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News in the Humanosphere: Several hundred children feared kidnapped by Boko Haram

A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and obtained by AFP shows the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (C). AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM

Boko Haram militants have kidnapped more than 400 women and children from the northern Nigerian town of Damasak that was freed this month by troops from Niger and Chad, residents said on Tuesday. “They took 506 young women and children (in Damasak). They killed about 50 of them before leaving,” a trader called Souleymane Ali told Reuters in the town. “We don’t know if they killed others after leaving, but they took the rest with them.” (Reuters

World unites against multidrug-resistant TB
The world’s leading medical organizations are coming together to bring new TB treatments to more than 2,600 patients in 16 countries who are diagnosed with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. “This is an airborne disease, if you live in an overcrowded place with very little light coming in, and people don’t go for TB screening, if you are living with someone who is coughing, you are likely get TB again, its an airborne disease it can be transmitted from person to person if the person is infected,” said Hussein Kerrow of Doctors Without Borders. (VOA

A Victory for LGBT Rights at the U.N.
LGBT rights secured a major bureaucratic victory at the United Nations today when member states overwhelmingly voted down a Russian-backed proposal to curtail benefits afforded to the same-sex spouses of U.N. staff. (UN Dispatch

Stat of the day: 82 percent
Nigeria’s electoral commission head Attahiru Jega said on Tuesday about 56.7 million voter cards had been collected, representing about 82 percent of the registered electorate, by the close of distribution ahead of a March 28 election. (Reuters


The European Union said on Tuesday it hopes development aid to Eritrea will stem a growing exodus of Eritreans attempting the dangerous journey to Europe to claim asylum there. (Reuters

The Nigerian federal high court in Lagos has barred the military from deploying around polling stations during March 28 national elections, the lawyer for the parliamentarian who brought the case said on Tuesday. (Reuters

A woman was killed on Kenya’s coast on Monday when demonstrators opposing higher local business taxes clashed with riot police, police and residents said. (Reuters

A new training Kenyan schoolboys on how to prevent sexual assault is “highly effective” in improving attitudes towards women and increasing the likelihood of successful intervention, researchers from Stanford University, University of Nairobi and United States International University-Africa said. (TRF

Google and Facebook are at the forefront of a scramble to win over new African Internet users, offering freebies they say give a leg up to the poor but which critics argue is a plan to lock in customers on a continent of 1 billion people. (Reuters

A $60 million project that brings two new drugs to the treatment of TB offers hope to Ethiopians with the multidrug resistant form of the disease. (Guardian

With Uganda expecting 60,000 new cases of TB a year, small private clinics in the slums of Kampala have become the focus for fighting the disease. (Guardian

Kenya plans to build a new road, more border crossings and barriers on its 420 mile border with Somalia in an attempt to thwart attacks from the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, the interior ministry said. (Reuters

A pioneering solar-powered water distribution system is improving access to potable water in a region of far north Cameroon beset by drought, water-related illness and an influx of refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks. (TRF

The leaders of the three main Guinean opposition parties met in Paris Tuesday and called for renewed protests against President Alpha Conde, who they claimed has “lost all legitimacy.” (AFP

South Sudan

A 9-year-old girl was among hundreds of child soldiers freed in South Sudan over the last three days, part of the largest ever release of child fighters in the world’s youngest nation, the United Nations said. (Reuters

With the rainy season coming, South Sudan’s peace talks at a standstill and more refugees expected to cross into Ethiopia, the U.N. refugee agency will relocate 50,000 South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, currently stuck in flooded camps, to new areas.  The relocation is due to take place next week. (VOA

The head of the United Nations’ World Food Program warned during a visit to South Sudan that famine could be declared in parts of the country and an entire generation could be lost to violence and hunger if 15 months of fighting does not end soon. (VOA


UNHCR has placed an order for 10,000 flat-pack refugee shelters designed by a social enterprise arm of furniture giant IKEA, with first delivery planned within months to camps across Iraq, where some 2.5 million people have been displaced by conflict. (IRIN

A presidential vacuum and deadlocked institutions are impeding $182 million in French development aid to Lebanon, a French minister said. (AFP

The people of Syria feel “increasingly abandoned by the world” as global attention focuses on Islamic State militants, while violence and government bureaucracy hinder attempts to deliver aid to 12 million people, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. (Reuters


Rising multidrug resistance in patients suffering from tuberculosis  has led to a public health emergency in the southwest Pacific Island state of Papua New Guinea, according to state officials. (IPS

A senior member of Myanmar’s government has said members of the U.S.-based Carter Center and the European Union will be invited to monitor a general election later this year, the first time in at least 65 years that the country will call in Western poll observers. (Reuters

The death of Lee Kuan Yew has generated calls for Singapore to escape the shadow of its authoritarian founder and his “culture of fear,” and begin a debate on embracing freedoms needed to power growth and innovation. (AFP

India’s top court Tuesday struck down a controversial law that made posting “offensive” comments online punishable by jail, a rare victory for free speech campaigners in a country criticized for a series of recent bans. (AFP

The Americas

Rescue brigades initiated today the missing people search under the avalanches caused by a torrential rain to the east of Peru’s capital, which caused seven deaths and blocked an important highway. (Prensa Latina

About 113.4 million people live poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, reported the Habitat International Coalition addressing the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Costa Rica. (Prensa Latina

The Obama administration has again invited Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff for a state visit to Washington, a diplomatic breakthrough that both sides hope will lead over time to greater trade between the two biggest economies in the Americas. (Reuters

A Brazilian judge accepted federal prosecutors’ corruption charges against the treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party in connection to a sprawling graft scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras. (AP

With 500 days to go until the 2016 Olympics begin, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor acknowledged that the much-touted goal of cleaning up the city’s blighted waterways for the games would likely not be met. (AP

Guatemala and Honduras have set up a joint border task force to fight criminal gangs and tackle other causes of migration as part of an attempt to reduce the number of people headed north to the United States, officials said. (AP

...and the rest

The United Nations aviation agency is mulling whether to take the unusual step of helping countries draft domestic rules for integrating drones into regular airspace, an official said. (Reuters

The world needs to wake up to “the ticking time bomb” of youth unemployment in developing countries and treat the issue as seriously as humanitarian disasters and global efforts to eradicate disease, a group of British MPs has warned. (Guardian

Activists in Seattle and London held demonstrations on Monday to protest efforts by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and others to privatize seeds as part of a push to industrialize farming in Africa. (Humanosphere

A team of 17 cancer experts assembled by the World Health Organization has ruled the most commonly used herbicide a “probable carcinogen.” Glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller—was developed by Monsanto in the 1970s. (KBIA


Obama on erasing the military-foreign aid divide (Humanosphere

Billion Dollar U.S.-Backed New Alliance Threatens Evictions in Tanzania (Huffington Post

How I escaped marrying a Boko Haram fighter (Al Jazeera America

A loophole in the slavery bill could allow companies to hide supply chain abuses (Guardian

TB Patients That The World Writes Off Are Getting Cured In Peru (Goats and Soda

R.I.P. Chinua Achebe, again: The unstuck-in-time life of social media (Neiman Lab

When reliable information is gold: Demanding the truth during the Ebola epidemic (Oxfam America

It’s been almost 5 years since Indonesia’s smoking child went viral. And the problem has only gotten worse (GlobalPost

The Scourge of Illegal Wildlife Trade (IPS

Brazil’s elites are revolting (Al Jazeera America

Suggested Readings 19 : Doing Development Differently (UNICEF

In Denial Over Racism in Brazil (NY Times

Sharing the Vision of a Changed World (Inter Press Service

Why The War On Cancer Hasn’t Been Won (NPR Shots


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]