Democratic Republic of Congo has highest levels of hunger in world, UN says

Nowhere in the world do more people need food assistance, according to a new study by two UN agencies. More than 27 million people in the DRC — one in three of the population – are affected by what the agencies call “high acute food insecurity.” That’s up from 13 million in 2018. Seven million people are now struggling to survive “emergency levels” of food insecurity, according to the analysis by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and…

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India AstraZeneca shot delay could be ‘catastrophic’ for Africa: health official

India’s temporary hold on major exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot will undermine Africa’s vaccination plans, and could have a “catastrophic” impact if extended, the head of the continent’s disease control body said on Thursday. India decided to delay big exports of the shots made in its territory by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to make sure it could meet local demand, two sources told Reuters last week. The hold “will definitely impact our ability to continuously vaccinate people,”…

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First Person: ‘No daughter of mine will be cut’

Like 95 per cent of women in her Ugandan community, Margaret Chepoteltel underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child, subjecting her to lifelong health problems. Today, she is raising awareness of the dangers of FGM, as part of a UN-backed programme. ‘I have never felt so much pain in my entire life’ “Today, I curse the practice of female genital mutilation, but as a child I actually looked forward to it: I thought it would mean that I…

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Kenya orders closure of two refugee camps, gives ultimatum to UN agency

Kenya on Wednesday ordered the closure of two sprawling camps that host hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring Somalia and gave the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) two weeks to present a plan to do so, the interior ministry said. The Dadaab and the Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya together host more than 410,000 people, a small proportion of whom are from South Sudan. Authorities in Nairobi first announced their intention to shut the Dadaab camp, which is…

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Mozambique: Cabo Delgado displacement could reach 1 million, UN officials warn

Senior leaders with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, warned on Monday of the urgent need to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique, where an ongoing insurgency has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people. Assistant High Commissioners Gillian Triggs and Raouf Mazou were fresh from the country, where they heard shocking stories from survivors of a crisis that is unfolding in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of several devastating…

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Somalia starts first inoculations with AstraZeneca

Somalia started administering COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday with the inoculation of the health minister, who received the jab publicly to reassure the nation about its safety. The Horn of Africa nation, which has recently experienced a surge of cases, on Monday received its first shipment of 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the international COVAX initiative to ensure that low- and middle-income countries receive vaccines. Somalia’s first vaccinations happened in a small ceremony at the Martini hospital in the…

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Mozambique militants beheading children as young as 11, Save the Children says

Children as young as 11 are being beheaded in Mozambique, UK-based aid group Save the Children said on Tuesday, as part of an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and forced many magnitudes more from their homes. Save the Children said it had spoken to displaced families who described “horrifying scenes” of murder, including mothers whose young sons were killed. In one case, the woman hid, helpless, with her three other children as her 12-year-old was murdered nearby. “We…

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South Sudanese ‘one step away from famine’, as UN launches humanitarian response plan

As hunger levels continue to deepen in South Sudan due to a combination of violence, climate change and COVID-19, the 2021 South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan was launched on Tuesday aiming to reach 6.6 million people – including 350,000 refugees – with life-saving assistance and protection. The plan asks for $1.7 billion in funding to enable UN aid agencies and partners to deliver lifesaving assistance to the world’s youngest country. “South Sudan is facing its highest levels of food…

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Shock and uncertainty after death of Ivory Coast PM Bakayoko

Ivory Coast faced shock and uncertainty on Thursday following the death of Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, the West African nation’s second premier to die in office in less than eight months. A close ally of President Alassane Ouattara, Bakayoko, who died of cancer a few days after his 56th birthday, was appointed prime minister in July 2020 after the death of his predecessor Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Ouattara’s handpicked successor. Although Ouattara named his chief of staff Patrick Achi as…

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COVID-19 vaccines touchdown in Sudan and Rwanda

Through the UN-led vaccine initiative COVAX, Sudan and Rwanda have become the latest beneficiaries to receive the lifesaving COVID-19 inoculation, UN agencies reported on Wednesday. In a boost for equitable distribution in Africa, 800,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shots touched down in Khartoum, making Sudan the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to receive the vaccine, according to a press release from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This delivery follows the arrival on 26 February,…

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