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Malawi becomes first African nation with wild poliovirus in 5 years, as UN begins vaccination

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Malawi becomes first African nation with wild poliovirus in 5 years, as UN begins vaccination

Medical practitioners will vaccinate about 2.9 million young children against polio in Malawi the United Nations said on Thursday after a three-year-old girl fell sick in the capital with Africa’s first case of wild poliovirus in more than five years.

The South African country announced a polio outbreak two weeks ago after a test confirmed the virus and showed the strain was linked to one circulating in Pakistan, where it is still endemic, African news said.

“The resurgence of the wild poliovirus in Malawi … is cause for serious concern,” Rudolf Schwenk, the head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF in Malawi, said in a statement.

“Vaccination is the only way to protect the children of Malawi from this crippling disease which is highly infectious.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. While there is no cure, it can be prevented by vaccine, the World Health Organisation said.

UNICEF Malawi said it will procure and distribute 6.9 million polio vaccine doses for the children, all of them aged under five.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours. While there is no cure, it can be prevented by a vaccine, the World Health Organisation said.

Metro

US condemns ‘wrongful’ conviction of real life ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero, Paul Rusesabagina

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The United States has condemned what it described as the wrongful sentencing and conviction of famous real life “Hotel Rwanda” hero, Paul Rusesabagina, who was found guilty of war crimes in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and jailed for 25 years by a Kigali court

The US Department of State, while condemning the “wrongful detention” of Rusesabagina who holds a US permanent residence and Belgian citizenship, also denounced President Paul Kagame, calling him a dictator.

“The Department of State has said that Paul Rusesabagina is wrongfully detained. The determination took into account the totality of the circumstances, notably the lack of fair trial guarantees during his trial.”

Rusesabagina came into international spotlight when he was depicted in an award winning Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda”, providing shelter for hundreds of ethnic Tutsis during the genocide in a hotel.

At the time of the crisis, Rusesabagina was a Kigali hotel manager and was credited with saving hundreds of lives during the genocide, with his actions inspiring the “Hotel Rwanda” movie.

However, the Rwandan government says he was one of the masterminds and sponsors of the genocide.

Rusesabagina, a cancer survivor, has been behind bars since he was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali.

He was convicted in September 2021 of involvement in a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019, and last month, the 67-year-old was found guilty of terrorism charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Rusesabagina’s family recently filed a $400 million lawsuit in the United States against Kagame, the Rwandan government and other figures for allegedly abducting and torturing him.

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Rwanda to receive first 50 asylum seekers from UK by end of May

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The first batch of 50 asylum seekers apprehended in the United Kingdom are to be transferred to Rwanda by the end of May for proper profiling, a British government spokesperson said on Friday.

The agreement which has continued to stir up controversies, was reached on April between the UK government and Rwandan and would see the British government sending people seeking asylum to the East African country to be profiled on their proper status, with the Rwandan government getting paid for the service.

Also confirming the imminent transfer, Rwanda’s deputy government spokesman, Alain Mukurarinda, said:

“According to the information we have, the first batch of migrants will arrive by the end of the month; but it is the British government that knows how many will come and when they will come.

“Once they have got their (asylum seeker) status, they will go and live with other Rwandans. They will be free. They will not be prisoners,” Mukurarinda said.

The statement from the Home Office also noted that the British government has started to notify those who are likely to be relocated, with the first flights expected to take place in the coming months.

The plan had initially faced stiff opposition from international human rights groups which expressed concerns over Rwanda’s human rights record as noted by the British government itself noted last year.

In an earlier report, the British government said more than 28,000 migrants and refugees made the crossing from mainland Europe to Britain on rickety boats, prompting the idea of sending those arrested to the African country to be properly profiled.

Britain has said the plan to send people to Rwanda would initially cost 120 million pounds ($158 million), which would be paid by UK.

On Thursday, the Rwandan government took journalists on a tour of hostels that were being adapted to house the migrants, fully paid for by the British government.

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South Africa suspends $1million flag project after public outcry

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South Africa’s Arts and Culture Ministry has revealed that it has halted its plan to spend more than a million dollars on a flag project after a public outcry.

The ministry made the revelation on Thursday in a statement.

Civil action group Outa called the project a “monumental waste of money”.

Criticism also came from civil society groups and political parties such as Action SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who accused the government of seeking to invest in a vanity project.

Monumental flags are typically installed by countries to express their identity and pride. South Africa’s intention to build one was first announced in February 2022.

The government had defended erecting the 100-meter monument saying it would attract visitors. But many have criticized it as a waste of tax payer’s money.

“A feasibility study on the development of the South African monumental flag was undertaken in 2020/2021. The results of the feasibility study will inform the brief for the South African national monumental flag,” said Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“R5 million is budgeted in 2022/23 for the site-specific geotechnical studies, including the environmental impact assessment and other tests and applications that will be required prior to construction. In 2023/24 R17 million is allocated for the installation of the monumental flag.”

The department noted that the flag is the symbol of “nationhood” and the “common identity” of the people of South Africa.

South Africa is desperate to revive its tourism sector which was hit hard by the pandemic. According to Statista in 2018, the tourism sector contributed about 4,5% of total employment in South Africa. In 2020, the volume of tourists decreased by 72,6% from 10,2 million in 2019 to 2,8 million in 2020.

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