Saturday, 10th June 2023

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

The UN's health agency on Thursday declared an end to a nearly four-month outbreak of Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea, saying the disease, a cousin of Ebola, had caused 35 confirmed or suspected deaths.

"The outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease in Equatorial Guinea ended today with no new cases reported over the past 42 days after the last patient was discharged from treatment," the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

The highly virulent microbe causes severe fever, often accompanied by bleeding and organ failure. 

It is part of the so-called filovirus family that includes Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which has caused several deadly epidemics in western and central Africa.

The outbreak, declared on February 13, was the first of its kind in Equatorial Guinea, a small coastal state in central-western Africa.

"A total of 17 laboratory-confirmed cases and 12 deaths were recorded. All the 23 probable cases reported died," the WHO said.

"Four patients recovered from the virus and have been enrolled in a survivors programme to receive psychosocial and other post-recovery support," it added.

The statement paid tribute to local health workers and support by partner organizations for the "hard work" in tackling the outbreak, much of which entails tracing and isolating people in contact with patients.

- Tanzania outbreak -

The outbreak in Equatorial Guinea coincided with that on the other side of the continent, in Tanzania. Six people died in a two-month episode, which was formally declared over on June 2.

The first outbreak of Marburg in Africa was recorded in South Africa in 1975.

Outbreaks or sporadic cases have been also reported in Kenya, Angola, Ghana, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, as well as Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania this year.

The suspected natural source of the virus is the African fruit bat, which carries the pathogen but does not fall sick from it.

Fatality rates in confirmed cases have ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent in previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, according to WHO.

There are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments, but potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, as well as early candidate vaccines, are being evaluated.

The virus takes its name from the German city of Marburg, where it was first identified in 1967, in a lab where workers had been in contact with infected green monkeys imported from Uganda.

-Africa News

Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been struck off the electoral roll has filed an appeal to be registered to vote in local elections scheduled for September 2. The former Ivorian president said on Thursday that he would not let his name be "sullied".

"I was taken to the ICC with tons of accusations: crimes against humanity, war crimes, rape. All that, but I was there. So I defended myself and I won, I was acquitted. Here they're hiding in secret and they're pinning an accusation on me. No. It's too political, it's not worthy of being called a trial"  Gbagbo, said. "No, no and no I won't let my name be sullied without a fight. I'm still standing!" he hammered in a statement to the press, after lodging an appeal in person at an office of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) in Abidjan.

Although Mr. Gbagbo has been acquitted by international justice of crimes against humanity committed during the bloody post-election crisis of 2010-2011, he remains under a 20-year prison sentence handed down in his absence in Côte d'Ivoire. The conviction, handed down in 2018 while he was imprisoned in The Hague, had led to the forfeiture of his civic and political rights.

"Today, what President Bedié, Ouattara and I have to do is behave in such a way that we leave a peaceful Côte d'Ivoire to the younger generations. That must be our goal. Our goal is no longer to beat each other up. That time has passed" added the former Ivorian leader.

Some eight million voters are due to go to the polls in Côte d'Ivoire on September 2 to renew municipal and regional councils.

The next presidential election is scheduled for 2025.

-Africa News

Searching for plastic. Young volunteers are busy collecting used bottles. They are often discarded in the vast Ebrié lagoon which abuts Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan.

The Citizens' initiative started two years ago when Charles Gore Bi decided to act against the scourge of plastic pollution.

"Quite simply, the idea of cleaning up the shoreline came from the need to clean up the environment in which I live", he says candidly. 

"I'm here all the time and the garbage come in all the time as well, so I decided to start by cleaning up where I lived."

Gore Bi's efforts progressively gained notice and the Plateau Bay's city council met with the youth committed to collecting waste and connected them with recycling companies.  

Instead of sending the collected bottles to open-air landfills, the waste is sold to recyclers. Once their large net is filled with waste, the young group of volunteers that collects plastic waste everyday sells it. A full net can go up for 7,000 CFA francs or about 10 US dollars that they will share amongst themselves.

"Once we started earning some money though this, it motivated us, we started loving it because it keeps you fed, as we say around here," Gore Bi said.

According to the UNICEF, Abidjan produces over 288 tonnes of waste each day. However, waste collection remains one of the city's weak spots.

In Abidjan, the ministry of de Hydraulics, sanitation, and Hygiene delegates the management of waste to two companies. Bénédicte Aka, the deputy director of the Plateau municipality's Environment department says the companies' "specifications are unclear".

Contacted by the AFP, the ministry of de Hydraulics, sanitation and Hygiene declined to comment.

Plastic for cash

In a bid to shake things up, Recyplast's founder set up 50 waste collection points and pays residents who sort their trash for recycling. His company buy a bag of 20kg plastic for a little over one dollar and 50 cents.

"We do promote and communicate, we raise awareness on the use and reduction of plastic, but also we reward their eco-citizen action, that is to say the waste they manage to pre-select, to sort internally. When they come to our collection points, we buy this plastic waste," Nayef Salame, the head of a plastic bottle recycling company Recyplast explains.

If he recognize that the Ivorian state" took a step in favout of fighting platicp ollution 10 years ago", he laments a lack of regulations in the sector et belives there is still "much thatn eeds to be done".

In 2013, Ivory Coast banned the production, selling and ownership of plastic bags.

But when the policy was set to enter into force in 20014, businessowners protested in Abidjan opposing the move so much so that today, the law is hardly enforced in the country, which produces over 200,000 tonnes of plastic bags every year, according to the Ministry of Hydraulics.

In the meantime, used plastic bottles are turned into plastic chips at Recyplast plant. Some of it will be sold to industrials. The company will use the other part to build street or school furniture.

-Africa News

The Senegalese government announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily closing its consulates general abroad following attacks on a number of them, against a backdrop of high tensions at home.

"This precautionary measure follows the series of attacks recently perpetrated against Senegal's diplomatic and consular missions abroad, notably in Paris, Bordeaux (France), Milan (Italy) and New York", said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement posted on social networks.

It reported "serious damage", particularly in Milan, where it said the passport and ID card production machines had been destroyed. 

The consulates will reopen "when material and security conditions allow", he said.

This closure deprives hundreds of thousands of Senegalese abroad of consular services such as assistance and passport issuance.

Between June 1 and 3, Senegal experienced its worst unrest in years after opposition politician Ousmane Sonko was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in a vice scandal. This conviction of a personality popular with young people and the underprivileged makes him ineligible for the 2024 presidential election.

Mr. Sonko has repeatedly claimed that the government is plotting to keep him out of the election, but the government denies this.

The condemnation sparked clashes that left at least 16 people dead and caused considerable damage. It led to demonstrations abroad.

Both the government and the opposition blamed each other for the violence. The presidential camp cited calls for "insurrection" by Mr. Sonko to escape justice. It denounced the unrest as an attempt to destabilize the state.

The rights NGO Human Rights Watch called for an immediate, "independent and credible" investigation into the violence.

It also noted in a statement that "excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests" have become commonplace since 2021, and that in recent months the authorities have "cracked down on members of the opposition, the media and dissent".

She sees the recent outburst as a "worrying sign" ahead of the presidential election.

On Monday, three renowned Senegalese intellectuals, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Boubacar Boris Diop and Felwine Sarr, blamed the violence on President Macky Sall's "authoritarian drift" and his alleged plan to run for a third term in 2024, despite the constitutional objections of many.

One of the president's advisors, Yoro Dia, responded in a column on the online media, criticizing them for a "fundamentally partisan" text that ignores the "permanent calls for insurrection" from Mr. Sonko's party.

"This text, unlike Zola's 'J'accuse' which was like a 'crack of a match in a dark night' to speak as Mbougar, will be like the tracks of a camel in a sandstorm", he said.

The head of state has so far remained silent on the events, despite calls for him to speak out.

Late on Monday evening, he paid an unannounced visit to the Khalifa General of the Mourides, a powerful religious brotherhood, reported the government daily Le Soleil. The Khalifa, Serigne Mountakha Mbacké, and religious dignitaries are considered to wield considerable influence in politics.

The content of the discussions was not disclosed. But "the wisdom of his (the khalife's) advice in certain situations can contribute to the return of peace and stability to Senegal", says Le Soleil.

-Africa News

Gunmen in Nigeria have killed dozens of people and kidnapped a number of children in separate attacks in two northern states, police and residents said on Sunday, the latest incidents in a region dogged by armed violence.

Armed gangs on motorbikes frequently take advantage of thinly stretched security forces in the region to kidnap villagers, motorists and students for ransom.

Residents said armed men had attacked Janbako and Sakkida villages in northwestern Zamfara state on Saturday, killing 24 people. The gunmen also abducted several children who were collecting firewood in a forest in neighbouring Gora village.


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