On the Edge of Afghanistan
Sune Engel Rasmussen | Foreign Policy
“Nimruz is a microcosm of what has gone wrong in the Afghan war. The province’s lawlessness is a testament to the Western-backed government’s failure to assert authority and curtail rogue strongmen. As Afghanistan’s drug-smuggling hub, it provides a financial artery for the Taliban, who appear stronger than ever. And because of its largely unprotected borders, and complicity from the few forces that actually guard them, it has long been a gateway for the growing number of Afghans who, facing increasing violence and a stagnant economy, have simply lost hope that their motherland can be their home.
Despite the dangers that await—kidnappers, insurgents, corrupt border guards, and some 16,000 square miles of merciless terrain—what lies beyond the wilderness calls to young Afghan men like sirens in the desert.”
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Here’s Why Vaccines Are So Crucial
Cynthia Gorney | National Geographic
“Pneumococcal bacteria are ubiquitous in the modern world; easily spreadable through sneezing or casual contact, they can live without ill effect in the nasal passages of people with healthy immune systems. But when our defenses fail us, pneumococcus can migrate, multiply, and set off life-threatening infectious disease. Young children are especially vulnerable. Young children in places without ready access to antibiotics and good medical care are the most vulnerable of all. At the start of the 21st century, as the world’s first effective children’s vaccine became available in the United States and Canada, pneumococcal disease was killing more than 800,000 children worldwide every year—more than three-quarters of a million infants and kids under five, that is, dying not from some headline epidemic like Ebola or Zika but from a common organism that blew up into pneumonia (infected lungs) or meningitis (infected brain lining) or a mortal assault on the bloodstream. The vast majority of those deaths were occurring in impoverished countries such as Bangladesh.”