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At least 50 killed from fighting in eastern DR Congo1 minute read

The fighting began last Friday and escalated on Monday, affecting the territory of Djugu, north of the provincial capital of Bunia.

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At least 50 killed from fighting in eastern DR Congo | News Central TV
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At least 50 people have been killed in violence in Ituri, a volatile province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), governor Jean Bamanisa Saidi said Thursday.

“As of the day before yesterday, we had a figure of some 50 (dead), but it’s true, we are aware that there are other cases,” he told reporters.

Other sources said the toll could be 60 or more than 70.

The fighting began last Friday and escalated on Monday, affecting the territory of Djugu, north of the provincial capital of Bunia, and causing many people to flee their homes, the sources said.

The cause of the flareup was not immediately clear, but it occurred in a region where tens of thousands died in clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups between 1999 and 2003.

The deputy head of the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, General Bernard Commins, told a press conference on Wednesday that the two communities had suffered fresh violence.

A Hema leader, Pilo Molondro, told reporters that 49 deaths had been recorded since the start of the week, and “all communities are in mourning.”

A head of the Lendu community, Joel Mande, said: “We have recorded 40 deaths since Monday, after a trader and his colleagues were killed. The toll could reach 60.”

But an NGO source said that from Saturday to Tuesday alone, “more than 72 people were killed in around 10 localities in Djugu and Irumu.”

Okapi, the radio station run by the UN’s MONUSCO, said 38 people had been stabbed to death just in the village of Tche.

Ituri and the neighbouring province of North Kivu on the DRC’s eastern border are struggling to roll back an epidemic of Ebola that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since August 1.

Related: Ebola cases cross the 2,000 mark in DR Congo

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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Covid-19: Kenyan researchers test efficacy of local herbal medicine

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Dr. Festus Tolo, co-researcher in traditional medicine at his office at Kemri headquarters shows some of the pilot products. PHOTO|ANGELA OKETCH| NATION

Kenya’s leading research institute has begun exploring the efficacy of one of its herbal and traditional medicines likely to treat Covid-19.

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has identified Zedupex, an in-house herbal medicine used in the treatment of genital herpes, a common viral disease that causes sores on the mouth and genitals.

The drug licensed by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board in 2015 was developed by Kenyan scientists from medicinal trees.

The search for both a cure and a vaccine for the coronavirus has intensified around the globe, including in Kenya, as medical researchers race to find the elusive remedy.

Dr. Festus Tolo of Kenya’s Medical Research Institute is the lead scientist tasked with finding out whether a herb-based drug will be effective against COVID-19. Zedupex, developed in 2015 by Kenyan researchers, has been used in the treatment of herpes.

Tolo says his team does not know yet whether the drug will work against the virus.

“We are still in very early stages. We cannot be able to say, knowing that the herpes simplex virus is a DNA virus and the coronavirus is an RNA virus,” he said.

“This really means that we need to, first of all confirm or check whether there’s activity before we can be able to really say this is a product we can explore further for COVID management.”

The WHO’s Kenya representative Rudi Eggers says that standardizing the various herbal cures could be quite a challenge.
“In other medicines, we find that there are specific levels of the active ingredient and in herbal cures you frequently find varied components and the levels of those components in there,” Eggers said.

“So, in fact you’d have to standardize these cures to make sure that you know what is in them and what component is actually acting. So that’s quite a step to be taken before actually evaluating these cures.”

Zedupex is sold in small-scale through the institute’s production department. The researchers will be working in the laboratory to test the activity and safety of the compound on Covid-19 treatment.

The trials are being carried out at Kemri’s laboratory. The drug has not been administered to any coronavirus patient.

But as Kenya tries to explore the treatment of the virus with traditional medicines, the African Union says it will now start testing the controversial herbal remedy for Covid-19 from Madagascar.

At least five African countries continue to receive supplies of the remedy despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning about its use.
Despite these hurdles, researchers at KEMRI are pressing ahead with their study of herbal treatments for COVID-19.

Kenya itself has seen more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease so far, and about 50 deaths.

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World Bank grants Africa, Asia $500 million to battle locust invasion.

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The World Bank has approved $500 million in grants and low-interest loans to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat swarms of desert locusts that had been eating their way across vast swaths of crops and rangelands.

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda; the Four of the hardest-hit countries will receive $160 million immediately, according to Holger Kray, a senior World Bank official.

“The Horn of Africa finds itself at the epicenter of the worst locust outbreak we have seen in a generation, most probably in more than a generation,”

Kray says, noting that the new coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the crisis.

The World Bank emphasized that this pestilence had infested 23 countries across East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, the biggest outbreak in 70 years posing a grave danger to food supplies in East Africa where nearly 23 million people are facing food shortages. Now coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, the situation becomes more worrisome.

The World Bank estimates that the Horn of Africa region could suffer up to $8.5 billion in damage to crop and livestock production by year-end without broad measures to reduce locust populations and prevent their spread further. Even with these measures, losses could be as high as $2.5 billion, the lender adds.

In Kenya, the locusts are eating in one day, the amount of food consumed by all Kenyans in two days, Kray explains.

The new World Bank program will help farmers, herders and rural households by providing fertilizer and seeds for new crops and cash transfers to pay for food for people and livestock. It will also fund investments to strengthen surveillance and early warning systems to make the region more resilient over the medium- to longer-term, Kray explained

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