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News in the Humanosphere: Security Council weighs sanctions for South Sudan

The United States has made no secret that it wants to sanction individuals who are impeding the peace process in South Sudan.  But the person overseeing the fledgling peace talks is not that interested. This dilemma is sure to play out over the next few days, with potentially profound consequences. “Seyoum Mesfin, chief mediator of the East African bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said peace was more important than sanctions. “We are not interested in punishing, we are only interested in achieving peace,” Seyoum said. However, the U.S. delegation to the United Nations has told members of the Security Council it will circulate a draft resolution to establish a “mechanism for targeting individuals undermining South Sudan’s political stability and abusing human rights.” (Reuters

Sex abuse scandal fallout: Uganda has suspended 15 of its senior military commanders over their conduct in Somalia including allegations of sexual exploitation, the army said Thursday. The action comes in the wake of a damning report by Human Rights Watch that has accused troops with the internationally funded African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM, of preying on vulnerable women and girls.  (Yahoo

New from the International Crisis Group:  Turkey and the PKK: Saving the Peace Process, which argues that as progress over nine years toward peace between the Turkish government and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgents hangs in the balance, both sides must set aside external pretexts and domestic inertia and seize the opportunity of having powerful, popular leaders on both sides who can agree and implement a peace agreement whose outlines are clearer than ever.

Quote of the day. A Tweet from Bill Easterly, linking to criticism of Jim Kim by the president of the Center for Global Development. Tweeteth Easterly: “Is the very calm and centrist Nancy Birdsall joining the protests against World Bank President Jim Kim?”  The tweet:


The WHO said the number of new Ebola infections in West Africa is about the same as it was the week before, with a rise in some areas and a decline in others. Reports from Sierra Leone found the number of new Ebola cases has risen drastically in the past weeks. (VOA

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists has called on President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government to either release radio talk show host David Tam Baryoh or hospitalize him because they say his life is at risk. (VOA

The fight against the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa seems to be hanging in the balance as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Abubakar Fofana told IPS that the government is overwhelmed by the outbreak. (IPS

The European Union and drugmakers pledged on Thursday to invest $350 million in Ebola research, with the lion’s share going to the testing and manufacturing of potential vaccines. (VOA

Two new U.S. Ebola treatment facilities are expected to open in Liberia over the next week. One is a 25-bed field hospital near Monrovia’s airport, specifically to treat local health care workers who get infected. The other is a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit in the town of Tubmanburg, north of Monrovia. (NPR


Eight people were killed and at least two more are believed to be trapped under rubble after a building in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital of Abidjan collapsed on workers who were demolishing it, a senior city official said on Thursday. (Reuters

The Nigerian army has released 42 suspected members of Boko Haram after they were cleared of involvement in the militant group’s activities. (VOA

Close to 100,000 Central African Republicans who fled violence at home are taking refuge in Cameroon. But many are finding life in the refugee camps also difficult. (VOA

Community and human rights advocates in Kenya are wary of a new mining bill that is on the verge of being passed into law. (Guardian

With annual economic growth rates of over 10 percent and attractive investment conditions due to low infrastructural and labor costs, Ethiopia is eagerly trying to rise from the status of low-income to middle-income country in the next 10 years. (IPS

A new report claims a delegation of Chinese President Xi Jinping illegally purchased thousands of kilograms of ivory during a 2013 visit to Tanzania. The accusation was made Thursday in an Environmental Investigation Agency report that said Chinese demand for ivory is devastating Tanzania’s elephant population. (VOA

African maritime boundary disputes are expected to rise dramatically, potentially curbing exploration and creating uncertainty in ownership over tens of billions of barrels of oil, industry experts say. (Reuters

Uganda should stagger its planned energy and transport projects to avoid fueling inflation and hogging bank credit, an International Monetary Fund official told Reuters on Thursday. (Reuters


U.S. aircraft bombed al-Qaida’s Syrian branch as well as another hard-line rebel faction in northwestern Syria early on Thursday, activists said, in an apparent widening of targets of the American-led coalition against the Islamic State extremist group. (AP

Israeli forces may have committed war crimes when they stormed an aid flotilla boat heading to Gaza, but the possible crimes aren’t grave enough to merit a prosecution at the International Criminal Court, the court’s prosecutor said Thursday. (HuffPo

Islamic State militants are booby-trapping land and buildings with improvised explosive device, creating new misery for displaced Iraqi families trying to return home and adding to dangers for government forces working on the front line. (IRIN

Winter has not yet hit in Aleppo, Syria, but children are already attending classes in winter coats and stocking hats. Cold, damp underground education facilities are less exposed to regime barrel bombs and airstrikes but necessitate greater bundling to prevent common seasonal viruses from taking hold in a city from which most doctors have fled or been killed. (IPS

Libya’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared the internationally recognized parliament as unconstitutional, in a ruling likely to fuel further chaos in the north African oil producing nation. (Reuters


An independent investigation by the Harvard Law School has found that troops commanded by Myanmar’s powerful interior minister and two other senior officials tortured and killed civilians over six years ago while fighting an ethnic rebellion. (Reuters

The Americas

The bodies of dead women and girls pulled from clandestine graves in El Salvador, raped, battered and sometimes cut to pieces, attest to the sadistic abuse committed by members of street gangs. (AP

Brazilian authorities investigate reports that off-duty policemen went on a six-hour killing spree in the city of Belem to avenge a dead officer. (BBC

Latin America’s efforts to manage its fresh water supplies are being frustrated by poor infrastructure, a lack of sewerage systems and inconsistent regulation, according to the head of one of the world’s largest beverage and brewing companies. (Guardian

The government of Trinidad and Tobago says it plans to crack down on the estimated 110,000 migrants living in the twin-island nation illegally — even knocking on doors to track them down. (AP


The world is still far from the finish line on Ebola (The Washington Post

Ebola vaccine story shows folly of free-market drugs (The Globe and Mail

Sudanese government now stealing people’s blood? (Wronging Rights

What really happens to your donated clothing? (Sustainable Apparel Consultant

5 newly elected Republicans who should really stop talking about foreign policy (GlobalPost

The revolution in Burkina Faso is a huge deal. Here’s what you need to know about it (GlobalPost

For Azerbaijan, time to address the potential Salafi danger (IPS

Will Republicans choose to lead on the Bretton Woods institutions? (CGD


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]