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UN To Fight Famine In Nigeria, Congo, Five Others With $100M

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The United Nations released $100 million of emergency funding on Tuesday to stave off the risk of famine in seven countries most at risk from a hunger epidemic, fuelled by conflict, economic decline, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Lowcock, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said $80 million would be split between Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, which would get the biggest tranche of US$30 million.

A further $20 million had been set aside for Ethiopia, where droughts could worsen an already fragile situation.

“The prospect of a return to a world in which famines are commonplace would be heart wrenching and obscene in a world where there is more than enough food for everyone,” Mr. Lowcock said in a statement.

“Famines result in agonizing and humiliating deaths. They fuel conflict and war. They trigger mass displacement. Their impact on a country is devastating and long lasting. No one should view a slide into famine as an inevitable side effect of this pandemic. If it happens it is because the world has allowed it to happen.”

Releasing money from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was the quickest and most efficient way to support famine-prevention, with a real risk of famine in parts of Burkina Faso, North-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, the OCHA statement said. Famine was last declared in 2017 in parts of South Sudan.

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, said the world is going through turbulent times.

“That’s why we need to sharpen our focus and ramp up our efforts to avoid the icebergs – icebergs such as famine, starvation, destabilization and migration,” Mr. Beasley wrote in a tweet.

In an op-ed published online by the London-based Times newspaper on Tuesday, Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Beasley wrote that humankind’s greatest success had been to consign famine to history.

“But the impacts of the pandemic and associated lockdowns – falling incomes, rising food prices – were a match on tinder. Leave this fire to take hold and millions of children will die,” they wrote.

“When the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to WFP, they said they wanted to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from hunger or face the threat of it.

“We couldn’t agree more. When more than a quarter of a billion people teeter on a cliff edge, it’s no time to look away, much less walk away.”

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Rwanda Cancels Plan to Increase RwandAir Fleet

The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.

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Rwanda has announced that it is putting on hold the acquisition of new airplanes for its national carrier RwandAir, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.


The additional planes were to enable RwandAir serve the increasingly opened skies through the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).


Due to the global pandemic, RwandAir was forced to suspend operations following the lockdown in March, and only resumed operations in August when the country started a gradual re-opening of the economy.


The airline has gradually re-opened routes, though passenger occupancy remains low as some parts of the world remain in a lockdown while in other countries, travel remain restricted.


The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.


RwandAir currently has 12 airplanes including two Boeing 737-700NG, two Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen, four Boeing 737-800NG, two Bombardier Q-400 NextGen, one Airbus A330 – 300, and one Airbus A330 – 200.


Before the pandemic hit, the airline had planned to lease two Airbus A330neo and two Boeing 737 Max 8.

Read also: Rwanda, Qatar sign aviation pact


Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete says “Even the planes we have are not being used to the maximum due to the Covid-19. We have to wait until the passengers are free to keep travelling in a safer environment, so that we can now expand as we cannot expand in this environment.”


He spoke during a press briefing on Friday after signing a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) with the Republic of Korea, bringing the total to 101 BASAs within and outside Africa. Out of these, 52 have been ratified, 17 signed, and 32 initiated.


According to the airline’s earlier plans, the A330neos were to be deployed on long-haul routes to Guangzhou, China, and New York, as well as boost capacity to Dubai, Lagos, and Johannesburg.


RwandAir recently secured clearance to serve New York on code-share and wet-lease basis; an arrangement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to another airline or other type of business acting as a broker of air travel (the lessee), which pays by hours operated.


The 737 Max 8s were scheduled to serve Tel Aviv in Israel, and other regional flights such as Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.


Despite the halting of airplane acquisitions, the government says infrastructure investment to support the aviation sector will continue.
Qatar is set to acquire 60 per cent stake in RwandAir and is expected to complete construction of Bugesera Airport.


According to Gatete, negotiations with Qatar have advanced, and inking the deal between the two parties should take place anytime soon, under which the construction work should take off.

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Senegal Football Legend Papa Bouba Diop Dies Aged 42

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In the first game of the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup, Senegal dazed colonial masters, France and registered their name in history as one of Africa’s greatest teams. The man who scored the lone goal that condemned the French to defeat was Papa Bouba Diop, who died on Sunday.

Diop, who played for Portsmouth, West Ham and Fulham in the Premier League and RC Lens in the Ligue 1 was a key member of the Senegal team that made it to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

World football governing body, FIFA announced the former Teranga Lion’s death on Sunday via a tweet.

Diop joined Portsmouth in 2007 and won the FA Cup one year later in a team that was managed by Harry Redknapp.

He thereafter had stints with Greek club AEK Athens and Birmingham City in the Championship.

Diop’s former clubs, Fulham and Portsmouth have expressed their devastation about the news.

Recall that the world was thrown into mourning last week when global football legend and World Cup hero, Diego Armando Maradona died at the age of 60.

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President Ghazouani Doubles Pension, Allowances on Mauritania’s 60th Independence

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President Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani, has announced 10 social measures for the most vulnerable segments of the population in a message to mark the celebration of the 60th independence anniversary of the country.

They include a 100 per cent increase in the basic pension for all pensioners, a doubling of the pension of widows and their health insurance benefits and the monthly payment of retirement pension.

There is also the generalization of the chalk allowance to include all primary and secondary school principals granted over a period of 12 months instead of the previous nine months.

The President also announced an increase in the rural allowance and the supervisory allowance for inspectors of basic and secondary technical education to the tune of 10,000 old ouguiyas (about US$27).

Others include a 30 per cent increase in the salaries of health workers and a generalization of the risk premium to all health personnel.

In addition, there is a 50 per cent increase in the care of patients with kidney failure and people living with disabilities, and the granting of monthly cash transfers of 15,000 old ouguiyas (US$ 40) to them.

Health insurance for the benefit of all persons living with a disability and the payment of monthly cash transfers of 20,000 old ouguiyas (US$ 54) for disabled children are the latest measures announced by the Mauritanian president.

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