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Ethiopia Rejected U.S. Call For Unilateral Ceasefire During Talks, U.S. Says

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Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has rebuffed American emissary, senator Chris Coons, sent to the region by president Joe Biden to foster a ceasefire in Tigray region.  Coons says he urged prime minister Abiy to declare a ceasefire in the conflict-ridden Tigray region, but was rejected.

The war has been raging in the Tigray region for about five months now.

Thousands have been killed and nearly one million persons displaced.  Aid workers say many refugees have crossed the border into the Sudan, and that many more internally displaced persons are showing up at camps, looking gaunt and traumatized.  There are also reports many women have been raped.

Senator coons says he had a five-hour meeting with Abiy in two days, and also met with other Ethiopian senior officials, the chief commissioner of the Ethiopian human rights commission, as well as the chair of the African Union Commission, NGO’s and members of the diplomatic community.

Coons says Abiy has pledged to hold all human rights violators accountable. Abiy also expressed support for a joint investigation into reported atrocities to be conducted by the Ethiopian human rights commission and the U.N. human rights office.

The United Nations estimates twenty-three and a half million persons will need humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia this year as a result of the Tigray violence, drought, the worst desert locust infestation in a generation, and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.  Four and a half million of those in need in the country are in Tigray region.

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Ghana: NCA To Shut Down 49 TV Stations For Operating Without License

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Ghana has shut down what it called 49 illegal television stations. The National Communications Authority says broadcasting by too many stations would affect signals. Authorities say the TV stations were being shut down because they were unlicensed. They say the action will ensure efficient use of the country’s broadcasting spectrum.

At least 146 TV channels are currently authorized to operate.

The process of shutting down unlicensed stations is being done in collaboration with the police and intelligence agents.

The NCA says it continuously monitors satellite free-to-air television platforms.

More than 50 radio stations were shut down in a similar exercise in 2017.

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WHO, Africa CDC Urge African Nations To Keep Expired COVID Vaccines

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Africa CDC

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) have urged African countries not to destroy COVID-19 vaccines that have expired.  Many countries on the continent got AstraZeneca vaccines through the U.N. facilitated Covax scheme for their campaigns.

Now, the W.H.O. says countries whose stocks might have expired should hold on to the stock and wait for further guidance. The Africa CDC says it has spoken to the manufacturer and has been reassured that the vaccines are still safe.

Reports say many vaccines can be used up to 36 months after manufacture, but because COVID-19 jabs are new, there is not enough data to prove their effectiveness over longer periods.

The call came after Malawi and South Sudan said they would discard more than 70,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jabs that were out of date.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has been slow, partly because of supply issues and skepticism about the jab.

Out of 55 African countries, 41 have benefitted from the delivery of vaccines via the global-sharing scheme Covax. Seven are yet to receive their first batch.

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Angola: Luanda Flood Death Toll Rises To 24, Thousands Homeless

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Heavy rains in Angola’s capital, Luanda, have killed at least 24 persons and left 8,000 families homeless.

A spokesman for the national civil security agency, Faustino Minguês, said most of the victims were killed by collapsing walls or were electrocuted.

Torrential rains and flooding ripped through the city on Monday. The intensity of the downpour, which lasted for about seven hours, collapsed bridges, uprooted trees and submerged vehicles.

In a statement late on Wednesday by Luanda’s provincial government said “The number of deaths has risen from 14 to 24” adding that at least 2,344 homes were flooded and 60 collapsed.

According to AFP news agency a total of 11,745 persons have been affected.

The rain also prevented the operation of public transport in several areas of Luanda, causing many people not to make it to their places of work.

The municipal civil protection commission said it will continue to survey the damage caused by the rains.

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