News in the Humanosphere: An emergency brewing in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Mathias Eick EU/ECHO)

Global aid agencies are responding to a call for assistance by Mongolia as harsh winter weather raises fears for the safety and livelihoods of the country’s traditional pastoralists, who have already been hit hard by a drought last year. Dry weather has scorched most of Mongolia’s wheat crop and now mass animal deaths due to a freezing winter, locally known as “dzud,” are threatening more pain for the country, where farming accounts for about 13 percent of the economy. The last dzud in 2009-2010 killed 9.7 million of the country’s livestock, according to the National Emergency Agency of Mongolia.  (Reuters

Red cups come to South Africa…Starbucks will open its first store in South Africa next month in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, the coffee giant’s local licensee Taste Holdings said on Thursday. (Reuters

Quote of the day: “I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: Do not come to Europe,” said EU President Donald Tusk in Athens after talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing.” (AFP


A former journalist accused of belonging to an Islamic extremist group has been sentenced to death for his alleged role in the killings of five Somali journalists. (AP

Three employees of international charity Save the Children were kidnapped on Wednesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the organization said on Thursday, as insecurity in the region continues to hamper humanitarian efforts. (Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo will extradite a suspect in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, Congo’s justice minister said on Thursday, retreating from an earlier demand that Rwanda first respond to Congo’s own extradition requests. (Reuters

At least 50,000 people have been killed in South Sudan’s two-year civil war, a senior United Nations official said on Wednesday, a five-fold increase in the death toll given by humanitarian agencies in the early months of the conflict. (Reuters

At least 24 people, many of them children, died and dozens were missing in Angola after a flash-flood swept through a market in the southern city of Lubango, state media said on Thursday. (Reuters

A Burundian opposition group is welcoming the selection of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the new mediator for talks between the government and other stakeholders aimed at ending the almost year-long crisis in Burundi. (VOA

A leader of Zambia’s official opposition party was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of conducting drills of party supporters to become an illegal militia, police said. (Reuters

Ugandan lawmakers have passed a bill that says only Ugandans can be legal guardians of orphaned or destitute children. (AP

WWF, the world’s largest conservation organisation, has been accused by leading tribal defence group Survival International of inadvertently facilitating serious human rights abuses against pygmy groups living in Cameroonian rainforests. (Guardian


Syria’s cessation of hostilities is holding but remains fragile after six days in which incidents have been contained in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Latakia and Damascus, U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday. (Reuters

Russian and Syrian government forces have been targeting hospitals as a strategy of war in Syria’s conflict, according to a report released by a rights group Thursday. (AP

Syria’s electricity supply was gradually returning after it was cut across the country on Thursday and Internet connections were briefly disrupted, state media said. (Reuters


A powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam on Thursday declared a new law that criminalizes violence against women to be “un-Islamic.” (Reuters

North Korea fired several short-range projectiles Thursday in what seemed to be an act of defiance against the expanded sanctions that were unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council.  (VOA

New United Nations sanctions against nuclear-armed North Korea are being touted as the “toughest ever”, but loopholes leave plenty of room for Pyongyang’s key economic supporter China to continue business as usual, analysts and diplomats said Thursday. (AFP

Philippine officials say they are hopeful the country’s arbitration case against China over disputed territory in the South China Sea will be decided in April or May. (VOA

A politician has been charged with breaking Thailand’s harsh computer crimes law after he accused a senior general in the ruling junta of making sexist remarks about the ousted former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, police said on Thursday. (Reuters

VOA Interview: US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power Discusses N. Korea Sanctions

The Americas

Venezuelan students clashed with police in the western city of San Cristobal on Wednesday. The students were protesting against a ruling by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (BBC

Cholera, which arrived in Haiti in October 2010, has sickened more than 770,000 people, or about 7 percent of the population, and killed more than 9,200. So far this year, it has sickened more than 6,000 and is killing an average of 37 people a month. (AP

A Guatemalan court on Wednesday ordered two former military officers convicted of holding indigenous women as sex slaves during the nation’s civil war to pay their victims just over $1 million in compensation. (Reuters

Mexico has seen a sharp jump in cases of the virus H1N1, popularly known as swine flu, killing 68 people so far this flu season, according to health ministry data. (Reuters

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was so obsessed with telling his life story that he pursued an actress, journalists and a former Colombian trafficker who became a writer. (AFP

Venezuela’s opposition coalition has decided on a triple-barreled strategy to oust President Nicolas Maduro before the end of his term. (AP

…and the rest

Britain will contribute around 20 million euros in extra funding to boost security at the French port of Calais where thousands of migrants have camped out hoping to cross the Channel, France’s minister for European affairs said Thursday. (AFP

A senior official in Saxony has criticized police for failing to act against hate speech in the east German state, a stronghold of both the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement and the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany. (AP

Many donor governments and international NGOs still do not appreciate the importance of addressing mental health problems in both their long-term crisis responses and wider development work. (Guardian


The ICC Get’s It’s First Crack at Al Qaeda (Global Dispatches Podcast

Which Mega-Cities Offer Best Protection From Climate Change? (TRF

Africa Doesn’t Have the Luxury of Low Interest Rates (Daily Maverick

Why a New Vaginal Ring Could Be a Game-Changer in HIV Prevention (The Conversation

Nigeria, corruption and ‘the Goodluck Jonathan alibi’ (AFP

Climate change is a potent element in the deadly brew of disaster risk (Guardian


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