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CHOGM kicks off in Rwanda amid rights concerns

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As Rwanda prepares to welcome leaders of the 54 nations that make up the Commonwealth for the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which kicks off on Friday in Kigali, there are fears that the meeting will be mired in controversy following concerns over rights abuses in the East African country.

The summit which has been postponed twice since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is also being overshadowed by the disputes over Britain’s plans to send asylum seekers to the African nation for processing.

Civil society groups in Rwanda have also complained of a lack of media and political freedom under President Paul Kagame with a Rwandan journalist, Eleneus Akanga, who fled the country in 2007 after the government closed his newspaper, saying government agents arbitrarily arrest and torture journalists.

“My crime was reporting the truth. I had written a story, or I sought to write a story about journalists that were being beaten by unknown people.

“And it turned out that these journalists thought that the government was beating them up using state agents. I found out later that they were going to charge me with espionage.”

Akanga then fled to Britain and was granted political asylum in 2007.

Kagame has also been accused of clamping down on the opposition but his government has denied human rights abuses.

But shadows still linger especially with the controversial UK asylum deal which the two countries entered into in April which would see Britain send back asylum seekers arriving on its shores for processing in Rwanda.

The first flight was due to depart last Tuesday but was blocked minutes before take-off by the European Court of Human Rights.

Critics of the policy which would see Rwanda pocket £120 million from the deal, have said the policy breaches refugee law but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had argued that the policy is legal and will deter illegal migrants from crossing the English Channel.

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Malian migrants, including children, die as makeshift Europe-bound boat capsizes in Libya

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Twenty-two Malian migrants including three children, have been killed when their makeshift Europe-bound boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the United Nations as well as the Malian government have confirmed on Wednesday.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), also confirmed that 61 other migrants were rescued and taken to a detention centre in Libya.

The Ministry of Malians Abroad, in a statement, said the people who died were part of a group of 83 mostly Malian nationals who were stuck on a distressed vessel since June 22.

The IOM, in statement by its spokeswoman Safa Msehli, said the rescued victims were brought back to shore with the help of the Libyan coastguard after nine days at sea, adding that the “cause of death for the 22 people was drowning and dehydration.”

Msehli also said some of the survivors were in very poor health and had to be taken to hospital by the IOM.

“The remaining migrants were taken to al-Maya detention centre” in Libya, she said.

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Monkeypox: WHO records over 6,000 cases in 58 countries in recent outbreak

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According to the World Health Organization, more than 6,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported from 58 countries in the current outbreak.

The United Nations agency is yet to decide declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, the WHO’s highest level of alert.

Its committee reconvene a meeting in July 18 to decide or sooner.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva.

Monkeypox, a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, has also penetrated Europe and North America in its recent spread with more than 100 cases recorded outside Africa.

The UN committee meeting in June 27 decided that the disease was not yet a health emergency. There have recently been reported cases in other African countries like Nigeria and Morocco.

“I continue to be concerned by the scale and spread of the virus across the world,” Tedros said, adding that a lack of testing meant that there were likely many more cases going unreported.

Until recently, monkeypox had been a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, but has gradually penetrating Europe and North America in its recent outbreak.

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