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WHO ‘very worried’ over spread of Mpox varieties in Congo DR 

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A senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO), Rosamund Lewis, has said that the body is “very worried” about the spread of a variety of Mpox that has killed nearly 600 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year.

This year alone, Congo DR has reported 13,000 cases, which is more than twice as many as during the last peak in 2020, with the disease occurring in almost every province. The WHO is working with the authorities on the response and a risk assessment.

The dangerous clade mpox outbreak was the subject of a warning released by the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.

“The virus variant is known to be more virulent. If it adapts better to human-to-human transmission, that presents a risk,” Lewis, WHO’s mpox lead, told journalists.

WHO in May announced that the disease was no longer a global health emergency after which its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared the end of the emergency status for the disease.

Most reported cases of the disease were identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary healthcare facilities, and involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.

A less severe form known as clade II started to spread around the world last year, mostly through male-to-male sexual contact, prompting WHO to declare a public health emergency.

Lewis expressed concern over new evidence suggesting that clade I can also spread through sexual contact. According to her, mumps can also infect humans through contaminated animals or family members living together in a home. Children and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable; in up to 10% of cases of clade I, illness results in death.

“We have very little information of who is dying of mpox [in DRC] other than age,” said Lewis, adding more data was needed.

The viral infection known as mpox spreads by intimate contact and results in lesions filled with pus and flu-like symptoms. Although most cases are mild and can be fatal.

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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