sources in the United States and double it in Brazil. Brazil also pledged that it would restore 12 million hectares — nearly 30 million acres — of Amazon rain forest, an area about the size of Pennsylvania. The United States and Brazil also established a joint climate change working group in which high-level officials will look for ways to reach new deals on emissions. The working group is modeled after a similar one between the United States and China, which led to the announcement in November that the two countries, the largest greenhouse gas polluters, would commit to new reduction targets. The United States has also established a working group with India, the third largest greenhouse gas polluter. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1Ko9zjR)

Stat of the day
Toilets are taken for granted in the industrialized West, but still are a luxury for a third of the world’s people who have no access to them, according to a report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF released Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Kr8WHR)

Africa

South Sudan’s army raped then torched girls alive inside their homes during a recent campaign marked by “new brutality and intensity,” a U.N. rights report said Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LThxQT)

Burundi election officials finished vote-counting on Tuesday, a day after internationally condemned polls boycotted by the opposition, with the ruling party expected to win a sweeping victory. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LThDbd)

Nearly 10,000 Burundians fled the country over the weekend before Burundi closed its borders ahead of controversial and violence-wracked elections in the troubled central African nation, the United Nations said Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Kr7NA2)

More than 12,000 children have been rescued in the past three years from gold mines in northern Tanzania, according to children’s rights groups who fear thousands more youngsters are being forced to work in hazardous conditions for a pittance. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1LTi3OJ)

British guidance that Eritrea is a safe country for asylum seekers to return to after leaving illegally is “marred by serious methodological concerns,” a government-appointed watchdog has said in a scathing report that comes as record numbers of Eritreans flee their country. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Kr9a1r)

MENA

Despite claims of its imminent demise, Qatar’s controversial “kafala” sponsorship system – which critics say is a direct cause of misery and abuse for many foreign workers – clings stubbornly to life. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Kr7s0i)

Escalating violence in Yemen has devastated the country’s health system and exposed millions of children to the threat of preventable diseases including measles, pneumonia and diarrhea, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Kr8TMf)

Asia

Drought-hit North Korea on Tuesday asked for humanitarian aid from its historic ally Iran, Iranian state media reported. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LTi4SQ)

Students in Myanmar led a peaceful march of between 50 and 200 protesters on Tuesday, urging Myanmar’s military to remove itself from politics, days after lawmakers voted down a measure to scrap the military’s effective legislative veto. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LThLaA)

Four days of heavy rain have caused severe flooding in central China, killing at least 15 people and leaving 19 others missing, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Kr7LIm)

China’s ruling Communist Party recruited almost 15 percent fewer new members last year amid hopes that better-qualified candidates will expand its guiding role in Chinese society. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Kr7vJu)

The Americas

The United States and Cuba have reached a deal to reopen embassies and reestablish diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, said a senior administration official. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1BVMe7v)

Pope Francis will meet with homeless people, immigrants and prisoners during his upcoming trip to Cuba and the United States and become the first pope to address the U.S. Congress. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LThLYf)

While some 16,000 new cases of cholera have been reported in Haiti so far this year, the disease is now under control but it will not be eradicated unless improving water and sanitation conditions are given a higher priority by both the Government and donors, says the outgoing United Nations official tasked with leading the response to the outbreak. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1BVLvDn)

...and the rest

Never before has a single species become the top predator on land and sea, and human dominance over the natural environment has caused shifts in world ecosystems unprecedented in the last 500 million years, researchers said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Kr8WHI)

British charities faced pressure from the government on Tuesday to voluntarily change the way they raise funds following a barrage of complaints about the public being bombarded with appeals for money. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1Kr8Vnc)

In the shadow of Greece’s bitter row with creditors, the refugee crisis unfolding in its islands has been pushed from the headlines, but boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers continue to arrive and systems for receiving them have virtually collapsed. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1LTi6tN)

Opinion/Blogs

Can Women Solve FIFA’s Corruption Problem? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Ns9cok)

Secret aid worker: ‘Has anyone worked out if celebrities are worth the effort?’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Kr8KZa)

Does the emergence of global statesmen help or hinder the charity world? (TRF http://yhoo.it/1LThGUm)

Can Women Solve FIFA’s Corruption Problem? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1FOuaHC)

Education matters, but skills matter more (Devex http://bit.ly/1g8hZ3G)

Mugabe vs. SCOTUS (Wronging Rights http://bit.ly/1FOuK8c)

Making international trade work for the world’s poorest (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Kr99L0)

Are SE Asia’s trafficking kingpins getting off the hook? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Kr8NUC)

Best practice and linear thinking favour autocracies. So what do we do instead? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Kr9cq4)

Current aid design and evaluation favour autocracies. How do we change that? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1FOupCs)

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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.