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News in the Humanosphere: Action needed to prevent famine in Somalia, warns U.N. official

Women and children queue to enter a free medical clinic run by Ugandan and Burundian personnel of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Baidoa. (Credit: UN Photo/Abdi Dakan)

Somalia is on the brink of its second famine in six years, with drought already killing people in the north and crisis looming on a catastrophic scale, the United Nations said on Thursday. ‘In six months, we’ll be facing a catastrophe and a famine on a scale we cannot imagine, if we don’t act right now,’ the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said in a press conference in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. ‘We have the first anecdotal evidence of deaths, in Somaliland in particular, as a result of the drought,’ he said, referring to the semi-autonomous northern part of the country. The majority of the population in Somalia now needs emergency aid, as the number of people short of food has risen to 6.2 million from 5 million in September, the U.N. said. (Reuters

Hero of the day: Yaser Harawi wasn’t too happy when his father sent him to study in Serbia rather than the U.S. or Canada. Years later, the Syria-born doctor thinks it was a touch of fate. The 51-year-old from Damascus, who’s lived in Serbia for more than 30 years, has found meaning in helping Syrian and other migrants passing through the Balkan country in search of a better future in Western Europe. (AP

Top Stories

A protest against a $2.4 billion Chinese-backed power plant in Bangladesh turned violent, killing one person and injuring about a dozen, risking delay to a project seen as a symbol of warming ties between the two nations. (Reuters

Thai media organizations are protesting a bill that would require journalists to be licensed and would establish a council that can penalize news outlets for violating professional standards. (AP

Congolese police fired tear gas on Thursday at more than 100 anti-government protesters gathered near the home of late opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in the capital Kinshasa, a Reuters witness said. (Reuters

The European parliament voted overwhelmingly to bring in new rules cracking down on illegal fishing, which could help coastal states in heavily fished African waters confront criminal activity. (Guardian

A West African drive to clean up toxic fuels that campaigners say pose a health hazard to millions has run into difficulties less than two months after it was announced, according to importers, traders and other oil industry insiders. (Reuters

Syrians fleeing the Islamic State group in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor are taking dangerous smuggling routes through mined territory to reach safety, but harsh conditions await near the Iraqi border. (AFP

A migrant deal between the European Union and Libya seems closer after leaders of the EU institutions met with the Libyan prime minister on Thursday. Details of the deal, proposed by the EU last week, were discussed ahead of Friday’s informal EU summit in Malta. (VOA

Thailand’s military government says it made progress in fighting human trafficking in 2016, aiming for a favorable review from the U.S. State Department in its annual report on modern-day slavery. (AP

Somali refugees have no good options any more. With Kenya vowing to close the Dadaab refugee camp within months and resettlement to the United States suspended, many will succumb to growing pressure to return home, where al-Shabab militants and a potential famine await. (IRIN

Banning cars on Saturdays in Mexico city hasn’t reduced air pollutants according to a new study. (BBC


Here’s How the Middle East is Reacting to Trump’s Travel Ban (Global Dispatches Podcast

Deportation plan could plunge millions into poverty across the Americas (Humanosphere

EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? (IRIN

These young Somalis refuse to go ‘home’ when Kenya closes the world’s largest refugee camp (PRI

Trump immigration ban upends international work on disease (Nature

US-Australia refugee resettlement agreement in question (Devex

How unusual is Trump’s use of executive orders? (CSM

Measuring Australia’s foreign aid generosity, from Menzies to Turnbull (DevPolicy

Crime in South Africa (Africa is a Country

Multinational Companies in retreat? Fascinating Economist briefing (From Poverty to Power


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