Flood Kills 12 People In Western Uganda – Red Cross

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

 

Twelve people have been swept to their deaths by floods in western Uganda, the Red Cross said on Saturday, as the East African country is battered by torrential rain.

“We have recovered 12 bodies from the water and one person has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries,” said Diana Tumuhimbise, Red Cross branch manager in the Bundibugyo district.

“The rain started last night and continued until 9:00 am (0600 GMT),” she told AFP on Saturday.

“Several houses have been swept away, roads have been blocked and some washed away completely.”

The Red Cross has launched a search and rescue operation with the police, military and community members in 12 affected areas but it is not yet clear how many people are missing.

Rain is hampering communication in the remote location, on the border with DR Congo and separated from the rest of Uganda by the Rwenzori mountains.

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

The extreme weather has been blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a “positive” dipole.

Scientists warn that as ocean temperatures rise because of climate change, Indian Ocean dipoles will become more frequent and severe.

 

AFP

DR Congo To Play In CECAFA Cup In Uganda

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo will play in next month’s Confederation of East and Central Africa (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda as a guest team, the organisers said on Monday.

The two-time African Nations Championships (CHAN) holders will be competing for the first time in the regional football tournament which will be held in Kampala from December 7-19.

“DR Congo is expected to bring a lot of football wealth to the tournament, especially with their domestic league clubs, TP Mazembe and Vita Club performing very well in the African football competitions. We are privileged to have them play in our competition,” CECAFA secretary Nicholas Musonye told AFP from Dar es Salaam where the draw was held.

The tournament will also see the return of the Eritrean national senior team which last competed in the Cecafa Challenge Cup in Kenya six years ago.

Titleholders, Kenya will play in Group C alongside Djibouti, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The draw is:

Group A: Uganda, Burundi,Ethiopia, Eritrea

Group B: DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia

Group C: Kenya (holders), Tanzania, Burundi, Djibouti.

The two top teams from each group and the best two losers will qualify to the quarter-finals.

Violence In DR Congo As Rebels Kill 14 Civilians In Revenge Mission

A picture of the DR Congo Flag

 

Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.

The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks to around 30.

 

AFP

Ebola Death Toll Crosses 2,000 In DR Congo

 

The Ebola outbreak showed no signs of easing in DR Congo Friday on the eve of the UN chief’s visit, with the death toll from the highly contagious virus crossing 2,000 and a new fatality in neighbouring Uganda.

The latest casualty in Uganda was a nine-year-old girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo, reviving fears that the virus could cross the porous borders of the central African country, where it erupted in August last year.

DR Congo health officials said late Thursday that there have been “2,006 deaths (1,901 confirmed and 105 probable)” since August 2018.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the number of cases is 3,004, including 2,899 confirmed and 105 probable,” a bulletin said, adding that 902 people had been cured.

The toll is a setback for the beleaguered country, coming a day before UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits for a first-hand assessment of the fightback.

It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

Containment efforts have been hindered by conflict in eastern DRC as well as attacks on Ebola fighters within affected communities.

Fourth Uganda Death

The nine-year-old girl who tested positive in Uganda after travelling from DR Congo died early Friday, a Ugandan health official told AFP.

“She passed on at around 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning,” said Yusuf Baseka, health director in Kasese, a district in southwestern Uganda along the border with DR Congo.

The child was diagnosed after exhibiting symptoms at a border crossing in Kasese on Wednesday.

She was subsequently isolated and transferred to an Ebola treatment unit.

The girl is the fourth victim diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda, which has been on high alert since last year, to have died from the virus.

In June, three members of a single family tested positive after entering from DR Congo. Two died in Uganda, while the third succumbed to the disease after returning to DR Congo.

The outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus began in the North Kivu province in eastern DR Congo on August 1, 2018, and spread to the neighbouring Ituri province.

The pathogen causes fever, vomiting and severe diarrhoea, often followed by kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

The disease is spread by contact with infected bodily fluids and is fought with the time-honoured but laborious techniques of tracing contacts and quarantining them.

Stepped Up Checks

Ebola is named after a river in northern DR Congo, formerly named Zaire, where the virus was first identified in 1976.

The WHO has declared the epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern”.

The virus has also spread to DR Congo’s South Kivu province, which shares a land border with Rwanda and Burundi.

Screening is vital, but imperfect.

Ebola can take up to three weeks to incubate and cannot be spread until the infected person has symptoms, the WHO says.

But it can be difficult to clinically tell Ebola from malaria, typhoid fever or meningitis.

Uganda has stepped up checks for hundreds of schoolchildren who cross over from DR Congo every day to attend school there as jobs and educational opportunities are greater.

But it is not without inconvenience.

“Sometimes we get to school late, because we have to be in line for checking and it takes time,” said Doreane Kambari, a 16-year-old attending high school in Bwera in Kasese.

Francis Tumwine, an International Committee of the Red Cross worker at Mpondwe, said creating public awareness of the disease was critically important to quashing the rumours around it.

“The fear of Congolese children bringing Ebola into schools was very real,” he told AFP.

“But we taught people about the virus, and they now know what to do.”

Nine-Year-Old Girl Dies From Ebola

 

A nine-year-old girl who tested positive for Ebola in Uganda after travelling from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo has died, a Ugandan health official told AFP on Friday.

“She passed on at around 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning,” said Yusuf Baseka, health director in Kasese, a district in southwestern Uganda along the border with DR Congo.

The child, who is of Congolese origin, was diagnosed after exhibiting symptoms at a border crossing in Kasese district on Wednesday.

She was subsequently isolated and transferred to an Ebola treatment unit.

Her body would be repatriated to DR Congo later Friday, Dr Baseka said.

The girl is the fourth victim diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda to have died from haemorrhagic fever.

In June, three members of a single-family tested positive for Ebola in Uganda after entering from DR Congo. Two died in Uganda, while the third succumbed to the disease after returning to DR Congo.

Uganda has been on high alert since the start of an Ebola outbreak in neighbouring DR Congo in August 2018.

Health officials in DR Congo said Friday that the death toll from that epidemic had crossed 2,000 people.

Uganda Fuel Truck Blast Kills 19

Nineteen people died when a fuel truck barrelled into other vehicles in a busy town in western Uganda and exploded, police said Monday.

The blast occurred Sunday evening in the Kyambura trading centre, a mountainous area near the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

“Ten people died instantly when the fuel truck lost control and hit three other vehicles, leading to multiple explosions that also burned 25 small shops,” said regional police spokesman Martial Tumusiime.

“Of the people that were rushed to the hospital, nine of them have also died as a result of wounds,” he added.

In 2002, 70 people were killed when an oil truck rammed into a bus in Rutoto, less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kyambura.

And in 2013, 33 people died in an explosion after a fuel truck overturned — many having rushed to the scene to siphon fuel.

The accident in Uganda came eight days after a fuel truck exploded in Tanzania. The fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from the wrecked vehicle, leaving 95 dead.

AFP

UN Appoints New HIV/AIDS Chief After Controversy

 

 

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed a new HIV/AIDS chief on Wednesday after the previous incumbent left accused of serious mismanagement.

Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima of Uganda will lead UNAIDS, a spokesperson for Guterres said in a statement.

She succeeds Michel Sidibe who stepped down in May after he was accused of creating “a patriarchal culture tolerating harassment and abuse of authority.”

An Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report commissioned by UNAIDS’s governing body said the agency’s culture under Sidibe also failed “to uphold the United Nations’ laws and values.”

Sidibe left UNAIDS after a decade-long tenure to become Mali’s health minister.

Guterres continued to praise Sidibe despite his being reprimanded for mishandling a sexual assault investigation involving one of his top deputies.

Sidibe’s divisive era led AIDS experts to voice concern over the future of the UN body, which UNAIDS leads a global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

In the statement announcing Byanyima’s appointment, Guterres said she “brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of government, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the HIV and AIDS crisis for communities around the world.”

Byanyima, 60, said she was “honored” to be joining UNAIDS “at such a critical time in the response to HIV.”

AIDS-related illnesses have killed 35 million people since the first cases were reported more than 35 years ago.

AFP

Bobi Wine Charged With ‘Annoying’ Ugandan President

Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, sings on a stage in Busabala, suburb of Kampala, Uganda, on November 10, 2018. Isaac KASAMANI / AFP

 

A Ugandan court on Tuesday charged pop star turned leading opposition figure Bobi Wine with “annoying” President Yoweri Museveni, his lawyer told AFP.

The singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, appeared in court on a prior treason charge after he and other opposition politicians allegedly stoned Museveni’s convoy during a campaign rally in August last year.

“He was charged with annoying the president” in relation to the same case, his lawyer Asuman Basalirwa told AFP.

Wine, who entered parliament in 2017, has emerged as a leading critic of Museveni — who has been in power for over three decades — and has faced multiple detentions while authorities have frustrated his efforts to perform.

He announced last month that he would take on Museveni in 2021 national elections.

READ ALSO: Mugabe Hospitalised Since April, Says President Mnangagwa

“This government of President Museveni is in panic mode. At first it was treason and now it is annoying President Museveni. Who on earth can’t be annoyed?” Wine told AFP.

“It is a ridiculous charge and am ready to challenge it in court,” he said.

The new accusation against Wine comes just days after prominent activist Stella Nyanzi was sentenced to 18 months in prison over her vulgar posts on social media against Museveni — which she sees as a way to get her message across.

AFP

Uganda Begins Trial Of Ebola Vaccine

 

Uganda said Monday it had started a trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine that may be used in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where an outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people.

The trial of the MVA-BN vaccine developed by Johnson&Johnson is expected to last two years, Uganda’s Medical Research Council (MRC) said.

The vaccine will be administered to up to 800 health professionals and frontline workers such as cleaners, ambulance personnel and mortuary and burial teams, in the western district of Mbarara, the MRC said in a statement.

MRC spokeswoman Pamela Nabukenya Wairagala said vaccinations had already begun.

READ ALSO: Lightning Kills Six Children In Guinea

The MRC said the trial would be led by Ugandan researchers and supported by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

At present, there is no licenced drug to prevent or treat Ebola although a range of experimental drugs are in development.

The Congo outbreak is the first time that a vaccine has been used as a full-scale weapon against the virus.

Health authorities have been issuing the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, developed by US pharma group Merck — a product that has yet to be licenced but has been shown to be safe and effective.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for its deployment to be expanded and has recommended the Johnson&Johnson vaccine also be rolled out in order to meet needs.

However, the latter move has been resisted.

Critics have cautioned against introducing a new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

Congo’s former health minister, Oly Ilunga, who stepped down in July, was among the detractors.

The MRC said the Johnson&Johnson vaccine “is safe” and had been tested on more than 6,000 people in Europe, the US and African nations including Uganda.

However, its efficacy is unclear because it has never been assessed in an outbreak scenario.

By comparison, rVSV-ZEBOV was introduced in Guinea towards the end of a 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa, enabling scientists to conclude it was effective.

The trial taking place in Uganda, where there is no Ebola, will look at the response of the immune system to the vaccine — a key pointer of effectiveness.

It will also look at safety and the attitudes of participants towards the vaccine, the MRC said.

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, the lead Ugandan researcher in the trial, said developing a reliable vaccine was a key component to controlling Ebola epidemics.

“In this trial, we hope to avail more information that will help us work towards having a licenced Ebola vaccine,” Kaleebu said in a statement.

Uganda has suffered Ebola outbreaks in the past but nothing on the scale of the Congo epidemic, which began in August 2018.

It is the second-worst outbreak on record, eclipsed only by 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa, which killed more than 11,300 out of 29,000 documented cases.

Uganda has been declared Ebola-free though in June three people from one family died there from the haemorrhagic fever after crossing back from Congo.

AFP

Popstar Bobi Wine Joins Uganda’s 2021 Presidential Race

Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, sings on a stage in Busabala, suburb of Kampala, Uganda, on November 10, 2018.  Isaac KASAMANI / AFP

 

Ugandan pop star turned leading opposition figure Bobi Wine on Wednesday officially announced he would take on veteran President Yoweri Museveni in 2021 national elections.

Wine has long hinted he would throw his hat into the ring and take on Museveni, who has been in power for over three decades, leaving Uganda’s youthful population hungry for change.

“On behalf of the people of Uganda I am challenging you (Museveni) to a free and fair election in 2021,” the singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, announced at an event at his home in Kampala.

Wine was wearing a red tie and his signature red beret, which he has called a “symbol of resistance”, a look copied by dozens of supporters of his “People Power” movement — which he has yet to register as a political party.

As a pop star Bobi Wine, 37, blended lyrics on social justice and poverty with catchy Afrobeat rhythms, earning him committed fans among Uganda’s often poor urban youth.

He took on the nickname of “His Excellency the Ghetto President”.

Wine entered parliament in 2017 and has emerged as a leading critic of Museveni, 74, in a country where the median age is less than 16.

One of Wine’s songs contains the lyrics “freedom fighters become dictators,” while others hint that Museveni has stayed in power too long.

He has faced repeated arrests while authorities have frustrated his efforts to perform.

 ‘I know the danger’ 

Wine was most recently arrested in April for allegedly staging an illegal protest in 2018 — charges fellow opposition MPs decried as ridiculous — but was released from jail after just a few days in prison.

He is also facing treason charges after he and 30 other opposition politicians were arrested in August last year for allegedly stoning Museveni’s convoy following a campaign rally.

He accused security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody — which authorities denied.

“I know the danger I am going to face to challenge Museveni but I have been encouraged by Ugandans that am the leader they want… and I have accepted that challenge and I have offered my candidature,” Wine told AFP after the event Wednesday.

“Come to the presidential elections I will be on the ballot as a presidential candidate and with the massive support we have as People Power, victory is ours.”

Wine said he had put together a team that would “traverse the country to deliver a message of change”.

 ‘We are the future’ 

He said he held the event at his home after several hotels turned him down out of fear.

Uganda’s opposition has for two decades been dominated by 62-year-old Kizza Besigye, Museveni’s former friend, and personal physician, who has lost four successive elections and also been arrested countless times.

Earlier this year Uganda’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to remove an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders, paving the way for Museveni to run again in 2021.

In his address launching his campaign team, Wine urged supporters to “remember that this country is bigger than all of us”.

“Uganda was here before the coming of colonialism, Uganda was thereafter colonialism. Uganda was there before the dictatorship, yes, Uganda will be there after the dictatorship. Like we always sing, we are the country, we are the future, we are the change we badly need.”

AFP

Mane Fires Senegal Past Uganda To AFCON Quarter-Finals

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane shoots a penalty kick during the match between Uganda and Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital on July 5, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Sadio Mane became the leading scorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Friday when he scored the goal that gave Senegal a 1-0 win over Uganda in a feisty last-16 clash.

The Liverpool star struck on 15 minutes with a close-range shot after a passing move carved open the Ugandan defence in Cairo.

Mane later missed a penalty — the second time he has fluffed a spot-kick in as many matches — but his three-goal tally from three matches moved him ahead of 11 scorers with two each.

In the quarter-finals, Senegal will face fellow west Africans Benin, who stunned Morocco earlier, winning a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw following extra time.

A fiery start at the Cairo International Stadium to the second last-16 match saw two Ugandans and one Senegalese yellow-carded within 10 minutes of the kick-off.

Uganda captain and goalkeeper Denis Onyango was first to be booked after racing off his line and fouling Ismaila Sarr, who needed lengthy treatment.

Giant Uganda forward Emmanuel Okwi was the next offender with his elbow brushing the face of Senegal centre-back and captain Cheikhou Kouyate.

Senegal midfielder Papa Ndiaye then went into the book of the referee for deliberately pushing a Ugandan so hard he tumbled off the pitch.

As tempers cooled, Senegal scored through Mane, who shared the Premier League Golden Boot last season with Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal.

A Ugandan pass was intercepted and two quick, slick passes sent Mane clear to fire left-footed past Onyango, one of the top goalkeepers in Africa.

Blatant foul

On 18 minutes, Uganda lost centre-back Hassan Wasswa after he injured his left hamstring and Timothy Awany took his place.

Midfielder Khalid Aucho became the third Ugandan to be yellow-carded, for a blatant foul, and Okwi was lucky to escape a second caution and a red card later in the half.

There were more cards than goal attempts on target in the opening 45 minutes, which ended with Senegal comfortably retaining a one-goal advantage.

The match not only lacked goalmouth excitement, but also atmosphere with a crowd of just a few thousand dotted around the 75,000 stadium, where the final will be played on July 19.

Scorching heat, costly tickets and a lack of interest by Egyptians in teams other than their own Pharaohs are some of the reasons for the poor attendances.

Senegal had a great chance to double their lead when Mane was fouled by Onyango, but the Liverpool star failed to convert the penalty, a fate he also suffered against Kenya.

He aimed for the right corner, but Onyango guessed correctly and made a brilliant two-hand save to keep the Cranes in the match.

Senegal centre-back and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly was the fifth player to be booked as an intensely physical encounter entered the final quarter.

As free-kicks were continually conceded, Uganda had several opportunities to equalise and came close on 80 minutes when goalkeeper Alfred Gomis pushed away an Allan Kateregga effort.

AFP

Ebola Death Toll Hits 1,606 In DR Congo

File: 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. / AFP

 

Deaths from an 11-month-old epidemic of Ebola in eastern DR Congo have crossed the 1,600 marks and a new fatality has been reported near the border with Uganda, the health ministry said on Friday.

As of Thursday, the health authorities had recorded 2,382 cases of Ebola, of which 1,606 had been fatal, it said.

A ministry spokesman told AFP that a patient whose infection had been reported on Monday in Ariwara, in Ituri province bordering Uganda, had died.

The fatality is a mother from neighbouring North Kivu province whose five children had become infected with Ebola, two of whom had died.

She had gone to Ituri in order to evade Ebola response teams, the ministry said.

Ariwari lies in northern Ituri, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Uganda and some 60 kms from South Sudan.

READ ALSO: Seven Reported Dead In Bahamas Helicopter Crash

“So far, 177 people who have been in contact with the family have been identified in Ariwara and 40 have already been vaccinated,” the ministry said.contacts

The disease broke out in North Kivu before spreading to Ituri.

Two people also died in Uganda in June after a family returned from eastern Congo where they had buried an Ebola-stricken relative.

The current epidemic is the worst on record after more than 11,300 were killed Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in an outbreak, between 2014-2016.

Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.

Separately on Friday, the UN said the Ebola risk in Ituri was being heightened by the violence that has caused people to flee their homes, forcing them to gather in places with poor hygiene that were vulnerable to disease spread.

AFP