News in the Humanosphere: Afghan kidnappers release Australian aid worker

Man carries bag away at a wheat seed distribution event for the International Relief and Development-managed AVIPA Plus program in Afghanistan. (Credit: USAID Afghanistan)

An Australian aid worker, kidnapped in Afghanistan in November, has been released. Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, confirmed that the woman was released in Kabul. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement confirming the release. “We thank the authorities in Afghanistan for their support and assistance,” the statement said. “Her family welcomes her safe return and asks that the media respect their privacy at this time,” it added. The woman was kidnapped at gunpoint in one of Kabul’s upscale neighborhoods. Kidnappings, mostly for ransom, are considered one of the biggest risks for foreigners working in the country. Criminal gangs often kidnap people and sometimes sell them to insurgent groups like the Taliban. (VOA http://bit.ly/2ns2sDD)

Letter Bomb Sent to IMF… A female employee of the International Monetary Fund suffered injuries to her face and arms on Thursday when a letter bomb mailed from Greece and addressed to the world lender’s European representative blew up as she opened it, officials said. The letter, which had arrived by mail, exploded as it was opened by a secretary at the institution’s office in an upscale part of Paris. The secretary, whose hearing was also affected, was receiving treatment but her injuries were not life-threatening, Paris police chief Michel Cadot told reporters. (Reuters http://reut.rs/2mzf7QX)

Top Stories

Gunmen attacked an aid convoy in famine-hit South Sudan, killing two people and wounding three, the International Organization for Migration said on Thursday. The attack underscored the dangers confronting aid agencies in the world’s youngest country at a time nearly half its population, or about 5.5 million people, face food shortages. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2nwHErh)

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests across Brazil against planned reforms to the pension system. In the capital Brasilia, hundreds occupied the finance ministry, while in Sao Paulo, demonstrators brought traffic to a standstill. (BBC http://bbc.in/2neyIK1)

Aid agencies warned that Yemen is “at the point of no return” after new figures released by the UN indicated 17 million people are facing severe food insecurity and will fall prey to famine without urgent humanitarian assistance. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2n3wU68)

The United Nations says half of the population in the Central African Republic is in need of humanitarian assistance after an increase in violence since September has displaced more than 400,000 people. (VOA http://bit.ly/2ns8lAH)

With the humanitarian response to Somalia’s food crisis lagging, communities have turned to social media to identify families in need of urgent help. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2n3HjhW)

Banks could revolutionize the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery by reporting suspicious transactions and other financial activity that ring alarm bells, according to a report. (VOA http://bit.ly/2ns8qEv)

The United Nations has announced an Arab-heavy shortlist for candidates to replace Bulgarian Irina Bokova as head of the world body’s cultural agency., UNESCO (AP http://bit.ly/2nsesox)

Increasing travel restrictions prevented delegates from attending this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, according to several women’s rights groups. (IPS http://bit.ly/2neyzWO)

Opinion/Blogs

The White House Budget (If Passed) Would Destroy the Post World War Two World Order (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2m6qYd6)

Wilders loss only a temporary setback for nationalism in the West (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/2mz2Goq)

Three flawed ideas are hurting international peacebuilding (Monkey Cage http://wapo.st/2nssSVH)

Q&A with Tony Fauci on the state of pandemic security (Devex http://bit.ly/2m6xL6H)

US funding for the UN – in charts (IRIN http://bit.ly/2n3CGVn)

The impact of cash transfers on women and girls (ODI http://bit.ly/2mNLr3K)

Trump’s Planned Reduction in Refugees May Hit Myanmar Worst (AP http://bit.ly/2nse2hU)

Face to face with the Eritrean exodus into Ethiopia (IRIN http://bit.ly/2myAvGl)

OECD Development Assistance Committee to begin reforms under new chair (Devex http://bit.ly/2mNKokn)

The UN’s Shame and Haiti’s Suffering (Blood and Milk http://bit.ly/2m6jEOT)

Robots threaten jobs for the poor (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/2mzacQ3)

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