Daily Archives: October 16, 2018

Nigeria Says Muslim Insurgents Killed 2nd Female Aid Worker

The Nigerian government says a second female aid worker kidnapped earlier this year by an extremist Islamic group has been murdered.
The information ministry late Monday identified the victim as Hauwa Mohammed Liman, who worked at a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Liman and Saifura Khorsa, who also worked for the ICRC, were abducted in March during a raid on the remote town of Rann in Borno state, along with Alice Loksha, a nurse who worked at a health center supported by the U.N.’s children agency UNICEF. The women were kidnapped by militants with the Islamic State West Africa Province, a breakaway faction of the Islamic State-affiliated group Boko Haram.
The group murdered Khorsa last month, and released a video threatening to kill one of the other women by Monday if the government did not meet its demands, which have not been revealed.
The Information Ministry said the government “kept the line of negotiations” with the captors open, and did “all within its powers” to save Liman’s life.
“The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” said ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi. “We appealed for mercy and an end to such senseless murders. How can it be that two female health care workers were killed back-to-back? Nothing can justify this.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the killing of Hauwa Mohammed Liman and expressed concern for all remaining hostages, in a statement issued by his spokesman.
In addition to Loksha, the ISWAP is also holding 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old Christian schoolgirl kidnapped in February from the town of Dapchi.
Boko Haram, which promotes an extreme form of Islamist fundamentalism and opposes Western-style education, is blamed for the deaths of more than 30,000 people and for the dislocation of more than two million others as part of an insurgency that began in 2009. The group made international headlines in April 2014 when it abducted 276 schoolgirls from a secondary school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok. According to #BringBackOurGirls, the social media campaign and organization that formed after the kidnapping, 112 girls are still missing.

Source: Voice of America

US Says 60 Militants Killed in Somalia Airstrike

The U.S. military says 60 al-Shabab militants were killed in Friday’s airstrike near the town of Harardhere in central Somalia.
A statement Tuesday from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) says the strike was conducted in coordination with the government of Somalia.
“We currently assess this airstrike killed approximately 60 terrorists,” the statement read. It said the airstrike was the largest such attack against al-Shabab since November of last year, when another U.S. airstrike killed about 100 fighters of the Islamist militant group.
The Africa Command says there were no civilians killed or injured in the attack on Oct. 12.
Al-Shabab has yet to comment on the airstrike or reported fatalities.
A Somali official says the strike happened near the village of Jowle, about 20 kilometers southwest of Harardhere. The official, who did not want to be named, put the death toll at 117.
He says when the attack occurred, the militants were gathered at a camp and were planning to travel to the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, where villagers have put up resistance against al-Shabab.
The villagers, known as Ma’awisley, a reference to the sarong many of them wear, have been battling the militants because they are “fed up” with al-Shabab demands for money and the group’s recruitment of young boys as fighters.
Intermittent clashes have been taking place between Ma’awisley and al-Shabab since late last month in the two regions. Both sides have suffered casualties, and on Oct. 1, the leader of the Ma’awisley, Hibad Ali Dasar, was killed near the town of Adan Yabaal in Middle Shabelle.
The day after the death of Dasar, the chief of the Somali army, General Dahir Aden Indhoqarsho, expressed support for villagers standing up to al-Shabab.
The United States has been conducting airstrikes against al-Shabab in support of the Somali government. U.S. forces have carried out 27 airstrikes this year, and 33 in 2017.
The attacks have killed a number of top al-Shabab leaders, including the group’s former emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, on Sept. 1, 2014.

Source: Voice of America

Mass Expulsion of Congolese from Angola Could Spark Humanitarian Crisis

The United Nations refugee agency warns the mass expulsion of an estimated 200,000 Congolese from Angola into Congo’s unstable Kasai Central Province could trigger a humanitarian crisis.
Ethnic tensions that triggered a brutal conflict in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 are still running high. The U.N. refugee agency says the arrival of another 200,000 people into the area could further destabilize this fragile region.
Over the past two weeks, Angola has expelled the Congolese migrants, who were working as informal miners in the northeastern part of the country. Angolan authorities say they want to shut down this illegal activity.
But, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch says the sudden arrival of such a huge number of people has created a chaotic situation in Kasai, which is unprepared to handle them.
“People have been arriving in DRC through different border points with whatever belongings they can bring. We have heard complaints of violence, including sexual violence and harassment, bodily frisking and theft of belongings, at the hands of the security forces on both sides of the border,” he said.
Baloch says the UNHCR is also concerned about reports that a small number of refugees may have been caught up in the mass movement and been forced to return to the DRC. Angola currently hosts some 68,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
The UNHCR notes that mass expulsions are contrary to obligations under the African Charter. The agency is appealing to the governments of Angola and the DRC to work together to ensure safe and orderly returns.
In the meantime, it says those who have been forcibly returned are in dire straits. Most have few if any belongings and all are in need of food, water, shelter, and other basic services.

Source: Voice of America

Groundbreaking data project to support smallholder farmers and end hunger

Ceres2030 will help donors prioritize investments by evaluating agricultural interventions and investment costs to achieve the U.N.’s sustainable development goal of zero hunger by 2030

Rome, Oct. 15, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — How can donors best invest their money to support the world’s poorest farmers to improve productivity, support their families and end hunger across the globe by 2030?

This is the question driving Ceres2030, an initiative launched at the annual global meeting of the Committee on World Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome on October 16: How can we use the data we have now to support access to a nutritious diet for the more than 820 million people who face food insecurity, while staying within our planet’s environmental limits? And what do these solutions cost?

Ceres2030 combines state-of-the-art modelling with expert evidence to strengthen the global agricultural development community as it prioritizes investments to achieve the U.N.’s sustainable development goal of zero hunger by 2030. Launched by Cornell University, the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on World Food Day, Ceres2030 is supported by a three-year, $3.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

“We live in an age of abundant research—and yet we don’t know how to apply it effectively to real and urgent problems,” said Jaron Porciello, co-director of Ceres2030 and associate director for International Programs’ research data engagement in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. “As a for instance, does the research data about controlling agricultural pests by using repellent ‘push’ plants and trap ‘pull’ plants to help farmers defeat the fall armyworm that threatens the food supply of 200 million people in 44 countries justify additional investment, and, if so, how much? With answers to questions like that, we can prioritize investments to help achieve zero hunger by 2030.”

Ceres2030 will map the fullest possible range of knowledge in agricultural research, establish protocols for systematic review, create a risk-of-bias tool, and then drill down to find the most powerful interventions that can help end hunger. These tools will be freely available to researchers anywhere.

So far, Ceres2030 has used natural language processing to aggregate more than 25,000 individual articles from 3500 journals and major agency databases (e.g., FAO, CGIAR, World Bank) to see how their content addresses critical issues in agriculture. “By using natural language processing, we are able to bypass the limitations of keywords and content categories and see into the granular conversations science is having, inside and outside the peer-reviewed agricultural literature,” said Porciello. “This, we believe, is the first time anyone is able to visualize the density and relevance of research that applies to smallholder farmers. It is the first step.”

Said Carin Smaller, co-director for Ceres2030 and senior policy advisor at IISD: “Consensus is at the core of our mission. We will work with a broad range of actors, starting with the people attending the Committee on World Food Security, to build a shared vision of what interventions work best, where they work, and under what conditions.”

Farmers and policymakers need to know not just the value of the interventions but the cost, said David Laborde, co-director of Ceres2030 and senior research fellow in the markets, trades, and institutions sivision at IFPRI. “This means we need to know the tradeoffs. While the U.N. has issued a call to action to the world with the sustainability development goals on zero hunger, it has given us a critically important caveat: We must preserve the environment.”

Said Smaller, “Agriculture is a powerful tool to end poverty and an engine of economic growth, but it is also responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and almost 70 percent of freshwater use. Food is also lost to rot because crops can’t be properly stored, processed, or brought to market on time. Ceres2030 is at the nexus of so many critical problems and the path to solving them—and it will provide the donor community with an evidence based on what works, what should the priorities for funding be, and why.”

When asked why the name Ceres2030, Porciello noted that Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is also the goddess of common people. “So many times, the impact of agricultural research projects that have been funded for lots of money never reaches smallholder farmers,” she said. “We’re going to change that.”


Visit: www.ceres2030.org

Note to editors

About IP-CALS: International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS) at Cornell University meets the fundamental challenges of development and food security through teaching, research, and outreach programs that involve undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and mid-career professionals. With innovative research projects and degree programs that focus on food, agriculture and development, IP-CALS positively and sustainably improves global food security.

About IFPRI: The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries.

About IISD: The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, Toronto and New York, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

About SDG2 and Ceres2030: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted by countries in 2015, with a vision of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. “Zero Hunger” is the second of the 17 Goals. As the UN notes, the aim of SDG 2 is “to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices: supporting small-scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity.”

A review of SDG2 at the High Level Political Forum in 2017 focused on smallholder productivity and environmental sustainability as the key elements in achieving zero hunger, but noted that each suffered from a dearth of quality evidence and data on how they could be improved and combined to do just that. Ceres2030 was conceived to find that data and evidence through devising evidence synthesis reviews and other analytic tools for agricultural and rural development research, mobilizing experts to reach consensus on interventions, and modeling costs so that resources can be spent wisely to implement the right interventions in the right place at the right time.


Linda McCandless
Cornell University 

International Institute of Sustainable Development