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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Freida Pinto, actress and Plan International Girls' Rights Ambassador, delivers a speech at the 'Girl Summit 2014' in Walworth Academy on July 22, 2014 in London, England. At the one-day summit the government has announced that parents will face prosecution if they fail to prevent their daughters suffering female genital mutilation (FGM).

- Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Two critical recent events — one in the United Kingdom and one in the US — have given increasing recognition to the rights of adolescent girls.

The Girl Summit in London to end child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) was co-hosted by the UK and UNICEF. “Investing in the Next Generation” was a focus of discussions among more than 40 African heads of state that came to Washington for the first-ever US-Africa Leaders Summit.

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Two Palestinian boys walk amid the rubble of destroyed homes in Shejaiya on August 27, 2014. Shejaiya is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in fighting between Hamas militants and Israel during 50 days of fighting. Israel and Palestinians both boasted of victory in the Gaza war but analysts say Hamas received only promises while the conflict aggravated divisions in the Israeli leadership.

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BOSTON — I admit it. I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Twenty-five years in the Israeli Foreign Service, during which I spent much of my time countering terrorism and its supporters, didn't prepare me for this. In our fight against Hamas, I am pro-Palestinian.  

Really.

As a human being, an Israeli and a Jew, I cannot ignore the suffering that Gazans — like their Muslim, Christian and Jewish Israeli neighbors across the border — have undergone during two months of fighting. It's truly painful to see.

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Iraqi Shiite volunteers from the University of Basra that have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a graduation ceremony in the southern port city of Basra on August 23, 2014. Jihadist-led militants launched a major offensive in June, overrunning large areas of five provinces and sweeping security forces aside.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — As the flames of war burn terrible scars into Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria and beyond, a viable path to peace presents itself. It has little to do with the US military or President Obama.

The solution lies in the Arab world itself.

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A displaced Iraqi child who fled Wadi Osaj village near Jalawla, Kurdistan as battles between peshmerga and Islamic State (IS) jihadists broke out, looks into the camera at a village near the Diyala province town of Khaniqin, where many displaced people are taking shelter on August 25, 2014.

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DENVER — The beheading of American journalist James Foley shocked this nation and the world. By filming his murder and distributing the video across the internet, the Islamic State appalled a world already grown accustomed to the nightmare horrors of terrorism since 9/11.

For me, Foley’s tragic death brought back haunting memories from my work in the Foreign Service.

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A parishioner holds a prayer card in memory of James Foley after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass and offered prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.

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SYDNEY, Australia — As a final-year medical student, even in my darkest and most stressful hours prior to exams and assessments, I still think some small part of me wants to change the world. I wonder what kind of doctor I should become in order to do this. I wonder where I should work. I wonder if I should go into family practice instead, and just play it safe: have nice patients, a nice car and a nice, easy life. 

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Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped their Boko Haram Islamist captors wait to meet the Nigerian president at the presidency in Abuja on July 22, 2014.

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NAIROBi, Kenya — “I really want to go back to school so that I can get a job and live a better life,” Changamile told us from her home in rural Malawi. But Changamile married at 16, and she has too much housework and no support from her family to return to school.

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Congo President Denis Sassou N'guesso (L) shakes with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 13, 2014. Denis Sassou N'guesso is on a visit to China from June 11 to 19.

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WASHINGTON DC — As Washington hosts the first US-Africa Leaders Summit, it’s worth comparing America and Chinese engagement in Africa. Both countries compete for access to the continent’s natural resources and growing consumer markets. For the sake of economic competitiveness, some experts urge President Obama to avoid the issues of democratic governance and human rights during the summit, just as China has done during summits in Beijing.

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Libyans condemn and urge for an end of war during a protest at the Algeria Square July 26, 2014 in Tripoli, Libya.

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BRUSSELS — It has been over three years since the NATO-led military intervention that overturned what was left of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The optimism of that moment of political transformation in Libya and across the Arab world now feels decades away. Such is the disenchantment with what was expectantly heralded as the Arab Spring in 2011.

Egypt seems to have substituted one military strongman for another with the election of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. In Syria, there seems to be no end in sight for the bloodbath the revolution has become, and Libya is perched on the edge of a precipice, one move from anarchy.

One has to look no further than Libya’s recent parliamentary elections to understand how bleak the situation has become. With voter turnout hovering around 18.5 percent — only 44 percent of eligible Libyans registered to vote — little hope exists that any of the country’s new “representatives” can gain much legitimacy. Fathi al-Gabasi from the Eastern community of Aoudjila, for example, was elected to parliament with only three votes.

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BETHLEHEM, Palestine — It is the last day of Eid Al-Fitr.

Monday, the first day of a three-day celebration to end Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, was marked by eerie silence and glum faces in Bethlehem. There were no fireworks illuminating the evening sky as is the custom during the end of Ramadan. The only light that came during Eid was from the candles that Palestinians lit in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp in memory of the some 200 children that were killed by the Israeli army in Gaza during the now 23-day onslaught.

On Tuesday, the second day of Eid, I walked into a fruit market in BeitSahour, a suburb of Bethlehem, expecting to see people buying fruits and vegetables by the armload for the second day of feasting. Three people lingered, haphazardly picking vegetables, their eyes glued to the television set on the wall above them.

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An Iraqi family fleeing violence in the northern city of Tal Afar, arrive at the Kurdish checkpoint in Aski kalak, 40 km West of Arbil, in the autonomous Kurdistan region, on July 1, 2014. Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported.

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WASHINGTON — Humanitarian crises in the world today — Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, South Sudan and now Gaza — all demand immediate and massive humanitarian response.

The crises are not only large-scale, affecting millions, but the conflicts also are complex, each with unique political realities and on-the-ground difficulties.

They are not alone among crises competing for our attention. They are simply the biggest, pushing off the front pages other crises where human needs remain urgent: Darfur, Central America, Pakistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia.

It’s not only the number and the scale that challenge the humanitarian community, but the proliferation of humanitarian actors, the politicization of humanitarian responses and the insecurity that confronts humanitarian workers.

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