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Internally displaced persons cross the Nile river to get to Minkamman, on March 1, 2014. Khartoum dispatched reinforcements to its front lines on Feb. 27 as government and rebel delegations gathered in the Ethiopian capital to resume talks to end fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The African Union-mediated negotiations aim to end the nearly three-year-old war in the two restive states, which aid groups say has left 1.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

- AFP/Getty Images

MABAN COUNTY, South Sudan — Asir, a 49 year-old farmer from Blue Nile in Sudan, had just completed a grueling eight-day trip, walking through tall grass, mud and rain, often at night, leading a group of men, women and children to safety in a sprawling refugee camp in neighboring South Sudan. He had only the clothes on his back.

While the vast majority of Blue Nile residents had previously fled to refugee camps, many thousands stayed behind in government-controlled territory. Far from finding refuge, these communities have endured horrific abuses at the hands of government soldiers and armed militia.

Three years on, a steady stream of civilians is risking the treacherous journey to South Sudan. Asir, whose name was changed for this story, is among them.

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Mourners pray during a ceremony held to commemorate victims of the December 2004 tsunami at Peraliya village in southern Sri Lanka on December 26, 2012, on the eighth anniversary of the disaster. Some 31,000 people on the island died during the 2004 Asian tsunami and one million were initially left homeless.

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TUCSON, Arizona — Last year, I watched children running in and out of the waves on Sri Lanka’s southern shore. Life felt almost normal, almost as if the tsunami that claimed some 230,000 lives from Thailand to Madagascar 10 years ago had never happened.

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Demonstrators march to protest police abuse on December 7, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The protest was one of many that have take place nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents.

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EVANSTON, Illinois — The decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson came several days after Russian President Vladimir Putin walked out of the G20 summit in Australia to show his irritation with Western leaders regarding Russian aggression towards Ukraine, and the downing of flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine.

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(L-R) Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott shakes hands with Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit on Nov. 16, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Next year's summit is set to be held in Istanbul.

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WASHINGTON — 2014 was supposed to be a triumphant year, with the first ever election of a popularly elected president and renewed attention on Turkey’s strategic importance for a Middle East in turmoil.

Unfortunately, the rollercoaster of conflict throughout the region has only exacerbated myriad internal tensions that have further polarized Turkish society and its international friends.

Last year’s Gezi Park protests; allegations of corruption that led to crackdowns, including banning Twitter temporarily; more tensions with the Kurds; attacks on US sailors in Istanbul; and, most recently, President Erdogan’s public claim that Muslims first discovered America, have left the West scratching its head. Is this the “new” Turkey its leadership promised?

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Egyptian protesters shout slogans on Abdel Moneim Riad Square in the capital Cairo on December 5, 2014, during a demonstration against a court's decision to drop a murder charge against ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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WASHINGTON — The mass sentencing to death of 188 people in Egypt, following the decision to dismiss the case against former Egyptian President Mubarak for his part in the deaths of hundreds of protestors in 2011, are the latest blows to the rule of law in Egypt.

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Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech during the presentation of the programme 'Nuevo Guerrero' (New Guerrero) in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on Dec. 4, 2014. Mexico's embattled President Pena Nieto visited violence-plagued Guerrero state on Thursday for the first time since a security crisis erupted over the apparent massacre of dozens of students in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26.

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son and six others were killed by paid assassins, famously stated: “I don’t know where the state ends and organized crime begins.”

The disappearance and presumed murder of 43 college students in the town of Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26 – and the subsequent discovery of multiple mass graves – confirm Sicilia’s observation.

This massacre is one of more than two dozen reported in Mexico since the 1960s. There was the infamous Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968; the disappearance of approximately 1,200 during the Dirty War in the 1970s; and the deaths and disappearances of more than 100,00 people since the Narco-War began in 2006.

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Thick smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani as Turkish soldiers stand guarded on the Turkish side of the border during fighting between Islamic State militants and Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) forces.

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CAIRO — As the world unites in its determination to defeat the Islamic State (IS), we must all acknowledge that to complete this task fully and ensure extremists like this are never able to pose such a threat, bombs, bullets and boots are only a small part of what is actually needed.

The CIA estimates that IS has as many as 32,000 fighters, and that number is growing. One Iraqi expert even estimates the figure to be greater than 50,000.

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In this photo taken on Nov. 7, 2013, Indian mother Suman Chandel holds her new born baby, hours after delivery at a clinic in Jhiri, in central Madhya Pradesh. India has long had a dismal record of deaths from preventable illness.

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WHITEHOUSE STATION, New Jersey — In several recent and high-profile speeches, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on India’s citizens to recognize the important link between his country’s development and the current status of girls and women.

He noted that India cannot move forward as long as its girls and women are left behind; that India will not complete its journey to becoming a global power if its girls and women remain powerless. And he emphasized that one of the most distressing problems facing girls and women is maternal mortality.

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A Ukrainian woman shows her t-shirt with a traditional Ukrainian symbol as she casts her ballot at a polling station in the Ukrainian Consulate in St. Petersburg on October 26, 2014.

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KYIV, Ukraine —In the Millennium Development Declaration, signed by 189 countries, Ukraine declared that by 2015 women’s representation in parliament would reach 30 percent. The country accepted the obligation to create favorable conditions for that development.

It appears that Ukraine will not achieve this goal.

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NEW YORK — It was a proud moment for our family. Our firstborn son was coming home from his first semester at college in Chicago. He had made it through midterms and finals, through an array of friendships and experiences in a new city, the one where his immigrant mom was raised.

To save money, we bought our son an Amtrak ticket. It was the first time he would travel alone by land and the first time on a long train ride. It would be about a 20-hour trip. Painful for his back, and as it turns out, painful for his soul.

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