News in the Humanosphere: Dramatic increase of LRA abductions in Central African Republic

Tracking the LRA. (Credit: Jonathan Hutson/Enough Project)

Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, who mutilate civilians and kidnap children to use as fighters and sex slaves, stepped up attacks and abductions in the Central African Republic during the first three months of this year, the United Nations said on Wednesday. … The U.N. envoy for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, also told the U.N. Security Council that the world body was concerned about the potential Ugandan withdrawal of some 2,500 troops from a military operation hunting down the brutal rebel movement.The latest U.N. report to the Security Council, citing LRA Crisis Tracker data, said the rebels were responsible for 42 incidents, six civilian deaths and 252 civilian abductions in Central African Republic in the first quarter of 2016. This compares with 52 incidents, five civilian deaths and 113 civilian abductions for all of 2015.  (Thomson Reuters Foundation http://tmsnrt.rs/1twU05h)

Polio found in sewage. India scaling up vaccinations…India plans to urgently immunize around 300,000 children against the crippling polio virus after a strain of the highly contagious disease was detected in sewage in the southern city of Hyderabad, the ministry of health said on Wednesday. A health ministry statement confirmed media reports that a strain of the virus was discovered in a sewage sample taken near Hyderabad’s Secunderabad railway station, but said that no children in the area were found to be affected. (Scientific American http://bit.ly/21n4UFa)

Somewhat decent Zika news…The Zika outbreak in Colombia has struck more than 65,000 people with symptoms of the tropical disease, including nearly 12,000 pregnant women, Colombian and U.S. public health officials reported on Wednesday. The report comes with some hopeful news about infections during late pregnancy. So far, about 90% of the 1,850 Colombian women infected in the third trimester of pregnancy have borne children, and none of those babies have the severe brain birth defects that have become the signature of Zika virus in Brazil, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine. (BuzzFeed http://bzfd.it/28FB3Nz)

Michelle Obama (And Her Daughters and Mom) will visit Liberia next week…As part of Let Girls Learn, the First Lady – joined by Malia and Sasha Obama and Mrs. Marian Robinson – will visit Margibi County, Liberia; Marrakech, Morocco; and Madrid, Spain from June 27- July 1, 2016. … Her visit will highlight both the Peace Corps’ work to help girls in underserved communities build self-confidence, communication, and other leadership skills and new programming from the U.S. Agency for International Development aimed at improving access to quality education and life skills for adolescent girls across Liberia.  Also in Liberia, the First Lady will visit a school in Unification Town for a discussion with adolescent girls who have faced serious obstacles in attaining an education. (White House Press Release)

Africa

Aid workers in South Sudan have suffered an increase in attacks in recent weeks, the U.N. warned Wednesday, with three killed in May since the formation of a unity government. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1sGHTSi)

The United Nations warns at least 1.5 million people in Mozambique need international assistance to see them through a disastrous El Nino-induced drought. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Q5efk9)

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye should be tried for treason in court and not a high-security prison as the prosecution had requested, a judge ruled on Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1S5JRR0)

The opposition United Democratic Party of Gambia said Wednesday the government has transferred an unspecified number of political prisoners to an unknown location. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UjXC2X)

A secondary school in rural Burundi sent home 230 students on Tuesday for defacing the portrait of President Pierre Nkurunziza in their textbooks, a regional head of education said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1UdxKc5)

The biggest problem facing the LGBT community in Uganda is not anti-gay laws, but rather homophobic public attitude against same-sex relations, which local politicians are using to vilify gay people, a human rights lawyer said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UdxNVp)

Eight Kenyan politicians are behind bars on suspicion of hate speech in the latest sign of rising political tensions a year ahead of elections. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1sGGXNT)

A former army chief and candidate in Congo Republic’s presidential election earlier this year was arrested overnight, his opposition party said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S5JPbQ)

A new wave of student protests in South Africa, over fees charged for higher education, show the country remains starkly divided between the haves and have-nots, as demonstrated by last year’s #Feesmustfall protests by university students. (http://yhoo.it/23aDDHo)

Uganda is developing base maps for refugee settlements that host thousands of people in the East African country, with the goal being to support risk-informed development and land use planning and thereby build community resilience. (UNISDR http://bit.ly/1sGHdMZ)

MENA

A British-Iranian woman and Thompson Reuters Foundation employee being detained in Iran has been charged with attempting to overthrow the country’s government. (VOA http://bit.ly/21n4uhV)

The World Food Program has hit back strongly at allegations that the U.N. has allowed its aid operations in Syria to be controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, emboldening the siege warfare tactics that have become characteristic of the five-year war. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Q5egEL)

Forces backed by Libya’s unity government said on Wednesday they had consolidated positions on the edge of Sirte, repelling sniper, tank and mortar attacks as they seek to oust Islamic State from its North African stronghold. (Reuters http://bit.ly/23aCUG7)

Aid has been cut from rebel-held areas of Aleppo for the longest period since the Syrian civil war began due to an escalation in air strikes and bombardments, driving up food prices and choking efforts to ease the plight of residents. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2639qfh)

Germany’s Defence Ministry denied on Wednesday that German special forces were in northern Syria and said repeated claims by the Syrian government to this effect were not and had never been true. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S5LFJy)

In February, the richest world powers pledged more than $11 billion to help frontline states in the Middle East cope with the Syrian refugee crisis. But four months later, less than a quarter of the headline sum has been turned over and five million people are still at risk in an unstable region. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1S5JR3d)

An international advocacy group on Wednesday accused the United Nations of prioritizing its relationship with the Syrian government over delivering aid to civilians in need, saying the world body is “in serious breach of its humanitarian principles.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1sGIu6v)

Asia

A transgender woman in Pakistan was shot for refusing to have sex with attackers who broke into her home, in the latest in a series of assaults on trans people, police said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1ZRzVk5)

Singapore appealed to Indonesia on Wednesday for information on companies suspected of causing cross-border pollution, saying stopping smoke from fires set by plantation firms was not an issue of “sovereignty.” (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1UdwRjC)

Preparations by Thailand’s junta for a referendum in August over a new constitution that critics fear will entrench the military’s influence were stepped up on Wednesday as military cadets were shown what to do at polling stations on the day. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Udyhe7)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has told NATO allies America will take a new look at its plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, a British official says, a fresh indication that U.S. involvement in the country is not waning in the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UdxMRp)

The Americas

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the Dalai Lama at the White House Wednesday – a now familiar ritual that takes place off-camera and out of the public eye to avoid irking China. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UdyoX5)

Argentine police arrested a former government minister when they caught him trying to hide millions of dollars in cash and jewels at a monastery, officials said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q5fyzH)

Construction of 40 major dams in the Brazilian Amazon would destroy the heart of the world’s largest rainforest, severely affect indigenous people, and is not economically justifiable, says Greenpeace in a major new report. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1UdxQ3o)

Puerto Ricans held somber vigils and prepared to bury many of their own after authorities said nearly half of those killed at a gay nightclub in Florida had ties to the U.S. territory. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Udw8Pv)

El Salvador confirmed its first case of microcephaly in a baby that was linked to a Zika infection in the mother. (AFP http://yhoo.it/263c3h0)

Haiti appeared to enter into another leaderless drift Wednesday as the provisional president’s 120-day mandate came to a close amid backroom negotiations and delays by the deeply polarized country’s political class. (AP http://yhoo.it/263baF9)

…and the rest

More than 3,400 migrants died or were recorded as missing as they tried to cross borders around the globe in the first five months of the year – over 80 percent of them trying to reach Europe by sea, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UjWQCV)

Swedish police on Wednesday arrested four environmental activists who climbed on top of the entrance of the government headquarters disguised as construction workers. (AP http://yhoo.it/1sGI5kt)

Turkey must still do more to meet the EU’s conditions to win visa-free travel for Turks under a migrant crisis deal, for which the deadline is July 1, the European Commission said on Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1twClL9)

The average cost of electricity generated by solar and wind energy could fall by up to 59 percent by 2025 if the right policies are in place, a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S5KWIv)

Brexit: A flotilla of pro-Brexit fishing boats sailed up the River Thames Wednesday ahead of next week’s knife-edge referendum over EU membership, as the government warned of tax hikes and spending cuts if Britain voted to leave. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1UdxJ81)

Opinion/Blogs

Just six years ago at the U.N., these five countries refused to even mention violence against LGBT communities. They have evolved. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Q4x86P)

Did Islamic State claim credit for latest attacks too soon? (AP http://yhoo.it/1VZtZX3)

How can we tolerate anti-LGBTQ rhetoric at a major human rights forum? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1UdrQb3)

Head and heart: Are more generous donors less effective? (CGD http://bit.ly/1rql7wQ)

Unlocking the full potential of the private sector in humanitarian response (Devex http://bit.ly/1S5LuxY)

The breast milk gap (On the Ground http://nyti.ms/1twEwhK)

Why unfair tax treaties hold back developing countries (Guardian http://bit.ly/1rqk3cs)

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