Top Picks: Stuff that caught our eye recently

Residents of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk look out of a bus window as they prepare to depart to escape the fighting. ©Reuters/M. Zmeyev

Residents of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk look out of a bus window as they prepare to depart to escape the fighting. ©Reuters/M. Zmeyev

Here are our “Top Picks” for the first week of August.  The list is curated from a humanitarian perspective on armed conflict, so you'll discover links to a variety of things - from articles on international humanitarian law and the use of lethal force, to stories about finding dignity and compassion in the midst of conflict. It's a little bit eclectic and by no means exhaustive, but our hope is that it will open up a window on humanity in war and offer our readers some insight into what we're tracking here in DC. *


Vox News’ Ezra Klein looks at “the most important sentence in Obama’s statement on Iraq.” Klein says the president makes his legal case for war and sharply limits its scope in one line.

Not for the faint of heart, the Atlantic features a story about the one war photo from the Gulf War in the 90s that no one would publish.

The Washington Post carried a story earlier in the week about the thousands of stranded, minority Iraqis to whom the US government airdropped humanitarian supplies this week.


The ICRC's president, Peter Maurer, visited Israel and the occupied territories, including Gaza. Read the press release.

Global Voices looks at how the personalization of data can feed propaganda and distort our point of view.

The New York Times examines how the latest hostilities have strained relations between the US and Israel. They also asked the question of “Who counts as a combatant?” And in his opinion piece, entitled “Dear Guests: revelations in the Gaza War,” Thomas Friedman says it’s crunch time for Israeli and Palestinian moderates to find a way to work together to prevent the spread of radicalization.

Foreign Policy says it exclusively obtained a copy of a plan outlined by major European powers for a European-backed UN mission to monitor the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip and the dismantling of Hamas's military tunnel network and rocket arsenals.

The Washington Post looks at different reports being filed by journalists after they leave Gaza showing Hamas militants reportedly in action.

Daniel Warner, an American-Swiss political analyst based in Geneva, asks a provocative question: Are we witnessing the end of humanitarianism?

Huff Post Politics offers a list of 17 things to read if you’re trying to see all sides of the Israel-Gaza conflict.


Foreign Policy says “Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine won’t be an armored blitzkrieg” but a slow, seditious drip that’s already happening.

The ICRC issued a news release on August 8 expressing concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the east of the country. We also acknowledged  receipt of an offer from Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, about organizing aid convoys to the affected areas in Ukraine.

Al Jazeera reports that the UN is warning of a “mass exodus” from Ukraine due to fighting.


The White House hosted an unprecedented gathering of African leaders in Washington this week. Find highlights here and coverage by the Washington Post here.

Foreign Policy argues that immunity cannot allow impunity and that African leaders who want to exempt themselves from prosecution for crimes should think again because new research shows people aren’t as forgiving as they might like to think.       

Mashable brings us three reasons we shouldn’t panic about Ebola in the US and the Washington Post offers an opinion by a Minnesota researcher on what we need to fight the disease.

A British victim of female genital mutilation in Africa speaks out to NPR.

In the Central African Republic, the suffering is not over for thousands of people displaced by violence in Bambari, according to our colleagues in the field.

Al Jazeera ran an opinion piece by the Secretary-General of Amnesty International about evidence the group says it has uncovered of extrajudicial killings in Nigeria.

NPR reports on how refugees are being given the opportunity to legally work in Uganda.

CNN’s Inside Africa photo gallery captures children playing in an abandoned DRC airport and the images are haunting and beautiful.

VOA took a recent look at how the US is helping Somalia’s fledgling national government by training Somali commandos to fight the armed opposition.

The Great War

The ICRC published a series of postcards illustrating its work and life in camps and hospitals during the First World War.

The Atlantic has an interesting article about how copper masks were used in World War I to cover combat veterans’ facial scars and help them regain their confidence in public. (Our resident ICRC DC doctor says so much of what we know about facial reconstruction came out of war surgery over the years.)


Huff Post Politics spotted this gem of a Stephen Colbert retrospective on the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation.

We missed this on July 25 but it’s a very interesting read about what a little idle time for contemplation (even if you’re thinking negative thoughts) can boost creativity, empathy and even joy. So pack up the computer or put your tablet down, pour a cup of tea, and just sit for a while. See where your mind takes you.

* A small but important disclaimer: Just because something is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it, and the views expressed on the platforms we're highlighting don't necessarily reflect those of the ICRC.