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News in the Humanosphere: Uncertainty lingers day after coup in Burundi

Burundi refugees at the Mahama refugee camp, Rwanda. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Thomas Conan

For now, the situation in the Burundian capital city of Bujumbura is calm. Though it’s unclear right now the extent to which the coup attempt enjoys broad support by the military elite. “[President Pierre Nkurunziza] left a summit he was attending in Tanzania to try to return home but some unconfirmed reports say his plane has now returned to Tanzania. [Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare] said in a radio address he had ordered “the closure of the airport and border, and I ask every citizen and law enforcement down to the airport to protect it”. (BBC

A 20-minute podcast explainer in which journalist Jonathan Rosen discusses the roots of the conflict, explains why what happens in Burundi matters to international relations, and makes the compelling case that this is not an “ethnic” conflict but at its heart a political crisis. (Global Dispatches Podcast

And here is a storify tracking the latest developments on the coup:

Who pushes back a boatload full of desperate refugees?
Thousands of Rohingya refugees are stranded at sea, and some countries are not letting them dock. “The U.N. refugee agency is extremely alarmed at reports suggesting that Indonesia and Malaysia may have pushed back boats carrying vulnerable people from Myanmar and Bangladesh. On Monday the Indonesian navy stated that it had escorted a boat out to sea, although it is not clear if this represents a change in the government’s policy. Yesterday Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency announced that it would not let foreign ships dock unless they are unseaworthy and sinking.” (UN Refugee Agency

A boat crammed with more than 500 refugees, likely Rohingya and Bangladeshis, was found Wednesday off the coast of Penang island in northern Malaysia, a person involved in the situation said. (AP


Benin’s minister for energy and water resigned following allegations from the Netherlands of massive fraud in drinking water projects, the government confirmed on Wednesday. (AFP

A Ugandan Islamist rebel group committed human rights abuses in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last year that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday. (Reuters

South Africa temporarily halted the deportation of 200 foreigners on Tuesday after a legal challenge by a human rights group, which said authorities were unfairly targeting them following antimigrant riots in which seven people were killed. (Reuters

South Sudan has passed a law forcing aid agencies to ensure no more than a fifth of their staff are foreigners, the president’s spokesman said Wednesday. (AFP

Stacked with rockets and machine guns, dozens of trucks seized from rebels lined the main square of South Darfur’s state capital. Proof, Khartoum says, that its forces dealt insurgents a knockout blow. (AFP

Ethiopia plans to begin exporting renewable energy to a broader range of neighboring nations by 2018 as part of a cross-border effort to meet regional energy demand and limit increases in climate-changing emissions. (TRF

Poor weather has resulted in a small, low-quality cocoa crop in several of Ivory Coast’s top growing regions, cutting farmers’ earnings and leaving them struggling to prepare for next season, they said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Child malnutrition costs Malawi about $600 million a year, with more than half of children ages between 18 and 23 months suffering from stunted growth, according to a new report released on Wednesday. (AFP


The U.N.’s food agency warned Wednesday that the situation in Yemen was “catastrophic”, as aid agencies rushed to take advantage of a temporary ceasefire to help desperate civilians. (AFP

King Salman doubled Saudi Arabia’s Yemen aid commitment to $540 million on Wednesday, the first day of a humanitarian pause in a bombing campaign it has led against neighbouring rebels. (AFP

Investigators and lawyers said Wednesday that they have built war crimes cases against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and key institutions of his regime with documents smuggled out of the country.” (AFP


A fire at a Philippine rubber slipper factory killed 31 workers on Wednesday and dozens were missing and feared dead, government and fire officials said. (Reuters

India’s government moved Wednesday to toughen child labor laws in a country where millions of youngsters work long hours, often in poor conditions, but activists slammed the steps as inadequate. (AFP

Police abuse of criminal suspects to extract confessions in China is a serious problem despite measures to reform the legal system such as moves to exclude evidence obtained through torture, Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday. (AP

A daylong search failed to find a missing U.S. Marine helicopter on Wednesday, a day after the second Nepal earthquake in less than three weeks killed scores and triggered landslides across the Himalayan nation. (Reuters

The powerful 7.3-magnitude tremor that struck Nepal this week left an already traumatized population gripped by even deeper fear, underlining concerns that the country is ill-prepared to cope with the mental side effects. (Reuters

More than 10,000 workers at a state-owned machinery manufacturer in southern China are protesting low wages and company plans to lay off thousands of staff after posting losses for three years, employees said Wednesday. (AP

The Americas

An epidemic of dengue fever is fanning public anger over what Brazilians say is President Dilma Rousseff’s biggest challenge – the sad state of the national health-care system. (Reuters

The French president has pledged investment to Haiti, but steered clear of the reparations some in the former colony are demanding from Paris. In the capital Port-au-Prince, Francois Hollande said France would spend $145 million on development projects. (BBC

...and the rest

Debt relief campaigners called on world financial leaders on Tuesday to find a global plan to improve budget transparency in developing nations and drastically reduce poverty while in talks this week ahead of a July summit. (TRF

More than 620 NGOs, a hefty coalition of mostly international water activists, are complaining that a proposed political declaration for the U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda is set to marginalize water and sanitation. (IPS


What happens next in Burundi could transform the whole region (GlobalPost

Global Geneva’s annual NGO ranking shows that the “white savior” status quo remains intact (Africa is a Country

Requiem for Australia’s aid program in Africa (DevPolicy

Can aid agencies help systems fix themselves? The implications of complexity for development cooperation (From Poverty to Power

Burundi is in the midst of a coup. Will that prevent mass violence — or make it worse? (Vox

U.S. Failings Exposed in U.N. Human Rights Review (Inter Press Service

Will NGO bill restrict aid efforts in South Sudan? (IRIN

Coup attempted in Burundi: people to follow on Twitter (Rachel Strohm


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]