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News in the Humanosphere: Syrians returning to homes in Aleppo, says U.N.

Aftermath of fighting in Aleppo, Syria. Creative Commons

Thousands of people are starting to return to formerly rebel-held east Aleppo despite freezing weather and destruction “beyond imagination,” a top U.N. official told Reuters from the Syrian city. In the last couple of days around 2,200 families have returned to the Hanano housing district, said Sajjad Malik, country representative in Syria for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “People are coming out to east Aleppo to see their shops, their houses, to see if the building is standing and the house is not that looted … to see, should they come back,” he said in an interview. People returning face appalling conditions. (Reuters

Gas price protests in Mexico. Demonstrators blockaded highways, looted shops and forced service stations across Mexico to close in a wave of angry protest triggered by a hike of more than 20 percent in the government-set price of gasoline. The announcement of the price increase came on Jan. 1 – when long lines of cars were already forming at pumps because national oil giant Pemex was unable to supply all gas stations due to problems with oil refining and fuel shortages caused by theft. (Guardian

Stat of the day: Insurers paid out around $50 billion for natural disaster claims last year, almost double 2015’s payout of $27 billion, reinsurer Munich Re said in its annual natural catastrophe review on Wednesday. (Reuters

Top Stories

Four security guards working for the United Nations have been wounded after a car bomb explosion near their compound in Mogadishu, Somali officials said. (VOA

Hundreds of thousands of people in southern Haiti are facing food shortages three months after Hurricane Matthew destroyed crops and livestock in the region, an international aid organization said Wednesday. (AP

Indian police rescued nearly 200 children, most of them under the age of 14, who had been found working in a brick kiln in the southern state of Telangana in one of the biggest operations in the region, officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Kurdish security forces closed the Iraqi headquarters of an organization that aids members of the Yazidi religious minority, which has been brutally targeted by jihadists, the group said on Wednesday. (AFP

Humanitarian challenges continue to mount in Cameroon, as refugees continue to flow in from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. The government and the United Nations are concerned about acute food shortages in the year to come. (VOA

Kenya’s Electoral Commission says political wrangles and tension related to biometric voter technology may delay preparations for the country’s upcoming elections. The opposition is threatening protests over a proposed amendment to Kenya’s electoral law. (VOA

Iraqi journalist Afrah al-Qaisi, known in her country for criticizing the government in satirical articles for local media, has been released unharmed after being kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Baghdad a week ago. (Reuters

With the help of drones, city authorities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are drawing up plans to protect and assist suburbs at risk of flooding, offering a glimmer of hope to those who live there. (TRF

People who lost their homes in the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal nearly two years ago are tired of waiting for help to rebuild. The slow pace of distributing government grant money for rebuilding has left many people to spend their second winter without a home. (AP

Other investors are wary of Brazil, but when Duke Energy wanted to sell 10 hydroelectric dams there, a Chinese utility shrugged off the country’s economic turmoil and paid $1.2 billion to add them to an energy empire that stretches from Malaysia to Germany to the Amazon. (AP


Inside Venezuela’s hidden healthcare crisis (IRIN

Does foreign aid buy votes for bad governments? This study from Uganda shows the opposite. (Chris Blattman

Born to the One Percent, Dedicated to the 99 (Tiny Spark

Sexual violence against female aid workers: How organizations can tackle it (Devex

Old Boy Band Sings For Peace And Goodwill In 2017 (Goats and Soda

The Pessimist’s Guide to 2017 (Bloomberg

My Big Idea For 2017: Time To Build The Human Economy (Winnie Byanyima/LinkedIn


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