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News in the Humanosphere: Migrants stranded and Thailand doesn’t care

The Spanish coastguard intercepts a traditional fishing boat carrying African migrants off the island of Tenerife in the Canaries. / UNHCR / A. Rodriguez / 24 October 2007

Apparently, a duo of New York Times reporters spotted a shipful of Rohingya migrants who had been adrift at sea. The journalists then alerted the Thai Navy…which did nothing. There are some 6,000 Rohingya believed to be at sea right now, and no country is taking them in. Some countries have even pushed them away. “The green and red fishing boat, packed with men, women and children squatting on the deck with only plastic tarps to protect them from the sun, had been turned away by the Malaysian authorities on Wednesday, passengers said. They said that they had been on the boat for three months, and that the boat’s captain and crew had abandoned them six days ago. Ten passengers died during the voyage and their bodies were thrown overboard, the passengers said.” (NYT

Making a Bad Situation Worse
”A new law that would force aid agencies working in South Sudan to ensure that no more than a fifth of their staff are foreigners could cost lives and have “catastrophic effects” on those most at risk in the aid-dependent and conflict-riven nation, a group of NGOs has warned. On Wednesday, South Sudan’s parliament passed the non-governmental organisations (NGO) bill, which, according to the office of the president, Salva Kiir, is intended “to regulate the NGOs, international and local”. Although the bill is still awaiting Kiir’s signature, the South Sudan NGO Forumfears it could jeopardise humanitarian operations once enacted.” (Guardian

And in better news
Armed groups in Central African Republic released more than 300 enslaved children on Thursday as part of a United Nations-brokered deal as the country turns to healing after two years of conflict. (Reuters

Burundi Coup Crisis

Heavy fighting between rival Burundian troops erupted in the capital on Thursday, the day after a top general launched a coup to oust the central African nation’s President Pierre Nkurunziza. (AFP

President Pierre Nkurunziza returned to Burundi on Thursday, his office said, after the army chief declared that an attempted coup staged when the east African leader was abroad had failed. (Reuters

The African Union said it condemned any attempt to seize power through violence in Burundi and called for dialogue to resolve the country’s political crisis, according to a statement by the AU Peace and Security Council on Thursday. (Reuters


At least three soldiers, six vigilantes and dozens of Boko Haram insurgents have been killed during clashes in the restive northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, sources said on Thursday. (AFP

Twenty-three people have been killed in two new massacres blamed on Ugandan rebels in the restless east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a regional official said. (AFP

Mali’s main Tuareg-led rebel alliance initialed a peace agreement with the government Thursday but demanded changes before signing a deal to end decades of conflict in the west African nation. (AFP

Some 12,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Burkina Faso who rely on food aid are at risk of food insecurity and health problems this year if programs don’t receive the required level of funding, local and international aid agencies warn. (IRIN

The United Nations is sending up to 18 flights a day into South Sudan carrying seeds, tools and fishing equipment to allow desperate farmers to sow crops as the planting season begins in the conflict-ravaged country. (TRF

Uganda’s leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of holding an illegal meeting, police said, a move the opposition said was meant to intimidate them ahead of next year’s elections. (Reuters


The United Nations Thursday appealed to all sides in the Yemen conflict to respect a fragile five-day truce in the country in a bid to boost the delivery of sorely-needed aid. (AFP

An extremist group based in the Sahara desert known for carrying out terror attacks in Algeria, Mali and Niger appears to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group after years with its rival, al-Qaida. (AP

More than 700 potential terror suspects have traveled to Syria from the U.K. to fight or support extremists, and about half are believed to have returned, British police said Thursday. (AP


A clearer picture is emerging of the attack on a Kabul guesthouse that left 14 people dead, including many foreigners. (WaPo

Nepal has been overwhelmed by its second powerful earthquake in less than three weeks, its prime minister said Thursday as he visited this normally placid foothills town, now filling up with frightened villagers desperate for government help. (AP

Police in Moscow have briefly detained eight activists who picketed outside the presidential administration’s headquarters to protest the high cost of HIV treatments in Russia. (AP

Punjab province is set to launch an innovation for water-short Pakistan: Solar-powered ATMs that dispense clean water when a smart card is scanned. (TRF

Indonesia has extended a landmark moratorium aimed at preserving the archipelago’s vast swathes of tropical rainforest, but environmentalists said on Thursday the logging ban did not go far enough. (AFP

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister on Thursday said he was shocked by an announcement from former colonial ruler Australia that it might open a diplomatic mission in the restive island of Bougainville, where a referendum on independence is scheduled. (Reuters

The Americas

In spite of strides in social progress, Latin America’s maternal mortality rates remain unacceptable, and many of the deaths are avoidable, occurring partly because of neglect of the prescriptions provided by experts: preventive action and health promotion. (IPS

An elections committee in Haiti has rejected first lady Sophia Martelly’s bid to run for Senate. (AP

Colombian crews resumed efforts Thursday to rescue at least 15 workers trapped in a mine collapse, as authorities launched an investigation into the owners of the unlicensed gold mine. (AFP

...and the rest

The global pharmaceutical industry should set up a $2 billion global innovation fund to help kickstart research into developing more resistant antibiotics, experts said on Thursday. (AFP

A U.N. deal to combat global warming due in December will seek to lift world economic growth and be based more on encouragement than threats of punishment for non-compliance, the U.N.’s climate chief said. (Reuters


The U.N. at 70:  Is It Still Fit for the Purpose? (IPS

Status quo won’t end extreme poverty by 2030, say experts (Humanosphere

Qatar: how have conditions for migrant workers changed in nine key areas? (Guardian

The “University Report Card” Highlights Need for more University Research into Neglected Diseases (Policy Innovations

Who Needs a Secular State? (Reinventing Peace

Why Central African Republic’s Hybrid Tribunal Could be a Game-Changer (Justice in Conflict

Burundi protests play out on social media as users ask #WhereisNkurunziza (Guardian

Who will be the Next President of the African Development Bank? (Development Diaries

How do we get better at learning from history? (From Poverty to Power

Financing for Development: This year’s big debate (Virtual Economics

Migration is capitalism’s unfinished business – it cannot and should not be stopped (ODI

Am I a coup d’état? A checklist on Burundi’s May 13 (Eyes Wide Open


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]