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Measles is a bigger threat in DR Congo than Ebola – NGO1 minute read

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization

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Measles has killed 2,758 people in DR Congo since January, more than the Ebola epidemic in a year, medical NGO Doctors Without Borders said, and called Saturday for a “massive mobilisation of funds.”

The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January and early August, it said in a statement.

“Since July, the epidemic has worsened, with a rise in new cases reported in several provinces,” said the NGO that goes by its French acronym MSF.

“Only $2.5 million has been raised out of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan  — in stark contrast with the Ebola epidemic in the east of the country, which attracts multiple organisations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding,” it added.

MSF tweeted that without a “massive mobilisation of funds and response organisations, the current measles outbreak in #DRCongo could get even worse.”

The NGO said it has vaccinated 474,860 children between the ages of six months and five years since the beginning of the year and provided care to more than 27,000 measles patients.

In the country’s east, Ebola has claimed more than 1,900 lives since erupting last August.

Measles is a highly-contagious diseased caused by a virus that attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections.

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization, amid a rise in “anti-vaxxer” sentiment in some countries that can afford the vaccine, and lagging resources for the preventative measure in poor nations.

DR Congo declared a measles epidemic in June.

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Congo’s state- owned miner, Gecamines challenges court’s ruling

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned copper and cobalt miner, Gecamines is challenging a ruling by a local court that it owes an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, a $168 million loan.

Gertler’s Fleurette Mumi Holdings Ltd. offered a 200 million-euro line of credit to Gecamines in October 2017, two months before he was sanctioned by the U.S. government for alleged corruption related to Congo deals.

Gecamines announced in a statement that Fleurette Mumi has since changed its name to Ventora Development Sasu, one of Gertler’s companies, following the sanction.

Last month, a Lubumbashi-based commercial court ordered Gecamines to repay the principal loan and interest to Ventora Development Sasu, one of Gertler’s companies singled out by the U.S. sanctions.

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Militia behead 16 people in new DR Congo massacre – civil society

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Suspected militia fighters have decapitated 16 people in a new village massacre near Beni in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, civil society sources said Friday.

Three more civilians were wounded in Beni town by an explosive device on Thursday night, an official source said, in a new tactic in a region beset by militia violence for decades.

The killings on Thursday in the Mbau region north of Beni have been blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia group responsible for a string of massacres since the start of November.

“Sixteen decapitated bodies have been found in searches that started in the evening,” Jamal Moussa, spokesman for the network of civil society organisations in Mbau said.

The massacre targeted the small village of Mantumbi.

“The ADF terrorists attacked in daylight (on Thursday), first in the bush where people were in their fields, and then in the village,” Moussa said.

DR Congo forces launched operations against the ADF in the eastern region at the end of October. But in response, the ADF has carried out massacres, in an apparent bid to discourage civilians from helping the military.

At least 100 people have been killed since November 5 in attacks blamed on the ADF, an Islamist-rooted militia with origins in Uganda.

No military sources would officially confirm Thursday’s report, but the Congolese army and UN troops deployed to the vast country have announced joint operations against ADF forces in the Beni region.

Another civil society group, Lucha, reported a toll of at least nine people killed near Mbau.

The administrative chief of Rwenzori, one of the four districts of the town, Alois Mbwarara,  said two passengers on a motorbike reportedly threw an explosive device which blew up in the market, wounding three people.

“The ADF, on the run from the Congolese army, now uses their stooges in the town for acts of sabotage,” he said. 

The army is analysing debris to determine whether it was a homemade bomb or a hand grenade.”

The last time an explosive device was used in Beni was in 2007, the official added.

The Congolese army has discovered “a factory for large-scale production of homemade bombs” at a seized ADF camp, military spokesman General Leon Richard Kasonga said on Wednesday.

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What’s in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10

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What's in it for Africa at the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Spain?
Participants pose for a family photo within the 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), held in Madrid, Spain on December 02, 2019. Burak Akbulut / AFP

African delegates will seek to push for changes at the 2019 annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, which officially kicked off on Monday, December 3, in Madrid, Spain.

About 29,000 visitors are expected at the conference that holds from 2 to 13 December 2019, including 50 heads of state. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the meeting’s urgency, saying that the climate crisis could soon reach the “point of no return.”

READ: Ugandan children boycott school to march for climate change action

At COP25, delegates from 197 countries are expected to nail down some details left open by the 2015 Paris climate accord, including how carbon-trading systems and compensation for poor countries with rising sea levels will work.

Being signatories to the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have shown commitments to enhance climate actions by putting practical measures and building resilience in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

READ: How climate change is draining Lake Malawi and local fishing economy

Like the previous COP summits, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is present in Madrid to support regional member countries through its support to the African group of negotiators and through advocacy to make Africa’s voice heard in the global stage.

The highpoint of the COP25 for Africa is the “Africa Day”, which is slated for December 10, and will focus on concerted global action on climate change to attain a new Africa.

The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Brazil and then Chile, but the election of President Jair Bolsonaro and the protests in Santiago changed those plans. Spain agreed to host last month.

READ: Uganda’s teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action

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