August 05, 2020 - Rwanda, Africa - An Eritrean refugee held captive by human traffickers for nearly two years in Libya says she has experienced horrific violence and sexual abuse. With help from the UN Refugee agency, she was evacuated to Rwanda where she is getting help to heal from the trauma.
August 05, 2020 - Niger, Africa - Would-be entrepreneurs in the ancient city of Agadez, long a launch point for northbound travelers, seek support from a vast EU fund, established in 2015 to address the root causes of illegal migration to Europe. A spike in migration from sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade has proved deadly to thousands and created a refugee crisis in countries like Italy and Spain. Yet the EU money has been slow to arrive: Only half the 4.7 billion euros ($5.5 billion) from the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) approved over the last five years has been distributed.
August 05, 2020 - Kampala, Uganda, Africa - Uganda's crumbling public hospitals, doctors' strikes and corruption scandals make its success in the fight against the new coronavirus all the more unlikely. But the nation of 42 million people has recorded fewer than 1,200 cases and just five deaths since March, a strikingly low total for such a large country. As the number of cases in Africa approaches one million, Uganda's experience shows what can be accomplished when a government with a firm grip on power acts quickly and enforces a strict lockdown. But its success came at a cost, critics say.
August 05, 2020 - Johannesburg, South Africa, Africa - Three South African provinces considered coronavirus hotspots have seen new infections slow in recent weeks, although it is too early to say whether the country's peak of infections has passed, the health minister said on Wednesday. South Africa has recorded the world's fifth-highest number of COVID-19 infections, with cases passing 500,000 over the weekend, raising fears that a strict lockdown imposed since late March had failed to contain the pandemic.
August 05, 2020 - Johannesburg, South Africa, Africa - New global regulations meant to prevent catastrophic tailings dam failures are likely to be hamstrung by a shortage of the skilled mine waste engineers required to put the more stringent rules into practice, tailings experts, academics, and mining companies say.
August 04, 2020 – Nairobi, Kenya, Africa - Scavengers at Nairobi's Dandora dumpsite are sifting through the trash for recyclable human hair to be re-introduced back to the market - but the hair nestles alongside waste such as masks and gloves used to protect against COVID-19. It's a lucrative business, especially since an economic downturn means many customers need cheaper hair extensions.
August 04, 2020 – Mogadishu, Somalia, Africa - Somalia has opened its first early warning centre to help national agencies deal with natural and man-made threats such as locusts, flooding and drought. Analysts hope their information will help the government plan better in a nation where millions of people are dependent on food aid.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has appointed Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko as prime minister after his predecessor died suddenly this month, the presidency said on Thursday.
The death of former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who had been handpicked by Ouattara to succeed him, left his ruling party scrambling to find a replacement three months ahead of the presidential election.
The Oct. 31 vote is seen as crucial for the stability of Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, which has spent Ouattara's decade in office rebuilding from a brief civil war that followed his first election win in 2010.
Bakayoko, a former radio and newspaper executive and longtime ally of Ouattara, had been considered a possible replacement for Gon Coulibaly as the presidential candidate.
However, the ruling party on Wednesday formally asked Ouattara to run again. Ouattara, who had announced in March that he would step down after the election, said he would take some time before deciding whether to run - a move his opponents say would violate constitutional term limits.
Since coronavirus patients started showing up at South Africa's government-run Thelle Mogoerane Hospital, workers have scrambled to set up special isolation wards to treat them. They can't keep up. Video filmed inside the hospital shows patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, being treated in an ordinary ward, separated from other patients only by curtains.
"We have gross shortage of staff, it's chaos, it's crazy, nurses are testing positive as well and it's a mess, it's a mess", nurse Rich Sicina said outside the stark, modernist hospital in a southern Johannesburg township. A 30-bed isolation ward was set up in mid-April, but it filled so quickly that 18 critically ill patients were put in a regular casualty ward.
Kwara Kekana, spokeswoman for the department of health in Gauteng, the province containing Johannesburg, said that at the beginning of the pandemic, Thelle Mogoerane Hospital had dedicated wards for patients under investigation.
Five more COVID-19 wards have been added since then, but some patients are still spilling over in general wards, Sicina said. Until early May, nurses treated the patients protected only by a surgical mask and apron, he added.
Another nurse corroborated his account; she is not authorized to speak to media and declined to be named. Kekana said PPE has been available at the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic.
At least eight patients admitted for other complaints caught COVID-19 there, they said, along with 240 staff. Last week, they held a memorial service for two nurses who died. Kekana said she was not aware of the figure of 240 staff infected, but confirmed a memorial service for one nurse.
This is what President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to avoid when he imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in late March - when the country had recorded just 400 cases - to buy health workers time to prepare. The lockdown battered the economy of Africa's most industrialised nation, which was in recession before the pandemic, and Ramaphosa lifted many of them long before infections peaked to save livelihoods.
Four months later, South Africa faces a runaway epidemic that has overwhelmed public hospitals in a country where roughly half the population lives below the poverty line, according to the latest government figures from 2015.
The first cases identified in Johannesburg, the country's biggest city now at the outbreak's epicentre, were concentrated in Sandton, a wealthy northern suburb. In the greater Soweto area, cases increased 252% this month compared to 200% for the rest of Johannesburg.
With the number of cases approaching 500,000 - more than half of Africa's total and the world's fifth-highest - the country's harsh inequalities appear to have been its undoing, government advisers and independent experts said. The first cases were wealthy globe trotters who brought the virus in from Europe and Asia who could easily self-isolate, but not their domestic workers who may have been exposed and travel in communal taxis.
Once the virus reached South Africa's poor, densely populated townships - a legacy of decades of oppressive white minority rule - it spread like wildfire, overwhelming public hospitals already at breaking point.
"We've got huge socio-economic disparity within the population, we've got cultural issues in the population, we got a fragile healthcare system, so clearly we were not equipped", said Professor Yunus Moosa, chief infectious disease specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a senior member of the government's COVID-19 advisory panel.
Police and soldiers battled to enforce the lockdown in areas where people live in close quarters and depend on daily earnings to eat. Bustling markets in Soweto, Johannesburg's biggest township, were a stark contrast to nearly deserted streets in the city's more affluent suburbs.
The government has recruited health workers and is building field hospitals with partners to accommodate the overflow. It has also negotiated with private providers to take public patients if needed.
Mismanagement and looting of public funds, which have hollowed out public services for years, contributed to shortages of protective clothing and other vital supplies at some facilities, according to both the government and its critics.
Ramaphosa pledged a crackdown, saying on July 23 that authorities were investigating at least 36 corruption allegations in areas including COVID-19 procurement and relief programs.
Twenty-six years after apartheid ended in 1994, healthcare remains divided between a world class private system for those who can afford it, and an overburdened public one for the mostly Black citizens who cannot.
Hundreds of mysterious elephant deaths in Botswana could be down to a naturally occurring toxin, senior wildlife official told VSBCnews sources. Cyril Taolo, the acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, said preliminary tests show it's highly unlikely an infectious disease killed at least 281 elephants.
Officials had been struggling to establish the cause of death more than two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region. Initial investigations appeared to rule out common causes like poaching and anthrax.
The government has sent samples to laboratories in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United States for tests. The elephant deaths have concerned some conservationists, who fear deaths could spiral out of control if a cause cannot be established quickly.
Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.