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News in the Humanosphere: Polio is nearly out of Africa

A Nigerian health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kano, northern Nigeria, April 13, 2014. (Credit: AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)

Pakistan remains a polio hot spot, but this is welcome news in the push to eradication. “Africa has achieved a year without any new cases of wild polio for the first time, but experts warn that violent insurgencies could yet prove their ‘Achilles’ heel’ in finally eradicating the disease. … No cases have been identified in Africa since 11 August last year in the Hobyo district of Mudug province in Somalia, meaning that the continent is two years away from being certified polio-free. But both Somalia and Nigeria, which also saw its last polio case in 2014, are battling Islamist militant groups – al-Shabab and Boko Haram respectively – raising fears that vaccines will not reach children displaced by conflict.” (Guardian

Amnesty International votes to decriminalize the sex trade
The group will now lobby governments around the world to change anti-prostitution laws.  “Amnesty International approved a controversial policy Tuesday to endorse the decriminalization of the sex trade, rejecting complaints from some women’s rights groups who say it is tantamount to advocating the legalization of pimping and brothel owning. At its decision-making forum in Dublin, the human rights watchdog approved the resolution to recommend “full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.” It argues its research suggests decriminalization is the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights. (AP

New evidence of peacekeeper abuses in CAR
U.N. peacekeepers are responsible for rape and indiscriminate killings in the Central African Republic, said Amnesty International. It is the latest in a series of incidents involving foreign soldiers in the country. “The girl had been hiding in a bathroom when a man wearing a U.N. peacekeeping helmet and vest ‘took her outside and raped her behind a truck,’ Amnesty International’s statement said. It said a nurse who examined the girl ‘found medical evidence consistent with sexual assault.’ The next day, after armed clashes with residents had killed a soldier from Cameroon and injured several others, peacekeepers went to the area and ‘began shooting indiscriminately in the street where the killings had taken place,’ the statement said.”

Fuzzy math of the day
Rwandan lawmakers found only 10 people in nationwide consultations who opposed possible constitutional changes to allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power, a report said Tuesday. (AFP


South Africa’s chronic electricity shortages are the “biggest challenge” facing Africa’s most developed economy, cutting 1 percentage point off growth, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday. (Reuters

President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo has replaced two ministers who last month came out against constitutional changes that would pave the way for him to seek a third term in office. (Reuters

Nearly 20,000 people were affected last week by heavy rains and flooding in and around Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. More than 3,700 are now homeless, their houses reduced to piles of mud and debris. (Guardian

A British court freed Rwanda’s intelligence chief Karenzi Karake, who is wanted in Spain over alleged war crimes in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, after being advised that an extradition offense could not be established in British law. (Reuters

Sahara-based Islamist militant group al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for a hotel siege in central Mali at the weekend in which 17 people died, Qatari-based television network Al Jazeera reported. (Reuters

Zimbabwe has lifted a ban on big game hunting outside a national park 10 days after imposing the moratorium following the illegal killing of the country’s most prized lion. (Reuters

Activists gathered in Washington, D.C., to plead for more U.S. engagement in efforts to suppress the Lord’s Resistance Army in East Africa and capture its leader Joseph Kony. (VOA


Funding prospects are “bleak” and impoverished Syrian refugees face more cuts in food aid, the head of the World Food Program said in an interview, after inspecting the bare refrigerator of a refugee family and meeting boys forced to swap school for work to help their families survive. (AP

A U.N. official on Tuesday warned armed factions in Yemen over “the deliberate starvation of civilians,” as the embattled country grapples with a food crisis that has left 850,000 children facing acute malnutrition. (AFP

Tens of thousands of Somali refugees have fled back home from war-torn Yemen since an upsurge in fighting in March, the U.N. said Tuesday, adding to 3 million already in need. (AFP


Nepali politicians including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appealed for calm Tuesday as hundreds protested against a new constitution for a second day after police shot dead two people during a demonstration. (AFP

The United Nations on Tuesday denounced “shockingly” long prison terms imposed by Thailand for insulting the monarchy and urged authorities to amend the law and release those convicted. (Reuters

Australia plans to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Tuesday, a target critics say falls well short of its fair share globally. (AFP

Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday blocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to simplify India’s taxation laws, a key part of his government’s plans to boost Asia’s third-biggest economy. (AP

The Americas

The Peruvian government has announced the capture of two leaders of the Maoist guerrilla group, Shining Path. They were brought to the capital Lima by air from an isolated valley in the Amazon region. (BBC

The U.S. State Department’s position toward controversial citizenship and immigration laws in the Dominican Republic is being challenged by an unusual source: Hundreds of former Peace Corps volunteers who served there. (CNN

A brutal pattern of sexual violence affects thousands of girls and young women who flee from Central America to enter the United States, reveals a review of legal documents and interviews with defense lawyers in political asylum cases along with Los Angeles religious and social service workers. (GlobalPost

Photo essay: The realities of teenage motherhood in Latin America (Guardian

...and the rest

Vulnerable people are prevented from gaining representation at the United Nations by a committee dominated by countries with repressive regimes, according to concerned NGOs. (Guardian

The Vatican has embarked on a campaign to position Pope Francis as an unifying voice on climate change ahead of several major appearances in the coming months. (GlobalPost


I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity. I came away … worried. (Vox

Having Their Cake and Eating Ours Too (The Baffler

Confessions of a humanitarian: men and women are not equal in the NGO world (Guardian

Time for the World to Protect and Value its Young Human Rights Defenders (IPS

Yes, We Can Kick Polio Out of Africa and Together, We Are On the Brink of Doing So (Nation

Low-fee private schooling: what do we really know? Prachi Srivastava responds to The Economist (From Poverty to Power

From Addis to the Pacific: financing for development in Small Island Developing States (DevPolicy

Should health organizations add a ‘tobacco filter’ to their recruitment policies? (Devex

Fact check: Is Turkey using ISIS as an excuse to fight the Kurds? (IRIN

The role of International Aid Agencies Protecting National Humanitarian Staff (ATHA


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]