Rwanda’s Kagame First East African Leader To Take COVID-19 Jab

A handout picture taken on March 11, 2021, and released by Urugwiro Village, the office of the President, shows Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (L) receiving the first injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at King Faisal hospital in Kigali, Rwanda. (Photo by – / Urugwiro Village / AFP)

 

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on Thursday became the first leader in East Africa to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which has been rolled out in the region in recent days, his office announced.

Kagame, 63, and his wife Jeannette, were pictured receiving their jabs on the Rwandan presidency’s official Twitter account, which said that 230,000 people had received the vaccine.

It was not specified which vaccine they received. Rwanda has received some 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech drug and 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford medicine.

Rwanda, a country of 12 million, plans to inoculate 30 percent of its population this year, and 60 percent by the end of 2022.

READ ALSO: EU Approves Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

In February, Rwanda became the first country in East Africa to begin vaccinating against the disease, targeting high-risk groups such as healthcare workers after acquiring around 1,000 doses of the Moderna jab.

The country has carried out more than a million tests and detected almost 20,000 cases, with 271 deaths since the outbreak of the virus.

It imposed some of the strictest anti-coronavirus measures on the continent, including one of Africa’s first total shutdowns in March 2020. It put capital Kigali back under a full lockdown in January after a surge in cases.

So far in East Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have begun vaccinating. Ethiopia — the worst hit in the region — will start on Saturday.

UN Seeks $266 mn To Feed Refugees In Covid-Hit E.Africa

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 04, 2018 The “Palais des Nations”, which houses the United Nations Offices, is seen at the end of the flag-lined front lawn in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

The United Nations launched an appeal on Tuesday for $266 million (221 million euros) to help feed more than three million refugees and asylum seekers across East Africa, suffering extra hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdowns and other measures to contain the contagion have made it more difficult for refugees to get food or earn money, said the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in a joint statement.

“We’ve never had such a terrible funding situation for refugees,” said WFP’s regional director for East Africa, Michael Dunford, adding that $266 million was needed for the next six months just to cover refugees’ minimum needs.

The UNHCR estimates almost three-quarters of some 4.7 million refugees living in the 11 countries where it works in the region do not have enough to eat.

“The pandemic has been devastating for everyone, but for refugees even more so,” said UNHCR’s Clementine Nkweta-Salami. “Unless more funds are made available, thousands of refugees including children will not have enough to eat.”

She said refugees faced with food rationing and cash cuts are already turning to “negative coping strategies” including skipping meals, selling assets, child labour and increased domestic violence.

“There is often a desperation and a feeling of no alternative,” she said.

The funding shortfall has led the WFP to slash its monthly assistance for refugees by more than half in Rwanda, and make big cuts in countries including Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan.

“We are deeply concerned that if cuts continue, (refugees) will be faced with a very difficult decision: stay in the camps where food and nutrition security is deteriorating or consider risking going back when it is unsafe,” Dunford said.

AFP

COVID-19: UN Seeks $266million To Feed Refugees In East Africa

In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. – The United Nations said on June 18, 2020, that it was resuming resettlement travel for refugees, which was suspended in March due to the coronavirus crisis, delaying departures for some 10,000 refugees. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

The United Nations launched an appeal on Tuesday for $266 million (221 million euros) to help feed more than three million refugees and asylum seekers across East Africa, suffering extra hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdowns and other measures to contain the contagion have made it more difficult for refugees to get food or earn money said the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in a joint statement.

“We’ve never had such a terrible funding situation for refugees,” said WFP’s regional director for East Africa, Michael Dunford, adding that $266 million was needed for the next six months just to cover refugees’ minimum needs.

The UNHCR estimates almost three-quarters of some 4.7 million refugees living in the 11 countries where it works in the region do not have enough to eat.

“The pandemic has been devastating for everyone, but for refugees even more so,” said UNHCR’s Clementine Nkweta-Salami. “Unless more funds are made available, thousands of refugees including children will not have enough to eat.”

She said refugees faced with food rationing and cash cuts are already turning to “negative coping strategies” including skipping meals, selling assets, child labour and increased domestic violence.

“There is often a desperation and a feeling of no alternative,” she said.

The funding shortfall has led the WFP to slash its monthly assistance for refugees by more than half in Rwanda, and make big cuts in countries including Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan.

“We are deeply concerned that if cuts continue, (refugees) will be faced with a very difficult decision: stay in the camps where food and nutrition security is deteriorating or consider risking going back when it is unsafe,” Dunford said.

COVID-19: Uganda, Rwanda Take Delivery Of Mobile Testing Labs From Germany

Forensic experts of the police stand near the site where a shooter, believed to have a personal motive, launched an assault on January 24, 2020 in the town of Rot am See in southwestern Germany. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP
Forensic experts of the police stand near the site where a shooter, believed to have a personal motive, launched an assault on January 24, 2020 in the town of Rot am See in southwestern Germany. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP.

 

Uganda and Rwanda have taken delivery of two mobile diagnostic labs to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, the first in a network of German-funded units for East Africa, public investment bank KfW said Thursday.

While the project to procure the labs and train staff has been underway since 2018, “they’re arriving at exactly the right moment to help with fighting,” the virus, KfW board member Joachim Nagel said in a statement.

More of the mobile units “for speedy and modern diagnosis of infectious disease” will arrive in the six countries of the East African Community (EAC) region in the coming days, KfW said, for a total of nine in the first phase.

Under contract from the Development Ministry in Berlin, KfW has pumped 27 million euros ($29.1 million) into the project.

Lab staff from EAC countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda have undergone training at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for tropical medicine in Hamburg and in Tanzanian city Arusha.

Across Africa, only 25,461 people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus by 1900 GMT Wednesday, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

READ ALSO: WHO Warns Malaria Deaths Could Double Amid COVID Pandemic 

But the pandemic is still in its early stages on the continent, with fears the virus could spread quickly through densely populated cities and refugee camps.

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller urged Berlin to invest a further three billion euros in battling the pandemic in poorer countries, on top of just over one billion already earmarked.

Wealthy nations must help prevent “first hospitals and then entire states collapsing,” Mueller told the Funke newspaper group.

“Hunger, unrest and, in the end, uncontrollable refugee movements” could result otherwise, he warned.

Germany has begun easing curbs on public life after ministers said the contagion had been brought under control.

Rapid and widespread testing of the population for cases has been at the centre of Berlin’s containment strategy.

AFP

Hundreds Dead As Floods Wreak Havoc In East Africa

A picture taken on April 27, 2018 shows men and children walking in floodwaters after the Tana River overflowed at Onkolde Village, in coastal Tana Delta region of Kenya. About 64 000 people have displaced from the flooded area, according to Kenya Red Cross.
ANDREW KASUKU / AFP

 

Weeks of torrential rain after a long drought have turned from blessing to curse in East Africa, killing hundreds of people and displacing hundreds of thousands of others.

In Kenya, which had suffered from three failed rainy seasons, 120 people have died in two months, including eight who were swept off a bridge in a flash flood Thursday night outside the capital, witnesses said.

The Red Cross appealed for $5 million (four million euros) to help those affected.

Since early March, “112 people have lost their lives countrywide,” Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet told a press conference Friday, not including Thursday night’s incident.

Flooding has washed away bridges and homes, with the military airlifting residents from submerged houses in some parts of the country.

“About 48,177 households have been displaced so far and this translates to 260,200 people,” Gullet said.

He said over 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of crops had been destroyed and some 20,000 animals washed away.

On Monday the government announced that up to 100 schools would not open for the second term due to flooding.

Somalia, also struck by a severe drought, has received heavy rains and the south-central town of Beledweyne was engulfed by flood waters after the Shabelle river burst its banks.

The peacekeeping force AMISOM stepped in to evacuate some 10,000 residents, according to its Twitter account.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed visited the district on Tuesday.

“I came here to Beledweyne to share with you the pain and hardships caused by the devastating floods, I know that there are more than 100,000 people displaced from their homes because of the floods and many others still stranded inside town,” he said.

– Food prices to rise –

Several other major towns along the river have also been affected and local NGO worker Abdulahi Liban told AFP there were concerns of water-borne diseases breaking out.

Rwanda has also been seriously affected by the deluge. Its ministry of disaster management said 116 people had died and 207 had been injured in flooding and landslides since January.

The ministry said floods had destroyed 120 houses, 23 roads, seven churches, and killed 705 livestock while also destroying 11,300 acres of crops.

Torrential rains have also hit Tanzania, where 14 people died in April, as well as Uganda where flash floods have destroyed homes and left at least three dead, according to police in both countries.

Authorities have warned that the deluge will continue.

“The heavy rains are still on and we advise people to take precaution. Farms have been destroyed and roads made impassable.

This will cause food prices to go up as we have already experienced in some parts of the country,” said Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru.

A severe drought across East Africa last year left Somalia on the brink of famine, while more than three million required food aid in Kenya and almost eight million needed aid in Ethiopia. Food prices and inflation soared in the region as a result.

Police Disperse Protesting Kenyan Doctors With Tear Gas

Police Disperse Protesting Kenyan Doctors With Tear Gas The Kenyan Police have used tear gas to disperse striking doctors and nurses who were marching on the streets of the capital, Nairobi.

The medical practitioners in Kenya, made good their threat to boycott work, paralysing operations in public hospitals.

They took to the street carrying placards with inscriptions such as “a doctor is not a donkey”, as well as slogans from recent corruption scandals in the government.

This according to them is a way of demanding for an improved pay package in line with an agreement signed by the unions and the government in 2013.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) said the Union and government “need dialogue” to ensure a more “efficient and effective public health” system in the east African country.

UNIC Urges Nigerian Children To Shun Slavery

UNIC Urges Nigerian Children To Shun SlaveryThe United Nations Information Centres (UNIC) has asked Nigerian children to say no to all forms of slavery.

The UNIC took the campaign to the Southfield Academy in Lagos on Thursday, to mark the Remembrance Day of the Victims of Slavery.

A member of the group tasked the pupils of the school, as well as youngsters in the country live up to any challenge they might come across.

“Those slaves taken from East Africa and transported to India by the colonial masters at that time did not resign to fate. We are saying that even those Africans that were transported to other parts of the world still found a way of making their marks in the lands they were transported to,” he said.

The Executive Director of Africa Anti-Slavery Coalition, Femi Phillips, also highlighted corruption and bad governance as the forms of modern slavery that should be resisted by the populace.

“In this our present generation, we have rulers who do not fear God. That is why we are having these problems of bad governance in Nigeria,” he said.

This year’s remembrance of the slave victims is focused on ‘African Slaves Taken to India’ with the aim of imbibing into the young ones, the resilience and resourcefulness of African slaves.

Kenya’s Athletes Threaten To Pull Out Of Rio Olympics

OlympicsKenya has threatened to pull its elite runners and other athletes out of the Rio Olympics unless it gets assurances they would not be exposed to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil.

Sports authorities across the world are scrambling to find out more about the mosquito-borne virus as they make plans for the Games in August.

Kenya was expected to be one of the star performers at Rio, fielding some of the best middle and long-distance runners in the world.

The East African nation topped the medals table at the 2015 world championships.

Meanwhile, top health officials say they were sticking to existing guidelines regarding warning related to the Zika virus.

The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci says athletes would need to make a personal decision about whether or not to skip the Olympics.

Iran Hostage Crisis: Victims ‘To Be Compensated’ 36 Years Later

Iran HostageThe US victims of the Iran hostage crisis are to receive compensation 36 years after their horrific ordeals.

According to a US spending bill passed last Friday, each of the 53 hostages or their estates would receive up to $4.4 million.

The victims of other state-sponsored terror attacks such as the US embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998 would also be eligible.

The hostage-taking lasted 444 days and led the US to break off ties with Iran.

The decision to award compensation followed a controversial deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme.

The hostages have long fought for restitution, but the agreement that secured their release, barred them from making such claims and their attempts were repeatedly blocked by the courts, including an appeal denied by the Supreme Court.

The Congress was also unable to pass laws granting them compensation.

The money for compensation is likely to come from a huge $9 billion fine for French bank Paribas for violating sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba, the New York Times reported.

About $1 billion will go into a fund for victims of terrorism and an additional $2.8 billion will be set aside to help the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families.

Oshiomhole Urges Nigerian Leaders To Encourage Unity

Oshiomhole Urges Nigerian Leaders To Encourage UnisonEdo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has called on leaders in Nigeria to strengthen the bridge of unity in the country.

Governor Oshiomhole made the appeal while delivering a speech which captured issues of unemployment and inequality at the fourth annual Zik’s Lecture Series of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

He was of the opinion that Nigerian leaders should try not to create a feeling of inequality in the minds of the poor from birth.

Governor Oshiomhole urged them to create an environment that would enable every citizen to thrive, irrespective of their status, adding that poverty was a threat to prosperity everywhere.

A Ugandan motivational speaker, Ethan Musolini, also said that economic empowerment and demonstration of practical skills should be celebrated as they were the heart of sustainable entrepreneurship, stressing that it would open the vista for creation of more jobs and finding solutions to problems at a profit.

Speeches delivered by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, the former Special Adviser on Political Matters to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Ben Obi and the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, hinged on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.

They also tasked the leaders on providing the structures that would encourage enterprise and thus, exterminate unemployment and inferiority complex among Nigerians.

The forum was organised to encourage quality interaction and conversation amongst leading scholars, students, and individuals towards the development of Nigeria and the African continent while keeping the memory of the ideals of Nigeria’s Pan African leader, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe alive.

Agricultural Institute To Tackle Cassava Viral Diseases

cassavaThe National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike, Abia State, has set up a pre-emptive initiatives known as West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) to tackle issues of cassava viral diseases which is currently ravaging East Africa.

While addressing participants from other West African countries and other research fellows on Agriculture on Tuesday, the Executive Director of the institute, Dr Julius Okonkwo, said that the disease virulent and tendency to spread rapidly across the sub-Sahara and even West Africa, necessitated the implementation action which would have a coordinated management of the virus disease threats.

Cassava, one of the major root crop and stable food for millions of people in Nigeria, is at the risk and threats of possible outbreak of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD), if proactive measures are not put in place fast.

According to reports, the CBSD has the capacity to drastically attack cassava and affect the nation’s economy to the cost of 400 billion Naira (about $2 billion) annually, if not checked on time.

Abia State has agreed to cooperate with the research institute to raise the awareness of the disease to farmers, as well as support the clustering and productivity in agriculture sector.

Although other special interventions have been done on cassava across the nation, the systemic survey of cassava viral disease is yet to be carried out, therefore, the launch of WAVE Project campaign against the dreaded CBSD would increase the continual productivity and sustainability of root and tuber crops.

Tanzania Albino Murders: Over 200 Witchdoctors Arrested

AlbinoTanzanian authorities have arrested as many as 200 witchdoctors and traditional healers for the murder of albinos for medicine.

Police Spokesperson, Advera Bulimba, told AFP, “Some of those arrested were found in possession of items like lizard skin, warthog teeth, ostrich eggs, monkey tails, bird claws, mule tails and lion skin.”

Some witchdoctors have promoted the belief that the body parts of albinos have properties that confer wealth and good luck.

The government has also been clamping down on unlicensed traditional healers and soothsayers across the country; arresting as many as 225 of them recently.

The UN says nearly 80 albino Tanzanians have been killed since the year 2000, with the latest victim being a one year old albino boy.

The United Nations human rights chief said there has been a sharp increase this year in attacks on albinos in East Africa, especially in Malawi and Tanzania, calling the attacks “stunningly vicious.”

“As a result, many people with albinism are living in abject fear. Some no longer dare to go outside, and children with albinism have stopped attending school,” High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.

President Jakaya Kikwete, says the murders are evil, and the act has brought shame to the country.