Ninety-seven Ukrainian children have died since the start of Russia’s invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday in a speech to Canada’s parliament, pleading once more for allies to “expand” their support for Kyiv.
In the video address, the Ukrainian leader accused Russia’s military of “destroying everything: memorial complexes, schools, hospitals, housing complexes.”
Pfizer and BioNTech will soon ask US regulators for emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five and under, US media reported Tuesday.
This is the last age group in the United States that is not yet eligible for coronavirus shots.
As early as Tuesday, the companies could seek emergency authorization for a two-dose vaccination regimen for children under five and as young as six months, The New York Times and other news outlets said.
The move comes as the Omicron variant wave is waning in the United States but parents are still grappling with school closures and concerns for their unvaccinated children.
New pediatric Covid hospitalizations hit a record high in the United States in December as the Omicron strain spread rapidly.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 booster shot for children as young as 12.
But vaccination rates among this age group are relatively low — less than 22 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As they seek the green light for children under five to receive two doses of the vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech will also continue studies on a three-shot regimen, the Times said.
The FDA hopes to approve shots for young kids as early as late February. Data on a three-dose regimen would not be submitted until late March, the daily added.
The companies concluded last fall that low doses of the vaccine provided protection in children up to two years old but not in kids aged two to five, announcing in December they would add a third dose to their trials.
“We know that two doses isn’t enough, and we get that,” a source told The Washington Post.
“The idea is, let’s go ahead and start the review of two doses. If the data holds up in the submission, you could start kids on their primary baseline months earlier than if you don’t do anything until the third-dose data comes in.”
Three children of a Nigerian migrant died in Morocco in a fire at their makeshift shelter near the North African country’s border with a Spanish enclave, a non-governmental organisation said.
“The mother lit a fire within the confines of their shelter to warm her children, who then died Monday morning asphyxiated and charred by the fire that took hold in their makeshift tent,” said Mohamed Amin Abidar, president of the local division of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH).
They had set up a temporary home in the wooded northwestern Gourougou mountain range, which borders the Spanish territory of Melilla.
The mother was admitted to hospital in the city of Nador “in a critical condition”.
No further details were made available by the Moroccan authorities.
The Gourougou range has become a refuge for many sub-Saharan African migrants seeking to cross the roughly 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) razor-wired triple-fence that separates Moroccan territory from Melilla.
The death of the three children “is a terrible tragedy”, Abidar said, adding that “migrants in this region live in precarious and inhumane conditions”.
Many migrants seek to cross from Morocco into the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, giving them direct access to European Union territory on the African mainland.
Some 700 migrants — an unprecedented number — attempted to cross into Melilla in October but were rebuffed by Moroccan border forces.
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on patrol have intercepted 34 children along the Okene-Lokoja Expressway in Kogi State.
NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, who confirmed this in a statement on Friday revealed that operatives also seized 64,000 pump action gun cartridges and a new pump action gun in Anambra.
According to him, the children between the ages of eight and 14 were being trafficked from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun to the Federal Capital Territory.
“The minors packed in two commercial buses – Toyota Sienna and a 12- seater Mazda with registration numbers Lagos LND124FV and Oyo BDJ-683YK respectively, were recovered in the early hours of Thursday, 16th December from the human trafficking syndicate,” Babafemi said in the statement.
“The bus drivers confirmed that the kids were handed over to them by a woman at Ijebu-Ode to be conveyed to Abuja, adding that on arrival in FCT, the woman is to call another bus driver who will convey the children to Riyom in Plateau State.”
He stated that the children were initially trafficked from Plateau to Ijebu Ode, where they were distributed to different households as domestic servants.
“Some of the children were discovered to have served for two years and their rewards sent to the woman’s agent in Jos,” the NDLEA spokesman revealed.
He explained that the gun and ammunition were seized at a store in Success Line at the Marine modern market in Onitsha in Awka North Local Government Area of the state.
“The discovery which led to the arrest of an arms dealer 34-year-old Donatus Onyemachi Igwebudu followed credible intelligence on drugs and arms deal in the location,” Babafemi said.
“Backed by soldiers from the military, NDLEA operatives stormed the store on Wednesday, 15th December 2021 and moved the arm and ammunition to the agency’s office in Awka.”
In his reaction, the Chairman and Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, commended the operatives for their vigilance and preparedness to work in synergy with other security agencies in their areas of responsibility.
He directed that the arm and ammunition, along with the suspect arrested in Anambra, be transferred to the police.
Marwa also ordered the transfer of the 34 trafficked children to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for necessary actions.
Nearly 200 young children have died of starvation in hospitals across Ethiopia’s Tigray region as malnutrition soars one year after a brutal conflict broke out, according to a new survey.
The data collected from 14 hospitals offers a rare look at the scale of suffering in Tigray, which is grappling with a communications blackout and what the UN describes as a de facto aid blockade, meaning most essential medical supplies are no longer available.
Yet the toll is hardly comprehensive, given that most health facilities are not functional and Tigrayan health workers have only been able to reach roughly half of the region’s districts, said Dr Hagos Godefay, head of the health bureau in Tigray’s pre-war government.
Hagos described the unpublished findings, some of which were collected in partnership with Mekele University in Tigray’s capital, in an interview with AFP this week.
“We have registered more than 186 deaths,” Hagos said, referring to fatalities caused by severe acute malnutrition in children younger than five. “We collected this information from hospitals only.”
Some 29 per cent of children are acutely malnourished, up from nine per cent before the war, Hagos said.
For severe acute malnutrition, the figure is 7.1 per cent, up from 1.3 per cent before the war, he said.
Only 14 per cent of surveyed households report having enough access to food, down from 60 per cent, he said, adding that he fears what is unfolding in areas his teams have so far been unable to reach.
“For those areas that are not accessible, you can only imagine how many children are dying because of starvation. They are living in remote areas, there is no water… there is no food, no communication, no health facility,” he said.
“So I am telling you if we go to the remote areas it will double for sure.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to topple the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a move he said came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.
The 2019 Nobel Peace laureate promised a swift victory, but by late June the TPLF had retaken most of the region including Mekele and has since advanced south.
Since mid-July less than 15 per cent of needed aid has been able to enter Tigray, according to the UN, raising the spectre of the kind of mass starvation that turned Ethiopia into a byword for famine in the 1980s.
AFP has previously documented scattered starvation deaths in multiple parts of Tigray, describing how mothers feed leaves to their children in a desperate bid to keep them alive.
The survey findings Hagos described covering the four months from late June, when the TPLF retook control of Mekele, to late October.
The 14 hospitals still functioning in the region are each recording between three and four deaths weekly due to ordinarily treatable illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhoea, Hagos said.
He added he was especially worried for tens of thousands of Tigrayans under “chronic follow-up”, including 55,000 HIV-positive patients and others battling conditions like cancer, hypertension and diabetes.
“If we are not able to manage them, if we are not able to provide them drugs… it’s catastrophic,” he said.
Abiy’s government has rejected claims it is blocking aid to Tigray, saying access has been restricted because of TPLF advances into neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
In an interview with CNN last week, Abiy’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum said “the onus of responsibility on humanitarian access… is on the TPLF”.
The US, however, has said access to essential supplies and services was “being denied by the Ethiopian government” while denouncing “indications of a siege”.
And aid workers have sounded the alarm about government-imposed restrictions on medicines entering the region.
Hagos said that with health facilities damaged across Tigray, banking services suspended and supply stocks now empty, there is little health workers can do.
“The commitment from the health workforce is really amazing. They just want to work even without having a salary, but they don’t have food to eat,” he said.
As foreign envoys scramble to end the conflict, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken due in neighbouring Kenya early Wednesday, the TPLF has said lifting the “siege” of Tigray is a condition for any ceasefire.
Hagos, too, said it was a must, describing the current situation as “collective punishment”.
“The rights of the people of Tigray are not what we are negotiating here,” he said.
“If negotiations are to be done, they can only be on issues concerning a political settlement.”
The first analysis indicated that governments and detaining authorities in at least 84 countries have released thousands of children since April 2020 when UNICEF drew attention to their increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in confined and overcrowded spaces, and called for their immediate release.
“We have long known that justice systems are ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of children – a situation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, was quoted as saying in a statement.
“We commend countries which heeded our call and released children from detention. By protecting children from conditions that could have exposed them to grave illness, these countries were able to overcome public resistance and spur innovative, age-appropriate justice solutions.
“This has proved something we already knew – child-friendly justice solutions are more than possible.”
According to UNICEF, the study is one of two analyses that illustrate the situation for hundreds of thousands of children deprived of their liberty every year.
Both reports were released ahead of the World Congress on Justice with Children.
Children in detention – including in pre-and post-trial custody, immigration detention, held in relation to armed conflict or national security, or living with parents in detention – are often held in confined and overcrowded spaces.
“They lack adequate access to nutrition, healthcare and hygiene services, and are vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse, and gender-based violence,” the statement said. “Many are denied access to lawyers and family care, and unable to challenge the legality of their detention.
“COVID-19 has profoundly affected justice for children, shuttering courts and restricting access to essential social and justice services. Evidence shows that many children, including children in street situations, have been detained for violating pandemic curfew orders and movement restrictions.”
An estimated 261,000 children in conflict with the law – those who have been alleged, accused or recognised as having committed an offence – are held in detention, according to the second UNICEF analysis.
The second analysis – Estimating the number of children deprived of their liberty in the administration of justice – the first of such analysis since 2007, warned that incomplete record-keeping and undeveloped administrative data systems in many countries meant the number was likely to be much higher.
“Any child detained is evidence of failed systems, but that failure is then compounded further. Justice systems meant to protect and support children often add to their suffering,” said Fore.
“As policymakers, legal practitioners, academics, civil society, and children and young people convene at the World Congress this week, we must work together to end the detention of children.”
UNICEF stressed the need for authorities to ensure justice for children and safely end the detention of all children in various countries.
It, therefore, called on governments and civil society to invest in legal rights awareness for children in justice and welfare systems, especially for the most marginalised ones, expand free legal aid, representation, and services for all children, and prioritise prevention and early intervention in child offending and diversion to appropriate alternatives.
The organisation also asked them to end the detention of children – including through legal reforms to raise the age of criminal responsibility, ensure justice for child survivors of sexual violence, abuse or exploitation – including investing in child and gender-sensitive justice processes, and establish specialised child-friendly, virtual, and mobile courts.
Two sisters aged 5 and 7 spent several days in an apartment with the body of their mother who had died suddenly in northwestern France, the regional prosecutor said on Saturday.
“Be quiet, Mommy is sleeping,” the girls told police officers who came to their apartment on Wednesday in the city of Le Mans after being alerted by the girls’ schools of their prolonged absence, the prosecutor’s office said.
The officers insisted on coming in and discovered the body of the mother, who was born in 1990 in Ivory Coast and who had died of natural causes, according to a subsequent autopsy.
The girls were taken to a hospital and were then placed in foster care and were being given psychological counselling.
It was not yet clear how long they had spent inside the apartment with their dead mother.
“We have ruled out a criminal hypothesis,” Mans prosecutor Delphine Dewailly told AFP. “We are now going to wait a few days and then try to get witness testimony from the little girls.”
Three young children were killed by lions near Tanzania’s world-renowned Ngorongoro wildlife reserve as they went to look for lost cattle, police said on Thursday.
The youngsters aged between nine and 11 had arrived home from school on Monday and gone into a forest near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to search for the missing animals, Arusha police chief Justine Masejo said.
“That is when the lions attacked and killed three children while injuring one,” he added.
Ngorongoro in northern Tanzania is a World Heritage Site that is home to wildlife including big cats such as lions, cheetahs and leopards.
“I would like to urge the nomadic communities around the reserved areas to take precautions against fierce animals especially when they task their children to take care of the livestock. That will help to protect the children and their families,” Masejo said.
Tanzania allows some communities such as the Maasai, who graze their livestock alongside wild animals, to live within national parks.
However, they are often in conflict with animals such as lions and elephants which can attack people, livestock and destroy crops.
Last year, Tanzania relocated 36 lions from the Serengeti National Park after attacks on humans and cattle from the surrounding communities.