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News in the Humanosphere: U.N. staffer abducted ahead of Security Council visit to Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shakes hands with FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez, while Raul Castro looks on at the signing of the cease-fire in Havana. (Credit: Presidencia El Salvador/Flickr)

An employee of the United Nations has been kidnapped by a dissident rebel faction in southern Colombia, marring a visit by UN Security Council ambassadors to show support for the South American nation’s recent peace deal. President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration said that the Colombian national was working on a crop substitution project in the southern state of Guaviare when he was taken captive. Rodrigo Pardo, the president’s top aide for post-conflict planning, said the captors are a unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who refused to lay down their weapons as part of a peace deal last year. (Al Jazeera

Beware the armyworm…”Tackling the menace of the tenacious fall armyworm pest and avoiding economic hardship for smallholders across Africa requires quick and coordinated action, a massive awareness campaign, scientific innovation and multi-institutional collaboration, indicated scientists attending the Stakeholders Consultation Meeting on the Fall Armyworm in Nairobi this week.” (FAO

Bizarre claim of the day: Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa, President Robert Mugabe has said. (BBC

Top Stories

Brazil’s federal police began a new round raids on Thursday as part of their investigation into alleged embezzlement and graft at a division of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA. (VOA

Heavy seasonal rains have started in Somalia, aid officials and residents said on Thursday, reducing the risk that the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa nation will plunge into famine. (Reuters

The U.N. Security Council headed to Colombia to demonstrate its commitment to the peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest rebel group and to promote efforts at reconciliation. (VOA

Lawyers claim the fire disaster that killed 41 girls at the San José Pinula children’s shelter reflects wider state failings on the protection of women in Guatemala. (Guardian

A women’s rights activist in Rwanda says she will stand against President Paul Kagame in the country’s August election. (VOA


Major powers backing opposing sides in the war in Syria have signed a pact on creating “safe zones”, despite rebel delegates storming out of the ceremony at talks in Kazakhstan in protest. (BBC

The head of the World Health Organization praised Guineans for their role in helping to develop a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus. (VOA

As Afghanistan slides back into chaos, with a resurgent Taliban and dwindling international aid, many fear that the country’s women’s shelters could be forced to close, leaving those who rely on them at the mercy of an often harshly conservative society. (AP

In a region awash in populist, Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant sentiments, the Czech Republic has acted as the last bastion of liberal democracy — but that could soon change. (PRI


There’s Enough Food. But Famine Still Looms in Yemen. Here’s Why. (Global Dispatches podcast

Has President Trump Learned to Love the United Nations? (Foreign Policy

Timor-Leste’s big-spending leaders are squandering its savings (The Economist

Why whistle-blowing won’t save Nigeria (African Arguments

The women trying to keep Somalia safe (BBC

Venezuela’s Leader Shreds the Constitution (Bloomberg View

Why black South Africans are attacking foreign Africans but not foreign whites (Quartz

Ivanka Trump Wants to Highlight The Humanitarian Crises Her Father Ignores (Foreign Policy

Can TPP go ahead without America? (The Economist

Growing Inequality under Global Capitalism (IPS


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