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News in the Humanosphere: Vanuatu nearly obliterated by storm

(Credit: Polly/flickr)

A powerful, category 5 storm has left most of the entire population of the small island pacific country homeless. Emergency responders are beginning to arrive on the scene from Australia and New Zealand, but the signs point to a totally catastrophic event that may forever change the course of this country’s history. “Aid has begun arriving on the cyclone-battered Vanuatu archipelago but early reports of damage from category 5 Cyclone Pam are bad, as aid workers say their efforts are being hampered by the scale of the disaster. A pilot who flew over Erromango island and landed on Tanna, told the Red Cross that residents were worried about access to clean drinking water, that all communications were out, and that their communities looked ‘flattened.’ ‘What he told me is that he could land – that was the first positive,’ said Aurelia Balpe, head of the Pacific office for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.” (The Australian

10 Partners in Health Ebola Workers in Isolation
With word than an Ebola fighter with Partners in Health was sickened with Ebola in Sierra Leone, 10 of the workers colleagues have been flown to the United States to undergo isolation. “Ten clinicians who came to the aid of their ailing colleague were subsequently identified as contacts of the evacuated clinician. These individuals remain asymptomatic for Ebola virus disease. Out of an abundance of caution, and in collaboration with the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, these clinicians are being transported to the United States via noncommercial aircraft. They will remain in isolation near designated U.S. Ebola treatment facilities to ensure access to rapid testing and treatment in the unlikely instance that any become symptomatic. The clinicians have agreed to be monitored, and will voluntarily self-isolate during the remainder of the 21-day incubation period, in accordance with CDC guidelines.” (PIH


The conviction of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s allies for their role in the violence that followed the 2011 election in Ivory Coast has deepened a rift in his party that risks radicalizing hardliners ahead of polls this year in the world’s top cocoa grower, analysts say. (Reuters

Security forces in Democratic Republic of Congo arrested a U.S. diplomat along with pro-democracy activists, journalists and musicians on Sunday following a news conference in the capital Kinshasa, a government spokesman and witnesses said. (Reuters

At least 45 villagers were killed in a dawn raid Sunday by suspected herdsmen in Nigeria’s central Benue state, a police spokesman and a legislator said. (AFP

Boko Haram Islamists have set fire to homes in Nigeria’s northeast town of Bama that are under their control, forcing residents to flee as troops advance to recapture it, witnesses said Sunday. (AFP


Down-to-the-wire negotiations to restrict Iran’s nuclear program and ease sanctions are ready to kick off under the pressure of a self-imposed deadline only two weeks away. (WaPo

Evidence collected by Human Rights Watch show that widely banned cluster bombs have been used in Libya’s conflict between two rival governments fighting for control of the North African country, the New York-based group said on Sunday. (Reuters

Egypt’s president claimed broad support from the international community for his vision of the future on Sunday, in a boisterous speech to an investor conference that saw billions pledged to boost an economy left battered by four years of turmoil following a popular uprising. (VOA

More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria in four years of conflict, a monitoring group said on Sunday as the brutal civil war entered its fifth year. (AFP


Fourteen people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Pakistan’s Lahore on Sunday, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died. (SMH

Foreign domestic workers flock to Singapore in search of better paid jobs to support their families. But in the confines of private homes many are facing daily abuse at the hands of their employers. (GlobalPost

Premier Li Keqiang expressed determination Sunday to press ahead with reforms meant to reduce the Chinese government’s role in the world’s second-largest economy in hopes of spurring growth despite what he acknowledged would be pain for “vested interests” that benefit from regulation. (AP

The Americas

More than 1 million demonstrators marched in cities and towns across Brazil on Sunday to protest a sluggish economy, rising prices and corruption – and to call for the impeachment of leftist President Dilma Rousseff. (Reuters

A U.S. delegation travels to Cuba Sunday for a third round of talks between the two countries about re-establishing diplomatic relations and easing economic and travel sanctions imposed decades ago. (VOA

Venezuela on Saturday staged a military exercise to counter an alleged U.S. threat, deploying soldiers and partisans across the country to march, man shoulder-fired missiles and defend an oil refinery from a simulated attack. (Reuters

...and the rest

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups in Central and Eastern Europe, which still faced mixed prospects as they fight for rights and acceptance, are now taking some heart from the “failure” of a referendum in Slovakia, a member of the European Union. (IPS

As emergency assistance begins to arrive in cyclone devastated Vanuatu, an international conference on disaster risk reduction considered actions to assist threatened Pacific island nations in warding off future disasters. (VOA


Mercy Corps Chief Neal Keny-Guyer says most aid fails to address root causes (Humanosphere

Numbers don’t lie: Syrians are being abandoned by the rest of the world (UN Dispatch

Why Israelis are falling out of love with Benjamin Netanyahu (GlobalPost

Never mind development, here’s Nirvana  (Roving Bandit

Can greater transparency help people hold big corporations to account? Some new tools that may help (From Poverty to Power

International collaboration vital in reducing impact of natural disasters (Guardian

Why We Dev with J. (part 3): Let’s get personal (WhyDev

You’ll (very likely) be surprised by this fact (Mind the Gap

New steps in disaster risk reduction (USAID Impact

Private security guards outnumber the police and army in South Africa (An Africanist Perspective


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]