AfDB Will Support Africa With Quality Infrastructure In Healthcare, Manufacturing – Adesina

 

President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina has promised to give more support to ensure that the continent’s infrastructure gap is reduced by providing quality growth.

Dr Adesina, during his inaugural address after being sworn-in as AfDB President on Tuesday, pledged to expand partnership and tilt more attention to Africa.

The AfDB President, who was re-elected unanimously by the bank’s board of Governors to serve a second five-year term on August 27, said his administration will focus on the institution, people, delivery, and sustainability.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything globally; it has thrown Africa’s growth back. The continent has lost gains and economic growth that were achieved over the last decade.

“Africa’s recovery will therefore be long and challenging. Now we must help Africa build back boldly but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth, especially in the areas of health, climate, and the environment.

“As we look into the future, working with the board of Directors, the bank will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality healthcare infrastructure and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure. The bank’s infrastructure work will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure in health,” he added.

READ ALSO: Akinwumi Adesina Sworn-In For Second Term As AfDB President

 

President-elect of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, signs documents after taking the oath of office on Tuesday.

 

Dr Adesina also stated that the new opportunities provided by the pandemic will see additional growth trajectory in Africa’s industrialisation drive, alongside the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“Covid-19 also opens up new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development, and critically-needed industrial value-chains that must be supported by enabling infrastructure and policies.

“Special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and strengthening of financial markets in order to expand the intraregional trade and competitiveness and to boost Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”

He maintained that the continent still faces a lot of challenges and it is crucial that all the necessary support is received to bridge the gaps caused by the challenges.

“Your Excellency, let there be no doubt the challenges ahead are still many including poverty, inequality, fragility, high youth unemployment, significant infrastructure financing gaps, and sustainable debt management.

“As we look into the future, let me assure you, the bank will play a greater role in policy dialogue with Countries. We will support sustainable debt management, boost green growth, and accelerate the provision of jobs for youth on our beloved continent,” he stressed.

AfDB: Keep Investing In Africa’s Development, Tinubu Tells Adesina

Nigeria’s Akinwumi Adesina has been re-elected as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

 

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has congratulated Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, on his re-election as the President of African Development Bank (AfDB).

He said Adesina’s re-election for another term of five years was an affirmation of Africa’s confidence in his ability and commitment to the development of the continent.

Dr Adesina was re-elected on Thursday last week by the Board of Governors of the AfDB Group at its 2020 Annual Meetings in Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire.

In a passionate letter forwarded to Adesina at the weekend and personally signed by him, Asiwaju Tinubu said, “By way of this letter, please accept my heartfelt congratulations over your election to serve a second five-year as President, African Development Bank at the recent 2020 Annual Meetings of the AfDB Group.

“Your unanimous re-election by the Board of Governors, coming after ill-defined attempts to block your continuance, shows that if we remain vigilant and true to the collective purpose of the economic progress of the African continent, then fairness and justice will win out in the end.”

READ ALSO: ‘We Made History,’ Adesina Thanks AfDB Governors, Others For His Re-Election

Tinubu described Adesina as a globally renowned economist who has demonstrated outstanding competence and professionalism during his first term, adding that his re-election was an affirmation of Africa’s confidence in his ability and commitment.

According to him, the AfDB president distinguished himself in his first term by driving to reshape the bank to be a more active catalyst for Africa’s development.

NASS Leadership: Why I Am Backing Buhari, APC’s Position – Tinubu
(FILE) APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, speaks at the 11th Bola Tinubu Colloquim in Abuja on March 28, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The APC leader noted that Adesina focused on five development priorities known as the High 5s – Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

He said, “As AfDB President for another term, I urge you to continue in like manner. Continue to invest your cognitive abilities, immense skills, and robust energy in the development of Africa.

“Given the exigencies of the present moment due to the global pandemic, you must put your knowledge and creativity into fullest use that we work towards creating more employment for the people of this continent and remove them from the grip of poverty and its attendant difficulties.

“The AfDB must be at the policy and intellectual vanguard as we seek ways to contain both the public health and economic challenges of COVID-19.

“For your re-election, we must also congratulate and applaud President Muhammadu Buhari and other present and past leaders in Africa who believed in you and worked assiduously for your success.

“This victory is not only yours, the AfDB group or Nigeria’s, it is victory for Africa itself. The continent deserves that our best and most able minds be able to serve and work for its betterment.

“I wish you an even more successful second term. May God be with you and may He help and guide you in the struggle against poverty and in our efforts to bring much-needed development to our continent and its people.

“Please rest assured of my highest regards always.”

Nigeria, Africa Declared Polio-Free

Polio, sokoto state
A file photo of children with polio

 

The Africa Regional Certification Commission has declared Nigeria and the rest of Africa polio-free.

According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O), this marks the eradication of a second virus from the face of the continent since smallpox 40 years ago.

In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation commended donors and health workers for saving the lives of children who have been suffering from the disease.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities, up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis,” the WHO said in a statement.

The official announcement is due at 1500 GMT in a videoconference with WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and key figures including philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

“Happiness is an understatement. We’ve been on this marathon for over 30 years,” said Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian doctor and local anti-polio coordinator for Rotary International.

He said it marked a crucial step in the total eradication of the illness at the global level.

“It’s a real achievement, I feel joy and relief at the same time,” he added.

Poliomyelitis, or “wild polio” is an acutely infectious and contagious disease that attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

It was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa.

As late as 1988, the WHO counted 350,000 cases globally, and in 1996 said there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

Thanks to a rare instance of collective global effort and financial backing — some $19 billion over 30 years — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases this year: 87 in total.

– Trust –

Nigeria, a country with 200 million inhabitants, was still among the trouble-spots in the early 2000s.

In its northern Muslim-majority areas, authorities were forced to stop vaccination campaigns in 2003 and 2004 by Islamic extremists who claimed it was a vast conspiracy to sterilise young Muslims.

It took a huge effort in tandem with traditional chiefs and religious leaders to convince populations that the vaccine was safe.

“People trust their local traditional leaders who live with them more than the political leaders,” said Grema Mundube, a community leader in the town of Monguno, in the far north of Nigeria.

“Once we spoke to them and they saw us immunising our children they gradually accepted the vaccine,” he told AFP.

However, the emergence of violent Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009 caused another rupture in the programme. In 2016, four new cases were discovered in Borno state in the northeast in the heart of the conflict.

“At the time, we couldn’t reach two-thirds of the children of Borno state — 400,000 children couldn’t access the vaccine,” said Dr. Funsho.

The security situation remains highly volatile in the region, with the members of Boko Haram and a local Islamic State affiliate controlling vast areas around Lake Chad and the border with Niger.

Inaccessible children –

The security situation remains highly volatile in the region, with the members of Boko Haram and a local Islamic State affiliate controlling vast areas around Lake Chad and the border with Niger.

“International agencies, local governments, donors — all partners took the bull by the horns to find new strategies to manage to reach these children,” said Dr Musa Idowu Audu, coordinator for the WHO in Borno.

In these “partially accessible” areas, vaccination teams worked under the protection of the Nigerian army and local self-defence militias.

For areas fully controlled by the jihadists, the WHO and its partners sought to intercept people coming in and out along the market and transport routes in a bid to spread medical information and recruit “health informants” who could tell them about any polio cases.

“We built a pact of trust with these populations, for instance by giving them free medical supplies,” said Dr Audu.

Today, it is estimated that only 30,000 children are still “inaccessible”: a number considered too low by scientists to allow for an epidemic to break out.

Despite the “extreme happiness and pride” felt by Dr Audu, he never fails to remember the 20 or more medical staff and volunteers killed for the cause in northeast Nigeria in recent years.

The challenge now is to ensure that no new polio cases arrive from Afghanistan or Pakistan and that vaccinations continue to ensure that children across the continent are protected from this vicious disease.

“Before we couldn’t sleep at all. Now we will sleep with one eye open,” said Dr. Funsho.

African Leagues: Moroccan, Egyptian Clubs Hit By COVID-19

 

More than 20 positive tests for coronavirus at several clubs led to the postponement or cancellation of league matches in Morocco and Egypt at the weekend.

Three matchday 22 fixtures were called off in the Moroccan Botola Pro 1 with Ittihad Tangier worst affected as 23 of the staff tested positive.

Wydad Casablanca and Rapide Oued Zem were also hit by a COVID-19 outbreak and could not play.

Egyptian club Al Masry said 22 of their staff tested positive and the Port Said outfit did not turn up for a fixture against Ismaily.

EGYPT

With runaway leaders Al Ahly set for a record-extending 42nd title, arch rivals Zamalek improved their chances of coming second thanks to a 1-0 win over lowly Misr Lel Makkasa.

Forward Hossam Ashraf scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure three points for Zamalek, whose rivalry with fellow Cairo club Ahly dates back to 1911.

Third-place Pyramids FC had to come from two goals behind to draw 2-2 against relegation-threatened El Gaish with Tunisian Amor Layouni levelling eight minutes from time.

Ahly have 53 points, Zamalek 38, Pyramids 36 and Al Mokawloon Al Arab 34 in the strongest league in the continent judged by Confederation of African Football (CAF) titles.

MOROCCO

Raja Casablanca won 2-0 at lowly Hassania Agadir and extended an unbeaten run to six matches since play resumed last month after a suspension since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The leaders needed just three minutes to break the deadlock in southern Morocco with Soufiane Rahimi scoring and Hamid Ahaddad added a second goal soon after half-time.

Raja have won four matches and drawn two since the resumption, and the 14-point haul has propelled them to the top of the table with nine rounds remaining.

The three-time African champions have 42 points, arch-rivals Wydad Casablanca 40, Renaissance Berkane 39 and FUS Rabat and Mouloudia Oujda 36 each.

TUNISIA

Leaders Esperance snatched a 1-1 draw at Etoile Sahel in the biggest matchday 20 attraction of the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1.

Karim Aribi gave fourth-place Etoile a 19th-minute lead they held until the third minute of additional time when Taha Yassine Khenissi equalised.

Ivorian Chris Kouakou netted after 14 minutes to earn second-place CS Sfaxien a 1-0 home victory over mid-table Soliman.

Esperance have 50 points with six rounds remaining as they chase a fourth straight title, Sfaxien 40, Monastir 39, Etoile 34 and Club Africain 33.
ZANZIBAR

Mlandege have been crowned champions in the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, garnering 68 points from 30 matches to finish one point above Zimamoto.

It was the seventh title for the club, but the first since 2002, and success qualifies them for a maiden CAF Champions League appearance next season.

Zimamoto trounced Kapinga 4-0 in the final round while JKU came third after drawing 1-1 with Malindi.

Defending champions KMKM had to settle for fourth spot, 12 points adrift of Mlandege, after a 2-2 draw against Mafunzo.

AFP

COVID-19 Cases In Africa Surpass One Million

A boy tries to wear a face mask as members of Coalition for grassroots human rights defenders Kenya (CGHRD'S Kenya) work for their food distribution, a bag contains 2kg of maize flour, 1kg each of sugar and rice, soap, tea, salt and a face mask, to vulnerable families that have lost their income in the menace of the COVID 19 coronavirus in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020. Fredrik Lerneryd / AFP
A boy tries to wear a face mask as members of Coalition for grassroots human rights defenders Kenya (CGHRD’S Kenya) work for their food distribution, a bag contains 2kg of maize flour, 1kg each of sugar and rice, soap, tea, salt and a face mask, to vulnerable families that have lost their income in the menace of the COVID 19 coronavirus in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020. Fredrik Lerneryd / AFP

 

Coronavirus has now infected more than one million people in Africa, but hopes that the pandemic may be peaking in some countries are mingled with fears of a second wave.

Nations across the continent have recorded 1,011,495 infections and at least 22,115 deaths, accounting for around five percent of global cases, according to an AFP tally as at 1100 GMT Friday.

Just five countries account for 75% of all cases, says the continent’s health watchdog the Africa Centres for Diseases Control.

Some countries have recently seen declines of around 20 percent in daily cases but it is too early to confirm this as a trend, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“African countries are doing their best, despite… limitations,” such as weak health systems, Mary Stephen of the WHO Africa office, told AFP Friday.

She, however, warned against the public complacency that can develop in prolonged outbreaks.

“Because we don’t see many people like we used to see in Italy, like 1,000 people dying (a day), people tend to relax, they think the risk is not so much in Africa”.

“We need to avoid complacency,” she said in a phone interview from Brazzaville.

Countries with high infections relative to the size of their populations include South Africa, Djibouti, Gabon, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.  East African nations Rwanda and Uganda have managed to significantly slow down transmission, while Mauritius has flattened the curve.

Here is an overview of key countries:

South Africa

The continent’s most industrialised economy has notched up more than 538,184 infections, more than half of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest in the world.

Numbers of daily infections have slightly decreased in recent days to below 10,000 cases — compared to an average 12,000 during much of July.

A boy wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the spred of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP
A boy wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the spred of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that cases in the epicentre, the commercial hub of Gauteng province, appeared to be plateauing.

But he warned “we are not out of the woods yet” as the risk of a second wave remained.

South Africa imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in March, including a ban on sales of alcohol and cigarettes. The restrictions have been progressively eased since June.

The country has some of the best healthcare facilities on the continent, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week deployed 43 experts to “strengthen” the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Its problems include more than 24,000 infected health workers — a tally bigger than the national caseload of many other African countries.

Egypt

Egypt became the first African country to report a coronavirus case on February 14. So far, it has officially registered the continent’s second highest number of cases at 95,006, including 4,630 deaths.

Numbers of daily new infections have recently been falling steadily. From an average of 1,500 previously, new cases plunged below 200 this week.

An Egyptian man who recovered from Covid-19 donates blood at the National Blood Transfusion centre in Cairo on July 22, 2020. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP
An Egyptian man who recovered from Covid-19 donates blood at the National Blood Transfusion centre in Cairo on July 22, 2020.
Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Jihane al-Assal, who heads the government’s anti-coronavirus scientific panel, told a TV talk show “Egypt has passed the peak of the pandemic”.

At the weekend she announced the gradual closure of isolation hospitals, while assuring that the government was “preparing” for a potential second wave of the pandemic.

However, the country’s health system has been severely strained and came close to “collapsing”, according to the doctors’ union, which recorded at least 134 deaths among its members due to COVID-19.

A curfew imposed in March was lifted at the end of June.

Regular domestic and international air traffic resumed on July 1 and tourism, a key income generator for Egypt, is slowly picking up.

Nigeria

Around 45,244 cases have been recorded in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, as well as more than 930 deaths.

In June, the caseload rose each day by between 500 and 800 but the pace has dropped more recently to between 300 and 400.

Authorities say they are also gearing up for a likely second wave as restrictions are eased.

A man wash hands with sanitiser as he arrives at a Mosque following reopening of Mosques and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government as part of a set of measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus at the Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa in Lagos, on August 7, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
A man wash hands with sanitiser as he arrives at a Mosque following reopening of Mosques and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government as part of a set of measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus at the Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa in Lagos, on August 7, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

“New rise in cases are to be expected,” said the chief of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha.

Nigeria carries out only 3,000 tests per day, about a tenth of the number in South Africa, which has a much smaller population of 58 million.

The disease epicentre in the country is the commercial hub of Lagos with a population of 20 million. The authorities are loosening lockdown restrictions, allowing churches and mosques to re-open.

Algeria

Algerians spent a bleak Eid-al-Adha festival under a strict lockdown that discouraged family visits and banned movement into or out of 29 of the country’s 48 wilayas (prefectures).

The nation is the fifth worst-hit in Africa in terms of infections — a surge in the past few weeks has brought the total to over 33,626.

A man waits outside the Sidi Mohamed tribunal in the Algerian capital Algiers where the trial of detained journalist Khaled Drareni began, on August 3, 2020. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP
A man waits outside the Sidi Mohamed tribunal in the Algerian capital Algiers half-wearing a mask on August 3, 2020. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

Algeria has the continent’s third highest number of fatalities at 1,273, after South Africa and Egypt.

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the country’s economy, which is also impacted by the collapse in fossil-fuel prices.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, has seen a sharp upward trend with infections doubling in less than three weeks in July.

It has so far recorded more than 20,900 cases and over 365 deaths.

Doctors in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) prepare to take care of patients infected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the makeshift hospital installed inside Millenium Hall, one of the country's largest event center, in Addis Ababa, on August 3, 2020. AMANUEL SILESHI / AFP
Doctors in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) prepare to take care of patients infected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the makeshift hospital installed inside Millenium Hall, one of the country’s largest event center, in Addis Ababa, on August 3, 2020.
AMANUEL SILESHI / AFP

 

The figures are small relative to a population of 110 million, but the WHO frets unrest sparked by the killing of a pop star from the Oromo ethnic group could further accelerate transmission.

The upward spiral is coinciding with mounting signs of virus fatigue.

Once-ubiquitous hand-washing stations are becoming scarcer, hitherto-empty restaurants are filling up, and even some health workers say they are struggling to maintain the same vigilance they had in March.

Around three-quarters of all COVID-19 cases in Ethiopia are in the capital Addis Ababa.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is among the countries where daily infections are steadily rising: numbers of diagnosed cases doubled over 10 days last month and now stand at 4,395 including 97 fatalities.

The impoverished country is in a particularly precarious position.

Beds are set for patients who are infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Martini hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 29, 2020. STR / AFP
Beds are set for patients who are infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Martini hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 29, 2020.
STR / AFP

 

The health system is struggling with shortages of basic drugs and equipment, as well as overburdened and underpaid staff.

Nurses countrywide have been on a go-slow for months demanding improved pay and coronavirus protective gear. They have since been joined by senior and junior doctors.

Burying a minister who died from COVID-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pleaded with health workers to act responsibly, promising their grievances will be addressed but not “at the expense of the loss of lives”.

“When the pandemic spreads and the death toll rises there are no winners, none at all. We all die,” he said.

 

AFP

Nearly 1 Million People Infected With COVID-19 In Africa

File photo: A man sprays commuters with hand sanitiser as a preventive measures at Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg CBD, on March 18, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

 

Almost one million people have been infected with COVID-19 in Africa, according to data from the Africa Centre Control (CDC).

The agency said as of Sunday, August 2, 2020, the 55-nation Africa Union (AU) has 944,450 infections from the virus.

Despite the rising infections from COVID-19,  more than half of those who contracted the virus – 602,578 – have recovered, the data further revealed.

However,  about 19,920 persons have died from complications from the pandemic.

A region-by-region breakdown of the disease, indicates that Southern Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 cases – 526, 870 – out of which 8, 642 have death and 352, 233 recoveries.

Central Africa remains the least infected region on the continent having reported 48, 897 cases, 941 deaths and 34, 212 recovered persons.

 

 

Of the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Africa, the Africa CDC latest data shows that Southern Africa has the highest figure – 8, 642 – followed by the Northern – 6, 694.

Even though the central region of Africa with nine nations has one of the lowest infections level from the pandemic (48,897), less than a thousand persons – 941 – have died due to complications from the disease.

The region, as of the today, has 34, 212 recoveries, which is a recovery rate of about 70 per cent.

 

Image

 

In West Africa, Nigeria has the lion share of COVID-19 infections  – 43,537 –  after 386 more cases were confirmed on Saturday evening.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that four more persons have died from the virus as recovery numbers hit 20,087 and 883 deaths reported.

 

 

A breakdown of COVID-19 cases across the country, as of August 1st, 2020. Designer: Benjamin Oluwatoyin/Channels TV

 

Since the outbreak of the disease in Africa on February 14th in Egypt, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa, said more than 10, 000 health workers have been infected with the virus.

According to WHO Africa Region Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the number of infected health workers in Africa is more than 5% of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

“More than 10, 000 health workers in the 40 countries which have reported on such infections have been infected with COVID-19 so far, a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontlines of the outbreak face,” the agency said in a post on its website.

COVID-19 Epicentre

 

South Africa, the worst-hit in Africa – 503, 290 cases which is more than half the continent’s infections – have reimposed a lockdown it lifted to strengthening an economy largely affected by the pandemic.

 

File photo: A man sprays commuters with hand sanitiser as a preventive measures at Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg CBD, on March 18, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

“As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided,”  President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation on July 12.

IMF Assistance 

 

Just last week, the International Monetary Fund on Monday said it had approved $4.3 billion in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.

 

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

“The IMF approved $4.3 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock,” the Washington-based crisis lender said in a statement.

Thousands Of Migrants Dying On Trek Across Africa – UN

File photo: Illegal migrants of different African nationalities arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli on April 22, 2018, after they were rescued off the coast of Zlitan from two inflatable boats.  MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP

 

 

 

Thousands of migrants have died after suffering “extreme” abuse while crossing Africa, according to a UN report on Wednesday that estimated 72 people perish each month on the continent’s routes.

There has been considerable focus on the thousands lost at sea while trying to cross from Africa to Europe, but a new report found that routes from West and East Africa up towards the Mediterranean can be equally perilous.

Entitled “On this journey, no one cares if you live or die”, the report published jointly by the UN refugee agency and the Danish Refugee Council’s Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) details horrific realities many face along the way.

Most migrants making such journeys experience or witness “unspeakable brutality and inhumanity” by smugglers, traffickers, militias and sometimes state actors, the UNHCR said.

In 2018 and 2019 alone, at least 1,750 people died, corresponding to an average of 72 a month or more than two deaths each day, “making it one of the most deadly routes for refugees and migrants in the world,” the report found.

“For too long, the harrowing abuses experienced by refugees and migrants along these overland routes have remained largely invisible,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in the statement.

The report, he said, documents “killings and widespread violence of the most brutal nature, perpetrated against desperate people fleeing war, violence and persecution.”

Nearly a third of those who die along these overland routes tried to cross the Sahara desert. Others perished in the south of war-ravaged Libya, while another deadly route crosses conflict-ridden Central African Republic and Mali.

– ‘Appalling conditions’ –

Those who survive are often left severely traumatised.

This is particularly true for the many who pass through Libya, where random killings, torture, forced labour and beatings are widespread, the report found.

Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, often sub-Saharan African and Asian migrants hoping to make it across the Mediterranean, have been stranded in chaos-wracked Libya, now a key route for illicit migration to Europe.

 

migrants
Refugees stand at a makeshift camp before being evicted by French police, in Aubervilliers, near Paris, on July 29, 2020. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

 

And many of those who try to cross the Mediterranean are stopped and turned back by the Libyan coastguard.

More than 6,200 refugees were forced to disembark in Libya so far this year alone, the report said, stressing that many are then detained in “appalling conditions”.

Women and girls, but also men and boys, face a high risk of rape and other sexual abuse along the various routes, in particular at checkpoints, in border areas and during desert crossings, the report found.

Smugglers were the main perpetrators in North and East Africa, while in West Africa police and security forces were held responsible for a quarter of the reported sexual assaults.

Around a third of those who reported witnessing or surviving sexual violence said it had occurred in more than one location.

“Strong leadership and concerted action are needed by states in the region, with support from the international community, to end these cruelties, protect the victims and prosecute the criminals responsible,” Grandi said.

AFP

COVID-19 Vaccine Studies Offer Hope As WHO Warns Africa On Acceleration

This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer taking samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. – China has mobilised its army and fast-tracked tests in the global race to find a coronavirus vaccine, and is involved in several of the dozen or so international clinical trials currently under way. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) / TO GO WITH Health-virus-China-vaccines,FOCUS by Ludovic EHRET

 

 

Two studies offered new hope of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus on Monday, as the World Health Organization warned about a possible acceleration of the disease in Africa.

Seven months after COVID-19 was first identified in China and has since killed more than 600,000 people worldwide and battered economies, there is growing alarm over fresh outbreaks of the disease.

Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared to other parts of the world.

But the situation has become increasingly worrying, particularly in South Africa, where the death toll passed 5,000 mark and the number of infections reached 350,000 at the weekend.

The WHO’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference in Geneva that the situation in South Africa could be seen as “a warning” for what the rest of the continent might have in store.

“I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa,” he said.

‘Promising option’

Meanwhile, as European leaders in Brussels struggled to salvage a 750-billion-euro (860 billion dollar) coronavirus aid package for the EU, two studies published in The Lancet medical journal appeared to show progress towards a vaccine.

One trial among more than 1,000 adults in Britain found that a vaccine induced “strong antibody and T cell immune responses” against the coronavirus.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

“If our vaccine is effective it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale,” said co-author Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford.

British biotech firm Synairgen also said on Monday a randomised trial of an aerosol-based treatment shows it could drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus patients dying of the disease or requiring intensive care.

Europe has been the worst-hit continent by the pandemic with more than 200,000 deaths, but European Union leaders remain bitterly split on how to help member countries like Italy and Spain, which have suffered the highest death tolls.

On a fourth day of a summit marked by furious rows between the 27 countries, EU Council chief Charles Michel said Monday he believed a deal was in reach.

“I know that the last steps are always the most difficult, but I’m confident,” Michel told reporters.

Trump U-turn on masks

In the United States, President Donald Trump, who for months refused to encourage mask wearing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus, tweeted a picture of himself with his face covered and touted his patriotism.

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance,” Trump wrote.

“There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”

With close to 3.8 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths, US authorities are struggling to contain the surge, and Trump has been criticised for his response to the crisis.

The United States – the worst-hit country in the world — has recorded 60,000 new cases a day for more than a week.

Brazil, the country with the second highest death toll, on Monday reached the grim milestone of 80,000 deaths.

New restrictions

Many countries in Europe had largely brought their outbreaks under control and were considering further easing of restrictions before fresh clusters were detected.

Governments are struggling to balance public health concerns against the need to open up economies crippled by months of virus lockdowns.

France has made face masks compulsory in public indoor spaces, Spain asked millions to stay at home again, while the German state of Bavaria said it would soon offer free virus tests at airports.

Spain’s Catalan regional government has urged residents of Barcelona and its suburbs to leave their homes only for essential tasks in a bid to slow a new outbreak.

On Monday, Spain’s southeast Murcia region also closed bars and clubs without terraces, limited group gatherings and restricted visits to retirement homes.

French authorities have reported 400 to 500 active outbreak clusters but there are no signs of an imminent “second wave,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said Monday.

But an anti-mask demonstration in London on Sunday highlighted the challenge still facing governments and health experts, despite the mounting COVID-19 toll.

Dozens gathered to protest the face mask requirement in England’s shops and supermarkets, many of them holding banners with widely discredited conspiracy theories — such as coronavirus prevention measures being used for “mind control”.

Despite the vocal and stubborn opposition to lockdowns and face masks in some parts of the world, they remain among the few options for authorities to control new outbreaks in the absence of a vaccine.

There was grim evidence of how quickly the virus can spread over the weekend, with Iran’s president saying an estimated 25 million people in the country have already been infected.

 

 

-AFP

Ebola Cases Rise In New DR Congo Outbreak

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo.  (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

 

The Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo’s northwest is growing, according to health officials, sounding the alarm weeks after the country officially declared an end to a separate Ebola epidemic which claimed over 2,000 lives.

There have been 54 confirmed cases since June 1 in Mbandaka, a transport hub in Equateur province, including 22 deaths, according to figures released by the country’s health ministry on Friday.

There were four additional suspected cases.

The outbreak is DR Congo’s 11th since Ebola was identified in 1976.

On June 25, the vast central African country officially declared an end to an Ebola epidemic that broke out in the east two years ago, which Health Minister Eteni Longondo said was “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the country’s history.

The two epidemics have no common viral strain, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO called the latest figures “of great concern”, saying that it had identified 56 cases by Thursday.

“It is now surpassing the previous outbreak in this area which was closed off and controlled at a total of 54 cases,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, referring to a 2018 Ebola outbreak in Equateur in which 33 people died.

– Remote villages –

The epidemic is spreading from Mbandaka’s urban centre to surrounding remote villages in forests along the Congo River, some of which can only be accessed by canoe or all-terrain vehicles.

“There are infections in several villages,” a local official, Moraliste Nembetwa, told AFP.

The virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

Serge Ngalebato, a doctor at the Bikoro hospital, said the epidemic affects “an area with fragile health”.

“In 2018, we had the Ebola epidemic. In 2020, the measles epidemic. As I speak, we have five cases of polio,” he said.

The country is facing a measles outbreak which has killed more than 6,000 people since early last year, as well as recurring flare-ups of cholera and malaria.

DR Congo is also struggling with the new coronavirus, with 8,249 cases including 193 fatalities.

WHO officials worry that because of these competing health crises, there could be a lack of funding for the Ebola epidemic.

“We have less than two million dollars in our account,” said WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib about funding for the current Ebola outbreak.

– ‘Put lives at risk’ –

DR Congo’s partners and donors may be cautious over worries that an injection of money could create fertile ground for conflicts of interest, a source close to the United Nations told AFP.

An investigation by The New Humanitarian last month found that payments to security forces and job kickback schemes “may have jeopardised humanitarian operations and put lives at risk”.

The influx of money to combat the spread of the virus in the east “has raised people’s expectations”, the source said.

Ebola experts said the experience of the eastern outbreak will be vital for informing further action.

Officials must “listen and involve communities in time, in dialogue and planning the response… otherwise we risk being counter-productive,” said Abdou Dieng, head of the United Nations Emergency Ebola Response.

Health authorities have launched a vaccination campaign, as was done in the east where two experimental vaccines were widely deployed and more than 320,000 people received a jab.

“More than 8,000 people have been vaccinated,” said Alhassane Toure, a vaccination coordinator.

“All the affected health zones have been covered by the vaccination.”

 

 

-AFP

Africa Anti-Corruption Day: Buhari Calls For Operationalisation Of Common Position On Assets Recovery

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: [email protected]

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African leaders to ensure the immediate actualisation of the Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR), as the continent celebrates the Anti-Corruption Day.

In a letter to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of African Union, President Buhari asked for a re-commitment to the anti-corruption war by leaders on the continent to engender an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

The President lamented that “the massive corruption being perpetrated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has, in turn, created negative consequences that have worsened the socioeconomic and political situation in Africa.”

The letter by President Buhari read in part: “As Your Excellency is aware, the continental fight against corruption has been premised on an irreducible minimum that can pave the way for Africa’s transformation. In this effort, the emphasis has been on the continent’s collective determination to forge resilient partnerships among our national governments, civil society organizations and other interest groups, such as women, youth and the physically challenged, to ensure improved socio-economic, political and security development and ultimately, the improvement of our continent.

[Read Also] Magu’s Probe: No Better Indication That Anti-Corruption Fight Is Real And Active – Presidency

“The concern of the African Union is that the massive corruption being perpetrated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has, in turn, created negative consequences that have worsened the socio-economic and political situation in Africa.

“Your Excellency may recall that these continental concerns led our colleagues at the African Union, to appoint my humble self as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion. I believe that the efforts and focus of the Nigerian Government at home, partly informed this decision as well as the need for Africa, as a continent, to recommit herself to the fight against corruption and the imperative to free resources for meaningful development.

“I am, therefore, in full support of the call for the issuance of a continental message to commemorate this day, on July 11, 2020, to re-commit the African Union to the continental fight against corruption, including through a robust approach to assets recovery, hence the need for a strategic framework on a Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR).

“Happily, in February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, CAPAR was adopted. In my view, the African Union must go beyond the mere annual celebration of the Africa Anti-Corruption Day by moving swiftly to operationalize the African Common Position on Assets Recovery by all member states. This is an excellent way to drive Africa’s Agenda 2063, for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.

“As current Chair of our Union, I sincerely commend to you, this suggestion that seeks to call our leaders in Africa to recommit ourselves to this very important task of reclaiming our continent from the vice of systemic corruption.

“Please accept, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

There Are Nearly 150 Prospective COVID-19 Vaccines, 19 In Clinical Trials – WHO

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer taking samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. Photo:NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) African region has said there are about 150 prospective COVID-19 vaccines being developed with 19 in clinical trials.

“Globally, there are nearly 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates and currently, 19 are in clinical trials,” the WHO Africa said in a statement on its website.

Also, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in a statement on Thursday called on the continent to take steps to ensure they have fair access to the vaccine.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records 460 New Cases Of COVID-19 As Total Infections Exceed 30,000

Moeti lamented that African countries lag behind when it comes to new technologies as well as vaccines while calling for equity when the COVID-19 vaccines are finally released.

“It is clear that as the international community comes together to develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19, equity must be a central focus of these efforts,” she said.

“Too often, African countries end up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines. These life-saving products must be available to everyone, not only those who can afford to pay.”

COVID-19-update
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has over 30, 000 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, June 7th, 2020. Channels TV/Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

The WHO Africa region noted that South Africa is the first country on the continent to start a clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccines.

“African Academy of Sciences only 2% of clinical trials conducted worldwide occur in Africa,” the agency said.

“I encourage more countries in the region to join these trials so that the contexts and immune response of populations in Africa are factored in to studies,” said Moeti.

“Africa has the scientific expertise to contribute widely to the search for an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

“Indeed, our researchers have helped develop vaccines which provide protection against communicable diseases such as meningitis, Ebola, yellow fever and a number of other common health threats in the region.”

Pandemic Probe

On Thursday, the WHO launched an independent review into the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announcing the assessment, which will be presented next May, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it should help the world understand how to prevent such crises in the future.

The Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity,” Tedros said at the UN agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

VIDEO: The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) wants to establish a testing centre in Nasarawa State.

Could Malawi’s Historic Re-Run Election Inspire Africa?

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 18, 2019 opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader and presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera (L) waves to the crowd as he arrives at the last campaign rally, in Lilongwe, ahead of general elections. – Chakwera on June 27, 2020 was declared winner of this week’s presidential election re-run with 58.75 percent of the vote according to the electoral commission said, AFP reports. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP.

 

The opposition triumph in Malawi’s recent landmark election re-run after last year’s fraudulent polls were overturned could spur similar democratic change across the continent, analysts and historians say.

Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party comfortably won the June 23 election with 58.5% of the vote — beating Peter Mutharika, whose re-election last year was nullified by the courts over “widespread and systematic” irregularities.

Chakwera’s official inauguration is set for Monday, to coincide with the country’s 56th anniversary of independence from Britain.

The election set the impoverished African country apart from many on the continent, making it only the second sub-Saharan African country to have presidential election results overturned in court, after Kenya in 2017.

It was also the first time in Africa that an election re-run has led to the defeat of an incumbent.

The unprecedented political feat was credited to a cohesion of several powerful forces — including the resilience of the judiciary that handed down the historic judgement.

In extraordinary scenes, Constitutional Court judges came sporting bullet-proof jackets and under military escort to deliver the ruling on February 3 overturning Mutharika’s re-election.

That was after six months of hearing evidence during a groundswell of civic society-led street protests.

“For a year they persevered with mass demonstrations against the wanton theft of their votes despite threats and repression by the beleaguered and discredited government,” said historian Paul Tiyambe Zeleza.

The election result showed that despite the power of incumbency, an organised and smart opposition can win, Zeleza said.

“This election will certainly influence subsequent elections across the African continent,” said Grant Masterson, programme manager at the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

He expects that elsewhere on the continent “opposition leaders will become emboldened by this success… and ramp up post-election protests against results that did not go in their favour, combined with court challenges.”

Opposition leaders from neighbouring countries are drawing inspiration, hailing the “professionalism” displayed by Malawian institutions and “citizens’ vigilance”.

– ‘Example for Africa’ –

Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance (MDC-A) leader, failed in his legal bid to have the courts overturn the 2018 election which he said was stolen from him by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He saluted Malawi’s judiciary and security services “for acting as a bulwark against authoritarianism and defending the constitution”.

The election is “a source of inspiration to democrats across Africa and a reminder to those with determined leadership, people power, unity of purpose and an undying commitment to democratic values, that no barrier is insurmountable,” said Chamisa in a congratulatory message to Chakwera.

Zambia’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has lost two consecutive elections, hailed Malawians for having “set a great example for Africa!”

Masterson said Malawi “reminds us that even in the most peaceful of countries, the citizenry will only tolerate so much before they raise their voice in protest”.

“When enough citizens stand up, in Malawi, or Sudan and elsewhere, they will eventually bring about change,” he said.

Nic Cheeseman, a professor of African democracy at the University of Birmingham agreed.

“The impressive performance of key institutions, and the country’s democratic progress itself, is rooted in the hard work of civil society groups and the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Malawian citizens,” Cheeseman said.

Chakwera, the 65-year-old former evangelical preacher, sailed to victory thanks to a nine-party electoral alliance.

Opposition elsewhere in Africa should learn that “dialogue, not division, can offer a genuine path to change, especially in those countries with less favourable institutional conditions,” wrote Chatham House’s Africa programme projects assistant, Fergus Kell.

“Neighbouring Zambia would certainly do well to heed this example ahead of a pivotal election of its own in 2021.”

AFP