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President Uhuru Kenyatta On A State Visit To The Vatican

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Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta has kicked off a state visit to The Vatican with Pope Francis hosting him to a full apostolic palace state reception, including a guard of honor mounted by the swiss guards.  Kenyatta also had a private audience with the pontiff before bilateral talks began between the secretary of state of the holy see, Cardinal Bishop Pietro Parolin, and the Kenyan delegation that included foreign affairs cabinet secretary, Raychelle Omamo.

The catholic church is one of Kenya’s foremost development partners, especially in the education and health sectors.  The church runs nearly eight thousand schools, or thirty-one percent of all schools in Kenya.  It also manages two hundred twenty vocational institutions, five colleges and a university.

The catholic church is also the largest non-state provider of health services in the country with close to five hundred health facilities spread across the country.

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DR Congo In ‘World’s Largest Food Crisis’

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The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that nearly 22 million persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are facing acute food insecurity, a dramatic rise from last year.

An FAO report says conflict and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have impacted food prices and livelihoods, have worsened the problem. The report says, the country is now experiencing the world’s largest food crisis as these factors are exacerbating humanitarian needs in the DRC.

The UN also cites as contributing factors “an economic decline linked to currency depreciation and drop in GDP growth and natural hazards,” such as flooding.

The UN agency says in a report the number of people facing acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels has dramatically increased – from fifteen and a half million in 2019 to nearly twenty-two million.

The FAO warns that with the acute hunger, any further disruption of food supply chains will only worsen human suffering and hamper efforts to address the problem.

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UK Deploys 300 Troops To Mali

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The UK’s defence ministry says the first batch of 300 British troops have arrived in Mali to bolster the united peacekeeping mission there.  The rest will follow within a week.

The force will join 14,000 peacekeepers from 50 nations to protect Mali’s population from growing Islamist violence.

The mission to Africa’s Sahel region has been described as the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping deployment.  More than 5,000 French troops have underpinned the operation, but president Emmanuel macron is under pressure to reduce his forces.

Meanwhile, Mali’s interim government announced, on Thursday, the composition of a new legislative body for the country’s transition to civilian rule, with the military retaining a key role.

Young army officers in Mali toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in august after weeks of anti-government protests.

Military junta handed power to an interim government, between September and October under the threat of international sanctions.  The interim government is meant to rule for 18 months before elections.

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South Africa Fears COVID-19 Resurgence

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South Africa is facing a possible resurgence of COVID-19 as localized outbreaks drive infection rates.

The country is Africa’s most affected nation, and authorities have been struggling to control the number of outbreaks since an increase was reported last month in the eastern and western southern cape provinces. Daily new cases have surpassed 3,000, a 50% jump from an average of 2,000 earlier last month. The emergence of new outbreaks in several parts in South Africa has raised concerns that the virus could be encouraged by the expected gatherings during the festive season.

So far, 796,000 cases have been reported including 21,709 deaths. Transmission rate had dropped sharply after its peak in July, with fewer than three cases detected daily per 100,000 persons between late august and early November. But the lull was short-lived, and authorities are now trying to combat a possible resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic. President Cyril Ramaphosa has ruled out a new lockdown at this stage.

Hospitals are reported overwhelmed. The health services requested assistance in three public facilities from the NGO, doctors without borders.

Meanwhile, South Africa has missed its first payment to join the World Health Organization’s initiative to help poorer countries get hold of coronavirus vaccines.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni had set aside $33m for vaccines, but it appears the treasury has not yet released the funds.

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