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Number of Kenyans going hungry doubles to 3m

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The number of Kenyans needing emergency food aid has doubled in the past three months to three million, the Red Cross said on Tuesday, as the impact of a devastating drought worsens.

Kenya is one of several East African countries suffering from food crises, along with Ethiopia; South Sudan, where famine has already been declared; and Somalia, on the brink of its third famine in 25 years.

Outside the region, Yemen and Nigeria are also facing famine, in what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II.

Like many of its neighbours, Kenya is suffering the effects of two failed rainy seasons in a row, hugely reducing crop harvests. Food prices have soared, pushing inflation to a five-year high of nine percent in February.

“The situation is getting worse every day. Malnutrition rates among children are steadily climbing. Children are getting sick, and livelihoods of families have been decimated following the loss of thousands of their livestock,” Dr Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society, said in a statement.

“It is more and more difficult for people to access water – people are having to travel for up to three times as long just to get water for their family.”

In Kenya the drought has also exacerbated clashes between pastoralist communities, which have left over 30 people dead, and also imperilled wildlife – a main drawcard for tourists.

The number of Kenyans going hungry could increase to four million in the coming weeks, the statement said.

More than 340 000 children under the age of five are also acutely malnourished.

“We are running out of words to describe the situation in affected parts of Kenya, and across the region,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, the International Federation of Red Cross regional director for Africa.

“Our message is simple: humanitarian organisations need resources to respond at the scale that is needed. If we don’t, then thousands of people may die, and children will be affected for the rest of their lives.

“And we won’t be able to say ‘we didn’t know’.”

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Malawi to Consider a New Typhoid Vaccine

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Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Aziza Mwisongo has advised the Ministry of health to speedily consider adopting for the new typhoid vaccine.

Mwisongo said Typhoid is an epidemic in Malawi, with research showing that more than 16,000 cases are reported every year.

Mwisongo was speaking in Mponela on Wednesday during a workshop organized by Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) to brief health practitioners on the importance of the new typhoid vaccine called Typbar-TCV.

She said drug resistance has caused typhoid incidence in Malawi to increase over the past years and an estimated 64 percent of typhoid cases and 67 percent of typhoid deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.

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“While typhoid is rarely fatal, the recovery is long and difficult, the disease takes time, money, and productivity from those infected and their families it is associated with numerous, long-term complications,” she said

She said the Typbar-TCV is a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) and is effective in the sense that it has a longer lasting protection, require fewer doses, and reduces the need for antibiotics, slow further emergence of drug-resistant typhoid strains and save lives.

Mwisongo said the vaccine is suitable for children 6 months of age and older, and offers protection for at least 3 years to adults and infants over 6 months of age.

“In Malawi, TyVAC and project partners are studying how well TCVs prevent typhoid in children between 9 months and 12 years of age as well as the safety, impact, and cost of the vaccine,” she said

She added, “While the WHO already recommends TCV introduction in all typhoid epidemic countries, this additional evidence will help inform ongoing decisions about TCV vaccination in low and middle income countries.”

Deputy Director in the Ministry of Health and population responsible for immunology Matthew Kagoli acknowledged the importance of the typhoid vaccine saying the disease was serious in the country because it affected people in communities as outbreaks.

Kagoli said with the available data it is undoubtedly true that the country needs the vaccine, but further consultations have to be done before adopting the vaccine in the country.

“The vaccine is important and the country will benefit from it but further and thorough consultations need to be done before we take a stand as a country regarding the vaccine,” he said

Typhoid is an enteric fever caused by Salmonella Typhi, it is spread through contaminated food and water and is a substantial public health issue in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria: BOD Okays Hijab for Muslim barred from call to bar

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A female law student barred from the country’s call to bar last year for wearing the Muslim head covering has been asked to attend the ceremony billed for later this year.

Firdaus Amasa was denied access to the call to bar ceremony in the capital Abuja for insisting on wearing her religious head covering in the hall, triggering a backlash from the country’s Muslim community which accused the law school of religious discrimination.

The controversy has led to lawsuits, especially after the parliament called a public hearing on the issue.

But president of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), Kamal Dawud, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that Amasa has now been granted approval to attend the legal ritual later this year.

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“The Body of Benchers (BOD) met today to discuss the report of a committee established to look at the call to bar of Amasa,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, the report was not considered for one reason or the other. But they resolved that the girl should be called to bar with her head covered at the next call to bar event,” according to the law professor.

“It’s a victory because what we are saying is that she has her rights and should not be denied such rights under whatever guise. This is a right donated by the Constitution. The only institution that has the say over interpretation of the constitution and the only institution empowered to make pronouncements on whether any law or act is consistent with the Constitution or not is the court and so far the decisions of the court of appeal are in favor of the hijaab.”

The BOD, an ultra-conservative body of current and retired senior judges and lawyers, has the final say on the codes applicable for the legal profession in Nigeria.

The MULAN, along with the country’s Muslim community, championed the #JusticeForFridaus campaign to have Amasa called to the bar as well as scrap whatever laws that proscribe the use of the head covering at such events.

An appeals court in 2016 held that the head covering is a fundamental human rights of every female Muslim and may be worn anywhere of her choice, striking down a government circular that had restricted its use in the public school.

The government has appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court.

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Opposition leader Bemba expected ahead of DR Congo presidential elections.

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Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose war crimes convictions were quashed last month, is expected to return to Congo next month for a party congress to select a candidate for December’s presidential vote, a party spokesman said on Friday.

Bemba, a former rebel leader and vice president, left Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2007 and spent the last 10 years in prison in The Hague. He is currently free in Belgium pending a hearing on a separate conviction for witness tampering.



Last week, the Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister Leonard She Okitundu said the former Vice President ‘may return’ to the country if he wishes. Okitundu who did not specify whether Bemba will be prosecuted by the Congolese justice system, said Bemba ‘left on his own will, and that he can return if he wants to’.

Bemba’s return would introduce yet another factor to consider in DRC’s complex political crisis that has seen Kabila stay on as president despite the fact that his second an final term of office ended in 2016.

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While elections have been scheduled for Decemeber this year, the opposition have repeatedly protested Kabila’s refusal to outrightly rule himself out of the contest.

Bemba has since Friday been on bail in Belgium pending a final decision on his punishment, according to the International Criminal Court( ICC).

The ICC acquitted Bemba of crimes against humanity and war crimes but not in the case of bribery of witnesses.

The court issued “specific conditions” for his provisional release after ten years of detention, including “not changing address without notice”.

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