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A group of displaced Somali women residing at the Ifo Two Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, which is supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:UNHCR. Image: UN:Evan Schneider. ‽: 190516

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Africa is made of countries: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Réunion, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland:Eswatini, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

WHO Declared the 11th Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic Over




|| Wednesday: November 18: 2020 || ά. Today marks the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:DRC, nearly, six months after the first cases were reported in Equateur Province. The outbreak took place in communities, scattered across dense rain forests, as well as, crowded urban areas, creating logistical challenges. These were surmounted due to the leadership of the government and local communities, supported by the World Health Organisation:WHO and all its partners.

WHO congratulates responders and all those, who tirelessly tracked cases, provided treatment, engaged communities and vaccinated more than 40,000 people at high risk and due to a wide range of partners for their support. Vaccinators, used an innovative cold chain storage to keep the Ebola vaccine at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius. The ARKTEK freezers can keep vaccines at very low temperatures in the field for up to a week and enabled responders to vaccinate people in communities without electricity.

“Overcoming one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together.” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The technology, used to keep the Ebola vaccine at super-cold temperatures will be helpful when bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to Africa. Tackling Ebola in parallel with COVID-19 hasn’t been easy but, much of the expertise we’ve built in one disease is transferrable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity.”

The outbreak in western DRC, announced on June 01, 2020, came as another Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country was winding down and, finally, declared over on June 25. The two outbreaks were geographically far apart. Genetic sequencing analysis found that they were unrelated. By the end of the current 11th Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province there were 119 confirmed cases, 11 probable, 55 deaths and 75 people, who had recovered.

Equateur Province was, also, the site of the country’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which was overcome in a little over three months in 2018 and had half as many cases reported. However, the response to the 11th Ebola outbreak had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, which strained resources and created difficulties around the movement of experts and supplies. There were, also, challenges around the large number of cases in remote communities, which were, often, only accessible by boat or helicopter and at times community resistance hampered response efforts.

Under the leadership of the DRC government, most responders were mobilised locally and they moved quickly, despite important logistical and access difficulties. Vaccination efforts began just four days after the outbreak was declared. Around, 90% of the vaccinators were from local communities. The response, also, tapped into the expertise of local health workers, trained during the two recent outbreaks in the DRC. Responders worked closely with community members to increase understanding of the virus by visiting more than 574,000 households and providing more than three million people with pertinent health and safety information.

At the height of the outbreak there were more than 100 WHO experts on the ground, supporting the government’s response. While the 11th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining strong surveillance as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come. In this regard, WHO and other partners are currently conducting important actions for improving critical operational capacities in Equateur province, including, training frontline workers. 

The end of this outbreak serves as a reminder that governments and partners must continue to focus attention on other emergencies, even, as the fight against COVID-19 persists. There is a need for greater investment in strengthening the core capacities of countries in the implementation of the International Health Regulations. Enhancing preparedness will lead to improved response to threats arising from epidemic prone diseases and result in less social and economic impact.

WHO donors, who provided funding to WHO for the Ebola response under the Strategic Response Plan were: African Public Health Emergency Fund:APHEF, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention:CDC, United States of America, Federal Foreign Office, Federal Republic of Germany, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, People’s Republic of China and the United Nations Development Programme Multi-Partner Trust Fund:MPTF

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Côte D’Ivoire: The Use of Machetes and Guns Shows Horrors of Post-Election Violence


|| Wednesday: November 18: 2020 || ά. Authorities in Côte D’Ivoire must investigate the killing of dozens of people with rifles, guns and machetes since the presidential election, Amnesty International said yesterday. Eyewitnesses interviewed by the Organisation described post-election violence scenes, which took place amid intensifying clashes between opposition and ruling party supporters since October 31. In some instances, security forces were overwhelmed, failing to prevent violence from both sides.

“We are urging the Ivorian authorities to investigate the bloody violence and bring perpetrators to justice. The impunity, that has long reigned in Côte D’Ivoire provides fertile ground for people to commit killings and other human rights violations with no fear of being held to account.” said Ms Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Director. “This is the second time in a decade that elections in Cote D’Ivoire have been marred by violence. The authorities must urgently take measures to protect lives and send a clear message that killings will not go unpunished.”

Violence erupted in several towns in Côte D’Ivoire in the lead up to the presidential election and has continued following the vote. According to the National Human Rights Council, the violence led to 55 deaths between October 31 and November 10 and 282 people were injured. There have, also, been dozens of arrests of opposition party members, including, opposition leader Mr Pascal Affi N’Guessan, who has been in detention since.

Last week, violence escalated in the central region of Côte D’Ivoire, including, n the towns of Mbatto, Elibou and Daoukro. Between November 09 and 10, an opposition protest in the town of Mbatto led to, at least, two deaths and dozens of people injured, five of whom in a critical condition, according to information, received by Amnesty International.

Eyewitnesses told the Organisation that supporters of the ruling party attacked protesters with stones, which later led to a violent clash with machetes and guns while security forces were overwhelmed. One witness told Amnesty International, “They started with stones, then machetes and at last we heard gun shots. We were brutally assaulted. They started to burn, to break some things and to injure us with bullets. The gendarmes, who were in the middle to disperse the crowd with tear gas were, even, discouraged. We were left to ourselves. "

According to another witness, at least, 24 people were injured by firearms on November 09 and 10 and five in critical condition could not be evacuated due to on-going violence. “We've never seen this, usually, people take machetes but, this time, they all used guns.” he said.

Amnesty International has, also, documented the arrests of dozens of opposition members around the election. This follows a call from the opposition for civil disobedience, a boycott of the election, the establishment of a National Transition Council and the rejection of President Alassane Ouattara's re-election.

Opposition leader Mr Pascal Affi N’Guessan was arrested and detained incommunicado from the evening of November 06 and 09, during which period neither his family nor his lawyer had access to him. Mr N’Guessan said that he did not see the light of day for 60 hours. There are 30 charges against him, including, ‘attack and conspiracy against the state authority, murder and act of terrorism’.

His lawyer only managed to see Mr N’Guessan during his appearance in front of the judge on November 09. Since then, neither the lawyer nor Mr N’Guessan’s family was able to communicate with him. Mf N’Guessan’s whereabouts can not be confirmed. The authorities must allow him to communicate with his lawyer.

On November 03, 21 people were arbitrarily arrested at veteran opposition Leader Mr Henri Konan Bédié’s house, five of whom are still in detention. They include Mr Maurice Guikahué, Deputy Leader of Côte D’Ivoire Democratic Party:PDCI in French, senators Mr Seri Bi N’Guessan, Mr Bassy Koffi Bernard and Mr Henri Konan Bédié’s Chief of Staff Mr Narcisse N’dri Kouadio.

They are facing 16 charges, including, ‘attack and conspiracy against state authority’. Security forces are still stationed around the houses of former Minister Mr Hubert Oulaye and that of Mr Pascal Affi N’Guessan, preventing any person to enter or leave the buildings. Amnesty International considers this as an arbitrary restriction on the right to freedom of movement of all people inside the houses.

This wave of arrests of political opponents follows another series of arrests earlier this year. In August, Amnesty International reported a wave of arrests of political dissidents. Between August 13 and October 25, at least, 41 people were arrested in Abdijan, Korogho, Toumodi and Alepe while protesting or after calling on people to protest.

This includes five members of the opposition party, GPS, who were arrested on August 13 while on their way to a protest and Ms Pulchérie Edith Gbalet, Co-ordinator of the NGO Alternatives Citoyennes:ACI, who was arrested on August 15 in the hotel where she was residing along with two collaborators after she called on people to protest against Ouattara’s third term.

“The growing crackdown on opposition leaders and government critics is an attack on human rights. Authorities must stop restricting the right to freedom of movement of people inside the residence of opposition leaders by removing security forces surrounding them.” said Ms Samira Daoud.

“They must immediately release Pascal Affi N’Guessan and all those detained simply for exercising their human rights. They must commit to creating a space where people can freely express their opinions and peacefully protest without fear of being arrested, assaulted or killed.”

Côte D’Ivoire Constitutional Council declared on November 09 President Mr Alassane Ouattara elected in the first round after the October 31 presidential election. The post-electoral violence was preceded by several incidents since Mr Alassane Ouattara announced his candidacy for the presidential elections.

In August, Amnesty International reported how the police allowed machete-wielding men to attack protesters on August 13 in Yopougon district of Abidjan. A clash between supporters of the ruling party and supporters of the opposition parties in Dabou between October 19 and 21 resulted in 16 deaths and 67 people injured. 

On November 11, President Mr Alassane Ouattara met with Mr Henri Konan Bédié in Abidjan. According to reports, Ouattara said that they would work towards peace, adding the meeting was ‘an ice breaker, a first step toward establishing trust’.

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Full Scale Humanitarian Crisis Is Unfolding in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region


|| Tuesday: November 17: 2020 || ά. A full-scale humanitarian crisisis unfolding as thousands of refugees flee on-going fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region each day to seek safety in eastern Sudan, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported on Tuesday. More than 27,000 have now crossed into Sudan through crossing points in Kassala and Gedaref states, as well as, a new location further south at Aderafi, where Ethiopian refugees started crossing over the weekend, according to UNHCR.

The scale of the influx is the worst that part of the country has seen in over 20 years, according to the Agency. “Women, men and children have been crossing the border at the rate of 4,000 per day since November 10, rapidly overwhelming the humanitarian response capacity on the ground.” said Mr Babar Baloch, UNHCR Spokesperson, briefing reporters in Geneva. “Refugees, fleeing the fighting, continue to arrive exhausted from the long trek to safety, with few belongings.”

According to news reports, Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Abiy Ahmed, has indicated the military operation, that was launched in response to the reported occupation of a Government military base by Tigrayan forces, nearly, two weeks ago, would continue. Although, he said that it was now in its ‘final phase’. 

UN agencies, along with relief partners, have ramped up assistance, delivering food rations, hot meals and clean water, as well as, setting up latrines and temporary shelters. They are, also, supporting the Sudanese Government in its response. But the needs continue to grow. The UN World Food Programme:WFP is, also, supporting other humanitarian workers in its response, providing fuel for vehicles and generators in remote locations.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service, managed by WFP, has, also, increased flights from three times per week to daily flights for aid workers. Since Saturday, UNHCR has relocated 2,500 refugees from the border to Um Raquba settlement site, in eastern Sudan. There is however, a critical need to identify more sites so that refugees can be relocated away from the border and can access assistance and services.’’ said Mr Baloch.

UNHCR has, also, issued an emergency fundraising appeal, through which people can help provide urgent, life-saving assistance to refugees. ‘’Meanwhile, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia itself, lack of electricity, telecommunications, fuel and cash, continue to, severely, hamper any humanitarian response.’’ the UNHCR Spokesperson said. 

“After nearly two weeks of conflict, reports of larger numbers of internally displaced grow daily, while the lack of access to those in need, coupled with the inability to move in goods to the region, remain major impediments to providing assistance.” he said. UNHCR and partners are on standby to provide assistance to the displaced in Tigray, including basic items, when access and security allow.

The conflict is, also, a major on-going concern for the Eritrean refugee population of nearly 100,000 in Tigray, who are reliant on assistance from UNHCR and partners. “Potential for further displacement of refugees inside the country is increasingly a real possibility. The humanitarian situation as result of this crisis is growing rapidly.’’ He reiterated UNCHR’s call for peace and urge all parties to respect the safety and security for all civilians in Tigray.

Caption: Ethiopian refugees, fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan: Image: UNHCR:Hazim Elhag

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Egypt: Leading Rights Group Official Arrested


|| Monday: November 16: 2020 || ά. Egyptian security forces have arrested and detained a leader of a major human rights group, Human Rights Watch said today. The security forces raided the home of Mr Mohamed Basheer, the Human Resources Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights:EIPR, in the early morning hours of November 15 and detained him on what appear to be abusive terrorism charges. Mr Basheer’s arrest followed a November 03 meeting the group hosted with European diplomats to discuss human rights in Egypt.

“Egypt’s arrest of EIPR’s Mohamed Basheer is a dangerous escalation of the government’s campaign against human rights organisations.” said Mr Amr Magdi, Middle East and North Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should release everyone detained for their human rights work and end its harassment of independent activists and groups.” An EIPR source told Human Rights Watch that heavily armed police and National Security Agency officers arrested Basheer at his home in Cairo and held him in an undisclosed location for 12 hours, interrogating him about the group’s work, including, the meeting with diplomats.

The authorities, then, transferred him to the Supreme State Security Prosecution office in eastern Cairo. There, prosecutors questioned him about EIPR publications and legal aid work and ordered him detained for 15 days, pending investigations on allegations of ‘joining a terrorist organisation’ and ‘spreading false information’. The source said that the authorities presented no evidence to justify either charge.

The November 03 meeting at EIPR’s Cairo office included ambassadors and diplomats from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium. Prosecutors added Basheer to Case 855 of 2020 in which people have been detained, charged and held for months without trial. They include human rights defenders and lawyers, such as, Mr Mohamed Al-Baqr and Mr Mahinour Al-Masry, journalists, such as, Mr Islam Mohamed and Professor Hazem Hosny, who teaches Political Science.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights is one of Egypt’s leading human rights organisations and has been at the centre of the government’s relentless vendetta against human rights and other independent organisation since 2013. The authorities in 2016 froze the assets of EIPR’s founder, Mr Hossam Bahgat and have prevented him from leaving the country since then.

On February 07, the authorities detained the EIPR’s researcher on gender issues, Mr Patrick George Zaki, at Cairo Airport upon his return from his studies in Italy. National Security Agency officers held Mr Zaki incommunicado for roughly 24 hours and tortured him, including, with electric shocks, his lawyers said. Prosecutors and judges have since routinely renewed his pretrial detention without presenting any evidence of wrong-doing.

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Peace Because You Choose to Work For It: Libyan Elections to Take Place in December 2021


|| Saturday: November 14: 2020 || ά. According to Ms Stephanie Williams, the Head of the UN Mission in Libya, national elections in country will take place on December 24, 2021. Ms Williams was speaking on Friday, during a virtual press conference. The announcement came a week after talks, that began in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, aimed at creating an executive authority, capable of organising elections and implementing political, economic and military reforms.

‘’The new executive will involve a separation of powers, with a new Presidency Council and a Government of National Unity, led by a Prime Minister.’’ said Ms. Williams. She said that December 24 was Libyan Independence Day, an important and symbolic date for the country’s citizens. The UN would work to ensure that as many people as possible, including, those, who have been displaced from their home, were able to vote.

‘’The talks reflect the will of the Libyan people and provide a clear path out of the current crisis and to credible, inclusive and democratic elections.’’ The country has been riven by chaos and conflict since the downfall of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, culminating in a civil war and the siege of the Libyan capital Tripoli which began in April last year. Ms Williams presided over a breakthrough peace agreement between five senior commanders from either side, at a meeting in Geneva last month.

‘’The candidates for executive positions are being asked to adhere to the principles of inclusivity, transparency, efficiency, pluralism, collegiality and patriotism. The members of the new executive will be asked to share a ledger of their assets and to, formally, commit to the democratic process and the deadline for elections.’’

She said that the immense expectations placed on the 75 participants in the talks and the impatience of the Libyan people, who are fed up with the rampant corruption and mis-governance and want to unify the country and see a new united government that can deliver services. However, there are several factions and individuals, who are seeking to block progress and undermine the peace process. The momentum is against them and their desire to promote their narrow personal interests at the expense of the public good.”

‘’The importance of support from partners is essential to the success of the process.’’ She welcomed the encouragement, that she has received from the international community but, underlined the importance of action to back up commitments, particularly, with regards to an arms embargo and the appropriate use of sanctions.

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Reported Ethiopia Massacre: Violent Fighting May Spiral Out of Control


|| Friday: November 13: 2020 || ά. Disturbing reports of an alleged massacre in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have surfaced, amid fighting between national and regional forces, that, may, become impossible to control, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights warned on Friday. Reacting to emerging details of mass killings, involving scores of victims in the town of Mai-Kadra, Ms Michelle Bachelet said, ‘’If, the Tigray national and regional forces and Ethiopian Government forces continue down the path they are on, there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control.”

This risked heavy casualties and destruction, as well as, mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders. Mr Rupert Colville, a Spoke Person, told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva. ‘’Equally worrying were ethnically and religiously motivated hate speech, incitement to violence, arbitrary arrests, killings, mass displacement and destruction in various parts of the country.’’ said senior UN prevention of genocide special adviser Ms Pramila Patten and the UN’s Responsibility to Protect senior adviser Ms Karen Smith.

‘’Such ethnically motivated attacks and reportedly ethnic profiling of citizens heightened the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.’’ they added. Although, the Head of UN Human Rights noted that the details of the alleged atrocity, reported by Amnesty International in southwest Tigray have not yet been fully verified. “If, confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would, of course, amount to war crimes.” she said.  

The High Commissioner repeated her call to stop the fighting and prevent any further atrocities from taking place, before highlighting the devastating military power being brought to bear in the conflict. “Despite the severing of communications with Tigray, making it difficult to verify the extent of the damage so far, we’ve received reports from a variety of sources, suggesting increased airstrikes by Government forces, as well as, fierce ground fighting between the opposing forces.” she said.

‘’Cuts to essential services for vulnerable populations, as well as, a communications blackout and access problems by road and by air for relief agencies were, also, deeply worrying.’’ Ms. Bachelet said. Regional and political tensions have risen since 2018, when newly-elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Abiy Ahmedmerged several ethnically based regional parties into a single national force, amid an ambitious reform programme.  

Violence erupted at the start of the month in Tigray, involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, which prompted the Prime Minister to order a military offensive.  Prior to the Tigray escalation, dozens of people in western Oromia region were killed and injured in attacks. 

In a new alert over the safety of civilians in Tigray, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reiterated concerns for the safety of more than 96,000 Eritreans, living in four refugee camps and host communities, living alongside them. They are in addition to the 100,000 people in Tigray, who were already internally displaced at the start of the conflict. 

“Fighting in Tigray yesterday moved closer to Shimelba refugee camp, which hosts 6,500 Eritrean refugees, raising concerns of mass displacement from the camp itself.” said Mr Babar Baloch, UNHCR Spokesperson. “UNHCR is making preparations to receive refugees, who have already begun arriving at another refugee camp, Hitsats, 50 kilometres away and is considering further relocation options in the region.”

‘’Refugees from Ethiopia continue to flee into neighbouring Sudan increasingly rapidly with over 4,000 crossing the border in just one day.’’ he said. Inside Sudan, those, arriving from Ethiopia have been offered temporary shelter in transit centres near the border entry points of Ludgi in Gederef and Hamdayet in Kassala state. 

They receive water and meals, while UNHCR and local authorities jointly screen and register the men, women and children seeking safety.  “The transit centre at Hamdayet border crossing has a capacity to accommodate only 300 refugees but, is already overwhelmed with 6,000 people.” Mr Baloch said. ‘’Sanitation facilities are insufficient, impacting hygiene.”

Reiterating her November 06 appeal for talks and resolve differences without delay and an immediate cessation of hostilities, Ms Bachelet insisted that both sides should understand that fighting would produce no winner. ‘’A protracted internal conflict will inflict devastating damage on both Tigray and Ethiopia as a whole, undoing years of vital development progress. It could, in addition, all too easily spill across borders, potentially, destabilising the whole sub-region.” she said.

In a statement, condemning reports of targeted attacks against civilians, based on their ethnicity or religion, UN Special Advisers Ms Patten and Ms Smith said that ethnic violence in Ethiopia had reached an alarming level over the past two years. The stigmatisation of certain ethnic groups, including, the Tigray, Amhara, Somali and Oromo, has, significantly, contributed to ethnic intolerance in the country, they insisted. 

“We strongly urge the Ethiopian authorities to take urgent measures to protect its population from further violence and strongly encourage them to seek assistance from the international community.” the Special Advisers said. The need to de-escalate rising tensions in the country was, especially, important ahead of forthcoming elections.’’ they said.

The UN Children’s Fund has, also, been voicing fears that the most vulnerable civilians, will suffer the most: “UNICEF is deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of children, affected by on-going military operations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr Mohamed Malick Fall.

“UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and to protect children from harm. UNICEF, also, calls on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unconditional and sustained access on the ground to reach civilians in need and to preserve children’s access to basic social services.”

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Is a People’s Democratic Republic of Libya Ever Be Possible: Following Peace Deal Talks Continue on Libya's Political Future: The Fact That They Are at the Table Talking and Not Fighting Offers Some Hope


|| Tuesday: November 10: 2020 || ά. Talks to draw up a blueprint for a new political era in Libya began in Tunisia on Monday, November 09, following a peace deal, struck by Libya’s warring sides last month. “You have gathered today to continue forging a new era of peace and stability for Libya. You have the opportunity to end a tragic conflict and create a future of dignity and hope.’’ The UN Secretary-General Mr António Guterres said in a video message to participants of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.

“Now, it is your turn to shape the future of your country. Your commitment to this process will help restore Libyan sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions. As you engage in dialogue to resolve your differences, your determination will be tested. However, compromise is the only approach, that will pave the road to national unity. The future of Libya is now in your hands.”

The Tunisian President Mr Qais Said, opening the meeting, said that the talks would lead to a new legitimacy for Libya. The country has been beset by chaos and conflict since the downfall of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, culminating in a civil war and the siege of the Libyan capital Tripoli, which began in April last year.

The Head of the UN Mission in Libya, Ms Stephanie Williams, told the meeting that it was a time of rare optimism, a glimmer of hope after many years of crisis. “The overriding aim of the National Political Programme is to renew political legitimacy by holding national elections, within an agreed timeframe.” she said. Acting UN Special Representative Ms Williams presided over a breakthrough peace agreement between five senior commanders from either side, at a meeting in Geneva last month. She arrived at the political talks in Tunis fresh from another successful round of military negotiations in the Libyan city of Ghadames.

“Every day co-operation is increasing and the transformation of the 5+5 into the ‘group of 10’ is more than just a slogan; it is a reality.” Ms Williams said. “The new government will launch national reconciliation, combat corruption and restore public services. Its progress will be monitored; its work will be reviewed on a regular basis by mechanisms, that can hold it to account.”

In a statement, released late on Sunday, Ms Williams said that over the past two days she had been taking note of the participants’ suggestions about what the political talks should aim to achieve, including, the creation of an executive authority, capable of organising elections and implementing the political, economic and military reforms, necessary to bring some normalcy back to Libyans’ lives.

The participants had stressed the importance of designing a thorough roadmap for the political process and to develop a national charter, based on the principles of accountability, justice and human rights and a firm commitment to a civilian state.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo: WHO Declared Its 10th Ebola Declared Over But Warns That Vigilance Against Flare-ups and Support for Survivors Must Continue


|| Monday: June 29: 2020 || ά. On June 25 marked the end of the 10th outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:DRC. This long, complex and difficult outbreak has been overcome due to the leadership and commitment of the Government of the DRC, supported by the World Health Organisation:WHO, a multitude of partners, donors and, above all, the efforts of the communities, affected by the virus.

WHO congratulated all those, involved in the arduous and, often, dangerous work, required to end the outbreak but, stresses the need for vigilance. Continuing to support survivors and maintaining strong surveillance and response systems in order to contain potential flare-ups is critical in the months to come. "The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially, from the people of DRC but, we came out of it with valuable lessons and valuable tools. The world is now better-equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been licensed and effective treatments identified.” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We should celebrate this moment but, we must resist complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage.” The outbreak, declared in North Kivu on August 01, 2018, was the second largest in the world and was, particularly, challenging as it took place an active conflict zone. There were 3,470 cases, 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors.

Led by the DRC Government and the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and its partners, the more than 22-month-long response involved training thousands of health workers, registering 250,000 contacts, testing 220,000 samples, providing patients with equitable access to advanced therapeutics, vaccinating over 303,000 people with the highly effective rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine and offering care for all survivors after their recovery.

The response was bolstered by the engagement and leadership of the affected communities. Due to their efforts, this outbreak did not spread globally. More than 16,000 local frontline responders worked alongside the more than 1,500 people deployed by WHO. Support from donors was essential, as was the work of UN partner agencies, national and international NGOs, research networks and partners, deployed through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Hard work to build up preparedness capacities in neighbouring countries, also, limited the risk of the outbreak expanding.

Work will continue to build on the gains made in this response to address other health challenges, including measles and COVID-19. “During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks.” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy, which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”

As countries around the world face the COVID-19 pandemic, the DRC Ebola response provides valuable lessons. Many of the public health measures, that have been successful in stopping Ebola are the same measures, that are now essential for stopping COVID-19: finding, isolating, testing and caring for every case and relentless contact tracing.

In DRC, community workers were provided with training and a smartphone data collection app, that enabled them to track contacts and report in real time rather than fill in laborious paper reports. Even, when violence locked down cities, the community workers, many of them local women, continued to track and trace contacts using the application, something, that was crucial for ending this outbreak.

While this 10th outbreak in DRC has ended, the fight against Ebola continues. On June 01, seven cases of Ebola were reported in Mbandaka city and neighbouring Bikoro Health Zone in Equateur Province and an 11th outbreak was declared. WHO is supporting the government-led response with more than 50 staff already deployed and more than 5,000 vaccinations already administered.

WHO salutes the thousands of heroic responders, who fought one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most unstable regions. Some health workers, including, WHO experts, paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives to the Ebola response. WHO thanks the many partners, who supported the Government-led response

WHO thanks the donors, who provided funding to WHO for the Ebola response under the Strategic Response Plans: African Development Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, China, Denmark, ECHO, European Commission, DEVCO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Paul Allen Foundation, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Susan T Buffett Foundation, UK DFID, UN CERF, USAID:OFDA, US CDC, Wellcome Trust, World Bank, World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.

Several donors, also, provided funding to the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies in recognition of the critical role the fund has played in responding to the Ebola outbreak.

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South Sudan Has a New Government of National Unity: This Where Now Must Begin the Hardest of Task: To Deliver on the Details of Peace Translated in the Lives of the Ordinary South Sudanese People: That Conflicts Come to an End and a Process of Reconciliation and Rebuilding the Country Begin at Earnest



||Monday: February 24: 2020 || ά. fter an ever-going conflict, devastating the life of the ordinary people for such a long time, it is a relief, more than anything to see that, finally, that something, akin to the beginning on the long road to peace, has begun in South Sudan. It’s a story of two strongmen falling against each other and who would not give until now. On Saturday South Sudan witnessed the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity in whereby the President remains to be Mr Salva Kiir while Mr Riek Machar becomes the Vice President.

This beginning, is a big deal because it has taken such a long time, in which the South Sudanese people paid a heavy price for the ever-going conflicts, never showing any sign of coming to an end. In a statement, issued by his Spokesperson, the UN Secretary-General Mr António Guterres commended the parties for the significant achievement in the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan.

Mr. Guterres also called on the Transitional Government of National Unity members to fully adhere to the letter and spirit of the Agreement, so that the people of South Sudan can finally realise the benefits of durable peace and stability they deserve. “The United Nations stands ready, in close coordination with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the African Union, to assist the parties in implementing the Agreement.” he said in the statement.

Saturday's ceremony took place just before the peace agreement deadline expired. UN Special Representative Mr David Shearer called it a thrill to witness the signing in of Vice President Mr Riek Machar and hailed it as a new chapter in South Sudan’s history.

“Often, the courage in peace is greater than the courage in war.” Mr Shearer, who, also, heads the UN Mission in South Sudan:UNMISS, acknowledged the courage of both President Mr Salva Kiir for taking the decisions, that he needed to take and Mr Machar for coming back after conflict and joining to make the Unity Government possible.

“I believe that after this signing and the forming of a transitional government we will see floods of people returning to their homes, picking up their lives and getting on with hope for what the future holds.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Filippo Grandi welcomed that the former political rivals will now be working together for lasting peace. “The new government revives hope for a peaceful future for the people of South Sudan, who are suffering the consequences of this prolonged conflict”.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been mired in instability and conflict for nearly all eight years of its existence. In 2018 President Mr Kiir and his former Vice-President and long-time political rival, Mr Machar, signed a peace accord with the hopes that it would end the crisis and improve the lives and safety of millions of South Sudanese. On Saturday, President Mr Kiir witnessed Mr Machar being sworn in as first Vice-President, sealing the peace deal at the State House in the capital of Juba.

Hopes are high that the new Unity Government will bring an end to the conflict, that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more. This where now must begin the hardest of task to deliver on the details of peace, translated in the lives of the ordinary South Sudanese people: that conflicts come to an end and a process of reconciliation and rebuilding the country begin at earnest.

::: Caption: South Sudan’s President Mr Salva Kiir, centre and Dr Riek Machar, the First Vice-President: Image: UN Photo:Isaac Billy ::: 

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Millions of Children and Families in Niger Are Struggling As Humanitarian Needs Mount: $59.4 Million Is Needed This Year For the Aid Agencies to Deliver Vital Assistance to Children Throughout the Country


||Wednesday: February 19: 2020 || ά. Malnutrition, disease, floods, droughts and displacement in Niger have put nearly three million people, more than half of them children, in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF said on Wednesday, calling for increased attention to their plight. Exacerbated by instability in the region, that has led to an influx of thousands of refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and migrants, simultaneous emergencies are stretching the capacities of humanitarian partners to respond. In 2020, the UN agency and its partners will need $59.4 million to deliver vital humanitarian aid to children throughout the country. 

"In a context of constrained resources and limited social services, the communities, that host displaced populations, are showing extraordinary resilience and sharing the little they have., said Ms Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative, following a visit to the conflict-affected region of Diffa. "As more attention is now paid to the resurgence of armed violence in the central Sahel, it is equally important to pay the same attention to its impact on children and their families." she said.

And insecurity increases the already significant chronic challenges in Niger. Attacks against civilians in the Lake Chad region prevented 263,000 people in Diffa from returning to their homes. At the same time, growing insecurity along the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali has exacerbated needs in Tillabéri and Tahoua regions, where nearly 78,000 people have been displaced.

Moreover, deteriorating security on the border with Nigeria has caused tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in border villages of the Maradi region, in central Niger. Insecurity is spreading rapidly in the central Sahel region and women and children are bearing the brunt of the violence.

“In already fragile host communities, the burden of forced displacement increases the vulnerability of children and communities and, significantly, affects their health, protection, nutrition and education." She said. The sharp increase in insecurity, violence and military operations has further hampered humanitarian actors' access to populations affected by conflict.

“Reaching those in need is increasingly challenging. UNICEF calls on all stakeholders to respect humanitarian spaces, allowing safe and sustainable access to deliver humanitarian assistance to affected populations, including, women and children, wherever they are.”

UNICEF appealed for solidarity to help the Government and its partners to meet the urgent needs of the affected populations and provide vital assistance to improve their living conditions. As the situation worsens, attention has been oriented to the security dimensions, directly impacting access to education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, the basis of people’s resilience.

UNICEF is working in the country on several priority fronts to help those, affected by emergencies and conflicts. It is working with national actors and humanitarian partners to respond to acute emergencies, such as, population movements and strengthen national capacities to mitigate risks and respond to cyclical and chronic emergencies, including, flooding, malnutrition, disease outbreaks and epidemics.

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Central African Republic: Killings Sexual Violence and Displacements Continue Despite Peace Agreement



||Monday: February 10: 2020 || ά. As the Central African Republic:CAR celebrates the first anniversary of the Khartoum Peace Agreement, signed between the government and 14 armed groups, Ms Alice Banens, Amnesty International Legal Advisor, said, “Tomorrow’s first anniversary of the Peace Agreement in the Central African Republic must be another opportunity to strengthen efforts to protect the civilian population from violence and to bring alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law to justice.

“One year after the Peace Agreement was signed, violence against civilians has not stopped. Various armed groups continued to commit serious abuses against civilians, including, killings and sexual violence. The number of victims continues to grow, while victims of serious human rights violations and abuses committed before the Peace Agreement was signed, still wait for justice.’’ Ms Benens said. “The government, in co-ordination with the Special Criminal Court and the ICC where appropriate, should take all necessary measures to enable investigations and prosecutions of past atrocities.

In parallel, two former heads of State, Mr Francois Bozizé and Mr Michel Djotodia have recently returned to the country. Amnesty International has documented evidence of their alleged responsibility for atrocity in crimes.

CAR authorities are presented with unprecedented opportunity to investigate and, if, they document sufficient evidence, to bring them to court in fair trials. This will be a step towards ending the culture of impunity.”

Background: One year ago, on February, 06, 2019, the CAR government and 14 opposition armed groups signed a political agreement in Khartoum for peace and reconciliation, with the aim of ending a conflict, that has seen serious violations and abuses of international human rights since December 2012.

Despite the signature of this Peace Agreement, various armed groups continued to commit serious abuses against civilians, including, unlawful killings and sexual violence. More than 30 people were killed on December 25, in PK5 neighbourhood of Bangui. On January 26, 2020, 11,000 were displaced because of clashes among armed groups in the eastern town of Bria.

While significant efforts were made at national and international levels to bring to account suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations and abuses in successive conflicts since 2003, there is still much to be done to address impunity.

Amnesty International has been calling for the investigation of Mr Bozizé and Mr Djotodia’s alleged responsibility in serious human rights violations, for years. In 2014, an arrest warrant was already pending against Mr François Bozizé for murder, torture and other charges.