News in the Humanosphere: South Sudanese forces preparing for major offensive, warns U.N.

A government soldier mans a vehicle-mounted machine gun in the oil-rich town of Malakal, South Sudan. (AP Photo/Jacob Zocherman)

The United States was set this week to finally embrace an arms embargo against the world’s newest country to ratchet down the military might of its warring parties and, potentially, help spare the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire of worsening civil war. But the effort, which Washington delayed for more than two years, may now be coming too late. On Wednesday, Keith Harper, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, told diplomats in Geneva that South Sudan’s government has mobilized 4,000 troops to carry out attacks against towns in the country’s southern Equatoria provinces, where he said at least 1,901 homes have been destroyed in fighting over the last two months. “We have credible information that the South Sudanese government is currently targeting civilians in Central Equatoria and preparing for large-scale attacks in the coming days or weeks,” Harper said. (Foreign Policy http://buff.ly/2gYykfR)

World AIDS Day is today…This year’s theme/hashtag: #HIVNotRetro. Also, in advance of World AIDS Day, WHO released new guidelines on HIV self-testing to improve access to and uptake of HIV diagnosis. According to a new WHO progress report lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organization’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy. The report reveals that more than 18 million people with HIV are currently taking ART, and a similar number is still unable to access treatment, the majority of which are unaware of their HIV positive status. (WHO http://bit.ly/2gGY2F8)

Election day in Gambia…Gambia’s president of more than two decades is warning that even peaceful protests will not be permitted after Thursday’s election, a move that comes as people are for the first time speaking out more freely against President Yahya Jammeh’s rule. Jammeh said his victory is all but assured with divine intervention, and warned the opposition against protesting. (AP https://yhoo.it/2g7SxM9)

Top Stories

At least 10,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh in recent weeks after fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar, the United Nations said on Wednesday. (AFP https://yhoo.it/2gJG8za)

Colombia’s Senate approved a new peace deal with FARC rebels late on Tuesday, despite objections from former president and now Senator Alvaro Uribe, who said it was still too lenient on the insurgents who have battled the government for 52 years. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2g7QOqf)

Sudanese anti-riot police on Wednesday fired tear gas and confiscated banners as demonstrators including lawyers and journalists staged rallies against a government decision to cut fuel subsidies. (AFP https://yhoo.it/2gW97Tm)

Zimbabwean riot police used water cannon on Wednesday to scatter 20 activists protesting at the introduction of “bond notes”, a new domestic currency they say could touch off uncontrolled money printing and a return to hyperinflation. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2gJJ8vs)

Greek authorities picked up about 70 migrants, including children, in a snowy forest near the northern city of Thessaloniki on Wednesday, as smugglers turned to previously popular routes into the European Union rather than the sea crossing from Turkey. (AP https://yhoo.it/2glKQoB)

The United Nations issued a fresh warning on Wednesday about the humanitarian situation in eastern Mosul where the U.S.-backed Iraqi army is locked in heavy fighting with Islamic State militants. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2g7Oa3W)

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has warned of an alarming deterioration of human rights and an erosion of international institutions and laws threatening the social cohesion of nations. (VOA http://bit.ly/2gW5UDr)

Afghanistan’s worsening security has forced about 1,000 schools to close this year, more than double last year’s total, adding to problems that children face in getting an education, officials said. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2gJCcyn)

Massive cash shortages in India due to the unprecedented move to scrap high value currency notes have hit hard millions of poor people whose earnings and savings are in cash. (VOA http://bit.ly/2fEIORh)

The latest attempt in the long, frustrating search for a vaccine against HIV began in South Africa on Wednesday, as scientists test a beefed-up version of the only shot ever to show a glimmer of protection. (AP https://yhoo.it/2fEHrCm)

Women’s rights activists on Wednesday urged Nigeria to accelerate efforts to end child marriage after it joined an African Union campaign to eliminate the practice. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2gWbB40)

Texting young women in Kenya with regular information about sex, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases could encourage more to get tested for HIV in a country where stigma surrounding the virus is rife, researchers said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2gWhI8m)

Opinion/Blogs

Studies: Poor people don’t spend cash transfers on booze, cigarettes (Humanosphere http://buff.ly/2gyNRQc)

The first major new HIV vaccine trial in seven years has begun. Will it work? (UN Dispatch http://buff.ly/2g7ZqNn)

Mobilising aid through the private sector can yield high poverty reduction returns (Guardian http://bit.ly/2gyIsIY)

How big is Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis? (AP https://yhoo.it/2gJACMU)

The crisis of multilateralism and the future of humanitarian action (IRIN http://bit.ly/2gW2sIH)

Motherhood in Aleppo: ‘Did I give birth to him to see a life like this?’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/2fS2AHK)

Dengue Vaccine No Silver Bullet but Worth a Shot for Those Who Need it Most (TRF http://bit.ly/2fS4uYK)

Will Leaving His Business “Completely” Solve Trump’s Conflict of Interest Problems? (Global Anticorruption Blog http://buff.ly/2fS7UKV)

Alpine migrant route into France a dead-end for many (IRIN http://bit.ly/2gLjl4Z)

Using the Sustainable Development Goals as a Global Gateway (Engaging Internationally http://buff.ly/2g7WSis)

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