PHOTOS: 117 Stranded Nigerians Return From Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania

In this photo released by @AzmanAir on August 2, 2020, returnees disembark from an airplane following their evacuation from three East African countries.

 

A total of 117 Nigerians stranded in three East African countries as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have returned home.

They were brought back to the country on Sunday from Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.

The airplane which evacuated the returnees from the three East African countries touched down at about 3am at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

A Nigerian airline, Azman Air, which conducted the evacuation exercise, announced the arrival of the returnees in an early-morning tweet.

 

In line with the guidelines of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on evacuation, the returnees are expected to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

At the end of the isolation period, they are also expected to take another test to ascertain their COVID-19 status before reuniting with the society.

 

US Evacuees Now 1,430

Their return to the country came barely a day after the Nigeria Government evacuated 300 more Nigerians stranded in the United States.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in a tweet on Saturday, confirmed that a total of 300 citizens were brought back to the country.

 

According to the agency, the evacuation of the new set of returnees who also arrived at the international airport in Lagos via Ethiopian Airlines is the fifth from the US since the government began the exercise.

All the returnees had tested negative to COVID-19 before boarding the flight and would also observe the mandatory 14-day self-isolation as directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

The latest evacuation brings to 1,430 the total number of Nigerians who returned from the US.

Highpoints of the arrival of the stranded Nigerians from the three East African countries are captured in the photos below:

Uganda Plans Elections In Early 2021 But No Rallies

A file photo of Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni
A file photo of Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni

 

Uganda’s election commission on Tuesday published a roadmap for presidential and legislative elections in early 2021, assuaging fears the coronavirus pandemic would force a delay.

But a plan to ban rallies and gatherings during the campaign drew a rebuke from a leading opposition politician, who said it was designed to favour longtime President Yoweri Museveni.

A calendar posted on the commission’s Twitter account Tuesday called for voting to take place between January 10 and February 8 next year, with “exact polling dates to be appointed in due course”.

That timeline is in line with the constitution.

In an interview with a private television station last month, Museveni, in power since 1986, had seemed to raise the possibility of a delay, saying it would be “madness to continue with elections when the virus is around”.

Uganda has officially recorded 724 COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

“The elections will go ahead as planned. This will be early January and February next year,” Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, the election commission chairman, told AFP Tuesday.

“There were fears that the elections will be postponed due to COVID-19, but the constitution demands that we must hold the polls at a specific time and we can’t do away with that,” he said.

But Mugenyi also said there would be “no mass rallies and public gatherings” and that candidates would “use the media such as radios and TVs to campaign”.

Opposition leader Bobi Wine, a popular singer whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said those rules would place an undue burden on opposition politicians who struggle to secure media access.

“The roadmap makes it harder for opposition voices to be heard,” Wine told AFP.

“Whenever we show up at radio stations, we are stopped by the police from going on air. The same thing will happen this time and the airwaves will be used by Museveni and his supporters to campaign,” he said.

Wine, who has been subject to repeated arrests, is expected to run against Museveni, who would be seeking a sixth term.

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

Cheptegei Breaks 5km World Record

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei celebrates after winning the Men’s 10,000m final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on October 6, 2019.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei lowered the 5km world record on Sunday with a time of 12 minutes 51 seconds and revealed he had set out to “really go for” breaking the sub 13 minutes barrier. 

The 10,000m world champion made the most of perfect conditions in the second edition of this race to improve on Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto’s previous best of 13min 18sec last month in Valencia.

“Wow, this is really great. I had sub 13 minutes in my mind today so when my legs felt good during the race I decided to really go for it,” said the 23-year-old 10,000m world champion.

“To take this many seconds off the record makes me very happy and is a great first test for me in an important season,” he said with the Tokyo Olympics coming up in July.

Cheptegei took part in both the 5000m and 10000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming eighth and sixth respectively at the age of 19.

AFP

Netanyahu Asks Uganda To Open Jerusalem Embassy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech in Jerusalem on October 10, 2019.
GALI TIBBON / AFP

 

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday held talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and called for the opening of missions in each others’ countries, during a visit aimed at boosting ties.

Netanyahu last visited Uganda in July 2016 to mark the 40th anniversary of a hostage rescue at Entebbe airport, in which his brother Yonatan died.

“There are two things we very much want to achieve… one is direct flights from Israel to Uganda,” Netanyahu told Museveni at a joint press conference.

“And second… you open an embassy in Jerusalem, I’ll open an embassy in Kampala,” he added.

“We are studying that,” Museveni replied.

Traditionally, most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries maintained a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem.

But US President Donald Trump shocked the world in December 2017 by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shifting the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to that city.

In recent years, Israel has boosted its links with African nations, improving ties following a difficult period when many post-independence African leaders sided with Israel’s Arab rivals and viewed Israel’s support for apartheid, South Africa, with intense suspicion.

Israel now has diplomatic relations with 39 of 47 sub-Saharan African states.

Netanyahu is on his fifth visit to Africa in less than four years. The continent is a lucrative market for defence equipment and the agriculture sector.

As Israeli expertise in military and agricultural technology has developed, the opportunity for trade with Africa has grown.

AFP

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