International Aid Cuts to Affect Millions Across Africa 

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact has led to cuts in foreign aid from donors like Britain, which this month slashed its aid budget by $5.5 billion, hitting those on the ground in Africa. The funding loss is felt in Burkina Faso where it could possibly shut down a group that helps thousands of gender-based-violence and rape survivors. Henry Wilkins reports from Kaya, Burkina Faso Camera:  Henry Wilkins 

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World Leaders Pledge $4 Billion to Public Education Affected by Pandemic

Thursday marks the second and final day of the Global Education Summit in London, hosted by Kenya and the United Kingdom. International governments and corporations pledged to donate $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, which provides fair access to public education in 90 countries and territories that account for 80% of children out of school. The summit emphasized the importance of equitable access to education amid warnings that COVID-19 has exacerbated already under-resourced public education programs in less economically developed countries. Experts alerted the organization that it was unlikely for those forced out of schools due to the pandemic to return. Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard gestures as she speaks during the closing ceremony on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain, July 29, 2021.Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister and chair of the partnership, noted that the pandemic affected access to education in all nations but poorer countries where families may lack internet connection or electricity were devastated. Gillard said that this pledge puts the partnership on track for completing the goal of raising $5 billion over five years. Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Kenyan Cabinet secretary for foreign affairs, warned of the pandemic’s devastating impact on global education, saying “education is the pathway, the way forward.” Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan and activist for female education, spoke to the summit leaders and stressed the significance of accessible education for young girls who are often discriminated against. She warned that 130 million girls were unable to attend school because of the pandemic and said that “their futures are worth fighting for.” Addressing the conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his government’s commitment to girls’ education and its goal of enrolling 40 million more girls in school by 2026. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson applaud during the closing ceremony on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain, July 29, 2021.”Enabling them to learn and reach their full potential is the single greatest thing we can do to recover from this crisis,” Johnson said. Johnson faced criticism for advocating for girls’ education while simultaneously cutting the U.K.’s overseas aid budget. The prime minister pledged $602 million to the Global Partnership for Education, while slashing $5.6 billion from the U.K.’s international development allowance. British officials said that the budget cut is temporary and was a necessary action due to the economic strain from pandemic recovery. The Global Partnership for Education also received criticism for continuing funding to partner countries that openly discriminate against students. Investigations by Human Rights Watch uncovered open exclusion of pregnant students in Tanzania and Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh.  Some information for this report came from the Associated Press. 
 

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Healthy Living, A Look at Cosmetic Surgery, S2, E108

This week on Healthy Living, a look into cosmetic surgery. We hear from Doctor Frédérique Yao-Dje, an Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine Specialist in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire who tells us more about the growing demand for cosmetic procedures in Africa. Plus, would you alter your body to feel better about yourself? We have your reactions from Jos, Nigeria. These topics and more this week.

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France Calls British Travel Rules ‘Discriminatory,’ Not Science-Based

France’s European Affairs Minister on Thursday called Britain’s decision to lift quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated travelers arriving from Europe except France “discriminatory and incomprehensible” and said he hopes it is reviewed as soon as possible. 

Clement Beaune made the comments during an interview on French television a day after Britain announced it was dropping the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and the United States but that it would review rules for travelers from France only at the end of next week. 

The British government has said it is keeping quarantine rules for travelers from France because of the presence of the beta variant there. But Beaune told French broadcaster LCI the beta strain accounted for fewer than 5% of COVID-19 cases in France, and mostly occurred in overseas territories from where relatively few people traveled to Britain.  

“We are saying to the British that, on the scientific and health levels, there are no explanations for this decision,” he said. 

In a Wednesday interview, British Transportation Minister Grant Shapps said the government will not be able to review the decision until the end of next week because they need to see the data. 

Beaune said he will continue pressuring Britain to review the requirement, but said, for now, he is not planning to impose similar measures on British travelers to France.  

Some information in this report came from Associated Press, Reuters and AFP. 
 

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USAID Chief to Visit Ethiopia to Press for Tigray Aid

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power will visit Ethiopia next week to press for humanitarian access into conflict-battered Tigray as fears of famine grow, it was announced Thursday.
 
Power will meet officials in Addis Ababa to “press for unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other conflict-affected regions of the country,” USAID said in a statement.
 
Power will also travel to Sudan on her trip starting Saturday as Western powers seek to support the civilian-backed transitional government after decades of authoritarian rule, USAID said.
 
The United Nations has warned that food rations in the Tigrayan capital Mekele could run out this month if more aid is not allowed in.
 
All available routes into Tigray are impeded by restrictions or insecurity following an attack on a World Food Program convoy earlier this month.
 
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, in November launched an offensive in Tigray in response to attacks by the region’s then ruling party against federal army camps.FILE – Samantha Power, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, delivers a speech during a visit to El Salvador at the Central American University in San Salvador, June 14, 2021.The war took a stunning turn last month when the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front took back Mekele, with rebels then launching a new offensive.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described some of the violence in Tigray as “ethnic cleansing” and repeatedly pressed Abiy by telephone, voicing alarm despite the long, warm U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.
 
Power, a former journalist who held senior positions under former President Barack Obama, is known for her advocacy of humanitarian concerns and often reflects on the failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
 
Power will also meet in Sudan with Ethiopian refugees who have fled the conflict and travel to Darfur — the parched western region where a 2003 campaign against the African ethnic minority was described as genocide by Washington.  
 
Sudan’s civilian prime minister, Abdulla Hamdok, has sought to end the vast nation’s myriad conflicts including in Darfur although renewed clashes have killed hundreds of people in recent months.  
 
Power will meet Hamdok as well as the military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who remains leader of Sudan’s transitional ruling body as Sudan prepares for elections in 2022.
 
Power will “explore how to expand USAID’s support for Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led democracy” and deliver a speech in Khartoum about the transition, the agency said. 

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African Death Toll From COVID-19 Increasing

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the continent’s death toll from COVID-19 has jumped 17 percent in the past month. In a media briefing Thursday, the Africa CDC said the infection rate has also increased and warned some countries are testing less often for the virus than needed.In his weekly online press briefing from Ethiopia, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengosong, gave a grim picture of the continent’s COVID-19 situation during the month of July.WHO Urges African Nations to Speed Up COVID-19 VaccinationsNearly 60 million vaccine doses from the United States, Europe set to arrive in the continent in the coming weeks”There has been an average increase of four percent of new cases over that time period … in terms of new deaths in the last four weeks, we’ve recorded an average of 17 percent new deaths [in the continent’s most populous countries] over same period … in terms of testing as a continent, as of today we have conducted about 58 million COVID tests and last week alone the continent conducted about 1.3 million tests but that represents a decrease of 19 percent over the previous week,” Nkengosong said. “Overall positivity rate stands at 11.2 percent.”Overall, the continent recorded 239,000 coronavirus cases last week and 6,700 deaths, an increase of 700 deaths over the previous week. The Africa CDC blames the increased deaths on virus-spreading events like the recent looting in South Africa and the celebration of Eid al-Hajj, the end of the Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca. It also blames the delta variant, the most contagious form of coronavirus, which has spread across the globe in recent weeks.  
 
The continent’s public health agency was happy that some African countries like South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya have managed to limit the virus while allowing economic activities to go on.
 
Africa has so far received about 80 million vaccine doses from COVAX, the UN-backed global initiative to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
 
The senior director for Africa at the U.S. National Security Council, Dana Banks, said Wednesday her country has started to ship some ten million vaccines to Africa.COVID-19 Surging in Africa, WHO Warns Continent records 1 million cases in just one month”We are happy to announce that we will be sending over 5 million doses to South Africa … of Pfizer vaccines as well as 4 million doses of Moderna vaccine to Nigeria….  So we’re very excited about that and we hope that these will go a long way in helping to provide safety and health security for the people of Nigeria and South Africa, which will then enable them to get back to their regular activities, their economic activities, and help them to build back better,” Banks said.The World Health Organization has said at least 700 million vaccines will be sent to Africa by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate about 30 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
 
However, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director, said African governments and health officials need to do more to encourage people to get the vaccines.”With the expected influx of vaccines, it’s crucial that countries scale up all the aspects of vaccine rollout to reach as many people as possible,” Moeti said. “This entails mobilizing adequate resources including finances for the vaccination activities, for the logistics and for the personnel as well as addressing any concerns by communities including those fueled by misinformation to increase vaccine confidence and demand.”So far, less than 2 percent of Africans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  The continent has officially recorded 6.5 million cases of the disease, although the real number is believed to be significantly higher.  
 

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Malta Government Carries Responsibility for Journalist’s Murder, Inquiry Finds

An independent inquiry into the car bomb murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia found on Thursday that the state had to bear responsibility after creating a “culture of impunity.”Caruana Galizia was killed in a massive explosion as she drove out of her home on October 16, 2017.Prosecutors believe top businessman Yorgen Fenech, who had close ties with senior government officials, masterminded the murder. Fenech, who is awaiting trial for association to murder, denies all responsibility.Three men suspected of setting off the bomb were arrested in December 2017. One has since pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and is serving a 15-year jail term. The other two are awaiting trial. The self-confessed middle-man has turned state witness and was granted a pardon.The inquiry, conducted by one serving judge and two retired judges, found that a culture of impunity was created by the highest echelons of power within the government of the time.”The tentacles of impunity then spread to other regulatory bodies and the police, leading to a collapse in the rule of law,” said the panel’s report, which was published by Prime Minister Robert Abela.It said the state failed to recognize the real and immediate risks to Caruana Galizia’s life and failed to take reasonable steps to avoid them.It was clear, the inquiry board said, that the assassination was either intrinsically or directly linked to Caruana Galizia’s investigative work.Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned in January 2020 following Fenech’s arrest. He was never accused of any wrongdoing. Media later also revealed close links between Fenech, ministers, and senior police officers.The judges called for immediate action to rein in and regulate the links between politicians and big business.Abela said in a tweet that the report required “mature” and objective analysis. “Lessons must be drawn and the reforms must continue with greater resolve,” he said, without elaborating.The inquiry heard evidence from the police, government officials, the Caruana Galizia family and journalists, among others.

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Chinese Farmer Who Praised Lawyers Sentenced to 18 Years

A prominent Chinese pig farmer who was detained after praising lawyers during a crackdown on legal activists by President Xi Jinping’s government was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison on charges of organizing an attack on officials and other offenses.

Sun Dawu, chairman of Dawu Agriculture Group, was among 20 defendants who stood trial in Gaobeidian, southwest of Beijing in Hebei province. They were detained after Dawu employees in August 2020 tried to stop a state-owned enterprise from demolishing a company building.

Sun also was fined 3.1 million yuan ($480,000), the People’s Court of Gaobeidian said in a statement.

Sun was convicted of gathering people to attack state organs, obstructing public affairs, picking quarrels, sabotaging production, illegal mining, illegal occupation of farmland and illegally taking public deposits, the court said.

Other defendants received sentences ranging from one to 12 years, according to a statement from Dawu Group. It said the company was ordered to refund 1 billion yuan ($155 million) in investment that was raised improperly.

Sun became nationally known in 2003 when he was charged with illegal fundraising after soliciting investments for his business from friends and neighbors. The case prompted an outpouring of public support for Sun.

Since then, Sun has praised lawyers who help the public at a time when prominent legal figures have been imprisoned by Xi’s government. Sun’s lawyer in the 2003 case, Xu Zhiyong, disappeared in February 2020. Fellow activists say he was charged with treason.

Sun was accused of provoking quarrels, a charge used against labor and other activists, when he was detained in August 2020.

The trial officially was open to the public but only one spectator from the family of each defendant and 10 from the company were allowed due to coronavirus restrictions, defense lawyers said earlier. 

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