A deadly week and Peace Corps for millennials: This week in development news

By Michael Igoe 02 June 2016

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris. This week, she announced plans to build a reception center and modular shelter for refugees somewhere in north Paris. Photo by: Michael Dean / OECD / CC BY-NC

The U.S. Peace Corps gets a fresh new logo, the mayor of Paris plans to build a refugee camp, and the creators of Airbnb join the Gates and Buffett club for generous billionaires. This week in development news.

1,000 refugees are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this week, as warmer weather has seen more overcrowded vessels attempting to make the dangerous crossing from Libya to Europe. NGOs and volunteer organizations assisting migrants stranded at sea are decrying European Union policies for failing to provide safe avenues of migration for people fleeing war and other crises. “The vast majority of children using the crossing are unaccompanied adolescents and they have faced appalling abuses, exploitation and the possibility of death at every step of their journey,” said UNICEF in a statement.

The Giving Pledge has 17 new members, representing billions in new charitable commitments to development causes. The Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates-inspired club of rich people who commit to giving away half their wealth announced its new members Wednesday. Among the 17 uber-wealthy philanthropists are three co-founders of Airbnb, the lodging rental website. Saudi business magnate Prince Alwaleed, chairman of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is also among the new signatories, making him the first Arab Muslim to take the pledge. Since its founding in 2010, the Giving Pledge has sought to diversify its commitment base, especially by drawing in emerging philanthropists from developing and middle-income countries.

While Kenya plans to close refugee camps, Paris’s mayor wants to open a camp. Anne Hidalgo said this week she plans to build a reception center and modular shelter for refugees somewhere in north Paris. City officials have regularly removed makeshift settlements and shelters, and Hidalgo’s plan to construct a new encampment is meant to provide an officially sanctioned alternative. Meanwhile in Kenya, the decision to close Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest in the world, as well as the smaller Kakuma camp, is a final decision and, according to Kenya’s interior minister, who said it would take place by November. The closure is in response to security concerns, the official said. Dadaab is home to over 300,000 Somali refugees.

The Peace Corps has a new logo. The 55-year-old government agency that sends U.S. citizens on 27-month stints in developing countries is looking for ways to appeal to a new generation of prospective volunteers. Peace Corps worked with public relations firms Ogilvy Washington and Forum One to create a new logo — which merges the emblematic peace dove with the U.S. flag — for the first time in four decades. The agency also updated its website. In 2015 Peace Corps broke its applications record, receiving the highest number of applications since 1975. Last week during his trip to Asia, President Obama announced the agency is adding Vietnam to its list of partner countries.

Scientists in Australia believe they might have a better understanding of how to prolong the effectiveness of malaria vaccines. A study from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute showed that activating immune cells known as CD8+ helped extend the effectiveness of malaria resistance in mice beyond the resistance timeframe achieved using traditional antibodies. The findings could play a role in protecting people against the disease with vaccines that last longer than just a few years.

The United Nations secretary-general has asked for an additional 2,500 peacekeepers to be deployed to Mali, in response to a series of attacks by the al-Qaida affiliate in the West African country. Twelve peacekeeper are among the victims of recent attacks. “It remains critical that [the U.N. mission in Mali] urgently address outstanding gaps in force requirements, enhance its capabilities — including intelligence and use of technologies — and continue to adjust its posture to be responsive to the deteriorating security situation,” Ban Ki-moon wrote in a report seen by Reuters.

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About the author

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Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.

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