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MV Wakashio, Japanese Ship that Spilled Oil in Mauritius Waters, to be Recycled

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The dismantling of the 7,500-tonne stern of MV Wakashio, the Japanese oil vessel that ran aground on the reefs of Pointe-d’Esny in Mauritius on 25th July 2020 has commenced, with plans to recycle its parts.

According to reports, the operation, which started on Monday and is being handled by experts from the Chinese company Lianyungang Dali Underwater Engineering, should be completed in March.

After the dismantling, the parts will be transported on a special barge to Port-Louis’ harbor before being handed over to a local scrap metal recycling specialist.

The vessel was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of oil when it got stuck on the reefs in July 2020 and spilled nearly 1000 tonnes of its content, causing an ecological disaster. It later broke into two and the bow was scuttled in August by the Dutch salvage company Smit International, while the stern remained on the coral reefs.

Three tugs and a Chinese barge have been deployed for the operation.

Trucks have been mobilised to transport the parts of the ship that will be cut up and sent for recycling.

225-meter long MV Wakashio was on its way from China to Brazil when it approached the Mauritian coast to pick up a cell phone signal on July 25, 2020 when it ran aground.

After the bow was sunk in high seas, at least 17 dead dolphins were found on the coast off the Indian Ocean nation.

In June 2016, the MV Benita got stuck on the reefs of Le Bouchon, some kilometres away from Pointe d’Esny, while on its way to Durban. A brawl in the machine room led to that previous accident.

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East Africa News

Kenya Receives “Machine Guns and Bazookas” as COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive

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As Kenya takes delivery of 1.02 million doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility, the East African nation’s Minister of Health, Mutahi Kagwe remarked rather humorously that the days of fighting COVID-19 with “rubber bullets” have ended.

Kagwe described the vaccines as metaphorical “bazookas and machine guns” as the doses are expected to help the country lead a better charge against the virus.

The World Health Organisation, UNICEF, International Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness were all on hand as the vaccines arrived in the East African country from India.

COVID-19 vaccines arrive Kenya

Kenya became the fourth country on the continent to receive the vaccines following Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, just on Tuesday.

The Kenyan Minister of Health said he expects the vaccine to help limit the spread of the virus and also redirect the nation to economic recovery.

Kenya will vaccinate more than 400,000 medical staff, with frontline health workers and people working in essential services also to be prioritised.

Health workers in the country are, however, unhappy after being forced to resume following a 70-day strike over the lack of Personal Protective Equipment to shield them against the disease.

Kenya has recorded more than 106,000 cases, with a fatality of 1800 recorded. The nation’s case fatality rate of over 1.6% is lower than the African average of 2.6%.

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Rwanda Receives Africa’s First Pfizer Vaccines Under COVAX

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Rwanda has become the first African country to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya have all received the AstraZeneca doses through the COVAX facility, after they took delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India.

Rwanda will get 102,960 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, while also receiving 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

At least five African countries have gotten vaccines from the COVAX facility sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), UNICEF and others.

Nigeria received 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, while Kenya got 1.02 million doses in its first batch. Ghana and Ivory Coast got 600,000 and 505,000 doses respectively.

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UN Agencies Make $266m Appeal to Feed 3Million Refugees in East Africa

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Two UN agencies – the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) – has made an appeal for about $266 million to end food rations for over three million refugees in East Africa.

Michael Dunford, the WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa, made this remark in a joint statement with the UNCHR in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

He noted that funding shortages had forced cuts up to 60 per cent while growing risks include increased malnutrition
and anaemia as well as stunted growths in children.

Dunford admits the agencies have never had such a terrible funding situation for refugees. They now have a 266-million-dollar shortfall for the next six months for
refugees’ minimum needs.

There are deep concerns that if cuts continue, refugees will be forced to choose from very difficult decisions; stay in the camps where food and security are deteriorating or risk going back home where it is unsafe.

The immediate priority must be to restore assistance to at least minimum levels for refugees, many of whom lost the lifeline
of remittances due to the global impact of COVID-19.

According to the UN agencies, funding shortfalls have forced WFP to slash monthly assistance for refugees by up to 60 per cent in Rwanda, 40 per cent in Uganda and Kenya.

There was also a 30 per cent slash in South Sudan, 23 per cent in Djibouti and 16 per cent in Ethiopia.

The agencies say the impact of the funding shortfalls on refugee families is compounded by COVID-19 lockdowns and measures to contain spread.

This has already reduced the availability of food in markets in refugee camps and wrecked many refugees’ hopes of supporting their families through casual labour and small businesses.

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