At least 55 Killed in Eastern Congo Massacres, UN Says

At least 55 people were killed overnight in two attacks on villages in eastern Congo, the United Nations said on Monday, in potentially the worst night of violence the area has seen in at least four years.

The army and a local civil rights group blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group, for raiding the village of Tchabi and a camp for displaced people near Boga, another village. Both are close to the border of Uganda.

Houses were burned and civilians abducted, the U.N. office for humanitarian affairs said in a statement.

Albert Basegu, the head of a civil rights group in Boga, told Reuters by telephone that he had been alerted to the attack by the sound of cries at a neighbor’s house.

“When I got there I found that the attackers had already killed an Anglican pastor and his daughter was also seriously wounded,” Basegu said.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), which has mapped unrest in restive eastern Congo since June 2017, said on Twitter the wife of a local chief was among the dead. It did not attribute blame for the killings.

“It’s the deadliest day ever recorded by the KST,” said Pierre Boisselet, the research group’s coordinator.

The ADF is believed to have killed more than 850 people in 2020, according to the United Nations, in a spate of reprisal attacks on civilians after the army began operations against it the year before.

In March, the United States labeled the ADF a foreign terrorist organization. The group has in the past proclaimed allegiance to Islamic State, although the United Nations says evidence linking it to other Islamist militant networks is scant.

President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces on May 1 in an attempt to curb increasing attacks by militant groups.

Uganda announced earlier this month that it had agreed to share intelligence and coordinate operations against the rebels but that it would not be deploying troops in Congo.

Source: Voice of America

Sudan closes schools, universities to curb COVID-19 cases

May 18, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Schools and universities in Sudan will close for at least four weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising COVID-19 cases.

After a meeting held on Tuesday, the Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies announced the closure of universities, schools, Muslim and Christian worship houses.

The unexpected decision warned against a new wave of COVID-19 after the emergence of new variants in Brazil, India and South Africa.

The committee imposed an entry ban on travellers coming from India or who were in India during the past 14 days.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 34,889 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,446 deaths in Sudan.

A total of 290,500 vaccine doses have been administered, as of 9 May 2021.

Taking into account the high spread rate of the disease, health forecasts in Sudan show that the number of infected people may exceed 100,000 cases next June if the health restrictions are not observed as is the case now.

“This leads to more deaths and more deterioration,” stressed the statement.

Recently, WHO called for equitable COVID-19 access in Africa.

“The delay in the delivery of vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India earmarked for Africa, the delay in the deployment of vaccines and the emergence of new variants means that the risk of a new wave of infections remains very high in Africa,” said a statement issued on 7 May.


Source: Sudan Tribune

Africa Risks Resurgence of Coronavirus, WHO Warns

GENEVA – African countries risk a new wave of coronavirus infections because of the slow rollout of life-saving vaccines and the circulation of new variants, the World Health Organization warns.

The WHO reports the epidemic curve in Africa has plateaued for six weeks, with the number of cases now standing at more than 4.5 million, including 123,000 deaths.

However, the U.N. health agency reports that the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases is giving rise to complacency and non-compliance with preventive measures, such as masking and social distancing. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says the greatest threats to the spread of the infection and a resurgence of cases are delays and shortages of vaccine supplies.

“African countries are slipping further behind the rest of the world in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, now accounting for only one percent of the vaccines administered worldwide, down from two percent a few weeks ago,” Moeti said. “Only around half of the 37 million doses shipped to the continent have been administered so far.”

Moeti says African countries need to step up to get the available shots into people’s arms fast.

So far, the COVAX vaccine-sharing program has delivered some 80 million doses to Africa. COVAX officials say vaccine deliveries from the Serum Institute of India were halted in March because of the dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 in India. This, they note, has resulted in a shortfall of 140 million doses as India uses the vaccines to inoculate its population.

South Africa and India are leading efforts at the World Trade Organization for a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights that are preventing the mass production of generic COVID-19 vaccines. Moeti says she welcomes the U.S. decision to shore up these efforts.

“I would like to add my voice in praising the United States’ decision to support a temporary waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, which could mark a game-changer for Africa, unlocking millions more doses and saving countless more lives,” she said.

Moeti says the sooner negotiations are wrapped up, the sooner the manufacture and rollout of safe and effective vaccines can take place. In the meantime, she says, one of the quickest and surest ways to save lives is for countries to share their surplus stock of vaccines with countries in need.


Source: Voice of America

800,000 South Sudanese may face reduced access to life-saving primary health care by June, IOM warns

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warns that more than 800,000 people in South Sudan who rely on IOM for their health care may face reduced access to life-saving services by June if urgent calls for humanitarian funding are not met.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and conflict-affected populations already living in dire situations may soon face even greater danger to their lives and health due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of the rainy season and floods.

Women and children, the elderly and people living with disabilities are at risk of losing access to primary health-care services. These services include maternal and child health, including the screening of children under five to detect malnutrition; sexual and reproductive health services and testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis.

IOM provides these essential services in former UN protection-of-civilian sites, host communities as well as remote and hard-to-reach locations serviced by the Organization’s mobile rapid response teams. The upcoming rainy season brings with it higher risk of cholera, malaria and respiratory infections which can have devastating impacts.

“In the past year, we have learned the hard way that when some people don’t have access to health services, everyone can be at risk,” said Jacqueline Weekers, Director of Migration Health for IOM.

“Health is not a luxury, it’s a right and a necessity. We must mobilize to ensure no one is left behind.”

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, South Sudan’s health system was already overwhelmed and heavily dependent on humanitarian actors who now face troubling funding shortfalls.

Today (04/05), IOM has issued an urgent appeal for funding to be able to continue providing impactful, cost-effective health-care services to the most vulnerable populations in South Sudan.

IOM is a key partner providing health services in the country and, should the Organization no longer be able to provide these services due to lack of funding, it will leave a huge gap and put the vulnerable in a desperate situation.

“Our capacity to respond depends on the availability of resources; should we have to withdraw our services, we could have an even bigger humanitarian crisis on our hands,” said Peter Van der Auweraert, IOM’s Chief of Mission in South Sudan.

”We also risk losing the gains made in providing access to adequate primary health care in South Sudan and toward the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. Never has it been more important for us to rally together and show our support to the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese whose lives are at risk.”

IOM requires USD 744,175 per month to continue to provide life-saving health care. This amounts to roughly USD 11 per beneficiary per year, significantly lower than the price approved by the Health Cluster of USD 63.50 per beneficary per year, attesting to the cost-effectiveness of the Organization’s work which is critical in an already constrained funding landscape.

Click here to read the Urgent Appeal for Funds for Health Activities in South Sudan.

For more information, please contact:

LiatilePutsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 929 4444 02, Email:


Source: International Organization for Migration

COVID-19 Vaccination in Tororo District: Ensuring that No one is Left Behind

As of 22nd April 2021, 83% (883 out of 1060) of health workers in both public and private health facilities in Tororo district, had received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine which provides protection against severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization, and possibly death in some instances. This is a resounding success considering that in many districts, the exercise has been hindered by hesitancy, even among health workers leading to poor coverage.

Tororo district hosts the Malaba border point of entry which is the gateway from the Republic of Kenya to South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also hosts several cement industries and food stores of the World Food Programme among others.

With the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 in the Republic of Kenya and a beehive of business activities, Tororo district could potentially be the main entry point for a new variant of COVID-19 into Uganda. This geographical location and the economic and social interactions are enough cause for anxiety and worry for public health experts dealing with a very unpredictable disease.

Dr David Cyrus Okumu, the Tororo District Health Officer reminisces with apparent pride the preparatory work they did in anticipation of a widespread outbreak. “WHO had in a special way supported the district with preparedness, readiness and response planning during which period a lot of technical capacity was built in the local health workforce and this has served us very well during the ongoing vaccination exercise,” he says.

Indeed, a lot of preparatory and capacity building work was done despite inadequate financial resources which seem to be a major barrier in many districts. “Money should not be the driving force for COVID-19 interventions, we are here to save lives,” adds Dr Okumu when asked to explain how they achieved the feat where many of his contemporaries have failed.

The robust use of the mass media with airtime generously donated by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and other implementing partners played a pivotal role in raising the population’s risk perception and hence the high uptake of the vaccine. Added to this was the innovation to integrate COVID-19 response interventions into routine activities.

Right from the outset, the Tororo District Task Force (DTF) for COVID-19 where WHO is a member and provides technical guidance, realised the value of a multi-sectoral approach in responding to the outbreak. In that regard, they ensured the active and regular participation of all department heads, the business community, religious leaders, and others in all DTF meetings and planned activities. Another blessing was the availability of technical guidance, which, was provided by the WHO field team resident in the neighbouring Mbale district.

In the planning meetings, the DTF set ambitious yet achievable tasks including building trust among the population and health workers who are the service providers and the vaccine recipients. They also ensured easy access to the vaccine by the target groups and to credible information which meant dispelling rumours and misinformation at every opportunity.

In addition, the DTF cultivated collaboration and networking among a multiplicity of partners and stakeholders who are committed to safe and accessible COVID-19 vaccination. The district leadership engendered inter-generational trust in vaccination by raising awareness, providing and activating action by arming stakeholders, partners, the media and the public with up-to-date facts.

This approach to the Response raised the risk perception of the public so high that the issue of consenting to the vaccination has not been a challenge.

Nurse, Agnes Athieno, who was the first to get vaccinated at Mukuju HCIV in Tororo District was so confident about the safety of the vaccines to the extent of declaring to her colleagues that, “if the vaccine kills, let me die for you my friends, and if I die, don’t take the vaccine, WHO cannot recommend and approve a bad vaccine and the Ministry of Health cannot procure a vaccine, which is bad for the people.” Of course, nurse Athieno is still alive and working hard to ensure that all eligible people in Tororo district get vaccinated before the second wave gets worse.

This public display of confidence coupled with the vaccination of the entire Tororo District leadership at the launch of the Vaccination exercise sent a clear message to health workers and the other target groups that all was well with the vaccine. No wonder overall coverage has been impressive in Tororo district and has been achieved within a short time.

At the same time, COVID-19 surveillance and contact tracing have not been ignored which has enabled people in the urban and rural areas to appreciate the intensity and seriousness of the pandemic. All these interventions have massively contributed to the population’s high-risk perception and eventually high uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Resident District Commissioner Mr Nixon Owole attributes the impressive work done in Tororo district on COVID-19 to teamwork. “This success is attributed to teamwork, transparency, commitment and the open policy that has been firmly embraced by the district,” he said in a recent interview.

Indeed, the results of this teamwork are there to show as attested by Mr John Henry Ariong a retired teacher who while about to receive his COVID-19 vaccine at Tororo General Hospital noted that, “I have only been focusing on information from the Ministry of Health, the District Police Commander and twice I listened to a radio talk show on Rock Mambo FM conducted by a team from WHO. I was convinced that the Vaccine is safe. I also watch the BBC for authentic international news.”

There is an unwritten approval of the work being done by the Tororo DTF to ensure that no one is left behind and that the pandemic does not devastate the district. But from many people, it is easy to discern nods of appreciation, praises and applause for the district leadership on the work being done.

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact: Benjamin Sensasi Health Promotion Advisor Tel. : +256 414 335505 Cell: +256 772 507906 Email:

Mwebembezi Edmond Public Information Officer Tel. : +256 313 335569 Cell: +256 786 497073 Email:



Source: World Health Organization