News in the Humanosphere: Google makes play for African mobile market

Richard Mwaka and Kumlachew Mengistu (in back) of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) install and test software for the collection of Geo-Information on smartphones. (Credit: UNMEER/Samuel Shilajiru)

Google’s low-cost smartphone initiative, Android One, expanded into six African countries. “This expansion into Africa is part of Google’s ongoing plan to revitalize Android One after the program’s shaky start. … So far, though, Android One has been underachieving, with the Google-approved handsets failing to make much of an impact in ultra-competitive markets like India. … But while the launch of Android One in six African countries certainly expands the program’s geographic horizons, the reliance on the same playbook (and only a single new handset) are not entirely promising.” (The Verge http://bit.ly/1TVi0tT)

U.S. proposes South Sudan ultimatum
The United States proposed on Wednesday implementing a United Nations arms embargo on South Sudan and further targeted sanctions from Sept. 6 unless President Salva Kiir signs a peace deal to end the country’s 20-month conflict. According to a draft resolution circulated to the U.N. Security Council – and seen by Reuters – if U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports before Sept. 6 that both parties have signed the deal and implemented a ceasefire then the arms embargo and further targeted sanctions would not be implemented. A senior U.S. diplomat said it was hoped the draft could be voted on ‘imminently’ by the 15-member council.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1fqtti1)

World Humanitarian Day

Aug. 19 was commemorated as World Humanitarian Day to honor aid workers around the world. The day also marks the anniversary of the single deadliest attack on U.N. workers, the 2003 bombing of the U.N. compound in Baghdad. This year, the number of large-scale humanitarian disaster – from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and CAR to name a few – is unprecedented. And, so far, the international community is not providing enough funding or political support to enable humanitarians to do their job. All in all, this was not the greatest world humanitarian day. “This year, the U.N. has asked for $19.43 billion to deal with humanitarian crises in countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Nepal, but so far donors have only provided a third of these funds, leaving the world’s most vulnerable people in increasing need as multiple, protracted emergencies exhaust limited funding.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/1hoUSmn)

Global humanitarian fact of the day
Globally, one third fewer aid workers were killed, wounded or kidnapped in 2014 from the all-time high of 460 in 2013, because fewer were deployed to dangerous regions, according to the group Humanitarian Outcomes. (TRF http://bit.ly/1Nuuaok)

World Humanitarian Day: Let’s all make a greater commitment to life-saving action (Guardian http://bit.ly/1E3wWPJ)

On World Humanitarian Day, a new idea to protect aid workers (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Nuv848)

Aid worker deaths: the families left behind (Guardian http://bit.ly/1gXI05N)

On World Humanitarian Day: Could We Do Better with Cash? (CGD http://bit.ly/1KvWj9m)

Africa

Fighting resumed in parts of South Sudan between government troops and rebel forces, two days after the president declined to sign a peace deal, a military spokesman said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1E3CKbR)

More than 3 million people are suffering from hunger as insecurity persists in Mali’s north, Mali officials and the United Nations said Wednesday. (AP http://abcn.ws/1fqpNN8)

Judges will reopen a hearing into whether to take action against Kenya over allegations it obstructed investigations into its President Uhuru Kenyatta, after an appeals court ordered them on Wednesday to reconsider their rejection of the case. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1gXFlJB)

Zimbabwe’s government and opposition joined forces to push through legislation making it harder for firms to sack workers, pleasing powerful unions but angering employers who said it would hurt an already struggling economy. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1NkOjOu)

South Sudan’s foreign minister says the government will on Wednesday begin consultations with civil society, political parties and other stakeholders to determine how best to move the peace process forward. (VOA http://bit.ly/1NuwBXZ)

Ghana’s health minister says the government is going to bring in about 170 Cuban doctors to work in health facilities amid a doctors’ strike. (AP http://yhoo.it/1hoUPqP)

The African Growth and Opportunities Act is much more than a simple trade agreement, top U.S. officials said this week as they prepare to meet later this month in Gabon for a summit on the U.S.-Africa agreement. (VOA http://bit.ly/1NkOgCk)

With critics split along ideological lines and many living in exile, there is no meaningful movement to oppose Eritrea’s president’s repressive 14-year rule. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1NkOjhB)

A hard-line faction of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo’s party called on Tuesday for a boycott of a presidential election in October meant to cement the West African nation’s revival following a 2011 civil war. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LjeEJB)

MENA

The conflict in Yemen has killed nearly 400 children since the end of March, and a similar number of children have been recruited by armed groups, according to a new report by the U.N. children’s agency. It warns that the fighting shows “no sign of a resolution.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1gXH5lZ)

The Israeli Supreme Court cleared the way on Wednesday for the temporary release of a Palestinian prisoner whose two-month hunger strike might have left him with brain damage. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1fqqaHK)

As the Houthi fighters, along with renegade military units loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, have retreated, they are accused of leaving a deadly trail of mines, improvised explosive devices and booby traps in their wake. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1hoUFQ7)

Refugees are using Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members to share photographs and experiences, find smugglers’ phone numbers, map their route from Turkey to Greece and onward to northern Europe, and to calculate expenses. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1gXEg4i)

Human Rights Watch leveled harsh criticism Wednesday at Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law, saying the measure has an overly broad definition of what constitutes a terrorist act and leaves Egyptians open to stiff sentences for things that may amount to “civil disobedience.” (VOA http://bit.ly/1TTh4WY)

ISIS beheaded a noted antiquities expert in Syria. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1fqq1UA)

Asia

As the number of civilians affected by the intensifying conflict in Afghanistan rises along with the fighting, humanitarian agencies are struggling to meet the needs of the wounded, hungry and displaced. (IPS http://bit.ly/1KvV0Hn)

The fiercely contested Iran nuclear deal will likely survive in the U.S. Congress despite unified Republican opposition and some Democratic defections, the top Senate Republican says. That would mean a major foreign policy win for President Obama. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NuvffO)

Authorities are racing to clean contaminated water sources in flood-hit parts of Myanmar, while distributing bottled water, chlorine powder and purification tablets as they struggle with diarrhea outbreaks. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1NkOiKu)

A court in Bangladesh’s capital allowed police on Wednesday to hold three suspects, including a British citizen, for seven days for interrogation in the murders of two secular bloggers. (AP http://yhoo.it/1hoVd8H)

Myanmar has renewed a state of emergency in a restive northern region bordering China, state media said Wednesday, extending army control over the area during crucial November elections. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1USTpD9)

The Americas

Investigators began interviewing more top officials in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz on Tuesday about the recent killing of a photojournalist, an activist and three other women in the Mexican capital. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NuvgAB)

Climate change, cholera and the return of thousands of emigrants from the neighboring Dominican Republican are fueling a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, the U.N. warned. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LjeDW2)

California’s ongoing drought will cost the economy in the most populous U.S. state an estimated $2.74 billion in 2015 and lead to the loss of 10,000 seasonal farm jobs, despite overall health in the state’s agricultural sector, researchers said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Nuvg3y)

Residents of the Central Andes mountains in Peru and Bolivia, already short of water, could see rainfall decline by up to 30 percent by the end of the century, a new Swiss study said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1J3Qa6j)

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched an advertising campaign on Tuesday aimed at dissuading Central Americans from trying to enter the United States illegally and avoid the influx of the tens of thousands who tried to come last year. (VOA http://bit.ly/1TTiYa5)

...and the rest

Pope Francis is denouncing a global labor market that is interested only in profit and warning that unemployment causes enormous damage to society and families. (AP http://yhoo.it/1gXEgkX)

Opinion/Blogs

Think Again – Why Obama’s AU Speech Matters (ISS http://bit.ly/1NunMNZ)

Poor Scientists Cut Off From Mosquito Disease Advances (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1NunXJ2)

The Last-Ditch South Sudan Peace Talks Are On the Brink of Collapse (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1USXmaJ)

China has almost wiped out urban poverty. Now it must tackle inequality (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KvRNHP)

What It Takes to Make Community Health Workers Better At Servicing the Poor (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1NkUm5D)

Gender Under A Black Flag: ISIL Recruitment (Reinventing Peace http://bit.ly/1JiuK6M)

Sexual assaults against aid workers: it’s time to take a stand (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KvVFsm)

Communicating in disasters: 4 lessons learned (Devex http://bit.ly/1KvVGfX)

Humanitarian aid in 2015: great challenges but greater opportunities (Dev Policy http://bit.ly/1USXiIc)

Nothing About Us, Without Us: Placing African women at the centre of conversations about the African agricultural revolution (Can we save Africa? http://bit.ly/1Ljgz0K)

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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.