INTL Africa: Politics, Economics, and Military- July 2020

Plain Jane

Veteran Member
Here is June's thread:

Regional Conflict in Mediterranean beginning page 27:

Main Coronavirus Thread beginning on page 1264:

Plain Jane

Veteran Member

French, Spanish and African leaders meet to combat extremism

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French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is welcomed by Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, right, upon arrival at Nouakchott Oumtounsy International Airport Tuesday June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott, to attend a G5 Sahel summit. Leaders from the five countries of West Africa's Sahel region, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott on Tuesday to discuss military operations against Islamic extremists in the region, as jihadist attacks mount. The five African countries, known as the G5, have formed a joint military force that is working with France, which has thousands of troops to battle the extremists in the Sahel, the region south of the Sahara Desert. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Leaders from the five countries of West Africa’s Sahel region — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — on Tuesday called for intensifying counter-terrorism operations supported by the French military that have already seen successes in the recent months despite growing jihadist attacks in the region.

The heads of state from the five Sahel countries said the stability of the region below the Sahara Desert remains challenged by persistant attacks, a deteriorating security situation in Libya and the COVID-19 pandemic, and renewed calls for the cancellation of external debts as they deal with the pandemic.

The statements came after meetings between the heads of states Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott to discuss military operations against Islamic extremists in the region.
The five African countries, known as the G5, have formed a joint military force that is working with France, which has 5,100 soldiers in the Sahel to help combat the still growing attacks. France first sent troops to the Sahel in 2013 when it helped to push al-Qaida-linked militants from their strongholds in Mali’s north.

But in recent months extremist groups linked to both al-Qaida and the Islamic State become more assertive, pushing further south into Niger and Burkina Faso, increasing attacks and taking control of more territory.

Thousands more soldiers are meant to be deployed as part of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, but this force is has not yet become fully operational due to the lack of funding and equipment.
“We are all convinced that victory is possible in Sahel,” Macron said in a news conference alongside other heads of states.

Macron said his first trip outside Europe since the beginning of the new coronavirus crisis aimed at showing “solidarity” toward the African continent. This was also Sanchez’ first trip abroad since a strict lockdown was adopted in Spain in mid-March to slow down the spread of the pandemic.

The French and African military force has made major gains since the last summit in Pau, France, in January, when it was decided to focus on eliminating the growing threat of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara along the tri-border region of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Among the successes has been the killing of the head of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb on June 3 in the Tessalit region.

“France will be there as long as its presence is wanted and requested by the Sahel states as they consider their people’s security is threatened ... and that our role is useful,” Macron said. He earlier praised the greater involvement of other European countries in the region.

Tuesday’s summit was called to set new milestones and raise the operational levels of the armies, as the victories remain fragile, said organizers. Counter-terrorism operations along the Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali tri-border region will continue, and the heads of state of the G5 also called for increased military engagement by the international community. They expressed gratitude for the support provided by France, the U.S. and the United Nations mission in Mali.

Operation Takuba, which will be a force of European special forces soldiers, would deploy in the summer of 2020, according to the G5 statement, along with a brigade from Britain in support of the Mali U.N. mission and 3,000 African Union soldiers.

There is political instability in Mali and Burkina Faso and the COVID-19 crisis has also substantially affected the already very vulnerable Sahel countries who are hoping for increased financial support as wealthier countries face the same pandemic.

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani urged richest countries to cancel the poor nations’ debt obligations. “The debt issue arises even more with the new situation that results from the pandemic and its consequences. The debt service burden is unbearable.”
Ghazouani met with Macron and Sanchez before an afternoon discussion with other heads of state, including Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and Chad’s President Idriss Deby.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte participated in the meeting via video call.

Recurrent jihadist attacks and inter-communal violence killed at least 4,000 people in 2019 in the Sahel, five times more than in 2016, according to the United Nations.

In Burkina Faso, the threat has grown with fighting spreading from the country’s north to the east and southwest regions. Areas that were once accessible are cut off. Djibo town in the Sahel has been under siege by jihadists for weeks, preventing aid from reaching civilians, according to workers for humanitarian groups and locals in the area.

There’s also been a rise in extrajudicial killings and revenge attacks by the army and local defense groups, targeting people allegedly supporting the jihadists, according to Human Rights Watch. The jihadists have also increased attacks on volunteer fighters helping the military.

On Tuesday, the G5 Heads of State agreed that “allegations of abuses by elements of the defense and security forces will be investigated and, if the facts are proven, of exemplary sanctions,” according to the final statement.

Burkina Faso’s army, which was already ill-equipped and struggling to stem the violence, has been hampered by the coronavirus. While it’s continued basic operations in the north and along the border with Mali and Niger, the military has no personal protective gear or other preventive supplies and few trained medical staff, according to internal foreign embassy cables seen by the AP. The “vast majority” of the military remain in their barracks, as a protection measure against the virus, said the report.

Despite gains along the border region, analysts say there’s been no progress in terms of addressing the issues driving the conflict.

“The progress has been mixed at best. The French had some tactical victories along the border, but not much has been done by local or international military to create long lasting stability or warrant any kind of victory,” said Flore Berger, a Sahel research analyst at the Institute for Strategic Studies.

Strengthening the regional G5 force is also critical at this time, especially as the U.S. has yet to make a decision on whether it will scale back military presence in the area.
The next summit will be held in 2021 in a Sahel country.
Corbet wrote from Paris. AP writers Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Ahmed Mohamed in Nouakchott, Mauritania, and Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed to this report.

Plain Jane

Veteran Member

Mortar shells hit after Somalia celebrates reopened stadium
By ABDI GULEDyesterday

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Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, center, prepares to cut the ribbon for the reopening of the stadium in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, June 30, 2020. At least three mortar blasts struck the Mogadishu Stadium Tuesday evening, just hours after it was reopened by Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who had left before the shells hit, following years of instability. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — At least three mortar blasts sent sports fans in Somalia ducking for cover Tuesday evening, hours after the Mogadishu Stadium reopened following years of instability.

The mortar shells struck in and around the stadium, police Col. Ahmed Muse said. There was no immediate word on any casualties. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group often targets the city.

The blasts occurred after Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attended the opening ceremonies that included a football match in the nearly empty stadium. He left before the shells hit.

A live television broadcast captured the sound of one of the blasts as an interviewer ducked and hurried off-camera.

The 35,000-seat stadium’s opening, complete with a large ceremonial flame, was a symbol of Somalia’s attempts at rebuilding after nearly three decades of conflict. The venue had hosted a base for the African Union peacekeeping force until late last year.

Plain Jane

Veteran Member

Russia's nuclear play for power in Africa
Russia is pushing nuclear technology to African nations to both turn a profit and expand its political might on the continent.

South Africa's nuclear power station at Koeberg

Rwanda's parliament has just approved a plan for Russia's state-owned Rosatom nuclear conglomerate to build it a nuclear research center and reactor in the capital, Kigali.

The Center of Nuclear Science and Technologies, planned for completion by 2024, will include nuclear research labs as well as a small research reactor with up to 10 MW capacity.
Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia have signed similar deals with Rosatom, while countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Sudan and DRC have less expansive cooperation agreements.

Rosatom has been aggressively wooing African nations since the mid-2000s and the nuclear deals are seen as part of Russia's push turn a profit and also gain influence in Africa.

Western sanctions first imposed on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimea in the Ukraine have forced Russia to seek alternative sources of incomes and also new friends.

Nuclear technology instead of trade
"For Putin to remain relevant in Russia, he really has to ensure that Russia has a big influence," said Ovigwe Eguegu, a geopolitics analyst with the international affairs platform, Afripolitika. "That's why he is looking at African markets so he has more parties to partner with when it comes to international issues."
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands amid African heads of state
In a sign of the continent's increasing importance for Russia, its president, Vladimir Putin, held the first Russia-Africa summit in October 2019

African nations constitute the largest voting bloc in the United Nations.
While the Soviet Union had a close relationship to various African states during the Cold War, Russia's trade balance with Africa is one tenth of that of China, meaning it needs to look for other means to get a foothold on the continent.

"Russia is using the tools that they have to expand their influence and right now, Russia has lots of experience in the nuclear energy area," Eguegu said in a phone interview from Abuja.

Rosatom nuclear leader
Rosatom is the world's biggest nuclear company by foreign orders. While it has projects in developed countries such as Finland and Hungary, it's mainly involved in developing regions.
The Rosatom packages are popular because the corporation's sheer size means it can offer all-in-one deals, from training local workers to developing nuclear science curricula, supplying uranium for the plant's life time and dealing with nuclear waste — with the added plus of Russian state loans for the projects.

The cost and financing of Rwanda's nuclear research center is still undisclosed. But Russia is extending a $25 billion (€22.23 billion) loan to Egypt to cover 85% of the cost of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant, which Rosatom is constructing.
Ministers sign an agreement at tables with the Russian and Egyptian flags behind them
Egypt and Russia signed a deal to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant in 2015

"Rosatom has come to dominate nuclear exports to developing countries because of their generous financing and worker training," according to the 2018 Center for Global Development policy paper, Atoms for Africa.

Additionally, Russia is itself a major player in the nuclear market, responsible for some 8% of uranium production worldwide as well as 20% of uranium conversion and 43% of uranium enrichment (conversion and enrichment are stages of processing uranium so it can be used by commercial nuclear power reactors).

Pros and cons of nuclear technologies
Rwanda's planned research reactor will also be used to manufacture radioisotopes, according to Rosatom. Radioisotopes have many applications from irradiating food to increase its shelf life to helping diagnose tumors or heart disease.

Such research reactors have "definite advantages" in fields such as nuclear medicine, nuclear scientist Michael Gatari, a professor at the University of Nairobi, told DW.

In addition, on a continent where where more than half of the population lack access to electricity, there is "immense potential" for nuclear to provide a clean source of energy to meet Africa's large energy deficit, the Center for Global Development study, Atoms for Africa, found.

"In the long term, a nuclear reactor generates electricity cheaper than we are paying now. It is also stable and produces no carbon emissions," Gatari said in a phone interview from Nairobi.

However, many experts, including Gatari, believe that nuclear technology doesn't yet make sense for African countries. They lack the highly skilled local workforce required to run the technological intricacies of such reactors. Plus, nuclear facilities are vastly expensive and take years to build.
A radioaction symbol hangs on a wall
There are questions whether African nations have the ability to safely maintain nuclear facilities

Gatari warns of countries becoming locked into costly projects that end up being "white elephants".

"Such a project can only be driven by strong and educated local human resources," the nuclear researcher said. "That knowledge isn't possible by rushing young students through training for a short time.

And the cost of maintaining that kind of installation can cripple the budget of a country for a long, long time."

Doing the smooth sell
Currently, South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa with a functioning nuclear power plant, while Nigeria and Ghana have research reactors, which are primarily used for studying and training and to test materials, such as minerals.

In Europe, safety concerns around nuclear technologies have already caused countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland to vote to phase out nuclear power.

These concerns are compounded in Africa, given the the political instability of certain regions and the threat of sabotage or terrorist attacks.

Read more: What happens to nuclear waste from power plants?
This hasn't stopped Rosatom, and Russia, from doing a soft sell of nuclear technologies on the continent.
Rosatom logo
Rosatom is closing deals to finance and build nuclear facilities across Africa

Rosatom funds scholarships for students from sub-Saharan Africa to study nuclear sciences and engineering in Russia. As of January 2020, around 300 students from more than 15 African countries were studying nuclear specialties there.

It runs an online video competition, Atoms for Africa, where participants stand a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Russia for a video dedicated to innovative nuclear technologies.

In 2019, it even held an international fishing competition near the Leningrad nuclear power station, Russia's largest, to demonstrate the safety of nuclear power for water bodies. (The competition was won by an Egypt team).

"There is good money if you can sell a research reactor," said nuclear scientist Gatari. "Unfortunately, the convincing capacity of [Rosatom's] marketing is very high, and the understanding of those who are buying is low."

Plain Jane

Veteran Member

  • Unrest erupts in Ethiopia after killing of singer
    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia's Oromo ethnic group. Heavy violence has been reported following his death, with multiple people killed in ongoing protests.

    Hachalu Hundessa at a 2013 concert

    Prominent Oromo singer-songwriter Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday evening in the Addis Ababa suburb of Gelan Condominiums.

    The context to the artist's death was not immediately clear, although the US Embassy in the Ethiopian capital said Hundessa's supporters had blamed security forces and "assume a political motive" for the crime.

    His death sparked protests across Ethiopia's Oromiya region on Tuesday, with at least eight people killed in the wave of violence according to an official tally, while some estimates have put the number as high as 50. According to a police spokesman, the dead included both protesters and members of the security forces.

    Police also detained opposition politician Jawar Mohammed on Wednesday alongside 34 others. The arrest of Jawar, a former media mogul who went on to join the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), risks stoking ethnic tensions in the region even further.
    An interview with DW's Colleta Wanjohi about the killing of Hachalu Hundessa and its ramifications features on Tuesday's Africalink radio show which is available on DW Africa's Facebook page.
    Music: A tool of protest
    Three people were killed on Tuesday and others were critically injured when protests erupted, reported news agency Agence France-Presse. The internet was shut down, major roads were blocked, tyres were burned and smoke was seen billowing across the city.
    The German Embassy in Addis Ababa warned people to avoid large crowds and driving through the city, citing calls for demonstrations on social media.

    'Voice of a generation'
    Ethiopia's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Watch's regional director, said in a statement that the government should act urgently to reduce tensions and ensure that security forces "do not make a combustible situation worse."

    Hachalu Hundessa was considered "an icon of revolution — especially in the Oromo ethnic group," said DW's Colleta Wanjohi.
    An equestrian statue of Ras Makonnen is demolished by demonstrators
    An equestrian statue of Ras Makonnen is demolished by demonstrators
    The Oromo is the biggest ethnic group in terms of population in Ethiopia. "It is also the ethnic group "credited with leading Ethiopia through a transition from the previous regime to the current leadership under Abiy Ahmed, who himself is from the Oromo ethnic group," Wanjohi explained.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by as an "electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting" after being awarded the portal's Oromo Person.

    "For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere'; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride's Oromo Person of 2017."

    The Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.
    Ethnic distribution in Ethiopia

    Ethiopian diversity
    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    At the height of anti-government protests, Hachalu gave a concert in Addis Ababa, singing songs that spoke to concerns among the Oromo that they had been economically and politically marginalized.

    "The Oromos did whatever we could, we have done our best, we can do no more than this. We served the small and the big people just so we can live together but we can't tolerate it anymore," were the lyrics of one song.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa's second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    An interview with DW's Colleta Wanjohi about the killing of Hachalu Hundessa and its ramifications features on Tuesday's Africalink radio show which is available on DW Africa's Facebook page.
    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)


Plain Jane

Veteran Member

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Botswana investigates ‘mysterious deaths’ of 275 elephants
By SELLO MOTSETA2 hours ago

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In this supplied photo a dead elephant lies in the bush in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Monday May 25, 2020. Botswana says it is investigating a staggeringly high number of elephant carcasses, with 275 found in the popular Okavango Delta area of the southern African nation in recent weeks.(Photo via AP)

GABORONE, Botswana (AP) — Botswana says it is investigating a staggeringly high number of elephant carcasses — 275 — found in the popular Okavango Delta area of the southern African nation in recent weeks.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks said it is mobilizing human personnel and aircraft to better understand the “mysterious deaths.” Samples have been collected for analysis at labs in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada and anthrax has been ruled out as the cause.

“We have no reason to dispute the numbers reported and we are continuing to verify reports,” Lucas Taolo, the department’s acting director, told The Associated Press.

He said local communities are being advised not to tamper with the dead elephant’s tusks. Poaching remains a threat in the country but also has been ruled out as the cause of the deaths.

This is “one of the biggest disasters to impact elephants this century, and right in the middle of one of Africa’s top tourism destinations,” the director of conservation group National Park Rescue, Mark Hiley, said in an email.

“Elephants began dying in huge numbers in early May and the government would normally respond within days to an event of this scale. Yet here we are, months later, with no testing completed and with no more information than we had at the start.”

He said COVID-19 is an unlikely candidate but for now nothing, including poison, can be ruled out.

Botswana has the world’s highest population of elephants with more than 156,000 counted in a 2013 aerial survey in the country’s north.

Former wildlife minister Tshekedi Khama, brother of former president Ian Khama, has blamed poaching in the Okavango Delta on President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision to disarm the wildlife department’s anti-poaching unit in 2018.

Soon after that decision, conservation group Elephants Without Borders reported 87 elephants found stripped of their tusks in the area.

In a separate statement on Thursday, Botswana’s government also announced “an alarming surge of rhinoceros poaching in the Okavango Delta” in recent days.

Plain Jane

Veteran Member

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South Africa’s hospitals bracing for surge of virus patients

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FILE — In this May 8, 2020, file photo a man looks into a tent as a health worker in protective gear collects a sample for COVID-19 testing in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, South Africa. South Africa’s reported coronavirus are surging. Its hospitals are now bracing for an onslaught of patients, setting up temporary wards and hoping advances in treatment will help the country’s health facilities from becoming overwhelmed. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The nurse started crying when describing her work at a Johannesburg hospital: The ward for coronavirus patients is full, so new arrivals are sent to the general ward, where they wait days for test results. Already 20 of her colleagues have tested positive.

“A lot, a lot, a lot of people are coming in every day. With COVID-19,” said the nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to the media. “Each day, it becomes more difficult to cope.”

South Africa’s reported coronavirus cases more than quadrupled in June — though some of that is due to efforts to clear a testing backlog, the rate of increase of new cases is picking up. Its hospitals are now bracing for an onslaught of patients, setting up temporary wards and hoping advances in treatment will help the country’s health facilities from becoming overwhelmed.

The surge comes as the country has allowed businesses to reopen in recent weeks to stave off economic disaster after a strict two-month stay-at-home order worsened already high unemployment — it reached 30% in June — and drastically increased hunger. In Johannesburg, the largest city, health officials said they are considering reimposing some restrictions to try to slow the quickening spread of the virus.

“We’re seeing a spike in infections in Johannesburg. The number of people that we are diagnosing on a daily basis now is absolutely frightening,” said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, who is leading a vaccine trial in South Africa in cooperation with Britain’s University of Oxford. “Who we are finding positive now is an indication of who will be in hospital three weeks from now.”

The vaccine trial began last week, and Madhi said he’s surprised by the high number of prospective participants who have been disqualified because they are positive for the virus.
“It is hard to see how our hospitals will be able to cope,” he said. “Our facilities are reaching a tipping point.”

COVID-19 has highlighted South Africa’s inequalities, he said. “Everyone is at risk from the virus,” he said. “But the poor, living in higher density areas, without good access to running water, access to health care, the poorest will suffer the most.”

South Africa, with 58 million people and nearly 40% of all the cases on the entire continent, has seen the number of confirmed infections rise from 34,000 at the start of June to more than 168,000 on Friday.

Overnight it reported its largest daily number of new confirmed cases — 8,728.
As of Friday, 2,844 people had died, according to official statistics. But forecasts by health experts have warned that South Africa could see from 40,000 to more than 70,000 deaths from COVID-19 before the end of 2020.

Other African countries are watching warily as the country with the continent’s best-equipped and best-staffed health system hurtles toward a peak that may overwhelm it.
South Africa’s health minister, Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, issued a sobering warning recently about an expected flood of cases, especially in urban centers as many return to work.

“It is anticipated that, while every province will unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise,” Mkhize said this week.

Concerns about the virus spreading in the minibus taxis that millions of South Africans use to commute grew this week when the taxi association said the minivans would run at full capacity of up to 15 passengers, despite government orders to carry just 70% capacity.
For weeks Cape Town has been the country’s epicenter of the disease, but Johannesburg is rapidly catching up.

Mkhize said Gauteng province, which also includes the nation’s capital of Pretoria, will quickly surpass Cape Town and will need more hospital beds.

Gauteng hospitals already have 3,000 COVID-19 patients, the province’s premier David Makhura told reporters Thursday. He denied reports that patients have been turned away and said bed capacity would be significantly increased by the end of July. He said the reopening of schools set for next week may be postponed and warned that restrictions may be reimposed to combat the surge.

To increase its hospital capacity, South Africa has converted convention centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg, built wards in huge tents, and turned a closed Volkswagen car manufacturing plant into a 3,300-bed treatment center. Still, finding staff to tend to those beds is a challenge: The factory remains empty for lack of health workers.

In Khayelitsha township, one of Cape Town’s poorest areas with some 400, 000 residents, the district hospital has 300 beds. Anticipating increased demand on the overstretched facility, an external wing was created across the street. Built in a month, the new ward opened at the start of June with 60 beds. By this week only two beds were empty.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Dr. Hermann Reuter of his work in the external ward, run by Khayelitsha District Hospital with assistance from Doctors Without Borders.

Reuter said advances in treatment — including giving patients oxygen masks and nasal inhalers earlier and turning them often in order to keep them off ventilators — has yielded encouraging results, even though many are severely ill when they arrive. Crucially, many can be discharged in two weeks — freeing up much-needed bed space, said Reuter, who normally runs community substance abuse clinics but volunteered to work in the field hospital.

As South Africa heads into its coldest time of year, the media have warned of a “dark winter” over fears cases will peak in July and August in the Southern Hemisphere country. President Cyril Ramaphosa recently counseled the nation to prepare for tough times ahead, saying that many may find themselves “despondent and fearful” in the weeks and months to come.

“It may be that things have gotten worse, but we are certain that they will get better,” he said.
For the nurse at the Johannesburg hospital, those dark days already appear to have arrived.
“Nursing is a calling, and we are working to help people in this corona crisis,” she said. “But we are becoming overwhelmed.”
Mogomotsi Magome in Johannesburg contributed.
Follow AP pandemic coverage at and Understanding the Outbreak

Plain Jane

Veteran Member
This looks hopeful!

JULY 6, 2020 / 8:26 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO
Kenya uses app in battle against desert locusts

Baz Ratner

LORUGUM, Kenya (Reuters) - Lorugum village in northwest Kenya is under siege. Hundreds of thousands of young desert locusts perch on trees, shrubs, and in the grass.

In the coming days or weeks, their bodies will turn from pink to yellow, their wings will harden and, if nothing is done to stop them, they will begin to swarm, with disastrous consequences for agricultural production and the environment.

Using his smartphone camera, Christopher Achilo takes photos and videos of a tree trunk in the village that is crawling with the pink insects, and uploads the images onto an app.

“One locust eats food equal to his weight (every day), so imagine having millions of locusts, if you cannot even see over the trees,” he said.

Within some time, all the trees are just naked. Even they go inside the farms, they strip the farms, so it is a very big impact on the food security.”

Achilo is one of a team of locust scouts trained by local aid group ACTED, with the help of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Turkana County regional government, to spot and report sightings using a new application, E-Locust.

The information he and the others collect is sent in real-time to a database in Lodwar, Turkana’s main town, which is then used by another team deployed to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent swarm formation.

Locust numbers, the worst in three generations, surged in East Africa and the Red Sea region in late 2019 and early this year, encouraged by unseasonably wet weather and dispersed by a record number of cyclones.

The pests could cost East Africa and Yemen $8.5 billion this year, the World Bank has said.

Swarms can fly up to 150 km (93 miles) a day with the wind, and a single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people. Desert locusts feed on nearly all green vegetation and crops, including leaves, flowers, bark, fruit, millet and rice.

In a bulletin from July 3, the FAO said it expected swarm formation in Kenya to continue until mid-July. It said that in June, control operations treated around 30,830 hectares against locusts, around 8,500 hectares by air.

Reporting by Baz Ratner; Additional reporting by Nazanine Moshiri in Nairobi; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa Kasolowsky
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Plain Jane

Veteran Member
See this thread for more on the dead elephants.

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Plain Jane

Veteran Member

JULY 6, 2020 / 8:58 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO
Nurses in Zimbabwe arrested as they protest over pay


HARARE (Reuters) - Police in Zimbabwe arrested 12 nurses protesting outside state hospitals on Monday demanding to be paid in U.S. dollars as inflation running at nearly 800% was eroding their salaries, the country’s nurses union said.

An economic crisis under President Emmerson Mnangagwa has revived memories of the hardships of more than a decade ago when hyperinflation wiped out savings and pensions and forced the country to dump its currency in favour of the U.S. dollar.

The demonstrations, including at Zimbabwe’s biggest hospital in the capital Harare, come at a time COVID-19 cases are rising in the southern African nation, which has recorded 716 infections and eight deaths so far.

Nurses holding placards reading “No U.S. dollar no work” and “#Nurses can’t breath” said they had to protest because they cannot survive on a monthly salary of 3,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($47).

“The situation is bad and our cause is justified,” Pretty Gudza, a mother of four told Reuters during the protest in Harare. “I cannot work for nothing, I have to eat and I have to be mentally healthy so that I can assist the sick.”

Nurses also gathered in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second biggest city, to demand better pay, said Enock Dongo, president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Union.

He said 12 demonstrators had been arrested in Harare, where a Reuters witness saw police detaining nurses.

Police national spokesman Paul Nyathi said he was unaware of the arrests and would investigate.

Mnangagwa’s government announced a 50% salary hike for state employees last month and a $75 allowance for three months but workers said the increase was not reflected in their June pay.

Zimbabwe reintroduced its local currency last year after a decade of official use of the U.S. dollar but the local currency rapidly lost value, sending prices rocketing and raising fears of renewed hyperinflation.

Slideshow (5 Images)
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate stands at 785%, one of the highest in the world, while businesses charge in U.S. dollars and use black market rates to calculate prices in the local currency, making goods too expensive for many.

Last month, Zimbabwe suspended trade on the stock exchange and some mobile phone payments, which account for over 80% of all transactions, as part of efforts to arrest the local currency’s slide.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Emma Rumney and David Clarke
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.