IRIN’s Top Picks: Burundi, bombs and bogus claims

Welcome to IRIN's reading list. Every week, our global network of specialist correspondents share their top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises. We also highlight key upcoming conferences, book releases and policy debates.

Five to read:

I Can’t Believe I’ve Lost My Family

Thirty-five-year-old Walid al-Ibbi is one of only four members of his family left alive. Earlier this month, the barber from Saada city in northwest Yemen lost 27 relatives – among them 14 children – then airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition hit his father’s house. Belkis Wille, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, writes for Foreign Policy about the devastating civilian toll of the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

No constitutional crisis: The core issues are social, political and economic

Burundi's current turmoil is commonly attributed to the contention that President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term violates both the constitution and the 2000 Arusha Accord that five years later ushered in an end to a civil war ignited in 1993. New York-based attorney Charles Kambanda argues in an editorial for The East African that both claims are spurious, on the grounds that Arusha is in effect a dead document whose terms have all been fulfilled and whose lifespan has expired. The accord, he says, was never a legal instrument, has no significant bearing on the constitution, and its only weight is now moral rather than legal. In other words, the constitutional debate is a red herring and attention should instead focus on Burundi's plethora of "social evils," chiefly extreme poverty, which makes the country "an active volcano."

Six propositions for a paradigm shift to change the system

Hesham Youssef, assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), outlines six key parts of the global aid infrastructure that he thinks need reform ahead of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. His suggestions include: greater respect for International Humanitarian Law; a larger role for local actors; improved funding mechanisms; stronger links between humanitarian and development responses; a greater focus on vulnerable populations; and a deeper exploration of private sector engagement.

How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti ­and Built Six Homes

The alleged failures by the American Red Cross following a high-profile multimillion-dollar fundraising project for Haiti make for a startling read. The authors present a collection of confidential documents that reveal – despite public claims that the charity provided homes for more than 130,000 people – that only six houses were actually built. The charity, which does not respond directly to the journalists’ allegations, says it faced a number of challenges operating in Haiti, but the article raises serious questions about NGO transparency.

Iraq after Ramadi: saving the anti-ISIL strategy

Douglas Ollivant delivers a detailed analysis of what went wrong during the recent attempts to retake Iraq’s Ramadi from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and looks at where the campaign may go next. He examines the role of the United States, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iranian militia in their attempts to defeat IS and what impact the war is having on Iraq as a country. The article is a good explainer on Iraq’s multi-layered sectarian make-up and the political and military weaknesses that have spawned one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian crises.

One to watch:

Crisis Update: Yemen

A video recording of this Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) panel briefing on the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Panellists include: Robert Blecher, deputy program director Middle East and North Africa for International Crisis Group; Philippe Bolopion, Human Rights Watch’s UN crisis advocacy director; and Pablo Marco, Yemen operations manager for MSF, who has recently returned from the capital Sana'a.

From IRIN:

Briefing: Darfur's deepening conflict

Violence in Sudan’s Darfur has surged to levels not seen in a decade, with more than 150,000 people driven from their homes this year alone. The region’s long-suffering residents are also bearing the brunt of a measles epidemic. It is a conflict to which the international community appears to have no answer and which risks being overshadowed by other crises in East Africa and beyond. This piece outlines some of the vast humanitarian and security challenges.

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