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Diphtheria Outbreak: Red Cross to train 2,000 Nigerian volunteers, calls for support

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Humanitarian body, the Red Cross Society, has appealed to the Nigerian public for collaboration in its latest campaign against the diphtheria outbreak currently affecting 32 out of 36 Nigerian states.

The National President of the Society, Prince Oluyemisi Adeaga, revealed that Diphtheria outbreak was officially declared in January, with 111 confirmed cases, 22 recorded deaths, and a case fatality rate of 19.8%. He noted that the most affected states were Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Sokoto, and Enugu since the first cases showed up in December 2022 in Lagos and Kano.

Oluyemisi Adeaga, The National President of the Red Cross Society

The lack of active case finding, contact tracing, and vaccinations have resulted in an over 20% fatality rate, making the Red Cross focus on vulnerable populations, including zero-dose children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. A zero-dose child os a child that has never been vaccinated.

A recent technical analysis revealed that the outbreak is the worst in ten years, and could get worse without quick intervention. Other factors contributing to its spread include inadequate immunisation campaigns and testing, as well as difficulties getting to impacted areas.

“Through the efforts of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies-Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, we utilised CHF 430,654 (Swiss Francs) in the first round of operation.

“Now, things have changed. The NRCS now recognising that the NEEDS have increased, now seeks to raise CHF 5.4 million (Swiss Francs), which is about $4.736 million, to help it reach more people across 12 of the affected states,” Adeaga stated.

Nigeria’s current diphtheria outbreak has been described as one of the most severe outbreaks of diphtheria in the country in recent years, with resultant morbidity and mortality, especially in children.

As efforts continue to manage the situation, the Red Cross says it plans to provide logistics support to 2,620 vaccination teams in high-dose and hard-to-reach areas for Td and Routine vaccination.

According to Adeaga, the body will also train approximately 2,000 NRCS volunteers to support contact tracing activities and active case finding in partnership with the state surveillance officers and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by bacteria that can lead to difficulty in breathing, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), and even death.

Musings From Abroad

Rwanda to receive at least $470m from Britain for asylum deal

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As part of the arrangement to have asylum seekers in the UK relocate there, Rwanda will receive at least $470 million from the United Kingdom.

The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government’s spending watchdog, disclosed on Friday that up to $190,000 would also be paid for each individual sent to the East African nation over five years.

The NAO report was released in response to MPs’ demands for increased clarity regarding the scheme’s cost. However, Labour has criticised the figures, labelling them a “national scandal.”.

Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, stated in January that the United Kingdom’s attempts to establish an asylum agreement with his nation are proceeding too slowly, following opposition to the proposal that resulted in demonstrations, legal actions, and decisions that put a stop to it. In November, the Supreme Court declared the plan to be “illegal.”

The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

Britain and Rwanda first signed the deal in April 2022. The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

The five-year agreement would allow the UK to deport people who enter the nation illegally and allow them to apply for asylum in Rwanda.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

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Musings From Abroad

US urges UN Security Council action in Sudan conflict

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The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the nearly year-long conflict in Sudan between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese army.

The RSF and its allies are accused by the US of committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, in addition to the war crimes committed by the fighting parties.

According to the UN, about 8 million people have fled their homes, hunger is on the rise, and nearly 25 million people—or half of Sudan’s population—need aid.

“It is clear that this is an urgent matter of peace and security that demands greater attention from the Security Council,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters in a statement.

“The council must act urgently to alleviate human suffering, hold perpetrators to account, and bring the conflict in Sudan to an end. Time is running out,” she said, without specifying what action the 15-member council should take.

The council has only released three press releases denouncing and expressing concern about the war since it broke out on April 15, 2023. It was similar to the wording used in a resolution passed in December that closed a political mission of the United Nations at the request of Sudan’s acting foreign minister.

According to a UN sanctions monitoring report seen by Reuters last month, between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in one city alone in Sudan’s West Darfur region last year in ethnic violence committed by the RSF and allied Arab militia.

Visiting a refugee camp in Chad close to the border with Sudan’s Darfur in September, Thomas-Greenfield expressed her disappointment, saying, “I am deeply disappointed that the allegations detailed in this report have received such little attention, both inside the U.N. Security Council and outside the United Nations.”

Recently, the Sudanese government banned aid supplies from entering Chad, thereby blocking a vital supply route to the vast region of Darfur, which is under the control of the rival RSF. The action was deemed “unacceptable” by Thomas-Greenfield because it jeopardised a “critical lifeline.”

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