News in Humanosphere: EU begins forced transfers of refugees back to Turkey

A cruise ship rescues refugees fleeing from Syria from a stranded small boat off the southwestern coast of the east Mediterranean island. (AP Photo/Haris Milonas)

Greece is due to start sending Syrian refugees and other migrants back across the Aegean Sea to Turkey today, putting into practice a controversial deal between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the migration flow into Europe. Returns are scheduled to take place from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios and will be carried out by EU border agency Frontex. Government and police officials are bracing themselves for resistance from migrants. About 250 people may be returned to Turkey today, according to people familiar with the operation. The number could change if migrants apply for asylum at the last minute, meaning their return would be delayed until their case is considered. (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/223Up9d)

Are Zuma’s days numbered? South Africa’s parliament will debate on Tuesday a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said, after a top court ruled the president had violated the constitution.South Africa’s constitutional court ruled on Thursday that Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution by ignoring orders from the public protector that he repay some of the $16 million in state funds spent to renovate his private residence at Nkandla. Since Thursday’s ruling, opposition party leaders, ordinary South Africans and even an anti-apartheid activist jailed alongside Nelson Mandela have called on Zuma to step down. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1UO238Z)

Africa

Burundi accepts the United Nations security council’s resolution to send in police, the foreign affairs minister told Reuters on Saturday, after months of political tension. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1UO1ZWC)

Some 400,000 people in Sudan could need food aid because of poor rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, a U.N. official said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UO36FP)

The Central African Republic’s new President Faustin-Archange Touadera has named his former campaign director as his prime minister, according to a decree read on national radio on Saturday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/223g0ON)

A second case of Ebola has been confirmed in Liberia months after the country had been declared free from transmissions, health officials said Sunday. (AP http://yhoo.it/223g80Q)

A woman who died of Ebola this week in Liberia, months after it was declared Ebola-free, had traveled to Guinea with her three children, one of whom is also sick, the health ministry said Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/223hxEH)

The leader of Nigeria’s Ansaru jihadist group, a Boko Haram splinter group ideologically aligned to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, has been arrested, an army spokesman said on Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/223htVk)

MENA

Syrian and allied forces backed by Russian air strikes drove Islamic State militants out of the town of al-Qaryatain on Sunday after encircling it over the past few days, Syria’s military command said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1UO22lo)

Israel’s state-run electricity company has restored full power supply to the Palestinian city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank after reducing it over an outstanding debt, officials said Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UO28tf)

Fighting between Iraqi forces and militants affiliated with the Islamic State group close to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has displaced over 2,000 people in the past week. (AP http://yhoo.it/1V2ZKOL)

Three civilians were killed in east Yemen on Sunday when rockets fired by Iran-backed rebels hit a government hospital, the facility’s director and a local official said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UO35Sl)

Asia

Flash floods triggered by torrential rains Sunday killed at least 45 people in northwest Pakistan, officials said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UO2bp4)

The United Nations said it expects more violence with the onset of spring in Afghanistan and called for increased regional cooperation and coordination to help the war-hit nation counter the terrorism threat. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UO32pz)

Officials wound back an initial tsunami threat issued after a large earthquake struck off the coast of the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu on Sunday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/223g0hQ)

Australia said it is no longer detaining asylum-seeking children on its mainland. (VOA http://bit.ly/223gbdb)

The Americas

Today, Brazil’s solicitor general, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, will make final arguments before a congressional impeachment commission, which then has five sessions to debate before voting. (AFP http://yhoo.it/223hAQN)

Demonstrators protesting the death of a boy who was killed by a stray bullet looted stores and set 12 buses ablaze in Brazil over the weekend. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UO2b8u)

Argentine forensic experts who have studied a dump in southern Mexico where government officials claim the bodies of 43 missing students were burned said Saturday that results from a new investigation of the site are incomplete and inconclusive. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UO35ll)

Refugee Crisis

Austrian police have clashed with protesters demonstrating against the closure of Europe’s borders to migrants. (AP http://yhoo.it/223hwjW)

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Sunday the EU must make no concessions to Turkey over human rights but voiced confidence in a deal with Ankara to manage the refugee crisis. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UO26Bv)

Just weeks ago, thousands of migrants a day were streaming into northern Europe. Now the influx has been dramatically crimped and Austria is claiming much of the credit. (AP http://yhoo.it/223fZug)

The EU will unveil plans to overhaul its asylum system this week following a controversial migrant deal with Turkey, but the proposals look set to trigger fresh rows in a bloc already deeply divided by the refugee crisis. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1V2ZKya)

…and the rest

An attacker threw a hand grenade and fired shots outside a sports hall in northern Kosovo early on Sunday, hours before Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was due to hold an election rally there, police said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/223gaGa)

Thousands of Poles took part in street demonstrations on Sunday to protest a possible tightening of the country’s abortion law, already one of the most restrictive in Europe. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UO2bFk)

Opinion/Blogs

My career’s biggest lesson:  no women, no development (Guardian http://bit.ly/223g3dA)

How powerful is ISIS? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1ZXgLcR)

Another person died of Ebola in West Africa. So Why is the Emergency Considered “Over”? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/233kbjw)

What can historical success teach us about tackling sanitation and hygiene? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1X9YTJW)

Learning To Mourn In My Father’s Country (BuzzFeed http://bzfd.it/1V31yr4)

Baseball Is A Field Of Dreams — And Dashed Hopes — For Dominicans (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1ZXi77s)

How Do Americans, Chinese See the Other? (VOA http://bit.ly/1RZnc8Y)

It’s good for the future of cinema that Africa exists (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1UBYzpN)

Weary professors give up, concede that Africa is a country (Washington Post http://wapo.st/1ZXikYa)

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