News in the Humanosphere: Controversy over World Vision’s use of militia to deliver aid to Syrians

Satellite image of Syrian asylum seeker encampment, Rukban, Jordan. Image taken on morning of December 5, 2015. (Credit: CNES 2015 / Distribution Airbus DS)

Some 70,000 Syrians are stranded in a demilitarized zone on the Jordan-Syria border, with aid severely limited and subject to tight restrictions. While the U.N. delivers assistance by crane or by contractor, the US NGO World Vision is taking a different and controversial approach: using a “moderate” Syrian militia to help bring in supplies. World Vision has opted to pay a logistics contractor affiliated with a militia run by Syrian businessman Rakan Khdeir and backed by Jordan. Khdeir’s militia provides armed protection. While this route has its critics, the NGO says it’s effective and getting aid where it needs to go. And, according to one well-placed source, one of the U.N.’s contractors, First Technical Support Company, is in fact paying the same militia to provide security for its own food distribution. (IRIN http://bit.ly/2jyrmfm)

Gag rule? We don’t need no stinkin’ gag rule funds…Up to 20 countries have indicated support for the Netherlands’ plan to set up an international safe abortion fund to plug a $600 million funding gap caused by Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the “global gag rule,” the Dutch international development minister, Lilianne Ploumen, said on Wednesday. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2jSFjFC)

Final three…The World Health Organization on Wednesday picked three finalists for the role of its next director-general, a high-stakes choice for the powerful agency described as facing an “existential crisis.” After a day of interviews, WHO’s executive board chose U.N. veteran David Nabarro of Britain, ex-Pakistani health minister Sania Nishtar and senior Ethiopian politician Tedros Adhanom. France’s former foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and Italy’s Flavia Bustreo, a current WHO deputy chief, were eliminated. (AFP https://yhoo.it/2jyt2Fo)

Top Stories

President Donald Trump has issued an executive order for an “impassable physical barrier” to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico. (BBC http://bbc.in/2jg9GE1)

Ninety Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, witnesses and officials said Wednesday. (VOA http://bit.ly/2k4OZ2q)

Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, is ready to call a bilateral ceasefire with the government while they negotiate an end to five decades of war, a guerrilla negotiator said on Tuesday. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2k4JgtI)

A new joint action between UNICEF and the European Union will support more than 6000 refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied minors, across Greece. (ECHO http://bit.ly/2jyjwSQ)

A legal showdown is looming in Pakistan as NGOs petition the courts to squelch interior ministry orders to cease operations for allegedly “pursing an anti-state agenda.” (IRIN http://bit.ly/2jyjBGl)

The worst wildfires in Chile’s modern history are ravaging wide swaths of the country’s central-south regions, as a massive Boeing 747-400 Super Tanker arrived on Wednesday on loan from the United States to help extinguish the blazes. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2k4L71G)

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, who was inaugurated in neighboring Senegal as mediators engineered an exit deal for longstanding ruler Yahya Jammeh, is to return to Gambia on Thursday, a senior aide said. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2k4Jtgv)

A wave of recent arrivals from Haiti and Venezuela has spurred Chile’s presidential candidates to tap into and stoke anti-immigrant sentiment, turning it into a key issue in the campaign for the Nov. 19 election. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2j5ZfYx)

As the crisis in Syria approaches its sixth anniversary, the U.N. says 93 percent of refugee households in Lebanon don’t have enough food. When families can’t afford the basics, sending children out to work is one potentially dangerous way they try to cope. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2k50gjh)

The European Union hopes to stop the flow of migrants on the central Mediterranean route by spending more than $214 million to train the Libyan coast guard and fight people smugglers. (VOA http://bit.ly/2k1oyuc)

Officials from President Donald Trump’s administration are currently reviewing the content of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, but have no immediate plans to remove the website content on climate change, The Hill quoted an EPA spokesman as saying on Wednesday. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2jyuaJb)

Opinion/Blogs

Influenza is a threat every year, but this flu season has the WHO on “high alert” (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2kulGHs)

Trump’s Global Gag a Devastating Blow for Women’s Rights (IPS http://bit.ly/2jyl2Eo)

How to spend aid in fragile countries (Roving Bandit http://bit.ly/2jyr1cp)

Cop-out or vital lifeline? Massive EU cash aid programme rolls out for refugees in Turkey (IRIN http://bit.ly/2j5V6Ur)

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