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News in the Humanosphere: Avian flu strikes West Africa

credit: Gigi Ibrahim/flickr

The U.N. Food and Agriculture organization has not yet predicted how this outbreak may affect food security in the region. But officials quoted in this piece strike an ominous tone. “Some 1.7 million birds in five West African countries had succumbed to what had by then been diagnosed as the highly contagious and deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu. … The strain hasn’t been seen in the region since 2008, but was confirmed in Nigeria in January and has since spread to Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Ghana. … The poultry sector has grown tremendously in West Africa over the last 10 years and is now a main source of income for many rural, small-scale farmers. In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, the sector increased by more than 70 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO and regional governments are still assessing the extent and impact of the outbreak but are clearly extremely concerned.” (IRIN

Research study of the day
Ebola caused malaria cases to increase dramatically in Guinea last year when people feared going to health clinics. “A major paper from infectious diseases experts said 74,000 fewer people were diagnosed and offered malaria treatment than would have been expected. The research was based on a survey of public health facilities in December 2014 and interviews with health-care workers.The paper says far more people will have died from malaria than Ebola, which had killed 2,444 people by June 15. Urgent action was required to get malaria treatment to those who needed it, say the paper’s authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and the President’s Malaria Initiative in the Lancet’s Infectious Diseases journal.” (Guardian

Stat of the day
More than 3 million people have been displaced by conflict in Iraq since the start of 2014, the International Organization for Migration said. (AFP


Cholera has killed at least 18 people in Juba, capital of South Sudan, in the last three weeks and the government will step up measures to counter the spread of the disease, the health minister said on Tuesday. (Reuters

A former Supreme Court justice of Canada, Marie Deschamps, will lead a review of how the United Nations handled allegations that French and African troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic, the UN announced. (AFP

Police in Ivory Coast freed 48 child slaves in raids on plantations in the country’s Western cocoa belt and arrested 22 people accused of trafficking or exploiting children, Interpol said. (Reuters

Southeast Niger is struggling with a dramatic increase in child malnutrition as tens of thousands of people flee the Boko Haram conflict, the charity Save the Children said. (AFP

Ethiopia’s ruling party has swept all but one seat in the election to the 547-seat parliament held in May, final results showed, again crushing an opposition that complained of voting abuses. (Reuters

Sudan is facing a huge nationwide outbreak of measles, with at least 2,500 confirmed cases so far this year, mostly children, and 38 deaths due to the disease, the United Nations said. (AFP

A Rwandan military general was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport and will appear in court later this week, British police said Tuesday, prompting an angry response from Rwandan leaders. (AP

Protesters from one of Ghana’s biggest slums clashed with police in the capital Accra on Monday, after city authorities demolished shanties as part of measures to combat heavy flooding. (AFP

Two hostages kidnapped by al-Qaida militants in north Mali more than three years ago asked their governments to help secure their release in a rare video of them. (Reuters


Sieges by Syrian government forces, rebel fighters and Islamic State militants are having a “devastating effect” in a conflict that “shows no signs of abating,” U.N. investigators said Tuesday as they delivered their latest assessment of the crisis in Syria. (VOA

With exactly a week left before the deadline for a final agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the country’s supreme leader appeared to undercut several of the central agreements his negotiators have already reached with the West. (NYT


Nearly 700 people have died in a severe three-day heatwave in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday, with medics battling to treat patients as a state of emergency was declared in hospitals. (AFP

Thai police said on Tuesday they had “shown sincerity” and wrapped up the country’s biggest investigation into human trafficking, as rights groups questioned whether they had even scratched the surface. (Reuters

The World Bank on Tuesday promised a loan of up to half a billion dollars to help Nepal rebuild after earthquakes killed nearly 9,000 people there in April and May, leveling homes and pushing hundreds of thousands of people deeper into poverty. (Reuters

A new study said that cleaning up dirty air could prevent up to 2.1 million premature deaths every year, mostly in Asia, but also in countries with relatively cleaner skies. (VOA

Bangladesh’s border guard said it turned down a proposal it said Myanmar had made to return a captured officer if Dhaka also took in some 600 illegal migrants from a people trafficking ship intercepted by the Myanmar navy. (Reuters

The Americas

Colombia’s FARC rebels killed four soldiers and wounded six others in an attack in the northeast of the country, officials said, as the Marxist group steps up attacks amid unraveling peace talks. (AFP

The health and economic benefits of global climate change policies outweigh the impacts of taking no action, the Obama administration said in a new report, which was released as Congress tries to weaken some of those policies this week. (Reuters

...and the rest

Governments are failing to meet their international obligations to protect women from violence by starving women’s groups of funding and closing the space in which they can operate, according to a report by ActionAid. (Guardian

The World Bank remains too passive when client governments and businesses attack critics of its development projects, according to a Human Rights Watch report. (AFP

Economic inequality will make it harder for countries to weather crises such as natural disasters and social unrest in the future, a study has shown. (Guardian

Democracy is on the retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise in more than 96 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, according to a new report. (IPS


Is Burundi’s electoral process fatally flawed? (African Arguments

Confessions of a humanitarian: ‘This proposal was written by committee. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense’ (Guardian

Will the UN’s Gaza report force change? (IRIN

South Africa: Missing Middle of the Economic Ladder Threatens Stability (The Conversation

Will A Surgical Mask Keep You Safe In A Viral Outbreak? (Goats and Soda

The pope v the UN: who will save the world first? (Guardian

The cash after the storm: building resilience to future disasters (Guardian

AGOA: Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory? (Brookings

Why Africa Favors Renewal of U.S. Trade Pact AGOA (African Union

Why Is the United States Letting Its Best Foreign Aid Tool Fall Apart? (Foreign Policy

How Indicators Have the Power to Shape Our World (The Conversation


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]