Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

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A prominent Muslim leader in Nigeria is making a point about a common practice in Islam. He says if people are worried about poverty or terrorism, they should consider how those problems can be made worse by polygamy. Here's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

Southern Africa is facing an invasion by an army — but not the sort of force you can defeat with ammunition. This foreign invader is an agricultural pest that is threatening the breadbasket of the region.

Zambian farmer Daniel Banda noticed in late December that something was munching through his crop of corn, destroying the maize fields on his small farm just outside the capital, Lusaka. Voracious caterpillars, known as fall armyworms, had nestled in the cobs and chomped through the leaves.

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Fortunate Nyakupinda has parked her hatchback by the side of the busy main road leading to the industrial area in Harare — where she sells used clothing for men from the trunk and the back seat.

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A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

Wide-eyed Sakina Muhammad, who's 2, sits on her mother, Habiba's lap, on a bed in the ICU. Sakina is stick thin, her body withered and emaciated.

But she's one of the lucky ones — a malnourished child who came to the health facility in time to be saved. Many starving children don't make it.

Malnutrition is at a catastrophic level in northeastern Nigeria, where Sakina lives, says Doctors Without Borders. According to the medical aid group, the number of malnourished people could be as high as half a million. Children are starving — and dying.

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It's World Refugee Day today, and the head of the UN's refugee agency, FiIippo Grandi, has released some startling statistics – starting with the fact that there are 65 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. That's a record number.

And behind every number, there is a story.

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Now to some good news from Nigeria. Authorities say one of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram two years ago is free. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been following the story and joins us now from Abuja, Nigeria. Hello, there.

Bourang Ba was a young farmer in Sitacourou — a sleepy village of scattered thatched roof dwellings where cattle chomp on hay in courtyards. Last year, the father of two set out for Europe, leaving behind his son, daughter and young wife, Nialina. Like his two half-brothers who had already migrated to Spain, he hoped to send money home for the family.

Bourang Ba never made it to Europe. He drowned in the Mediterranean en route.

"He wanted to do his bit and provide for his relatives, so he left without telling me," sobs Wassa Ba, Bourang Ba's father.

"We're not afraid of the terrorists," says Salimata Sylla.

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British prime minister David Cameron today told Parliament that the U.K. should join the U.S. and France in bombing raids on ISIS and Syria.

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And let's take a step back now to see what details we can get on this breaking - fast-breaking story there in Bomako, Mali. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following the details from London.

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We're tracking a hostage situation in Mali today. Two gunmen took over an upscale hotel. The Radisson Blu is in the capital, Bamako. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following this story from London and joins us now. Good morning.

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In a speech marking Zimbabwe's National Heroes Day on Monday, President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabweans had failed in their responsibility to protect Cecil the lion.

"Even Cecil the lion is yours," he said. "He's dead, but he was yours to protect and you failed to protect him."

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On May Day, Zimbabwe's information minister, Jonathan Moyo, posted a bleak tweet, listing what he described as his country's triple challenge after the economic crash of 2007-2008: "We've workers without work, we've lost the sense of labour value and we lack a strategy to create wealth."

Zimbabweans lament that life is tough and everything is expensive in their U.S. dollar-based economy.

So how do people get by?

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