June 21, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Joe Parker reporting. Secretary Kerry to meet with "Dissent Channel" offers.
Secretary of State John Kerry says he plans to meet with department employees who submitted a cable calling for a more muscular U.S. Syria policy, although the State Department stopped short of saying that Secretary Kerry agrees with their position.
Asked by reporters on Monday if he had read the so-called "Dissent Channel" cable, Mr. Kerry acknowledged that he had and said, "It's very good."
The secretary also said he planned to meet with some of the 51 mostly mid-level diplomats who have called for targeted airstrikes against the Syrian regime.
The diplomats' request, submitted through the department's internal Dissent Channel, became public last week after it was leaked to several news organizations.
Their call for airstrikes as a means of exerting pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to pursue a political settlement stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration's current policy.
On this World Refugee Day, a new report from the United Nations refugee agency says global forced displacement last year reached record-breaking levels. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.
Last year, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced - an increase of nearly five million over the previous year.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says more people now are being displaced by war and persecution.
"Twenty-four people (are) displaced every minute. Ninety percent are displaced in poor or middle-income countries."
The report finds three countries - Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia - produce half of the world's 21 million refugees. Fifty percent of all refugees are children, many of whom become separated from the their families while fleeing.
Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.
This is VOA news.
An estimated 30,000 civilians have fled the Iraqi city of Fallujah in the last three days, placing a strain on aid agencies.
Karl Schembri is with the Norwegian Refugee Council in Baghdad: "Our staff are there on the ground trying to keep up with their needs, providing water, food, the shelter and basic items like mattresses. But we are running out of stocks, we're running out of funding. I myself have just been to the camps and I've seen some of the most vulnerable people - people with disabilities, pregnant women, children out there in the scorching heat."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared an Iraqi victory in Fallujah. But Iraqi fighters still face snipers and bombs as they fight to eliminate IS militants who've held the city now for more than two years.
Nigeria floated its currency Monday after holding the value of the naira steady for months despite slowing economic growth and shrinking production of its main export, which is oil.
The move is expected to help Africa's largest economy as it moves into a recession. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
For months, Nigeria has been holding the value of its currency at about 200 naira to the dollar despite calls by some economists and foreign investors to let the currency lose value. President Muhammadu Buhari resisted.
Buhari changed course last week. The central bank made the surprise announcement that the currency would not simply be devalued, but would be allowed freely trade against other currencies like the dollar and euro.
Renaissance Capital sub-Saharan Africa economist Yvonne Mhango said Nigeria had little choice but to let its currency fall.
"They're running out of the firepower, which is the reserves, and secondly, something that they didn't anticipate, or no one did, was how much oil production would fall."
A series of militant attacks on pipelines and infrastructure on the oil producing Niger Delta region has cut Nigeria's oil production in half.
Chris Stein, for VOA news, Lagos.
Oil is Nigeria's top export. The drop in production along with the global slump in the price of oil to around $50 a barrel from about $100 a year ago is one reason Nigeria is expected to soon enter a recession.
Separate bomb explosions in Afghanistan today killed at least 24 people and wounded around 40 others.
The deadliest attack occurred in Kabul when a suicide bomber approached a minibus on foot and set off explosives, killing 14 and wounding another eight.
Those killed were Nepalese security guards who were part of a company looking after the security of the Canadian embassy in Kabul.
The Taliban almost immediately claimed responsibility.
For more on all these stories, visit our website at voanews.com. Joe Parker reporting from Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.