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News in the Humanosphere: More than 13 million Middle Eastern children out of school

Syrians throw snow at each other at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, January 2015. (Credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

About 40 percent of children from five conflict-affected Middle Eastern countries are not attending school, UNICEF said in a new report, warning that losing this generation will lead to more militancy, migration and a dim future for the region. … The dropout rate could increase to 50 percent in coming months as conflicts intensify, Peter Salama, the agency’s regional chief, told The Associated Press. “We are on the verge of losing a generation of children in this region,” he said. “We must act now or we will certainly regret the consequences.” He said UNICEF needs an additional $300 million this year to make a dent in the numbers and give more children access to education. The agency so far has received $140 million, or 40 percent of its 2015 appeal, for the education of displaced Syrians.  (AP )

Corruption scandal takes down a president
Guatemalan President Otto Perez has resigned and turned himself into a court on Thursday to face charges in a corruption scandal that gutted his government and plunged Guatemala into chaos days before a national election. (Reuters

Let’s try this again
Liberia was declared free of the deadly Ebola virus for a second time on Thursday and entered a 90-day period of heightened surveillance aimed at preventing a future re-emergence of the disease, the World Health Organization said. (Reuters

Quote of the day
I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees.”
—U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he caved to pressure and agreed to take in more refugees.

Refugee Crisis

Refugees forced from a train in Hungary scuffled with helmeted riot police and some clung to railway tracks on Thursday, as politicians across Europe struggled to respond to public opinion appalled by images of a drowned 3-year-old boy. (Reuters

The influx of refugees into Europe threatens to undermine the continent’s Christian roots and governments must control their borders before they can decide how many asylum seekers they can take, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. (Reuters

A record flow of refugees to Germany has cast an ugly spotlight on its formerly communist east, which has been rocked by a disproportionate wave of racist protests and hate crimes. (AFP

The European Union is set to intensify its actions against refugee smugglers in the Mediterranean, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Thursday, seeing sufficient political support to start searching and diverting smuggler vessels. (Reuters

Germany is expecting 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times higher than in 2014, the German Labor and Social Affairs Minister said on Thursday. (Reuters

Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said on Thursday that Europe should do all it can to stop illegal migrants from entering, though the country is prepared to share the burden of giving shelter to refugees in genuine need. (Reuters


A French soldier deployed to Central African Republic has been accused of raping a teenage girl in the latest in a series of misconduct allegations against peacekeeping forces there, the United Nations’ top human rights official said. (Reuters

A media rights group called Thursday for the immediate release of a senior Nigerian journalist kidnapped from her home in the restive oil hub of Port Harcourt. (AFP

Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda told his war crimes trial Thursday he was “a soldier, not a criminal,” breaking his silence for the first time since surrendering to the International Criminal Court. (AFP

Rebels in Sudan’s conflict-hit Darfur region have released 18 people they were holding prisoner, the International Committee for the Red Cross said on Thursday. (AFP

WHO officials called for the regulation of traditional medicine in Africa to protect the public against potentially harmful practices. (VOA

Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday banned a documentary film about a doctor who treats war rape victims, leading the film makers to say the government was trying to silence debate about sexual violence. (Reuters

The director of Taylor Swift’s new music video set in Africa struck back on Wednesday at mounting criticism of the scarcity of black people in the mini-film and its romanticized portrayal of the continent. (Reuters


Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. Their concerns are amid fears Yemen’s civil war could escalate. (VOA

Syrians are caught between government bombardment of civilian areas and ruthless Islamist groups in a conflict increasingly driven by foreign powers and marked by the “spread of extremism,” U.N. war crimes investigators said on Thursday. (Reuters


Four secular bloggers have been killed in Bangladesh this year, and many others say they do not feel safe. Fearing for their lives, some online writers have left the country, and others are working quietly to flee. (VOA

Hundreds of schoolgirls were taken to a hospital after breathing in poisonous gas in Herat, Afghanistan. This is a third incident of gas poisoning this week. Officials suspect foul play. (VOA

A slowdown in the Chinese economy that has alarmed global stock markets won’t cast a “dark cloud” over U.N. efforts to reach an accord to slow global warming by December, the United Nations’ climate chief predicted on Thursday. (Reuters

The United States has allocated $950 million for assisting Afghan refugees and returnees, but much of that money has been lost to corruption while those in need remain in dire conditions. (IRIN

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday pledged to cut China’s 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army by 300,000 troops, amid rising manpower costs and technological capabilities that reduce the need for large numbers of personnel. (AP

The Americas

The Brazilian justice minister has condemned the killing of an indigenous leader who was shot during a land protest in the state of Matto Grosso do Sul. (BBC

...and the rest

One day after the World Health Organization confirmed two cases of polio in Ukrainian children, the country’s health minister says efforts are under way to import enough vaccine to prevent an outbreak. (AP

Global economic losses from drought are likely to reach more than $8 billion in the next few months as the El Niño weather pattern intensifies, reinsurance broker Aon Benfield said on Thursday. (Reuters


Refugee crisis: what can you do to help? (Guardian

Bosco ‘The Terminator’ Ntaganda Goes on Trial: Should Kagame Be Afraid? (Justice in Conflict

Women in the Face of Climate Change (IPS

7 Ways to “Sell” Nutrition (Development Horizons

How can the UN fight inequality when it doesn’t pay its interns? (Guardian

If climate change is a human story, men are telling it. (Public Spheres WB

2,400 reasons to care (IRIN

Why Always Africa? Does It Really Matter? (The Point

Who Will Pay the Price for Australia’s Climate Change Policies? (Inter Press Service

A Brief View of the African Complexity (The Point


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]