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Top Picks: A bombing in Balochistan, South Sudan's rape victims and Gaza's unfulfilled promises

A mall destroyed in Gaza
A mall destroyed in Gaza (Al Baba/ICRC)

Welcome to IRIN's weekly top picks of must-read research, podcasts, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises.

What's Happening in Pakistan's 'Most Complicated' Region?

The suicide bombing that killed 70 people in Pakistan last week highlights what people are living through in Balochistan, racked by an insurgency rooted in the 1947 partition of British India. Many of those killed in the attack were lawyers battling for human rights in the province, where bodies turn up on roadsides or in mass graves and almost 10,000 people have disappeared over the past decade. Practicing journalism can be a death wish in Balochistan, so there is little reporting from there, making it poorly understood. In this interview in The Atlantic, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States sheds some light on the complex conflict.

Two years after the war, Gaza is still rebuilding

Two years ago, a ceasefire put an end to the 50-day war in Gaza that killed 2,000 Palestinians – mostly civilians – as well as 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel. About 11,000 homes were destroyed and many more damaged. This report from Gisha, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement, takes stock of reconstruction efforts - and it’s not pretty. Some 915,000 tons of cement and 126,000 tons of steel have entered the Palestinian enclave, but it is only a fraction of the need to truly rebuild. Donors are still slow to give what they promised and restrictions on imports, exports and movement mean that ties with Israel and the West Bank – desperately needed for any sort of economic recovery – are limited. As Gisha points out, real reconstruction would give Gazans a chance to carve out a future, and at the moment that doesn’t seem to be on the cards.

One to watch:

Watching South Sudan’s nightmare

This report from Channel 4 News documents an attack on a compound in Juba, South Sudan. About 100 troops of the presidential guard allegedly killed a local journalist and beat and raped foreign aid workers. The harrowing video shows the compound’s shot up, looted buildings with bloodstains on the stairs and walls. One aid worker recounts helplessly watching as journalist John Gatluak was shot in the head for being from a different ethnic group. “I thought we were going to be next,” says the aid worker. The soldiers then reportedly separated the female aid workers and gang raped some of them, one at least 15 times. One woman describes a soldier putting a gun next to her temple and firing into the floor, implicitly threatening to kill her if she didn’t “open her legs”. The attack took place only about one kilometre away from a UN base, yet the peacekeepers ignored calls for help. The ordeal adds to the litany of failures of the UN peacekeeping mission, UNMISS. The mission, despite sheltering tens of thousands of displaced people, has been slammed for failing to protect civilians from mass rapes and ethnically-motivated murders over the past two years of South Sudan’s civil war.

One to listen to:

Yemen’s civilians suffer yet again

With Yemen’s peace talks in shambles, airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have intensified as has fighting on the ground between various groups. As ever, civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict that has killed more than 6,600 since March 2015. Early this week a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières was hit, and now the charity has said it will withdraw staff from six hospitals in the north of the country. In this short but useful interview on New York public radio, veteran journalist Iona Craig, who knows Yemen better than most, explains why the conflict has sparked up again, the roles major powers including the US and UK are playing, and what all this means for those caught in the middle.

One from IRIN:

Who in the world is Millie Wonder?

The rape of aid workers in South Sudan made headlines around the world. The incident was brutal but not uncommon – one in three women are sexually or physically assaulted in their lifetimes. It’s a reminder that rape is still used as a weapon of war and many victims – wherever they are – face stigma, shame and silence. On World Humanitarian Day, IRIN visits Millie Wonder, a rape survivor who gives self-defence training to schoolgirls in a Nairobi slum. 

Coming up:

AidEx Africa

14-15 September in Nairobi, Kenya

Now in its third year, AidEx Africa’s trade fair for humanitarian and development professionals will focus on localisation. Four months on from the World Humanitarian Summit, has progress been made towards fulfilling a raft of pledges that included directing 25 percent of humanitarian funding to local and national agencies? The debate itself is obviously far from over. The first event in the programme asks: “Is the existing aid architecture fit for purpose in today’s context?” Two days of discussions cover everything from preparedness to cash-based interventions. But as a recent IRIN column argued, be careful what you wish for. Register here.

(TOP PHOTO: A mall destroyed by bombings in Gaza, August 2014. Al Baba/ICRC.)

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