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Conflict And COVID-19 Driving Record Hunger In DR Congo, Warns UN

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Conflict And COVID-19 Driving Record Hunger In DR Congo, Warns UN

The United Nations said on Tuesday, conflict and COVID-19 are driving hunger to record levels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say a record 27 million persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or about one-third of the country’s population, are suffering from acute hunger, largely because of conflict and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.N. says besides conflict and the pandemic, the number also rose because the latest analysis covered more people than previous ones after a vast majority of the population was captured for the first time ever.  The world body says that has helped to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the DRC.

The U.N. organizations said, in a joint statement, the figure makes DR Congo home to the largest number of people needing urgent food assistance in the world. The worst-hit areas were in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika, as well as the central Kasai provinces, all of which have been affected by conflict.

Peter Musoko, WFP’s country representative, said, “this country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. He added that, we cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.

The U.N. statement said people forced by fighting to flee their home have returned to find their crops destroyed. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or cassava leaves boiled in water.

Militia violence has persisted in Congo for decades, particularly in the eastern borderlands with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, despite the official end to a civil war in 2003.

Of the 27.3 million going hungry, about 6.7 million people were in the ‘emergency’ phase, which is the last one before famine, an analysis by the integrated food security phase classification (IPC) found.

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African News

DR Congo Begins COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

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African Countries Keen On AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine - WHO

The Democratic Republic of Congo will begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday after suspending the exercise over fears regarding the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In early March, more than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the DR Congo as part of the COVAX initiative but the country postponed the vaccination after studies in South Africa questioned its efficacy on the variant that is dominant in the country.

Having now reassured the public that the doses are safe for use, the country’s health minister Eteni Longondo said priority will be given to health personnel, people who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and basic social personnel, that is to say those who are in constant contact with the public.

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Zimbabwe Frees Some Inmates To Reduce COVID-19 Risk In Jails  

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Zimbabwe government has begun releasing prisoners amid concerns of overcrowding and coronavirus pandemic. About 3,000 prisoners have been released under a presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails.

Zimbabwe’s prisons have a capacity of 17,000 prisoners but held about 22,000 before the amnesty declared by president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

400 prisoners were released from Chikurubi prison and other jails in the capital, Harare, on Saturday with more coming from other prisons countrywide.

Those to be released had been convicted of non-violent crimes. All females imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who served a third of their sentences are to be released, and all disabled persons convicted of non-violent crimes.  Africa centers for disease control and prevention data show, Zimbabwe has recorded 37,534 cases of covid-19, including 1,551 deaths.

Authorities say, those convicted of crimes such as murder, treason, human trafficking, and sexual offenses will not benefit.

President Mnangagwa also commuted death sentences to life sentences for many prisoners on death row. Zimbabwe still has the death penalty but has not hanged anyone in years.

Authorities have suspended visits to prisons while plans are made to vaccinate inmates as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus. Political activists who have been sent to prison as part of a government crackdown on dissent have spoken of dire conditions, which they said put inmates at risk of both starvation and disease outbreak.

In another response to the pandemic, Zimbabwe has canceled the independence day celebrations planned for April 18 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

At least 11 persons have been killed in Egypt in a train accident. Egypt’s health ministry said in a statement, at least 100 persons were also injured on Sunday in the crash in Egypt’s Qalioubia province north of Cairo. Around 60 ambulances were sent to take the injured from the scene to nearby hospitals.

Railway authorities say at least four train wagons ran off the tracks at the city of Banha in the province. The train was travelling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from the Egyptian capital.

Sunday’s train accident came three weeks after two passenger trains collided in the province of Sohag, killing at least 18 persons and injuring 200 others, including children.

The government says it has launched a broad renovation and modernization initiative in the railway system.

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