Monday, August 30, 2021

Homophobia in Ghana


A recently proposed bill on “sexual rights” and “family values” in Ghana beggars belief. 

The proposed legislation, The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 is directed against people who are different because of their sexual orientation, or gender identity, but could also affect anyone who expresses support or sympathy toward LGBT friends, coworkers, family members or neighbours. The bill represents a witch-hunt against LGBT people in Ghana.

 Let us consider what the provisions would look like if it was applied to, say, Christians. Imagine a law that required anyone who knew a Christian to report them to the police. A Christian who admitted it would face three to five years behind bars. If she said it was okay to be Christian, six years. If she had proselytised in any way, or shared any information about Christianity, five to 10.

If she provided a meeting space for her congregation or raised funds to support her church community, five to 10 years. If she allowed a Christian to stay in her house, three to six years. If she sent a tweet with the symbol of the cross, or a Facebook posting with an image of Noah’s Ark, five to 10, for her and the social media platform’s owners. If anyone else, perhaps a Muslim neighbour, publicly said that they supported her Christian denomination, up to 10 years. This is no exaggeration. This is what the proposed law says. But it does not apply to Christians, it applies to anyone who does not conform to arbitrary and subjective sexual and gender norms.

This proposed law tramples on the most fundamental human rights.  A 2018 Human Rights Watch report found that LGBT Ghanaians are still frequently victims of physical attacks and have little recourse to justice as many are afraid to approach the police for fear of being exposed.

In every society, across time and place, some people gravitate toward members of the same sex, and some people do not conform to prevailing gender norms. How we understand these differences, and the meaning we give to them, are infinitely variable. But they are part and parcel of human experience. For instance, in southern Ghana, the term supi refers to intimate relations between women, though cloaked in secrecy. Some say that a generation of activists, not content to live their lives in the shadows, have broken unwritten laws of silence and discretion. The bill seeks to restrict communication on social media, in a futile attempt to stop the circulation of images, ideas and information that lawmakers say embolden LGBT activists.

The bill’s sponsors are from the opposition National Democratic Congress party. It is a familiar tactic — scapegoating a minority, basking in the publicity, and using the ensuing moral panic to enhance political stature. Anyone opposed to the bill is cast as morally suspect. Elsewhere in Africa there has been promoted discriminatory laws such as a Nigerian law that punishes “displays of affection” between same-sex couples.

They are self-serving politicians, attacking the weakest and most vulnerable for short-term political gain. They ought to be pariahs.

Homophobic Ghanaian ‘Family Values’ Bill is Odious and Beggars Belief | Human Rights Watch (

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Tigray Crisis Doomed to Worsen?

  Estimates indicate that at least 100 trucks of aid supplies are needed every day to meet the needs of the Tigrayan people in Ethiopia caught up in conflict.

"Since the end of June, we managed to get just about 320 trucks — and this, of course, has devastating consequences for the aid operations in the region,"   Saviano Abreu, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. 

"Our obligation is to assist everyone who needs assistance, no matter who they are or where they are," Abreu pointed out. "We don't support any party to the conflict. Our obligation is to the people that need help.

Access inside Tigray is still minimal for humanitarian aid.

As a result, up to 900,000 people in Tigray face famine conditions in what the UN has called the world's worst hunger crisis in a decade.

Mohammed Hussein, Afar regional state emergency protection and food security chief, explained,  "We need food, shelter and medical supplies. We also need military support. We have a free and safe passage for humanitarian supplies and commercial activities."

The head of communication at the International Red Cross in Ethiopia, Zewdu Ayalew, described the living conditions of the displaced people as extremely difficult.  

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council that the conflict in Ethiopia has spread beyond the northern Tigray region and "a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes." And that ethnic profiling is tearing apart the social fabric of Ethiopia.

Humanitarian situation worsens in Ethiopia′s Tigray region | Africa | DW | 27.08.2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Malaria Breakthrough?

 A new approach to protecting young African children from malaria could reduce deaths and illness from the disease by 70%, a study suggests.

Giving them vaccines before the worst season in addition to preventative drugs produced "very striking" results, researchers say. No concerning side-effects were found in children in the trial

Over three years, the trial found three doses of the vaccine and drugs before the worst malaria season, followed by a booster dose before subsequent rainy seasons, controlled infections much better than vaccines or drugs alone - and, the researchers said, could save millions of young lives in the African Sahel.

Scientists say the combined effects of the vaccine and drugs in the trial appear to be surprisingly powerful.

The vaccine - called RTS,S and created by GlaxoSmithKline more than 20 years ago - kills parasites that multiply very quickly in the liver, while anti-malarial drugs target parasites in the body's red blood cells. Flu vaccines have been used seasonally, to protect people ahead of winter, for many years - but it has rarely been tried for malaria.

Most of the 400,000 deaths from malaria each year are in the under-fives. And the mosquito-borne disease is still a major health issue in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

"It worked better than we thought would be the case," said Prof Brian Greenwood, a member of the research team, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which led the trial. "Hospital admissions were less, deaths were less in both countries - and we really didn't expect to see that."

Trial suggests malaria sickness could be cut by 70% - BBC News

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Sky-High Unemployment in South Africa

 South Africa’s unemployment rate is the highest on a global list of 82 countries.

The jobless rate rose to 34.4%.

Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, rose to 44.4%.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Is there hope of peace in Somalia?

 Al Jazeera news outlet carries an interesting article on the so-far failed attempts to bring peace to Somalia. There seems to be little sign of hope.

For the past 14 years, African countries, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) with the support of the West, has deployed troops, drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia, to battle the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabab, and to prop up Somalia’s feeble government. 

Despite efforts and the expenditure of some $900m annually, the official government in Mogadishu remains weak and divided with little popular legitimacy. And though pushed out of most urban areas, the Islamist insurgency remains in control of much of the countryside and capable of carrying out terrorist attacks in the capital at will.

Somalia has seen some economic growth since al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu and many towns, with the World Bank estimating an annual GDP growth rate of 5-6 percent in 2015 and 2016. But the growth has mainly been urban-based, consumption-driven, and fuelled by donor support and remittances from the Somali diaspora. Employment is concentrated in low-productivity agriculture with private sector development and diversification constrained by insecurity, political instability, weak institutions, inadequate infrastructure, widespread corruption and a difficult business environment.

 Last year, the country ranked at the very bottom of the 2020 Doing Business survey.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stressed that the lesson for Africa from the Afghanistan debacle is that military force is not enough to defeat extremists or guarantee the transformation of societies. He argued that what Africa needs in order to eliminate terror is “not swords but ploughshares”, economic partnerships that deliver real benefits, such as jobs, to the masses. 

“The boots we need on the ground are those of constructors, not the military.”

But it is not enough. What is lacking both in Somalia is government legitimacy based on the population’s participation in government creation and decision-making and the ability to hold it accountable for its failures – in short, real democracy.

Those working to help Somalia should pay attention to Afghanistan | Africa | Al Jazeera

Somalia and the Three Cs

 Conflict, Covid, and  Climate crises has created a catastrophe in Somalia.

In Mogadishu, 800,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in the capital are living in cramped, informal settlements with limited access to food, water and healthcare.  Warring militias have made many flee from their home villages and towns.  Across  Somalia, there are  2.9 million displaced people.

Prolonged droughts, shrinking water resources and lack of fertile land are fuelling tensions between Somalia's numerous clans and creating large-scale displacement across Somalia. 

With a fragile economy largely based on agriculture, Somalia is vulnerable to increasingly erratic and extreme weather patterns, such as repeated droughts and seasonal floods. In the former, crops fail, and livestock die from lack of water and food; in the latter, they are simply washed away. Like much of the region, the country has also had to contend this year and last with swarms of desert locusts that consume approximately their own weight in fresh food every day.

 The Cvid pandemic has disrupted the Somali economy and  is worsening nutrition among vulnerable groups, including poor households in urban areas and IDPs living in crowded, unhygienic conditions.

The result is hunger. 

 The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned earlier this month that Somalia is “on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe”, with one in four people facing high levels of acute food insecurity and more than 800,000 children under the age of five at risk of acute malnutrition. In an emergency appeal launched in July, the IFRC said it was seeking to raise £7m (8.7m Swiss francs) to support the Somali Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance to people in Somaliland and Puntland over the next 18 months.

Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s regional director for Africa, says: “Somalia is one of the riskiest places on Earth to live right now. The country is a catalogue of catastrophes. Climate-related disasters, conflict and Covid-19 have coalesced into a major humanitarian crisis for millions of people. We can’t keep talking about this; we must reduce suffering now.”

In June, the UN said Somalia was facing the worst funding shortage in six years

‘Nothing to eat’: Somalia hit by triple threat of climate crisis, Covid and conflict | Hunger | The Guardian

Friday, August 20, 2021

Tigray Worsens

 The Tigray crisis in Ethiopia has faded from the media's focus but the suffering has not disappeared.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday described the humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia as "hellish" and said there is no military solution to the conflict in Tigray and neighbouring regions. 

Guterres called for a cease-fire and the safe passage of humanitarian aid to devastated areas. Hundreds of thousands of people in the impacted regions are in dire need of food assistance. The conflict has also internally displaced hundreds of thousands in northern Ethiopia.

The fighting has expanded in recent months to the neighbouring states of Amhara and Afar. Guterres said this development  "has ensnared even more people in its horror."

Ethiopia: UN head decries ′hellish′ humanitarian situation | News | DW | 19.08.2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Haves and the Have-Nots


Rich countries’ decisions to roll out COVID-19 booster shots while so many people across Africa remain unvaccinated “threaten the promise of a brighter tomorrow” for the continent, the Africa director for the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning that “as some richer countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity.”

Matshidiso Moeti and other African health officials, including the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had warned against booster shots in recent weeks as less than two per cent of the population on the continent of 1.3 billion people is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The situation in Africa remains “very fragile” as the more infectious Delta variant is now dominant in most of the continent’s 54 countries, she said. More than 7.3 million cases, including more than 186,000 deaths, have been confirmed across the continent and health systems are straining to provide medical oxygen and other care.

She noted the “already highly inequitable situation” globally in vaccine supply and urged that the emphasis instead be placed on making progress in vaccinating people in Africa, whose countries lag far behind much of the world in access and coverage.

Moeti pointed out that rich countries have on average administered more than 103 vaccine doses per 100 people, while in Africa it’s just six.

Moeti on Thursday said that “we are urging wealthier countries that have supplies that are sometimes even more than their population numbers to increase their donations to African counties that have been so disadvantaged.”

She added, after the revelation this week that some COVID-19 vaccine doses now being manufactured in Africa are being shipped to Europe, “I think no better example can follow this than vaccines that are actually being produced on the African continent.” She called on those countries to consider donating some of the South Africa-produced vaccines to African nations “as well as serving their needs.”

COVID-19 booster shots a ‘mockery’ of vaccine equity, head of WHO Africa says - National |

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Big Pharma, the Vaccines and South Africa

 The J&J vaccine was supposed to be one of Africa's most important weapons against Covid. Instead, at least 32 million doses have been shipped out of South Africa to the E.U. as millions of Africans suffer and die.

"This is further proof that the world cannot trust a handful of pharmaceutical companies to fairly allocate vaccines across the world. Pharma executives seem all too happy to write off African deaths to line their own pockets." explained Mohga Kamal-Yanni of the People's Vaccine Alliance.  "While South Africa was experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises to arise from Covid-19, J&J diverted desperately needed vaccines to wealthy countries."

 A confidential contract required South Africa to waive its right to impose export restrictions on vaccine doses. Johnson & Johnson had always planned for some vaccines produced by Aspen to leave Africa, but it has never disclosed how many doses it was actually exporting.

Popo Maja, a spokesperson for the South African health ministry pointed out that "The government was not given any choice. Sign contract or no vaccine."

Fatima Hassan, director of the South Africa-based Health Justice Initiative, said the arrangement that J&J reportedly forced on South Africa is "the sickening result of the free market in a pandemic—while Africa waits for supplies and gets a drip-feed, more vaccine stock is diverted to Europe."

South Africa is still waiting to receive the overwhelming majority of the 31 million vaccine doses it ordered from Johnson & Johnson. 

'Disgusting': Outrage as J&J Exports Tens of Millions of Vaccine Doses From Africa to EU | Common Dreams News

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Covid Catastrophe

  Experts are warning of many years of instability across Africa, possibly leading to wars and political upheavals, as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic deepens across the continent.  Many of the likely consequences are yet to become evident, recent unrest in southern Africa, increased extremist violence in the Sahel and growing instability in parts of West Africa can all be attributed in part to the outbreak, observers say. Some observers describe a historic divergence between the developed world and Africa as normality returns in Europe, the US and much of the Asia Pacific region, while African economies falter and populations remain without vaccine for years to come.

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned in June of “a two-track pandemic … leading to a two-track recovery.” She said: “Africa is already falling behind in terms of growth prospects. It is a human tragedy and an economic calamity.”

“The pandemic has been a major destabilising force,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of African politics at Birmingham University. “It will disrupt some democracies and some autocracies, but all governments will struggle with unsustainable debts and less income, and that is simply not being highlighted at the moment. The reality is that Africa’s Covid crisis is yet to come.”

More than 7m cases and 180,000 deaths have been recorded in Africa, totals that most researchers believe are significant underestimates.

One recent international study found that Covid-19 may hit Africa harder than any other recent global crisis, including the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 2008 Great Recession, and the Ebola outbreak of 2014.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, the director of the United Nations Development Programme’s regional bureau for Africa, said African countries had been disproportionately hit by the economic shock from Covid-19.

“There is a faster recovery elsewhere because money is being poured into the system. The continent is at a big disadvantage. Many African countries are still lifting the key basic things, people out of poverty, providing basic education and health services. Now spending and investment are drying up and that translates into distress and destitution,” Eziakonwa said. “People have nothing to lose any more. When they are on the edge, they are that much more given to being violent or being instrumentalised by politicians who exploit their anger, and that is a clear and present danger,” said Eziakonwa, who co-authored a UN study on the impact of Covid on the continent. Eziakonwa said any increase in malnutrition and the likely diversion of resources from immunisation programmes as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak would have a significant impact on young people and infants.

“It will take children’s lives and that will be unbearable,” she said.

The IMF projects that the global economy will grow by 6% this year, and the African economy by only 3.2%. Inflation is soaring in many places, with food prices in Nigeria increasing by almost a quarter since the start of the pandemic, pushing 7 million people into poverty. The World Bank said the pandemic had pushed up to 40 million people into extreme poverty, even before the third wave of Covid infections broke on the continent between May and July.

In South Africa, 1 million jobs are thought to have been destroyed by a month’s hard lockdown last year, and there has been a significant rise in reporting of hunger among citizens of Africa’s most industrialised nation. In Nigeria, a severe depression has caused the graduate unemployment rate to surge to more than 40%. There are tensions too in Ghana, long seen as a paragon of democracy and stability in west Africa, while an outbreak of vandalism and looting in July in South Africa, one of the most unequal countries in the world, was exacerbated by the pandemic, experts say.

In the Sahel, the economic impact of the pandemic has further weakened administrations that were already struggling to find resources for security forces, and has aggravated tensions between communities that have helped Islamic extremists make inroads in recent years. Across the region, as elsewhere on the continent, trade routes have been blocked, investments abandoned, and the flow of the remittances from overseas workers and the diaspora on which millions depend for everything from school fees to food has been significantly reduced. Overseas aid is also likely to be reduced. Local and national elections have been postponed due to the virus, raising tensions and causing instability.

One particularly badly hit sector has been tourism. Before the pandemic, Africa had the second-fasting growing tourism sector in the world, contributing 8.5% of the continent’s GDP and employing 24 million people. “It’s been really hard. We’ve had nothing for more than a year,” said Boniface Kenn, a Tanzanian guide.

‘An economic calamity’: Africa faces years of post-Covid instability | Africa | The Guardian

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Red Cross Reports


Three million face starvation and disease in Somalia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned that Somalia is on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe. One in 4 people faces high levels of acute food insecurity and more than 800,000 children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition unless they receive treatment and food assistance immediately. In addition to food insecurity, Somalia’s humanitarian situation continues to worsen due to multiple threats, including the outbreak of diseases such as diarrhoea, measles, malaria and COVID-19.

Over a decade of armed conflict has left more than two million people displaced in the North-East of Nigeria, making it one of the world’s most complex humanitarian emergencies. As people fled their homes, they also lost their livelihoods and many of them struggle to meet their essential needs.

“Beyond the physical safety, people also have steadily and increasingly been struggling securing basic livelihood. Families struggle to find work, care for their loved ones, but also put food on the table.” said Sarrah El Moumouhi, deputy head of Maiduguri sub-delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

40 per cent of Nigeria’s population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($382) per year. The ICRC provides microeconomic grants to vulnerable groups of people who lost their income due to the ongoing armed conflict to enable people to start small businesses. However, the steep inflation of the past year has hit them hard and an increasing number of people are struggling to keep their business afloat.

Monday, August 09, 2021

The Real Green Revolution


The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) published an open letter to the Gates Foundation with 500 signatures from African faith and farming communities

“Faith leaders are witnessing the negative impact of industrialized farming to the land and in their communities and have come together in this letter to say to the Gates Foundation: please re-think your approach to farming in Africa,” says SAFCEI Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis. Farmers and faith leaders urged donors to shift their funding to more effective and sustainable approaches such as agroecology. Input-intensive monoculture agriculture damages ecosystems, threatens local livelihoods, increases climate vulnerabilities and undermines smallholder farmers engaged in more sustainable methods of production.

They have received neither an acknowledgement nor a response after two months from the Foundation.

“Farmers have become wary of programs that promote monoculture and chemical-intensive farming. They have lost control of their seeds. Now, they say they are being held hostage on their own farms,” says Celestine Otieno, a permaculture farmer from Kenya. “Is this food security or food slavery?”

South African agroecology farmer Busisiwe Mgangxelareiterated that farmers practicing agroecology “do not feed the soil with chemicals, we feed it with organic matter and fertility from other companion plants.”

Fletcher Harper, director of GreenFaith, an international network, explained, “The plan of displacing millions of small holding farmers, using an industrial monoculture approach to farming, lacing the soil and water supplies with toxic chemicals and concentrating ownership of the means of production and land ownership in a small elite is an immoral and dangerous vision that must be stopped.”

 In Sub-Saharan Africa, 66 percent of people (724 million) now suffer moderate to severe food insecurity, up from 51 percent in 2014, according to the State of Food Insecurity report recently released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. As food insecurity increases — intensified by the ongoing crises of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anne Maina, national coordinator of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA), highlights the negative impacts and lack of accountability of AGRA. Launched in 2006 by the Gates Foundation in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA set goals of doubling crop productivity and incomes for 30 million small-scale farming households while halving food insecurity in 20 focus countries by 2020. As IATP’s Timothy A. Wise documented in a report last year, the deadline has passed, and productivity has improved only marginally, poverty remains high and the number of “undernourished” people in AGRA’s 13 focus countries had increased 30 percent by 2018.

BIBA and other groups engaged with AGRA demanding evidence to counter these findings, but Maina says they received no substantive answers. Even AGRA’s own 2020 Annual Report offers little convincing evidence of success.

According to SAFCEI, another insidious aspect of the Gates Foundation’s efforts in Africa is the foundation’s attempt to influence and restructure seed laws. “80% of non-certified seeds come from millions of smallholder farmers who recycle and exchange seeds each year,” SAFCEI reports “building an ‘open-source knowledge bank’ of seeds that cost little to nothing but have all the nutritional value needed to sustain these communities. In contrast, the approach supported by the Gates Foundation threatens to replace seed systems diversity and the agro-biodiversity system that is critical for human and ecosystem health and replace it with a privatized, corporate approach that will reduce food systems resilience.”

SAFCEI director de Gasparis is clear on the social and environmental stakes: “What African farmers need is support to find communal solutions that increase climate resilience, rather than top-down profit-driven industrial-scale farming systems. When it comes to the climate, African faith communities are urging the world to think twice before pushing a technical and corporate farming approach,” she says.

Opinion | African Faith Leaders to Gates Foundation: Drop African 'Green Revolution' | Cecilia Heffron (

Saturday, August 07, 2021

South Africa's Crisis

 After almost three decades of democracy, South Africa faces multiple crises. South African governments has largely gone from crisis to crisis without fundamentally dealing with the political and economic root causes of the crises themselves.

The country has world-leading level of inequality, with a Gini coefficient for income distribution of 0.7. Wealth is even more unequally distributed with the wealthiest one percent of the population owning half of all wealth, while the top 10 percent own at least 90–95 percent.

 Stubbornly high levels of unemployment were already at 29.1 percent in the end of 2019. Poverty remains unconscionably high. In 2015, over half of the population — 30.4 million people — lived below the official poverty line, higher for female-headed households than male-headed households (49.9 percent versus 33.0 percent). A quarter — 13.8 million people — lived in “extreme poverty,” unable to afford enough food to meet their basic physical needs.

The Covid-19 crisis came at a time when South Africa was already in a recession. The 2020 supplementary budget presented a net increase to non-interest spending of just 36 billion Rand, or less than one percent of GDP. Most of the rescue package, therefore, came from existing funds or off-budget expenditure. The deliberate misleading of citizens into believing that hard cash was pumped into the economy is one of the factors fuelling the violent protests. The public sentiment is that the “stimulus” was largely looted.

39 percent of households ran out of money to buy food in January and 17 percent of households experienced weekly household hunger. The special Covid-19 “Social Relief of Distress” (SRD) grant — a cash distribution to unemployed adults not receiving other social security — introduced in the initial relief package has been terminated. Food price inflation has increased. School feeding programmes which many children rely on are closed. After a seven percent economic contraction in GDP in 2020, the economy continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rate reaches a record high of 32.6 percent.

South Africa’s National Treasury has remained committed to its austerity programme — the cutting of expenditure to address debt during economic downturns — endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and much of the business press. This has severely undermined the provision of essential social service and the realisation of socio-economic rights. Cuts to the budget entail a fall in spending per person and leads to real reductions in health, learning and culture, and general public services. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Vaccine Shortage

 As of Monday that at least 70% of U.S. adults are now at least partly vaccinated against the coronavirus—compared to just barely over 1% when it comes to the world's poorest nations

Just 20 million Africans or 1.5% of the continent's population are fully vaccinated so far.

Just 1.7% of the 3.7 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa.

The Washington Post reported Friday, "wealthy nations cut deals directly with vaccine-makers, securing a disproportionately large share of early supply and undermining a fledgling Covax, the WHO-backed push to distribute shots equitably" on which Africa has been dependent.

"Wealthy governments shouldn't be prioritizing giving third doses when much of the developing world hasn't even yet had the chance to get their first Covid-19 shots,” Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign, said in a statement.

The world is at a "devastating place of vaccine inequity," she said, "precisely because pharmaceutical corporations prioritized profits over lives and the countries where these companies are primarily based decided to pursue a 'me first' approach."

"The longer billions of people remain unvaccinated, the more variants will develop that threaten all of us," Elder added. "This profit-driven and self-centered approach is not only morally questionable, but shortsighted.”

As US Hits Biden's 70% Vaccination Goal, World's Poor Nations Barely Over 1% | Common Dreams News

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Bodies dumped in the river

 A Sudanese official has said local authorities in Kassala province have found around 50 bodies of people fleeing the war in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray region, floating in the river between the countries. Some bodies were found with gunshot wounds or their hands bound.

An Ethiopian government-created Twitter account on Monday called the accounts of bodies a fake campaign by “propagandists” .

Tewodros Tefera, a surgeon who fled the nearby Tigray city of Humera to Sudan, told the Associated Press that two of the bodies were found on Monday, one a man with his hands bound and the other a woman with a chest wound. Fellow refugees have buried at least 10 other bodies, he said

Another doctor working in Hamdayet who saw the bodies told The Associated Press that some of the corpses had facial markings indicating they were ethnic Tigrayans. “I saw a lot of barbaric things,” said the doctor. “Some had been struck by an axe.” Witnesses at the river told him they had not been able to catch all the bodies floating downstream because of the water’s swift flow during the rainy season.

Dozens of bodies found floating in river between Ethiopia’s Tigray and Sudan | Ethiopia | The Guardian

Monday, August 02, 2021

UK Fails to Apologise

 The British government has been criticised for failing to apologise and compensate members of two communities in western Kenya whose land was taken away during the colonial era.

A group of UN investigators - or special rapporteurs - have highlighted the human rights violations against the Kipsigis and Talai peoples in Kericho county that happened in the 19th and 20th Centuries. These included unlawful killings and sexual violence.

Over half a million people are estimated by the UN team to have been affected.

The special rapporteurs have also criticised the UK government for failing to "adopt measures to establish the facts and know the truth about the circumstances surrounding these violations".

They sent their report to the government at the end of May and gave them 60 days to respond. That time has now elapsed and there has been no response.

"It has been very difficult to feel ignored for so long by the British Government for the terrible things they did to us," Dickson Sitienei said on behalf of the victims.

"We have been fighting for our voices to be heard for many years and if the British Government think we will forget what they did they are wrong. We cannot feel free until they acknowledge what they did, this is the only way forward."

Vast tracts of land in the region are now being used by various British and multinational tea corporations including Findlay’s, Williamson Fine Tea and Unilever.