The Runways are Ready Ready for takeoff, commercial flights in Angola which resumed this week following their suspension in early March at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic — with only domestic flights available for booking as of now.
The first highly anticipated roundtrip flight between Luanda and Cabinda on Monday was surrounded by confusion at the airport with more passengers as there were seats.
Nevertheless, domestic flights will continue with a round trip to Soyo, in Zaire province on Wednesday and a two-way connection between the capital city and Huambo on Thursday.
International flights are scheduled to operate next Monday.
National Progress This marks a huge step towards economic recovery that also coincides with a rise in the country’s coronavirus testing capacity as for the first time more than 1,800 tests were carried out in a single day — as reported by officials on Tuesday.
Tests that resulted in the confirmation of 51 new infections which sees the national caseload at nearly 3,500 with 136 deaths since the start of the global coronavirus health crisis.
A situation to which the newly opened Walter Strangway hospital unveiled this week by President João Lourenço, in Cuito, the capital of the province of Bié, will now be able to provide assistance.
Along with several other medical specialities available at this new hospital in the centre of Angola — such as dialysis procedures undergone by the first patients on Monday.
Opposition group says Junta’s plan does not reflect people’s views
• The Junta’s plan not relevant to views of the people •
As Mali’s junta tried to hash out a political roadmap with West African leaders in Ghana on Tuesday, the 18-month transition plan agreed by the military just days ago is being contested in Bamako by the popular opposition protest group.
“A delegation from the junta went to Accra to negotiate and discuss the fate of Mali without involving the M5-RFP ( the 5 June Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces opposition coalition),” said Dr Choguel Kokala Maiga, President of the M5-RFP strategic committee.
Mali’s popular opposition movement led the demonstrations against the ousted president Keita.
The military junta over the weekend adopted a “transition charter”.
It has yet to be published. But according to reports, it would provide an 18-month transition government, led by a president named by a committee set up by the military junta.
“The M5-RFP has distanced itself from the document produced, which does not reflect the views and decisions of the Malian people,” said Maiga.
The opposition group said in a statement it condemned the “intimidation, anti-democratic and unfair practices worthy of another era” and “distances itself from the resulting document which does not reflect the views and decisions of the Malian people.”
But said it did not intend to start a conflict with the junta and would work together to modify the charter.
• African Leaders Urge Swift Return of Political Reforms in Mali •
West African leaders urged a swift political solution in Mali on Tuesday, fearing an Islamist insurgency that has been nestled in the country since 2012 could take advantage of the fragile situation.
The 15-nation regional bloc known as ECOWAS met with Mali’s junta in Ghana. It had set the military chiefs a Tuesday deadline for naming a new civilian interim leader.
“The terrorists are taking advantage of the situation in Mali to flex their muscles even more,” said Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghanaian President and current rotating chair of ECOWAS.
“Today is supposed to be the day when the military junta in Mali is to put in place a government… That has not been done,” he said.
“The circumstances of life in Mali today require that closure be brought to the matter now. “
ECOWAS has also urged a return to democracy within a year.
But the junta, which grabbed power after a coup in August, said it would step down in 18 months.
After a similar coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took advantage of a power vacuum and grabbed control of major towns in northern Mali.
Only a 2013 military intervention led by former colonial power France pushed extremists from those cities and the international community has invested more than seven years into the fight against extremism there.
The sports ministry said Wednesday it has referred a probe into a missing African Cup of Nations trophy which Egypt has possessed since 2010 to the prosecutor general after a string of explosive allegations.
“The ministry of youth and sports has referred the file of the loss of some important silverware from the warehouses of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) to the prosecutor general,” it said in a brief statement on its Facebook page.
The investigation was launched last week when celebrated ex-national goalkeeper Ahmed Shobair said the EFA found that the gold trophy, along with other awards from previous tournaments, had gone missing.
Officials were preparing to inaugurate a museum showcasing Egypt’s football memorabilia in time for the EFA’s centenary when the loss was realised, Shobair said on his popular talkshow.
Another former football hero Magdy Abdelghani, along with the EFA, waded into the debate suggesting ex-national team players and coaches Ahmed Hassan and Shawky Gharib knew of the 2010 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy’s whereabouts.
But former football officials said it was looted during a fire in 2013 caused by protesters, known as the Ultras, at the EFA headquarters in Cairo.
The accusations prompted the sports ministry and EFA to kick off investigations that have been closely monitored by Egypt’s legions of fervent football fans.
Hassan and Gharib have both dismissed any link to the disappearance.
The continent’s football governing body, the Confederation of African Football, said Sunday it had “learnt with shock reports of missing AFCON trophies from the Egyptian Football Association secretariat”.
“Our doors are open and the @EFA can count on our support in the search for the priceless memorabilia,” it tweeted.
Egypt was allowed to keep the trophy on a permanent basis — with a new cup made — after the dominant run of the “Pharaohs”, as the national team is known, winning three titles in a row, in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Egypt is the most successful country in Africa Cup of Nations history, having won the trophy a total of seven times since 1957.
But the Pharaohs were knocked out at the last-16 stage last year when Egypt hosted the biennial tournament.
Amnesty report says Malta arranged ‘unlawful pushbacks to Libya’ and diverted migrant boats to Italy.
An Amnesty International report has blamed Malta for using “ever more despicable and illegal tactics” to turn away migrants and refugees from North Africa.
In its report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said Malta has arranged “unlawful pushbacks to Libya”, diverted migrants boats to Italy and illegally detained “hundreds of people on ill-equipped” offshore quarantine ferries.
The rights group also criticised Maltese authorities for signing a new agreement with Libya to stop migrants and refugees leaving the conflict-ridden country.
“Malta is stooping to ever more despicable and illegal tactics to shirk their responsibilities to people in need,” Amnesty researcher Elisa De Pieri said.
“Shamefully, the EU and Italy have normalised cooperation with Libya on border control, but sending people back to danger in Libya is anything but normal.”
It also said in the report “some of the actions taken by the Maltese authorities may have involved criminal acts being committed, resulting in avoidable deaths, prolonged arbitrary detention, and illegal returns to war-torn Libya”.
“The authorities also used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to declare that Malta was not a safe place to disembark – to discourage people from seeking safety and a decent life in Europe.”
Amnesty recalled that 27 people rescued by Danish tanker Maersk Etienne on August 4 are still at sea as no disembarkation has been offered to them.
On Monday, three international organisations called on Mediterranean countries to take in the migrants, saying their situation was becoming dire.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela has said his country is not responsible for them. However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) accused governments of breaking international law by refusing to allow the migrants to leave the ship.
“International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on ships and coastal States to ensure people in distress are rescued and promptly disembarked in a place of safety,” the three organisations said.
“The Maersk Etienne fulfilled its responsibilities, but now finds itself in a diplomatic game of pass the parcel.”
In May, Malta’s Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said the country’s migration centres were holding twice the number of people they were designed for, and Malta was at the mercy of people smugglers.
“We want to protect the rights of people seeking protection, but we can only do so much. We are being left alone. Words of sympathy are not enough; we need practical help,” he said referring to the EU.
Malta is the EU’s smallest member state. According to the IOM, it has taken in 2,162 migrants from the sea between January 1 and August 20, compared with 3,405 in 2019.
Malta and Italy have long said they are disproportionately affected by Europe-bound sea migration from North Africa, and that there is insufficient burden-sharing across the European Union.
The positions of both Valletta and Rome hardened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, amid concerns migrants could have turned into virus spreaders.
Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that migrants stuck in Libya, or forcibly returned there, are exposed to torture, exploitation and abuse.
According to Amnesty, “7,256 people were ‘pulled back’ to Libya by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard” between January and August 27, often with the help of Frontex and other EU operations
The oil industry has asked the United States to pressure Kenya to change its world-leading stance against the plastic waste that litters Africa, according to environmentalists who fear the continent will be used as a dumping ground.
The request from the American Chemistry Council, whose members include major oil companies, to the Office of the United States Trade Representative came as the US and Kenya negotiate what would be the first US bilateral trade deal with a country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya three years ago imposed what was praised as the world’s strictest ban on the use, manufacturing and import of plastic bags, part of growing efforts around the world to limit a major source of plastic waste.
Environmentalists fear Kenya is now under pressure not only to weaken its resolve, but to become a key transit point for plastic waste to other African countries.
“This deal will have dire consequences in terms of the environmental pollution because plastics have been touted as the major polluters of our water bodies,” said Fredick Njehu, senior political advisor at Greenpeace Africa.
“African countries are looking upon Kenya to actually reject the deal and also reject the fact that they (would) be used as an entry point to access the African markets,” he added.
The April 28 letter from the American Chemistry Council’s director for international trade, Ed Brzytwa, seen by The Associated Press, urges the US and Kenya to prohibit the imposition of domestic limits on “production or consumption of chemicals and plastic” and on their cross-border trade.
China’s ban on imports of most plastic waste in 2018 has forced companies to seek new places to send it, but other countries including African ones increasingly are saying they don’t want it, either.
The American Chemistry Council in a statement said “it is well understood that a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Kenya will not override Kenya’s domestic approach to managing plastic waste or undermine its international commitments under the Basel Convention,” a global agreement which as of January will make it much more difficult to ship plastic waste to poorer countries.
Nearly 190 countries have agreed to it, but not the US.
Angry South Africans demonstrate in front of Clicks Pharmacy stores after opposition EFF calls for protests.
Protesters have gathered outside several pharmacy chain stores in South Africa in reaction to a shampoo advertisement slammed by the critics as “racist”.
The advertisement, commissioned by the TRESemme hair company and carried on the Clicks pharmacies’ website, compared two photos of Black women’s hair with two photos of white women’s hair, labelling the natural hair “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while the white women’s hair was “fine and flat” and “normal”.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party on Monday called for demonstrations over the issue and rallied people to protest outside the company’s outlets.
“We will not permit the unrepentant and perverse racism of Clicks to go on in South Africa. #clicksmustfall,” the EFF posted on Twitter.
Local website TimesLive reported that at least one store had been petrol-bombed early in the morning, causing minor damage.
Videos on the EFF’s social media pages and in local media showed small groups of protesters – clad in the party’s red berets – dancing and singing protest songs in several malls.
Many on social media also expressed their outrage over the advertisement, with Black women posting photos of their hair with hashtags #RacismMustFall and #BlackHairIsNormal.
“Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organisation,” tweeted Zozibini Tunzi, who wears short natural hair and was crowned Miss Universe in December.
“And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80 percent black people… No ways.”
Apology As anger over the advertisement grew, Clicks Pharmacy, one of the two largest retailers in the country with more than 500 stores, issued “an unequivocal apology” and pulled down the images.
“We are strong advocates of natural hair and are deeply sorry we have offended our natural hair community,” it said in a statement on its Twitter account on Friday.
“We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down.”
Unilever SA, TRESemme’s parent company, published an apology on its website that read: “We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemme South Africa marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair.
“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong.”
Hair is a sensitive issue in many parts of Africa.
South African students have had to campaign in the past to be allowed to wear natural hairstyles – like dreadlocks, afros and cornrows – at school.
In 2018, the EFF staged protests, trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement featuring a Black boy.
A photo on H&M’s website of the boy wearing a green hoodie with the inscription “coolest monkey in the jungle” had triggered outrage on social media.
H&M and Clicks are not the only major companies to be hit by advertisement scandals in recent years.
Spanish clothing brand Zara in 2014 removed striped pyjamas with a yellow star after facing outrage over its resemblance to clothes worn by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.
Tunisian President Kais Saied on Sunday condemned the attack in the coastal resort town of Sousse that killed one security officer and injured another.
Three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives were shot dead by Tunisian forces, authorities said Sunday.
“I do not know the intentions, the arrangements, of those who carried out this terrorist act, but they did not succeed in the past and will not succeed in the future,” Saied said.
Saied spoke to journalists during a short visit to the coastal town.
An Interior Ministry statement said the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.
The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.
The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.
The story at length Tunisian forces shot dead three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives, killing one and injuring another in the coastal resort town of Sousse, authorities said Sunday.
Police officers and forensic workers could be seen examining the site after the attack.
Sousse was the site of Tunisia’s deadliest extremist attack in 2015, when a massacre killed 38 people, most of them British tourists.
An Interior Ministry statement said Sunday that the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.
The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.
He also announced the arrest of a fourth suspect who had been aboard the vehicle that rammed the National Guard officers.
Hatem Zargouni, director of security for Sousse, said the assailants stabbed the officers and then fled with their weapons.
The injured officer was hospitalized.
The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.
President says detained government critic ‘led himself’ to Rwanda, accuses him of of being a ‘terrorist’ leader.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame denies that a detained opposition figure who inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was kidnapped in order to be brought back to the country, saying he was responsible for his own arrest.
Paul Rusesabagina is credited for saving 1,200 lives during the country’s 1994 genocide by letting people shelter in the hotel he was managing during the mass killings.
The outspoken government critic is now accused of supporting rebel violence in Rwanda. His family and supporters say they have not been able to speak to him and that he has not had access to a lawyer nearly a week after he was paraded in front of the media in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in handcuffs.
Appearing on national television on Sunday, Kagame did not explain how Rusesabagina – who had lived outside Rwanda since 1996 and is a citizen of Belgium and has a US permanent residence permit – was brought back.
The 66-year-old’s family has said they believe he was “kidnapped” during a visit to Dubai and that he would never knowingly have boarded a plane to Kigali.
But Kagame suggested that Rusesabagina came of his own accord.
“What if someone told you that he brought himself – even if he may not have intended it? You will be surprised how he got here. He was not kidnapped or hoodwinked. His coming to Rwanda has more to do with himself than anybody else,” Kagame said.
The president suggested that Rusesabagina was told a story that fit into his expectations and ended up in Rwanda. “There was no kidnap in the process of bringing Rusesabagina here. It was actually flawless!” said Kagame. “When the time comes, he will tell the story himself but he led himself here.”
The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation said Rusesabagina has had no consular visits, and it rejected the Rwandan government’s statement that it had talked to his sons about a potential visit as “not true”.
“Paul’s wife has called the jail and has not been allowed to talk to him,” it said on Saturday.
The Rwandan government has said it issued an arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes including “terrorism”, arson, kidnap, and murder perpetrated against unarmed civilians. Police called him the suspected “founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change” (MRCD).
The MRCD has an armed wing, the National Liberation Front, that has been accused of attacks in 2018 and 2019. Rwanda arrested NLF spokesman Callixte Nsabimana last year.
“Rusesabagina heads a group of terrorists that have killed Rwandans. He will have to pay for these crimes,” Kagame said on Sunday. “Rusesabagina has the blood of Rwandans on his hands.”
Rusesabagina in the past has denied the charges that he financially supports Rwandan rebels, saying he is being targeted for criticising the Kagame government over human rights abuses.
Rwandan authorities have not publicly shared any international arrest warrant. They have referred to “international cooperation” but given no details.
No trial date set Rusesabagina’s detention has prompted concern among human rights activists that this was the latest example of the Rwandan government targeting critics beyond its borders.
Rusesabagina has received several international honours, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, for helping to save lives during Rwanda’s genocide, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
The US government has said it expects the Rwandan government to provide “humane treatment, adhere to the rule of law and provide a fair and transparent legal process” for Rusesabagina.
It is not clear when Rusesabagina will appear in court. Rwandan law says a suspect can be in provisional detention for 15 days, renewable for up to 90 days.
Kagame said Rusesabagina’s trial will be held openly and conducted fairly.
“We are obligated to do this,” he said. “We want to do things in a right way.”
Delegates from Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and rival eastern-based parliament meet after ceasefire.
Delegates from Libya’s rival administrations met for talks in Morocco more than two weeks after the two sides announced a surprise ceasefire.
The meeting, held on Sunday at the initiative of Morocco, which hosted peace talks in 2015 that led to the creation of a United Nations-recognised government for Libya, kicked off in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat.
Dubbed “Libyan Dialogue”, the talks brought together five members of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and five from a parliament in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
The discussions were a prelude to a major meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, on Monday and Tuesday that brings together the leaders of rival Libyan groups.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in remarks before Sunday’s meeting got under way, said his country was offering Libyans “space” to discuss points of contention dividing them.
“The kingdom is ready to provide Libyans with a space to discuss [issues], according to their will, and will applaud them regardless of the outcome,” Bourita said.
“Morocco has no agenda or initiative to submit” to the two sides, Bourita added.
A solution to Libya’s crisis must be decided by the Libyans themselves under the auspices of the United Nations, he said, before delegates met behind closed doors.
Beaten back Libya has endured about 10 years of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The crisis worsened last year when renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar – who backs the Tobruk parliament and is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia – launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli from the GNA.
Haftar was beaten back earlier this year by Turkish-backed GNA forces and fighting has now stalled around the Mediterranean city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s eastern oilfields and export terminals.
On August 22, the rival administrations announced separately they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections, drawing praise from world powers.
Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya, said the rival sides talking was a good first step, but there is much work to do to achieve lasting peace.
“First of all, it needs the buy-in of broader group of political players – tribal leaders, society leaders, municipal leaders. Secondly, it needs the buy-in from the military factions, particularly Haftar, and it has to be a genuine ceasefire,” Millett told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media. “Thirdly, it needs the buy-in of the entire international community.”
‘Foreign players’ Mohamed Chtatou, a professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat, said Sunday’s talks were “historic in many ways” and likely touched on possible appointees for a future government and key positions, including head of the Central Bank of Libya, chairman of the National Oil Corporation, and the prosecutor general.
“This meeting is good for the reunification of Libya and bringing the country back on its feet,” Chtatou told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media. “I’m sure the foreign players are not happy about what is happening because they all have their stakes in Libya. The Libyans want peace and it’s Libyans talking to Libyans – so that is very important.”
Reporting from Tripoli, Noble Reporters Media said the fact that Haftar is not represented at the meeting does not mean he is excluded.
“In fact, the delegation representing the Tobruk-based parliament is considered in one way or another the political arm of Haftar’s forces on the ground. So the Tobruk-based parliament, which is affiliated to the warlord Khalifa Haftar, is now representing Haftar’s view in the meeting in Morocco,” he said.
Delegates from the two sides will also meet other factions, including political parties and remnants of Gaddafi’s regime, for talks brokered by the European Union and the UN mission (UNSMIL) in Switzerland starting on Monday.
Sunday’s meeting in Morocco coincided with closed-door talks in Istanbul between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, the Turkish presidency said.
During the meeting, Erdogan stated Turkey will “continue to stand in solidarity with Libya’s UN-recognised legitimate government, and reiterated that Turkey’s priority is to restore Libya’s stability, without further delay”, a statement said.
“Libya’s peace and stability would benefit its neighbours and the entire region, starting with Europe,” said Erdogan. “The international community ought to assume a principled stance in that regard.”
Future settlement ‘complicated’ At a January summit in Berlin, the main countries involved in the Libyan conflict agreed to respect an arms embargo and to stop interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs.
But on Wednesday, the interim UN envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, denounced what she called “blatant” ongoing violations of the arms embargo in the North African country.
According to an interim report from UN experts, “the arms embargo remains totally ineffective” and violations are “extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions”.
Williams said UNSMIL was also receiving reports of the “large-scale presence of foreign mercenaries and operatives” in Libya, adding this complicates chances of a future settlement.
Mali’s military junta began talks on its promised transition to civilian rule on Saturday after mounting pressure from neighbours since it overthrew the nation’s leader in a coup.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was detained on August 18 after his seven-year rule. Opposition protests by the June 5 Movement urged he stepped down after endemic corruption and a simmering jihadist revolt.
The military junta pledged to step down after an undefined transition period, but the putsch has prompted Mali’s neighbours and former colonial ruler France to demand a swift transfer of power, with fears the crisis could spill over into the fragile Sahel.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc has imposed sanctions and closed borders to Mali as part of efforts to press the junta into handing over power quickly.
Saturday’s summit was originally planned for last weekend but was called off at the last minute after a quarrel between the military and the June 5 Movement, which spearheaded the protests that led to the toppling of president Keita.
The opposition coalition of civil and religious leaders has demanded that the military rulers give it a role in the transition to civilian rule, but was not invited for transition talks last Saturday.
It has now been included in this weekend’s talks.
Former rebels and civil society were also invited to the discussions.
The weekend talks, chaired by junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, began on Saturday in the capital Bamako.
Parallel talks will take place in regional capitals, led by regional governors, according to the junta.
No date has yet been set for a power transition.
As for Keita, he left hospital on Thursday after suffering a mini-stroke following the coup, sources said.
The June 5 Movement led the protests against him for weeks before he was removed from power.
The Rwandan Ambassador is Not Welcome A violent clash broke out in Kinshasa on Friday, near the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as police subdued a rally of protesters demanding the immediate expulsion of new Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega.
Many Congolese want Karega out They are accusing the ambassador of being a history revisionist claiming he has denied Rwanda’s role in the numerous massacres of Congolese citizens by the Banyamulenge militia — i.e. Rwandan Tutsi Congolese, during the wars in the Congo which occurred between 1996 and 2003.
Many Congolese believe these militiamen are supported by Rwanda to control the eastern region of the country whose land is rich in natural resources. Allegations that Kigali denies.
The Famous Doctor Has Local Support The demonstrators also called to stop the death threats targeting locally celebrated laureate, Dr Denis Mukwege since July after he called for the establishment of an international court to prosecute the perpetrators of the massacres committed in eastern DRC.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner —- whose work with victims of sexual violence in war saw him obtain the honour, continues to provide medical care of the same nature in his hospital near Panzi.
Africa the Initial Testing Ground for Coronavirus Vaccine Doses The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that 220 million covid-19 vaccine doses will be tested on the African population. The distribution will be based on nation inhabitant numbers and — front-line health workers and the most vulnerable being given first-batch priority, as confirmed by WHO Africa programme manager Richard Mihigo.
Dr Richard Mihigo, WHO Africa immunisation and vaccines coordinator, outlined the process, “This will not necessarily cover all the needs of the continent but at least will cover 20 percent of the African population, initially prioritising those that are on the frontline, healthcare workers, then expanding to cover vulnerable groups such as the elderly or those with a pre-existing condition.”
COVAX is the global vaccine initiative that consists of nine vaccine candidates being tested around the world — two of which are already being tested in Africa, according to the head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Richard Hatchett. The initiative seeks to contribute to the purchase and equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.
Mixed Reactions from Africans Mr. Mihigo volunteered that all 54 African countries have expressed their interest in participating in this initiative and some African leaders are publicly welcoming the vaccine trials.
Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba, Vice-minister for Health of Equatorial Guinea is in support, “From the Equatorial Guinean perspective, I think the government position has consistently been that all efforts to contain the pandemic in the country has to be free for all citizens.”
However, not all Africans share this sentiment as an incident back on April 2 that saw two French professors — during a broadcast on the local channel LCI, overtly suggest that coronavirus vaccine trials be conducted on Africans because ‘in Africa there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care’ ignited a fire of indignation amongst many Africans worldwide.
Their remarks set social media networks ablaze in protest as many within the African population declared that they will not be used as”lab rats” or “guinea pigs” in the initial vaccine trials that will eventually benefit the entire human population.
The controversy found its way to Geneva, where the director of the World Health Organisation, Ethiopian doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, interviewed by a Nigerian journalist, castigated the banter of the French professors — labelling their mentality “colonial” and their remarks “racist.” His stance was as follows, “Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine.”
This incident only added to the already existent distrust that many people worldwide have of organisations that seek to conduct medical tests to reduce diseases.
Covid-19 Numbers in Africa Africa has a population of over 1.3 billion people and hit the 1.2 million mark of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Around half of these cases are attributed to South Africa, the hardest-hit country on the continent with the seventh-highest number of cases globally — whose population started coronavirus vaccine trials back in June amidst public demonstrations from some locals.
In proportion to the case numbers, the continent has confirmed under 30,000 deaths with a recovery rate of around 72%
According to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University, over 26.19 million Covid-19 cases have been reported worldwide with recoveries over 17.4 million. The US, Brazil, India and Russia are currently worst-hit countries.
Report by Antonio Guterres says more than 2,780 people held in centres, with about one fifth of them being children.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for the closure of all detention centres holding refugees and migrants in Libya, condemning what he described as human rights violations committed there.
“Nothing can justify the horrendous conditions under which refugees and migrants are detained in Libya,” Guterres said in a report submitted on Thursday to the UN Security Council, according to Noble Reporters Media‘s known Agency.
“I renew my appeal to the Libyan authorities … to fulfil their obligations under international law and to close all detention centres, in close coordination with United Nations entities,” he added.
According to the secretary-general’s report, more than 2,780 people were being detained as of July 31 in centres across Libya. Twenty-two percent of the detainees were children.
“Children should never be detained, particularly when they are unaccompanied or separated from their parents,” Guterres said, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure the children are protected until “long-term solutions” are found.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, with warring rival administrations based in the country’s west and east battling for power.
As the country slid into conflict, traffickers have exploited the unrest to turn the North African country into a key route for migration towards Europe, across the Mediterranean. In the past three years, however, crossings dropped sharply due to European Union and Italian-backed efforts to disrupt trafficking networks and to increase interceptions by Libya’s coastguard.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the systematic return of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean to Libya, where they are held in crowded detention centres nominally under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
“The conditions in these centres are crazy,” Alkaol, 17, a migrant from The Gambia, told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media earlier this year.
“Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don’t. If they give you bread, you eat half and save half. You don’t know when you will eat next. If you don’t have money, your only way out is either escaping or death.
“If they catch people running away, they shoot at you. They may shoot you in the leg, they may shoot you in the head.”
Guterres also cited reports of torture, enforced disappearances, and sexual and gender-based violence in the centres, committed by those running the facilities.
He also mentioned a reported lack of food and healthcare.
“Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money,” he wrote.
“Migrants and refugees have been shot at when they attempted to escape, resulting in injuries and deaths,” the report said, alleging that some are even “left on the streets or bushes to die” when they are deemed too weak to survive.
In centres where arms and munitions are stored, some refugees and migrants are recruited by force, while others are forced to repair or reload firearms for armed groups, it said.
More than a year after a July 2019 air raid killed more than 50 refugees and migrants and wounded dozens more at a detention centre near Tripoli, no one has been forced to account for the deaths, Guterres said.
The attack followed repeated warnings about the vulnerability of people detained close to Libya’s conflict zones and raised tough questions about whether it was necessary to lock them up in the first place.
The number of elephants dying from a suspected bacterial infection, possibly from eating poisonous plants in western Zimbabwe has risen to 22, and “more deaths are expected,” a spokesman for the country’s parks agency said Wednesday.
Tinashe Farawo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said most of the elephants dying in the Pandamasue Forest, located between the vast Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls, were young or weak.
With food scarce, younger elephants that can’t reach higher tree branches “end up eating everything and some of the vegetation that they eat might be poisonous,” said Farawo.
He said the problem could persist through the dry season.
Zimbabwe has been facing successive climate-induced droughts in recent years, leaving animals with less water and vegetation for food.
Apart from possible bacterial infection, some of the animals could be dying due to the stress of walking long distances for food and water, said Farawo.
Farawo said overpopulation had become “the biggest threat” to animal survival in the wild-life rich southern African country.
The dead young elephants were found with the tusks still on their bodies, ruling out poaching.
In recent years poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned dozens of elephants with cyanide and then have taken their ivory tusks to sell them to illegal traders.
Investigations will also try to establish if there is a link between the deaths and those reported in neighboring Botswana.