Patrick Obia

last updated Tue, Sep 19, 2023 2:39 PM

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Child death hits Sudan; court frees 'gays' in Nigeria; mysterious disease kills 7 in Ivory Coast, others

By Patrick Obia
| Updated 14:39 19/09/2023
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Photo credit: reuters

More than 1,200 children have died of suspected measles and malnutrition in Sudan refugee camps, while many thousands more, including newborns, are at risk of death before year-end, the United Nations or UN agencies said on Tuesday.

Nearly six months into a conflict between Sudan's army and paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, the country's healthcare sector is on its knees due to direct attacks from the warring parties as well as shortages of staff and medicines, they said.

Dr. Allen Maina, chief of public health at the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that more than 1,200 children under the age of five had died in the White Nile state since May.

"Unfortunately we fear numbers will continue rising," Maina told Reuters.

The U.N. Children's agency, UNICEF, said it is worried that "many thousands of newborns" among the 333,000 babies known to be due before the end of the year would die.

Every month, some 55,000 children require treatment for the worst form of malnutrition in Sudan, but fewer than one in 50 nutrition centres are functional in the capital Khartoum and one in ten in West Darfur, he said.

Nigerian court dozens arrested over alleged gay wedding

A court in Nigeria has released on bail 69 people who were arrested last month in connection with an alleged gay wedding, which is illegal in the country, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

In Nigeria, like in most parts of Africa, homosexuality is generally viewed as immoral on cultural and religious grounds, and the country implemented an anti-gay law in 2014 despite international condemnation.

A court sitting in the southern oil-producing Delta state ruled that the suspects could be released from prison detention after their application was heard by the court, lawyer, Ochuko Ohimor said.

The suspects did not appear in court, Ohimor told Reuters.

"They are to provide sureties, who will submit their particulars to the court. So, the 69 suspects have been granted bail and I am processing their paperwork," Ohimor said.

South Sudanese mayor sacked after 'slapping woman'

The acting mayor of South Sudan's capital city of Juba - Emmanuel Khamis Richard, has been sacked after he was caught on camera apparently slapping a public member.

Richard had refused to resign despite mounting pressure from fellow politicians since footage of him appearing to assault the female street vendor went viral a week ago.

His dismissal was announced by the governor of Central Equatoria State on Friday evening and then more widely reported over the weekend.

The governor acted after MPs had sent him a letter unanimously calling for the mayor's removal.

Mr Khamis Richard has not admitted or denied slapping the woman. Before his sacking, he had been summoned to appear before councillors in Juba to answer for his actions, but he did not appear and requested a two-week reprieve instead.

No successor has yet been appointed. But the head of Juba city council, Martin Simon Wani, has been ordered to supervise the general activities of the municipality for the time being, BBC gathered. 

Mysterious disease kills 7 in Ivory Coast

Seven people died on Sunday in a village in central Ivory Coast near Bouaké, where 59 others were hospitalised due to an illness of still unknown origin, hospital and local sources told AFP on Monday.

Seven people died, five at the Bouaké University Hospital and two in Niangban, a village about thirty kilometres south, a hospital source said.

"We have a total of 59 (people) hospitalized" at the Bouaké University Hospital, "mostly children and some adolescents," added this source, specifying that the symptoms of the disease are "vomiting" and "diarrhea " 

“Those who died” are between 5 and 12 years old, confirmed the village chief of Niangban, Emmanuel Kouamé N'Guessan. He reported that "around fifty people" were "at the Bouaké University Hospital". A nurse's aide informed him that children were "dying," he said on Sunday.

A close friend of the chef, Célestin Kouadio Koffi, indicated that, according to rumours, corn porridge was the cause of the contamination.

Zitanick Amoin Yao, the first victim's mother, claimed to have bought porridge which she gave to her son. After an urge to go to the toilet, she said, "he started to vomit when I gave him the medicine that was given to me at the Djébonouan hospital. We went back to the hospital, and they told us to go to the Bouaké University Hospital; that’s where he died at the age of three,” she said.

Agnès Aya Konan also lost her daughter. She refuses to accuse the seller, indicating however that her children ate the same porridge on Sunday.

In February, in the village of Kpo-Kahankro, also close to Bouaké, two people were sentenced to five years in prison after contamination with clostridium, a bacteria which had caused 16 deaths according to an official report, 21 according to the villagers.

Journalists ordered out of flood-hit Libyan city after protests

Journalists reported they were ordered out of the devastated eastern Libyan city of Derna on Tuesday, the day after protesters torched the home of the ousted mayor in a fury over the authorities' failure to protect the city from floods.

Officials in the administration that runs the east denied they were forcing reporters out of the city. Essam Abu Zriba, interior minister in the eastern administration, told Arab TV channel al Hadath that journalists and aid workers were operating normally.

Arab broadcaster Al Hurra reported that the authorities had asked all journalists to depart as soon as possible. An Al Jazeera correspondent reporting from the city said he had been told to leave.

Hichem Abu Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation in the administration that runs eastern Libya, told Reuters by phone that some journalists had been told to move in a step unrelated to the protests there overnight.

He later said reporters were not being told to leave Derna altogether, only to leave areas where their presence might hinder rescue operations.

Monday's mass demonstration was the first reported in the city since it was hit by the worst natural disaster in Libya's history a week earlier. Communications links to the city, which had functioned despite the flood, were shut down on Tuesday morning.

Thousands of people were confirmed killed, and thousands more are still missing from the Sept. 10 flood, when dams burst above Derna in a storm, unleashing a torrent of water that swept away the centre of the city.

On Monday, demonstrators crowded into the square before Derna's landmark gold-domed Sahaba mosque, chanting slogans. Some waved flags from atop the mosque's roof. Later in the evening, they torched the house of Mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi, his office manager told Reuters.

The government administering eastern Libya said Ghaithi had been suspended as mayor, and all members of the Derna city council had been dismissed from their posts and referred to investigators.

A week after the disaster, swathes of Derna remain a muddy ruin, roamed by stray dogs, with families still searching for missing bodies in the rubble.

Angry residents say the disaster could have been prevented. Officials acknowledge that a contract to repair the dams after 2007 was never completed, blaming insecurity in the area.

Libya has been a failed state for over a decade, with no government exercising nationwide authority since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. Derna has been controlled since 2019 by the Libyan National Army, which holds sway in the east. For several years before that, it was in the hands of militant groups, including local branches of Islamic State and al Qaeda.

According to Reuters demonstrators denounced the eastern-based parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who has called the flood a natural catastrophe that could not be avoided.

"Aguila, we don't want you! All Libyans are brothers!" protesters chanted.

Mansour, a student taking part in the protest, said he wanted an urgent investigation into the collapse of the dams, which "made us lose thousands of our beloved people".

Taha Miftah, 39, said the protest was a message that "the governments have failed to manage the crisis", and that the parliament was especially to blame.

The full scale of the death toll has yet to emerge, with thousands of people still missing. Officials have given widely varying death tolls. The World Health Organization has confirmed 3,922 deaths.

Deaths in Sudan

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