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News in the Humanosphere: Aid groups ‘bracing for the worst’ as forces close in on Mosul

A Peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The Iraqi military and the country’s Kurdish forces say they launched operations to the south and east of militant-held Mosul early Monday morning. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

More than a million civilians in Mosul are in grave danger and aid workers are “bracing for the worst,” a relief group said Wednesday, after Iraqi forces reached the jihadist-held city…The Norwegian Refugee Council said a long-feared humanitarian crisis was closer than ever. “We are now bracing ourselves for the worst. The lives of 1.2 million civilians are in grave danger, and the future of all of Iraq is now in the balance,” said its Iraq director Wolfgang Gressmann. “People in and around Mosul have lived for almost two and a half years in a relentless, terrifying nightmare. We are now all responsible to put an end to it.” More than 20,000 people have already fled to government-held areas since the offensive was launched on October 17, says the International Organization for Migration. But civilians inside Mosul – including an estimated 600,000 children – are trapped behind IS lines and the U.N. has said thousands are being held for possible use as human shields. Residents confirmed those fears, saying IS was forcibly gathering civilians. (AFP

Kenya pulling troops from South Sudan peacekeeping mission…Kenya has said it is withdrawing its troops from the U.N. mission in South Sudan, a day after Ban Ki-moon sacked the Kenyan commander of peacekeeping forces in the country for failing to protect civilians. In an angrily-worded statement, the Kenyan ministry of foreign affairs said on Wednesday it was ‘dismayed’ by the U.N. secretary-general’s decision to dismiss Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki. Continued deployment of Kenyan troops in South Sudan “is no longer tenable,” the ministry said, saying Kenya would “withdraw, immediately” its forces there.  Kenya has more than 1,000 troops deployed in South Sudan. (Al Jazeera


South African police fired stun grenades and water cannon to disperse protesters who marched towards President Jacob Zuma’s offices in the capital Pretoria on Wednesday, demanding that he quit over what they called poor leadership. (Reuters

South Sudan said on Wednesday it had detained at least 17 people, most of them soldiers, suspected of committing rape and other crimes in July during an attack on Hotel Terrain in the capital Juba. (Reuters

Intimidation of opposition parties, media repression and politicized security forces have “all but extinguished” the chance of a free and fair election in the Gambia next month, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. (AFP

South Africa’s former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, a constitutionally mandated anti-graft official, has recommended that a commission of inquiry headed by a judge be set up within 30 days to investigate alleged influence peddling in government. (Reuters

Voters in Ivory Coast overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a weekend referendum, according to provisional results announced by the elections commission, though opposition groups denounced the turnout figure as fraudulent. (Reuters

Thirteen port and customs officials were charged on Wednesday with stealing cargo containers and aiding tax evasion on freight at Kenya’s Mombasa port, part of a drive to clamp down on corruption and boost efficiency at the hub. (Reuters

Niger has arrested 38 suspects over the deaths of 18 people who were killed in clashes between cattle herders and farmers, a police source said on Wednesday. (AFP

A Zimbabwean cabinet minister on Tuesday accused Robert Mugabe’s deputy of using state institutions to try to arrest him and further his attempt to eventually become president in the most direct attack in the deep rivalry over the country’s future leadership. (Reuters

Uganda’s long-time President Yoweri Museveni ordered the indefinite closure of Makerere University after days of student protests culminated in violent clashes with police. (AFP


Syrian rebels on Wednesday rejected Russian demands that they withdraw from Aleppo by Friday evening, an official in one insurgent faction said. (Reuters

A prominent Egyptian rights lawyer has been banned from travel after airport authorities canceled his trip to France on Wednesday, in what international rights groups described as part of a campaign to “suppress independent, critical voices inside the country.” (AP

Belgium’s immigration minister is refusing to grant humanitarian visas to a family in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo despite being fined $4,438 a day for defying an appeal tribunal. (AP


Pakistan on Wednesday withdrew six diplomats from its embassy in New Delhi, officials said, amid rising tension between the two countries over the disputed region of Kashmir. (AP

Police in India are facing serious questions after they killed eight prisoners who they said had murdered a guard and escaped from jail using bed sheets to scale a wall. (BBC

India’s Rajasthan state is setting up an independent authority to verify and guarantee land titles in its cities, a move seen by experts as speeding up property transactions, freeing up the courts and boosting urbanization in the state. (Reuters

Pakistani police Wednesday released nearly 2,000 opposition party supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan who were detained ahead of planned anti-government protests, a government spokesman said. (AP

Myanmar’s Rakhine State is no stranger to conflict or controversy. Last month, tensions worsened after militants killed nine border police on October 9. Constitutionally, the military handles security matters and moved forces into the area. Thus far, at least five soldiers and 33 insurgents have been killed in clashes. (VOA

A Pakistani court on Wednesday denied bail to Sharbat Gula, who was arrested for illegally living in Pakistan and is best known as the green-eyed Afghan girl who posed for a National Geographic magazine photograph 30 years ago. (Reuters

China will provide $3 million in humanitarian relief to North Korea to address damage from deadly floods there, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday, after aid agencies have said they are struggling with relief efforts. (Reuters

Germany’s outspoken economy minister, visiting China, on Wednesday met activists who have criticized the Beijing government and urged it to free jailed human rights lawyers. (Reuters

The Americas

President Barack Obama said the U.S. government is examining ways to reroute an oil pipeline in North Dakota as it addresses concerns raised by Native American tribes protesting against its construction. (Reuters

Colombia is making “substantial progress” in getting its stalled peace deal with Marxist rebels back on track and hopes to have a deal very soon, the country’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Tension has again risen between Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro and the opposition just hours after they had taken steps to defuse the situation. An opposition spokesman said President Maduro had “broken the truce” when he had labelled opposition politician Freddy Guevara a “terrorist.” (BBC

…and the rest

Amnesty International said Wednesday Russian authorities had shut them out of their office in Moscow, with city authorities citing rent arrears. (AFP

Hundreds of Bosnians protested Wednesday in Sarajevo, demanding a rerun of the municipal election in the southern town of Stolac that was halted by claims of irregularities and violent disruptions. (AP

Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for 137 academics on Wednesday over suspected links to the cleric who Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup, widening a crackdown that has worried rights groups and Western allies. (Reuters

Over 1,600 unaccompanied minors left in Calais after the demolition of the infamous “Jungle” migrant camp were bussed to shelters across France on Wednesday, even as many still hoped to be admitted to Britain. (AFP

Italian authorities say the number of people living in shelters after a series of powerful earthquakes in central Italy has risen to around 22,000. (AP

Britain’s Supreme Court is being asked to rule on whether women in Northern Ireland – where abortion is strictly restricted – should be able to have the procedure for free elsewhere in the U.K. (AP

U.K. government measures to tackle air pollution still don’t comply with European Union legislation to improve air quality and meet nitrogen dioxide limits, Britain’s High Court ruled on Wednesday. (Reuters


Air Pollution is Probably Much More Dangerous Than You Think. Especially for Kids (UN Dispatch

The $100bn gold mine and the West Papuans who say they are counting the cost (Guardian

Building an alternative to the ICC’s slippery slope (IRIN

Forced by tradition to give up inheritance, Indian women embrace property ownership (Reuters

Syrian refugees are now paying smugglers to take them back (PRI

Do soda taxes work? Experts look to Mexico for answers (CNN

Rethinking Informed Consent in the Digital Age (Wait…What?

The foreign policy debate I’d like to see (Reinventing Peace

Jacob Zuma is on the edge and in retreat (Guardian


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