When was the last time in recent memory a top U.S. official praised Cuba publicly? And since when has Cuba’s leadership offered to cooperate with Americans?
Staring at the floor, Hassan, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee from Idlib in northwestern Syria, holds a set of identification papers in his hands. He picks out a small pink piece of paper with a few words on it stating that he must obtain a work contract, otherwise his residency visa will not be renewed.
The United Nations, which is working on an emergency footing to battle the outbreak of Ebola, is worried about the potential for further isolation of the hardest-hit nations in West Africa.
Of the thousands of landslide-prone villages he has visited and worked with, R M S Bandara, a high-ranking official from Sri Lanka’s National Building Resources Organisation (NBRO), says only one has made him sit up and take note.
The outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone has badly affected the West African country’s move towards meeting key development goals.
Dressed in a flowered African print kitenge
and a blue head scarf, Sabur Samson, 27, sits pensively at the HIV centre at Maridi Civil Hospital in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state.
The United States proposed Tuesday that the international community write off 100 million dollars in debt owed by West African countries hit hardest by the current Ebola outbreak. The money would be re-invested in health and other public programming.
The simultaneity presented by the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus on one hand and militant barbarism ostensibly in the name of Islam on the other present the international development community - particularly the United Nations and international NGOs – with challenges, as well as opportunities.
In the world’s largest refugee complex – the sprawling Dadaab settlement in Kenya’s North Eastern Province – women listen attentively during a business management workshop held at a hospital in one of its newest camps, Ifo 2.
People covered their bodies with mud to protest against government ineptitude and abandonment; others lighted paper lanterns and candles and released white doves and balloons to remember the dead, offer thanks and pray for more strength to move on; while many trooped to a vast grave site with white crosses to lay flowers for those who died, and to cry one more time.
Climate change is projected by many scientists to bring with it a range of calamities – from widespread floods, to prolonged heatwaves and slowly but relentlessly rising seas – taking the heaviest toll on those already most vulnerable.
"Going back home? That would be suicide. The Islamists would cut our throats straight away," says Khalil Hafif Ismam. The fear of this Mandaean refugee sums up that of one of the oldest yet most decimated communities in Mesopotamia.
Ongoing military conflicts in the strife-torn Middle East - specifically in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Palestine - have resulted in widespread civilian casualties, impacting heavily on the most vulnerable in besieged communities: women and children.
Residents of the Khyber Agency, one of seven administrative districts that comprise northern Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are in the worst possible predicament: either course of action they choose now, they say, could result in death.
Winter has not yet hit this nearly besieged city, but children are already attending classes in winter coats and stocking hats.