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News in the Humanosphere: A promising peace conference in Afghanistan

An Afghan anti-Taliban tank gunner prays next to his tank position over looking the Tora Bora mountains in north eastern Afghanistan in 2001, at the start of the US-UK attack on the Taliban and al-Qaida.

aThe last big push was in 2013, but that fizzled. “After years of failed efforts, an Afghan government delegation met with Taliban officials in the Pakistani capital on Tuesday, in a significant effort to open formal peace negotiations, according to Afghan, Pakistani and Western officials. The Islamabad meeting, brokered by Pakistani officials after months of intense effort by President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan to get them more centrally involved in the peace process, was the most promising contact between the two warring sides in years. And it followed a series of less formal encounters between various Afghan officials and Taliban representatives in other countries in recent months.” (NYT

WHO still unprepared
The World Health Organization lacks the capacity and internal culture to mount an effective response to an epidemic such as the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, according to a searing report that also blames governments for failing to support the group. … The report, led by Dame Barbara Stocking, a former head of Oxfam, was commissioned by the WHO’s executive. It says the organization was too slow in its response to the Ebola epidemic and that it was under-funded. (Guardian

Stat of the day
The number of South Sudanese civilians sheltering in U.N. bases has risen above 150,000 for the first time in 18 months of civil war, the United Nations said Tuesday. (AFP


A 13-year-old suicide bomber has blown herself up near a mosque in northern Nigerian city of Kano a day after dozens of people were killed in twin attacks, police have said. (Al Jazeera

Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamist group said on Tuesday it was behind a gun attack in the northeastern Kenyan town of Mandera, a raid it said was part of its campaign against Kenya. (Reuters

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone need a further $696 million in donor funding to rebuild their battered health services over the next two years in the wake of the deadly Ebola epidemic, senior World Health Organization (WHO) officials said. (VOA

A cholera outbreak in war-torn South Sudan has killed at least 32 people, a fifth of them children under 5, and schools have a major role to play in stemming the spread of the disease, the United Nations said on Tuesday. (TRF

Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has indicated it will conditionally accept the call by East African leaders to delay the July 15 presidential election two weeks to July 30. (VOA

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a bailout of more than $2 billion for states to resolve a crisis that has left hundreds of thousands of workers unpaid for months. (AP

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has granted around $17 million to two consortia of organizations focusing on key populations most affected by HIV, to combat the disease across eastern and southern Africa. (Key Correspondent


Iran and major powers gave themselves at least until Friday to negotiate an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, but a source from one of the powers said on Tuesday they had to wrap up in the next 48 hours. (Reuters

The United Nations’ human rights office says the number of civilians killed in three months of violence in Yemen has risen above 1,500. (AP

Overwhelmed by hundreds of sick and wounded each day, hospitals in Yemen’s second city Aden have been reduced to hospices lacking medicines and space as the country’s bloodshed rages on. (AFP


Bangkok’s tap water supply may run out in a month, as the country waits for long overdue rains to replenish sources depleted by drought and threatened by seawater creep, the chief of the capital’s water authority said. (TRF

The United Nations’ human rights chief said Tuesday that he is worried by the wide scope and the vagueness of a new national security law approved last week by China’s legislature. (AP

Some of Australia’s closest neighbors are struggling to address malnourishment, deforestation and sanitation, the United Nations’ final report on its millennium development goals shows, prompting aid organizations to call on the federal government to boost foreign aid. (Guardian

Experts say the two quakes in Nepal, which killed 8,895 people and destroyed half a million houses, could make things worse as survivors have inadequate food, water, shelter, healthcare and sanitation. United Nations officials warn that the rate of stunting among children in the South Asian nation could return to the 2001 level of 57 percent, if authorities and aid agencies do not respond effectively. (Reuters

The Americas

New rules have come into force in Brazil aimed at reducing the country’s high number of caesarean births. Eighty-five percent of all births in Brazilian private hospitals are caesareans and in public hospitals the figure is 45 percent. (BBC

The White House took steps this week to boost the installation of solar power and other renewable energy in federally subsidized housing and increase the number of jobs in the industry for poor people. (Reuters

...and the rest

Taxing cigarettes up to 75 percent of their retail price is among the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, but too few governments levy high enough taxes, according to a World Health Organization global report released Tuesday. (AP

The United Nations chief has joined Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in calling on world leaders to secure education for young people across the globe. (AP

More efficient energy use and investments in greener cities are among 10 measures that can help the world to slow global warming while also spurring economic growth, an international report said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Balkan countries of mistreating migrants passing through their territories on the way to the European Union, saying people fleeing war were being “shamefully let down.” (AFP


Sustainable development goals will be hard sell for United Nations (Guardian

7 humanity affirming graphs from the U.N.’s MDG Progress report. (UN Dispatch

Why Too Many Mothers Are Still Dying At Childbirth in West Africa (The Conversation

When losing track means losing lives: accountability lessons from the Ebola crisis (The Lancet Global Health Blog

A New Mission for the World Bank (Project Syndicate

China’s foreign aid reform and implications for Africa (Africa in Focus

Why developing countries need to toughen up on taxes (Guardian

Why Tackling Illicit Financial Flows Offers Energy and Climate Opportunities for Africa (OSIWA

Is Colombia’s Peace Process Really at Its Lowest Ebb? (IPS

Genocide, the gravest and hardest crime to prove (AFP


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]