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Millions in southern Angola on brink of starvation after long drought



By Gistflash News

July 22, 2021

Millions of people in southern Angola are facing an existential threat as drought aggravated by climate change continues to ravage the region, Amnesty International has warned.

The organization highlighted how the creation of commercial cattle ranches on community land has driven pastoralist communities from their land since the end of the civil war in 2002.

This shift has left huge sections of the population food insecure and paved the way for a humanitarian crisis as the acute drought persists for over three years when drought struck over three years ago, the human rights watchdog said on Wednesday.

As food and water grow increasingly scarce, thousands have fled their homes and sought refuge in neighbouring Namibia, Amnesty International added.

“Millions of people in southern Angola are on the brink of starvation, caught between the devastating effects of climate change and the land diversion to commercial cattle farming,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

He said this drought – the worst in 40 years – has torn through traditional communities who had been struggling to survive since they were dispossessed of vast swathes of grazing land.

Muchena said the Angolan government must take responsibility for its own role in this dire situation, and ensure reparations to affected communities, and to take immediate steps to address food insecurity in the rural areas of Cunene and Huíla provinces.

Amnesty International said Angolans living in the Cunene and Huíla provinces have been especially hard hit by the persistent drought.

It noted that the 2020/21 rainy season was abnormally dry, meaning the situation is likely to get far worse in the coming months.

And according to the World Food Programme (WFP), the lack of rainfall in the period between November 2020 and January 2021 has already caused the worst drought in the last 40 years.

The WFP has observed that as a direct consequence of the drought, malnutrition is peaking, and access to water, sanitation and hygiene are increasingly precarious with negative impacts on local communities’ health and nutrition.

In May 2021, the WFP estimated that 6 million people in Angola had insufficient food, with food insecurity most prevalent in the south of the country.

It also noted that more than 15 million people are using crisis or emergency livelihood-based coping strategies, such as spending savings or reducing non-food expenses.

The drought has made the lives of traditional pastoralist communities very difficult and hunger has driven thousands across the Namibian border since the start of March 2021, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has observed that “frequency and intensity of droughts has increased in some regions” including in southern Africa since pre-industrial levels due to global warming.

It said that “the frequency and intensity of droughts are projected to increase particularly in the Mediterranean region and southern Africa”.

Amnesty International called on Angolan authorities and the international community to ramp up their relief efforts, including providing sustained and regular emergency food assistance and access to clean and safe water for domestic use and consumption in the rural areas of Cunene and Huíla provinces.


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Sudan stresses importance of reaching binding agreement on Nile Dam



By Gistflash News

July 29, 2021

Sudan’s Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasir Abbas, on Wednesday reiterated the importance of reaching a tripartite binding agreement regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Abbas underscored the importance of reaching the agreement at a news conference in the capital, Khartoum.

“Sudan will benefit from the GERD in terms of generating electricity and reducing silt and floods, but only on the condition that there is a binding tripartite agreement,” the minister said.

He called for a different negotiating method, saying “Sudan is not ready to enter into talks with Ethiopia in the same previous way because it means buying time.

“An agreement on exchange of information with Ethiopia regarding the GERD must be set, so that Sudan’s Al-Rusaires Dam can be operated safely.”

On July 19, the Ethiopian government announced that it had completed the second filling of the GERD and that it planned to start electricity production from the dam within months.

Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been in talks for years over the technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

Sudan proposed a mediation quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the African Union regarding the GERD issue, while Ethiopia rejected this proposal.

Ethiopia, which started building the GERD in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam project, while Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater, are concerned that the dam might affect their share of the water resources.


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England to open borders to vaccinated U.S., EU citizens soon – Reports



By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

England is expected to open its borders to allow U.S. and European Union (EU) travellers who are fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to enter without the need to quarantine, according to reports.

The plans, which would be a boost to the aviation and tourism sectors, were expected to be discussed by ministers on Wednesday, The Guardian and The Times reported.

The Guardian added that conversations were also expected between Whitehall officials and the devolved administrations on whether the change would apply to England only, or all four nations of the UK.

The changes were expected as soon as next week, while countries outside the EU and U.S. could be allowed inbound quarantine-free travel at a later date, The Times added.

It comes after aviation firms claimed a trial has demonstrated the UK can safely exempt fully vaccinated U.S. and EU visitors from self-isolation.

In the Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said their 10-day pilot scheme proved the vaccination status of travellers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.

Around 250 fully vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.

Some 99 per cent of their documents was verified as authentic, with just two passengers’ credentials rejected.

In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, while another involved someone who had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.

The Department for Transport has committed to a formal review of its rules for arriving travellers before Sunday.

Since July 19, people arriving in the UK from amber list locations, such as the U.S., have had to have received both doses of a vaccine in the UK to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days.

The rules excluded those who had been inoculated elsewhere in the world.

BA chief executive Sean Doyle said the trial provides “the evidence the Government needs’’ to allow fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to enter the UK without self-isolating.

He went on: “The UK needs to safely reopen its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and global Britain is able to take advantage of the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme.’’

His counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, warned that continuing the UK’s “overly cautious approach’’ towards international travel would harm the economic recovery from the virus crisis and put half a million jobs at risk.

He claimed the trial shows airlines would ensure easing of the amber rules was implemented smoothly at pace.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “The vaccine has been a miracle of science, and these trials have shown that we can allow fully vaccinated passengers from the EU and U.S. to visit the UK without quarantine.

“There is now no reason to delay with rolling out the solution from July 31.’’


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70% of adults in EU have received at least one vaccine



By Gistflash News

July 27, 2021

Seventy per cent of adults in the European Union(EU) had been jabbed at least once against COVID-19, the European Commission announced on Tuesday.

“These figures put Europe among the world leaders,’’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

About 57 per cent of adults had been fully vaccinated, she said.

Numbers differ widely across the bloc, however.

In Romania, for example, only just above 30 per cent of the adult population had been jabbed once.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had said.

Denmark, by contrast, had fully inoculated 60 per cent, and almost 84 per cent of the population had received one shot so far.

In spite of improved vaccination rates in the EU, von der Leyen urged the countries and citizens not to let their guard down against the virus.

“The Delta variant is very dangerous,’’ she said, calling on everyone who had the opportunity to get vaccinated.

In recent weeks, the spread of the Delta variant more contagious than previous variants has led to a surge of infections in countries around the globe.


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