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News in the Humanosphere: U.N. rights chief condemns Congo’s deadly crackdown on protests

The U.N. human rights chief strongly condemned this week’s fatal shooting of anti-government protesters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and urged the government on Thursday to seek dialogue with the opposition. Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said the death toll from clashes between protesters and security forces in the capital Kinshasa on Monday had risen to at least 50. The government has said 32 people died. Congolese authorities have said elections due in November cannot be held until at least next year due to logistical problems. President Joseph Kabila denies opponents’ charges of trying to cling to power beyond a two-term limit in the vast central African country, a producer of gold, diamonds and copper. (Reuters

A peace deal in Afghanistan…Negotiators in Afghanistan on Thursday signed a draft of a long-awaited peace agreement that would bring a notorious former warlord into the government fold while forgiving allegations that he was responsible for serious war crimes. The deal commits Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – a chameleon-like militia commander, former CIA asset, prime minister and ally of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden who has been involved in fighting in Afghanistan for four decades – to renounce violence, cut ties to extremist groups and respect the Afghan constitution.” (LAT  

Quote of the day: “It’s as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs,” during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo, described last night’s airstrikes. (Reuters

Award of the day: A volunteer group that rescues civilians from bombed-out buildings in Syria, known as the White Helmets, on Thursday won the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes referred to as the “Alternative Nobel,” together with activists from Egypt and Russia and a Turkish newspaper. (AP


Nigeria’s president has called for the U.N. to mediate with militant Islamist group Boko Haram to secure the release of schoolgirls it is holding captive. (BBC

The United States hinted the possibility of recalling its current Ambassador to South Sudan over the ongoing “documented” atrocities committed by the leadership of South Sudan under her watch. (Sudan Tribune

Seven people were killed overnight in an attack in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo blamed on Ugandan rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces, the army said Thursday. (AFP

Gabon oil workers stayed at home from Thursday over concerns about potential violence when a court delivers a final verdict on the central African country’s disputed election result, their union said. (Reuters

Cameroon is organizing group weddings for refugees who fled the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria and intercommunal violence in the Central African Republic. (VOA

A coalition of human rights groups called on African Union leaders Thursday to abandon consideration of plans to urge withdrawal of its members from the International Criminal Court. (VOA

The European Investment Bank is set to lend Ethiopia $200 million to build two industry parks that will employ 30,000 refugees in a move aimed at curbing migration to Europe, the bank said. (VOA

Nigeria would welcome United Nations representatives as intermediaries in any talks with Boko Haram on the release of about 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern village of Chibok in 2014, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday. (Reuters


Iraqi forces backed by air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition gained complete control of the northern district of Shirqat on Thursday, bringing the military a step closer to a main push on Mosul later this year. (Reuters

The death toll from an Arab coalition air strike which hit a house in a residential area in western Yemen has risen to 26 people, medics and residents in the Houthi-held area said on Thursday, and the alliance said it was looking into the report. (Reuters

President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with AP News broadcast on Thursday that Syria’s war will “drag on” as long as it is part of a global conflict funded and interfered in by other countries. (Reuters

Yemeni rebels and their allies on Thursday accused an American detained in the capital of providing target coordinates for air strikes by their foes in a Saudi-led coalition. (AFP

The United Nations said it was possible that countries backing the Syria peace process would agree on Thursday to salvage a collapsed ceasefire, and that it was still working to restart peace talks within weeks. (Reuters

A Bahraini appeals court on Thursday upheld an order dissolving the country’s main Shiite opposition group despite international criticism of the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom’s intensified crackdown on dissent. (AFP

Rescuers brought more bodies ashore Thursday after a boat crowded with migrants capsized off the Egyptian coast, leaving at least 55 people dead and dozens missing. (AFP


Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen declared a political “ceasefire” on Thursday following a wave of prosecutions of opposition members that government critics say is politically motivated in the run-up to elections that Hun Sen fears losing. (Reuters

Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have charged a leading human rights activist under a controversial security law after immediately taking him back into custody when a local court ordered him freed from police detention. (AP

An ambitious plan by the Sri Lankan government to outfit 100,000 homes with solar panels, to turn them into power producers for the national grid, may be too expensive for many families to afford, experts warn. (Reuters

A court in Hanoi rejected an appeal by a prominent Vietnamese blogger on Thursday and upheld his five-year prison sentence for anti-state writings. (AP

Facing international pressure for failing to stop human trafficking in the seafood trade, Thailand promised almost a year ago to compensate victims of slavery and industry leaders vowed to bring all shrimp processing in-house. (AP

Afghanistan’s government signed a draft peace deal on Thursday with a designated “global terrorist” after lengthy negotiations that could pave the way for a similar accord with the Taliban, who have been waging war on Kabul for 15 years. (AP

The Americas

Hundreds of National Guard troops and police reinforcements converged on Charlotte Thursday to help keep the peace, officials said, after a second night of violent protests over the police shooting of a black man. (AP

Foes of President Nicolas Maduro vowed protests and accused Venezuela’s election authority on Thursday of ignoring voters by dashing hopes for a referendum this year on recalling the unpopular socialist leader. (Reuters

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said during a United Nations General Assembly panel on LGBT rights on Wednesday that she would send a bill legalizing gay marriage to Congress in the first half of 2017. (VOA

Venezuelans struggling to feed their families, let alone their pets, during the country’s deep economic crisis are increasingly abandoning emaciated dogs in streets, public parks and makeshift shelters because they no longer can afford to care for them. (VOA

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday warned leftist rebels that their illicit fortune would be seized and used to pay reparations to war victims should voters approve a peace agreement in an Oct. 2 plebiscite. (VOA

Power was slowly being restored in Puerto Rico on Thursday, nearly 24 hours after a blackout swept across the island when a fire at a power plant set off a cascade of problems that knocked out the aging utility grid. (AP

Bus drivers in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, paralyzed the city for eight hours on Wednesday by blocking the streets with their vehicles to protest against the country’s economic crisis. (BBC

The United States unveiled plans on Thursday to ramp up efforts to end female genital mutilation after figures showed more than half of million women and girls were living at risk. (Reuters

…and the rest

Most of the roughly 60,000 refugees and other migrants stranded in Greece are living in “appalling conditions” and face “immense and avoidable suffering,” rights group Amnesty International said in a report Thursday slamming Europe’s response to the refugee crisis. (AP

Serbia has arrested 16 people suspected of trafficking refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as part of increased efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants trying to reach Western Europe, the interior ministry said on Thursday. (Reuters

Britain has raised concerns with Hungary over a description of areas of London, Paris and Brussels as “no-go” areas dominated by illegal immigrants who increase the risk of militant attacks. (Reuters

The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. (Reuters


A rare thing happened at the UN this week: Leaders agreed to fix a problem BEFORE it becomes a full blown crisis. (UN Dispatch

Africa: Why Western Economists Get It Wrong (Africa is a Country

The Best News You Don’t Know (NY Times

Celebrating James Barnor – the first photographer to shoot Ghana in color (Guardian

Why are these newborns in cardboard boxes? (CNN

Julia Gillard: ‘We’ve made progress in education and gender equality – but more must be done’ (Guardian

Fees Must Fall’: Anatomy of the Student Protests in South Africa (NY Times

Public health: Beating Ebola (Nature

Aid and Afghanistan’s future (Devpolicy Blog

The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative Isn’t as Crazy as It Sounds (The Atlantic

Breast-feeding should be a global priority (Devex


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