News in the Humanosphere: More than 1 million refugees reached Europe in 2015

People hand in their documents for identification at the entrance of the transit center for refugees near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, after crossing the border from Greece. (Credit: AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

The UN refugee agency reports more than one million refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea alone this year, with 80 percent of this record number landing on small, overcrowded Greek islands. The refugees fleeing conflicts in their countries take to the sea because most land routes into Europe are blocked. “There are restrictions at the border.” said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards. “We have countries that have erected fences along border, land borders and the sea really remains the main viable option for those people.  Unfortunately, what it means though is that smuggling is profiting in a major way.  It means that people are drowning.  It means that the systems for making this regular movement of people are not yet in place.” (AP http://bit.ly/1ZBUL7v)

Ain’t nuthin but a G thang, baby…Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she now believes the Islamic State group’s persecution of Christians, the Yazidi minority and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East should be defined as “genocide.” http://yhoo.it/1JfX7ES)

Not gonna do it…Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza said on Wednesday that Burundians would fight against any peacekeepers sent into the country by the African Union, in his first public response to the AU’s plan to deal with an escalating political crisis. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JfWsmY)

We don’t need no stinking free internet…An initiative by Facebook to bring free Internet access to the poor in India has run into a storm of criticism by those who say it will violate net neutrality — the principle that Internet providers allow equal access to all online content. (VOA http://bit.ly/1YTzeVL)

Other news you should know

Aid agencies have warned that tens of millions of people in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia face severe hunger in the next six months following failed harvests, stunted crops and soaring prices of staple foods. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1YTyQXa)

A Burkina Faso military official says about 20 soldiers have been arrested since last week for planning to break the leader of a short-lived coup out of prison. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NVQxQL)

Preventing violence from depriving millions of children in Iraq of education and decent healthcare is a key humanitarian priority for the country in 2016, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1YTyRun)

Millions of Delhi residents will have to find alternative ways to work from Friday, when authorities launch a trial of draconian traffic restrictions to try to clean up the world’s most polluted capital. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YTzdRv)

Chinese rescue workers have made contact with eight survivors at a mine that collapsed five days ago in the eastern province of Shandong, according to state media. (VOA http://bit.ly/1JfXhfv)

Greek authorities say a seven-month-old Syrian baby temporarily staying with its family in a refugee registration camp on the island of Lesbos has died, apparently of natural causes. (AP http://yhoo.it/1SmHgXa)

The US space agency Nasa has warned that the effects of the current El Nino weather phenomenon could be as bad as those of 1998, the strongest on record. (BBC http://bbc.in/1YTySOO)

France’s interior minister sought Wednesday to halt violence and ease tensions in Corsica after protesters vandalized a Muslim prayer room in anger over an ambush of firefighters. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YTzcx0)

Struggling from two successive crop failures, Lesotho has been pushed into a state of crisis by the El Niño weather phenomenon which has brought reduced rainfall to much of southern Africa, affecting more than 650,000 people. (WFP http://bit.ly/1ZBV4iz)

The outgoing United Nations envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, says the country has an “unstoppable momentum” toward being a stable and secure country. (VOA http://bit.ly/1YTyQq7)

Chile: Human rights groups and families of victims believe recent public admissions of atrocities are a clear sign military pacts of silence that have hushed up many of the atrocities committed during the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet may finally be unraveling. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YTAcRP)

Thirty-five asylum-seekers have asked to be relocated from a refugee housing facility in southern Sweden because they believe it’s haunted by ghosts, officials said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YTzdAZ)

Global shares turned lower in thin European trading on Wednesday as investors grew cautious about another drop in oil prices. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YTzfZG)

Opinion/Blogs

Refugee Crisis: M.I.A.’s powerful protest song and video (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1mRET2L)

5 Under-the-Radar Stories that Will Drive the Global Agenda in 2016 (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1YTBaxe)

Born lucky? World Bank reveals life expectancy rates for today’s infants (Guardian http://bit.ly/1YTyIXN)

Climate Change Adaptation Is Not Just About Vulnerable Countries (Africa Arguments http://bit.ly/1YOHueU)

Child-Friendly Tuberculosis Treatment to Launch in 2016 (Development Diaries http://bit.ly/1YTBXhK)

Evidence based policy or policy based evidence? Supply and demand for data in a donor dominant world (Humanity Journal http://bit.ly/1YTCL6o)

Confessions of a humanitarian:  My New Year’s resolution? Saving the world of course (Guardian http://bit.ly/1NVPTTs)

Oxford statue row stirs ghosts of British colonialism (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PxcLgm)

This year’s El Niño is one of the worst on record, and that’s bad for everyone (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1SmH8Hj)

Overhunting Chops Tropical Forest Carbon Storage (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1NVQswr)

The Guardian view on UK national priorities: flood defence and overseas aid are not alternatives (Guardian http://bit.ly/1YTCP6f)

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