West Africa Ebola Outbreak
On October 9th, while visiting Guinea, Director of Policy for the United Nations (U.N.) Development Programme (UNDP) Magdy Martinez-Soliman said urgent support is needed in Guinea to prevent an economic meltdown as a result of the Ebola crisis. Director Martinez-Soliman observed Ebola is now impacting every aspect of people’s lives, especially as it is limiting jobs and essential services, decreasing exports of fruits and vegetables, and significantly decreasing travel. While in Guinea, Director Martinez-Soliman and UNDP Deputy Director for Africa Ruby Sanhu-Rojon visited Ebola treatment centers and met with government agencies and other entities involved in stopping the spread of the virus. More information can be seen here.
On October 9th, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah authored a post for USAID’s Impact Blog on the launch of “Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development.” The initiative is designed to provide health care workers on the front lines with better tools to battle Ebola. As part of the program, USAID is rolling out an open innovation platform that will allow the global community to brainstorm, collaborate, and comment on new ideas that generate practical solutions to the Ebola epidemic. The initiative was detailed here.
On October 9th, the first trial of an Ebola vaccine in Africa started with the vaccination of three health care workers in Mali. The vaccine, which was developed by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was administered by Mali’s Center for Vaccine Development. Additional trials in the U.S. and the United Kingdom (U.K.) are ongoing. An article on the clinical trials can be read here.
On October 9th, Navy Times reported that U.S. troops deployed to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance could earn up to $400 a month in special pays. U.S. military personnel could receive hardship duty pay-location of $150 a month and a family separation allowance of $250 a month. Troops deployed in support of the U.S. military response to the Ebola outbreak are not eligible to receive combat-zone tax exclusions or hostile fire pay. Details were shared here.
On October 9th, U.S. House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R- NJ) released and additional $700 million to fully fund the Obama Administration’s plan to combat the Ebola virus in West Africa. The Subcommittee had previously approved an initial $50 million while requesting additional information from Department of Defense (DOD) officials. On Wednesday, Subcommittee members were briefed on the goals, costs, and timelines of the plan. More information can be seen here.
On October 9th, in response to criticism that Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died because he did not receive the same treatment as American patients infected with Ebola, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital issued a statement to clarify misconceptions about his care. Health officials reported that Duncan received the experimental drug Brincidofovir as soon as it could be obtained, especially as the experimental drug ZMapp was not available. The hospital also reported Duncan could not receive a blood transfusion from an Ebola survivor because he had a different blood type. The full statement was posted here.
On October 9th, workers at LaGuardia Airport responsible for cleaning plane cabins went on strike to demand better working conditions, especially due to changing air travel regulations in response to fears of Ebola virus. Meanwhile, the local chapter of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hosted a training session to help workers understand how to protect themselves when cleaning up any bodily fluids in plane cabins. Details can be viewed here.
On October 10th, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) released new figures on the scope of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The WHO reported a total of 8,399 confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the U.S., and 4,033 deaths, as of October 8th. Of the total, 8,376 cases were in the hardest hit nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, along with 4,024
deaths. More information was provided here.
On October 10th, head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury briefed the U.N. General Assembly on the situation in West Africa via video link from UNMEER headquarters in Accra, Ghana. Special Representative Banbury warned the virus is far head of the global response and is spurring an international crisis. He also noted that the social and cultural practices of the countries affected by Ebola in West Africa are among the factors contributing to the spread of the virus. Excerpts from the briefing were highlighted here.
On October 10th, during the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Annual Meetings, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim delivered a speech entitled, “Tackling the Most Difficult Problems: Infrastructure, Ebola, and Climate Change.” On Ebola, President Kim said the global response has been late, inadequate, and slow. He noted that due to poverty in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the Ebola outbreak has exceeded the capacity of local emergency health and fiscal resources. President Kim’s remarks were transcribed here.
On October 10th, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde met with Guinean President Alpha Conde at the IMF. Their discussion focused on how the IMF can help Guinea respond to the Ebola outbreak and protect the economic and development advances that have been made by Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa in recent years. Following the meeting, Managing Director Lagarde noted the IMF has already provided Guinea with $41 million in emergency funding and remains ready to do more if needed. The meeting was summarized here.
On October 10th, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) lifted his hold on funding the Obama Administration’s request for $750 million in Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding for U.S. military efforts to combat Ebola in West Africa. Despite allowing the funding to move forward, Senator Inhofe indicated he still has concerns about U.S. operations in West Africa and will be unlikely to approve further requests for resources beyond the first six months of the operation without additional information. Senator Inhofe’s statement was released here.
On October 10th, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to speed up approval of funds to fight Ebola, including the outstanding $250 million requested by the Department of Defense (DOD). Director Donovan urged that
time is of the essence to control the virus. He also noted that 35 donor countries have pledged $690 million to the international Ebola response, including $400 million from the World Bank, $150 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB), and $130 million from the IMF. The letter was noted here.
On October 10th, DOD finalized a policy memo setting guidelines for pre-deployment training of DOD personnel, health monitoring while on deployment, and requirements for troops and DOD civilians returning from West Africa after participating in Operation United Assistance. While DOD has said troops deployed to West Africa will be at low risk for infection, those returning from Ebola-stricken areas will be scrutinized by commanders and medical personnel. Anyone with high disease exposure risk will be quarantined for three weeks. Additional information can be viewed here.
On October 10th, the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on “Ebola in the Homeland: The Importance of Effective International, Federal, State, and Local Coordination,” at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The Committee received testimony from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infection Dr. Toby Merlin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield, and Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CBP) John Wagner. Additional testimony was provided by Texas Commissioner of Health Dr. David Lakey, Director of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Dr. Brett Giroir, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Catherine Troisi of the Center for Infectious Diseases at The University of Texas. A webcast of the hearing can be watched here.
On October 11th, the New York Times reported that responding to the Ebola crisis in Liberia presents an opportunity for the positive rebranding of the Armed Forces of Liberia. While Liberian soldiers have been viewed as responsible for toppling the government, killing civilians, and invoking the Liberian civil war, Liberian military personnel are now being trained to help build Ebola treatment centers across the country. An article on the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Ebola response can be read here.
On October 11th, The Guardian reported that Cuba is leading international response efforts to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. With a population of just 11 million people and a GDP of $6,051 per capita, Cuba has already sent a brigade of 165 health care workers to Sierra Leone and is ultimately expected to deploy a force of 461. Cuba’s response efforts in West Africa were described here.
On October 12th, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola transmission in the U.S., a female nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden reported the nurse was infected as a result of an unknown breach in protocol. In addition to announcing the deployment of more CDC staff to Texas, Dr. Frieden also noted the CDC is considering having all Ebola patients treated at one of four facilities in the U.S. that have special isolation units, including the NIH, Emory University Hospital, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and St. Patrick Hospital in Montana. Details on the new case were shared here.
On October 12th, U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on the second case of Ebola in Dallas by Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell. President Obama directed the CDC to move quickly to investigate the apparent breach in infection protocols. President Obama also directed federal authorities to take the steps needed to ensure hospitals and health care providers are prepared to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient. A readout of the briefing can be seen here.
On October 12th, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said NIH has been working on an Ebola vaccine since 2001. If it were not for budget cuts, Dr. Collins said NIH would likely have already had a vaccine that had completed clinical trials and was available to be part of response efforts to the outbreak in West Africa. In the past decade, NIH’s purchasing power has declined by 23 percent and its budget has remained static. Comments from Dr. Collins were highlighted here.
On October 12th, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where he discussed the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Senator McCain called on U.S. President Barack Obama to nominate an Ebola czar to coordinate the Administration’s response efforts. Senator McCain also encouraged Administration officials to look at screening procedures at airports in
West Africa, in addition to airports in the U.S. Senator McCain’s comments were recorded here.
On October 12th, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) urged U.S. Government officials to consider suspending approximately 13,000 visas issued to individuals in the West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak. In addition, Congressman McCaul praised new airport screening measures and advised it might be wise to send U.S. Ebola patients to specialized treatment centers. Excerpts from the interview were highlighted here.
On October 12th, doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts quarantined a patient who recently traveled to Liberia and was showing symptoms of Ebola, including head and body aches. While medical officials concluded the patient was not someone at high risk for Ebola, the patient will remain in isolation as monitoring continues. Details on the case were reported here.
On October 12th, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) announced it was collecting donations for the Coca Industry Response to Ebola Initiative, as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses a threat to global chocolate protection. Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cacao, has closed its borders with Liberia and Guinea, resulting in a shortage of workers to pick the beans that are used to make chocolate right as the picking season begins. Cote d’Ivoire is currently producing 1.6 million metric tons of cacao beans per year, the equivalent of 33 percent of global production. More information can be viewed here.
On October 13th, health care workers in Liberia largely ignored a call to strike, despite the fact that an estimated 80 percent of medical professionals on the front lines of the fight against Ebola lack adequate supplies. The Liberian Government had appealed to health care workers to refrain from a strike by expressing concern that a strike would mitigate efforts to contain the spread of the virus. While the majority of workers did not strike, Liberia’s National Health Workers Association continues to demand an increase in hazard pay and direct delivery of assistance to Liberia’s Ebola treatment centers. Details can be accessed here.
On October 13th, UNDP Director of Policy Magdy Martinez-Soliman visited Freetown, Sierra Leone, to observe the impacts and response efforts to the Ebola crisis. While in Freetown, Director Martinez- Soliman visited with 200 UNDP-sponsored volunteers based in the poor Mabella district. The Ebola outbreak has already resulted in the closure of nearly all bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the city’s capital and the termination of approximately 24,000 jobs. Director Martinez-Soliman also observed the importance of community engagement and activism to stopping the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone. His visit was summarized here.
On October 13th, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to review the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the need for more robust commitments and rapid delivery of assistance by the international community. President Obama stressed the need for all U.N. Member States to support the U.N. appeal, and to provide the personnel, equipment, and supplies required to stop the epidemic at its source and halt the devastating impact of the crisis on the affected countries and their citizens. The leaders agreed members of the international community must redouble their resolve and commitment to stay the course and decisively address the Ebola crisis. Details can be seen here.
On October 13th, U.S. President Obama spoke by phone with French President Francois Hollande to coordinate actions to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The leaders agreed more must be done, and quickly, to establish treatment facilities in the affected African nations, and that all countries must play a role to stop the spread of the disease and save the lives of those afflicted. They also discussed additional measures that may be taken to stem the spread of Ebola outside the region already affected, including passenger screenings upon departure and arrival. A readout of the call can be read here.
On October 13th, U.S. President Barack Obama met with members of his public health and national security team to receive an update on the response to the diagnosis of the second Ebola case in Texas. President Obama was briefed on the status of the investigation into the apparent breach in infection control protocols and remedial actions underway to mitigate similar breaches in the future. HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell and CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden described the surge in personnel and other resources to Dallas to assist in the investigation, as well as other measures to heighten
awareness and increase training for health care workers across the country. President Obama reinforced the investigation should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and health care workers nationwide. The meeting was summarized here.
On October 13th, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden reported that new screening measures at New York’s JFK international Airport identified 91 passengers arriving in the U.S. as having a higher risk of being infected with Ebola. Of those passengers, five people were sent for further evaluation and none were determined to have Ebola. Approximately 150 people fly into the U.S. each day from Ebola-stricken countries, with about 40 percent of those entering the country through JFK. Details on the implementation of new screening procedures can be found here.
On October 13th, the CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital reported about 70 staff members were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan who died of Ebola last week. The size of the team that provided treatment suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus. Previously, the CDC had only been actively monitoring 48 people who might have had contact with Duncan after he fell ill. Additional monitoring began immediately. More information was shared here.
On October 13th, the Boston Public Health Commission issued a statement announcing that five passengers arriving at Logan International Airport on an Emirates flight originating in Dubai were escorted to two area hospitals after experiencing flu-like symptoms consistent with Ebola. Medical professionals eventually determined that all five patients did not meet the criteria for any infections of public health concern. The full story was reported here.
On October 13th-17th, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, to meet with national and local officials, aid organizations, and staff coordinating the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. USAID is coordinating the U.S. response to the crisis, including efforts to control the spread of the disease, bring in labs for specimen testing, support the construction and management of Ebola treatment units, airlift critical relief supplies, strengthen emergency response systems of affected governments, support burial teams that safely manage human remains to prevent transmission, and spearhead mass public awareness campaigns that describe how to prevent, detect, and treat Ebola. Administrator Shah’s travel was announced here.
On October 14th, the WHO released new statistics on Ebola, citing 4,447 deaths out of more than 8,900 suspected Ebola cases, adding that the death rate in the ongoing outbreak is now at 70 percent. Previously, the mortality rate for Ebola was around 50 percent. Further, the WHO warned that West Africa could face up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months. The disease is currently spreading at a rate of approximately 1,000 new cases each week. The latest WHO statistics can be viewed here.
On October 14th, WHO Spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said while blood transfusions have been effective for treating some Ebola patients, there is a lack of scientific study, which makes it unclear if the procedure could be effectively scaled up to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. The procedure is based on the idea that a patient who has fought Ebola will develop and carry antibodies in his or her bloodstream. The technique was previously used to treat a 1995 Ebola outbreak in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). More information can be found here.
On October 14th, during the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, Finance Ministers from Chad, Guinea- Bissau, Kenya, and Sierra Leone held an African Ministers Press Conference, where they appealed to the international community to speed up its response to the West Africa Ebola crisis. In addition to requesting that the IMF and the World Bank go beyond their normal practices to provide more urgent assistance to the fight against the Ebola epidemic, the African Finance Ministers called for more international spending on improving agriculture, security, and access to energy and water. Excerpts from the press conference were highlighted here.
On October 14th, the Wall Street Journal reported that some Liberian Ebola survivors, through the aid group Doctors Without Borders (DWB), are returning to Ebola clinics to help provide counsel and comfort to those suffering from the diseases. The survivors, who have immunity to Ebola, are paid for their services and must go through a screening process to ensure they are emotionally ready to return to
places where they almost lost their lives. More information can be found here.
On October 14th, doctors at St. Georg hospital in Germany announced the death of a Sudanese U.N. medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and flown to Germany for treatment. The patient arrived in Germany last Thursday and was put into a hermetically sealed ward. Despite receiving experimental Ebola drugs, the patient ultimately succumbed to the disease, making him the second member of the U.N. team in Liberia to die from the virus. The case was detailed here.
On October 14th, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss cooperation in confronting the Ebola epidemic. President Obama thanked Prime Minister Abe for the contributions Japan has made to the international Ebola response effort and encouraged him to consider additional commitments. The leaders agreed the international community urgently needs to do more to address the health emergency in West Africa by providing personnel, supplies, and funds. The call was summarized here.
On October 14th, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco hosted a meeting at the White House with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton to discuss the U.S. Government’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. They reviewed the status of additional airport screening measures implemented at JFK International Airport, as well as efforts to prepare hospitals in New York City to identify and treat Ebola patients. Highlights from the discussion can be viewed here.
On October 14th, Pentagon Spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren said an additional 100 U.S. Army personnel arrived in Liberia over the weekend as part of ongoing efforts to stanch the Ebola virus. The latest deployment brings troop totals to roughly 565, with several thousand additional military personnel projected to deploy this fall. A press release was issued here.
On October 14th, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert said the Navy’s hospital ships are unlikely to play a role in the U.S. military response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Two hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort have been dispatched on other disaster response assignments, but Admiral Greenert questioned whether they are appropriately equipped to isolate Ebola patients. Admiral Greenert’s comments were transcribed here.
On October 14th, the CDC hosted a nationwide conference call for health care workers to provide training on how to handle potential Ebola cases. The CDC is also planning to conduct training for 5,000 people in New York City on October 21st that will be streamed to hospitals across the country. As part of training, the CDC is encouraging hospitals to conduct full-scale drills in which people pretending to be Ebola patients enter the hospital and force staff members to run through diagnosis, isolation, and treatment
protocols. The full story is available here.
On October 14th, Abbigail Tumpey, the CDC official in charge of education outreach, said the CDC is considering setting up dedicated hospitals in each state for Ebola patients. This plan is only in the early discussion stages, especially as only four states currently have top-level bio-containment units. In addition, the CDC is reconsidering its existing infection control protocols and seeking to increase efforts to train health workers by planning more calls and online seminars. The new CDC efforts were outlined here.
On October 14th, U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and DHS Security Jeh Johnson calling for a temporary ban on people traveling to the U.S. from West African countries with cases of Ebola virus. In addition, Senator Thune and Congressman Shuster requested additional information on both agencies’ plans to prevent further transmission of Ebola within the U.S. The letter can be downloaded here.
On October 14th, through the National Nurses United union, nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital alleged that Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan was initially kept in a room with other patients for hours as the hospital resisted isolating him. In addition, nurses reported they only had access to flimsy protective gear and received no proper training on protocols for treating an Ebola patient. The claims were detailed here.
On October 14th, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged $25 million to assist West Africa in its fight against Ebola. The money will be donated to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, a nonprofit organization that connects the CDC with private sector groups to create health programs. The $25 million donation is more than the Ebola response donations made by the Governments of the U.K., Germany, Australia, China, France, and Canada. Details were shared here.
On October 15th, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) discussed efforts to ramp up food assistance to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to people most impacted by the Ebola outbreak. WFP estimates it has already reached more than 530,000 people with food assistance and noted the deployment of a C160 aircraft to Liberia carrying 58 metric tons of additional supplies, such as water tanks, washing units, generators, protective gear, emergency health kits, and other relief items. WFP also estimated the delivery of 7,000 metric tons of rice to Sierra Leone by the end of the week. Details can be seen here.
On October 15th, U.S. President Barack Obama postponed a campaign trip to meet with senior advisors and on the U.S. Government response to Ebola. In addition, President Obama participated in a video conference with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the international response to the Ebola outbreak and the steps being taken to counter the spread of the virus. President Obama stressed the need for a faster and more robust international response and underscored the need to increase assistance and international contributions for Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. A readout of President Obama’s meeting with foreign counterparts can be accessed here. Remarks delivered by President Obama after both meetings were posted here.
On October 15th, following a meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Monrovia, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced nearly $142 million in humanitarian projects and grants to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The new projects and grants will support construction and management of additional Ebola treatment units in partnership with the affected countries and international organizations, training and support for health care workers and safe burial teams, and the Government of Liberia’s strategy to establish and staff community care centers, which in tandem with Ebola treatment units, will provide another level of Ebola isolation and care to communities while helping to stop transmission. Details were provided here.
On October 15th, the Wall Street Journal reported that Operation United Assistance will enter a new phase this weekend when the head of the 101st Airborne Division Major General Gary Colesky arrives in Liberia to take over the U.S. military mission. Advance U.S. military efforts in West Africa are currently under the direction of Commander of U.S. Army Africa Major General Daryl Williams. There are currently 539 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and civilians based at a joint operations center in Monrovia, Liberia. The U.S. force in West Africa will ultimately be scaled up to 4,000 service members. An article on defense operations can be read here.
On October 15th, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden announced a team of infection experts will be sent to any U.S. hospital with a confirmed Ebola case. Dr. Frieden pledged to deploy teams within hours of confirmation of new Ebola cases that will be tasked with protecting health care workers. In addition, two nurses who helped treat several Ebola-infected aid workers at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta were dispatched to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to help enhance and conduct training on Ebola care. The announcements were reported here.
On October 15th, the CDC issued stricter guidelines for American hospitals treating Ebola patients. The new procedures are in line with the protocols used by DWB, which has decades of experience fighting Ebola in Africa. However, Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization whose workers have been extensively involved in caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, criticized the new guidelines as being less stringent than its own standards, as well as those of other aid organizations working in West Africa. The new CDC guidelines include full-body suits covering the head and neck, supervision of the process of removing protective gear, and the use of hand disinfectant as each item is removed. Details were shared here.
On October 15th, just three days after Nina Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, received a confirmed
Ebola diagnosis, Texas officials reported a second health care worked who treated Duncan tested positive for Ebola. While the identity of the second health worker was not immediately identified, officials said the patient was a woman who lived alone with no pets. The patient was placed in isolation within 90 minutes of registering a fever. The new case was announced here.
On October 15th, HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell announced the second Dallas health care worker who contracted Ebola, Amber Joy Vinson, was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Emory University Hospital has a specialized isolation unit and experience in treating Ebola. The situation was described here.
On October 15th, CDC officials and Frontier Airlines notified 132 passengers they had been on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas with the second Texas health worker with a confirmed Ebola diagnosis the night before she began running a fever. Passengers will be interviewed about the flight and those who are determined to be at any potential risk will be monitored. While the patient showed no signs of Ebola on the flight, the CDC has said she should not have been allowed to fly on a commercial aircraft due to her contact with a confirmed Ebola patient. The aircraft has since been taken out of service. The full story is available here.
On October 15th, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged the White House to consider implementing a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from countries in West Africa that are affected by the Ebola outbreak. Speaker Boehner said the Administration must be able to assure Americans that the spread of Ebola at home will be stopped. He also expressed his intent to continue to press the Administration for more information about the steps being taken to protect U.S. troops deploying to combat the virus. Speaker Boehner’s remarks were transcribed here.
On October 15th, U.S. Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) called on CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to resign due to his failures in adequate hospital preparation, public information dissemination, and overall protection of high-traffic public transportation facilities from the Ebola threat. In addition, Congressman Marino accused Dr. Frieden of providing Americans with a false sense of security regarding the Ebola threat. Comments from Congressman Marino can be seen here.
On October 15th, after news broke that a second U.S. health worker with a confirmed Ebola diagnosis had traveled on a commercial airliner, U.S. airline stocks took a hit. United Airlines was down 2.19 points, Delta Airlines was down 1.41 points, American Airlines was down 1.24 points and Southwest and JetBlue were down by less than a point. Meanwhile, Airlines for America issued a statement noting the airline industry is doing all it can to protect passengers from the Ebola threat and reiterated that the disease is not airborne, meaning there is little risk to air travelers. More information was provided here.
On October 15th, the WCF announced a $600,000 donation to help stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The money will support the efforts of the Red Cross and Caritas Internationalis to help care for and prevent the spread of the disease. Contributors include ADM, Blommer Chocolate Company, Carletti, Chocolove, Cococo Chocolatiers Inc., Confiseur Laederach Group, Fazer, Ghiradelli Chocolate, Guittard Chocolate, The Hershey Company, Indcresa, Manufacturing Confectioner, Mars, Mitsubishi, Mondelez International Foundation, Nestle, Noble Resources, Olam, Purdy’s Chocolatier, Sucres E Denerees, Toms Group, and World’s Finest Chocolate. The donation was reported here.
On October 15th, the Washington Post published an article depicting the shortfall in supplies needed in Liberia to treat the Ebola crisis. According to an inventory released this week by Liberia’s Health Ministry, the country is currently facing dramatic gaps in body bags, chlorine powder, plastic buckets, protective suits, examination gloves, face masks, goggles, heavy duty plastic gloves, rubber boots, hand sprayers, backpack sprayers, and mattresses. The findings of the inventory can be seen here.
On October 16th, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order authorizing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to call up military reservists to augment active forces in support of Operation United Assistance in West Africa. The executive order can be downloaded here. President Obama’s letter to congressional leadership notifying them of the authorization can be read here.
On October 16th, HHS awarded $5.8 million to Profectus BioSciences to develop a third experimental
Ebola vaccine. The funding will be used to conduct animal safety studies as a precursor to submitting an investigational new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials in humans. NIAID is currently supporting trials of two other experimental Ebola vaccines developed by GSK and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The funding was announced here.
On October 16th, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled, “Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to the Ebola Outbreak.” The Committee received testimony from CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and Director of the NIH’s NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci. Additional witnesses included FDA Assistant Commissioner on Counterterrorism Policy Dr. Luciana Borio, Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Dr. Robin Robinson, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Field Operations for CBP John Wagner, and Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President of Texas Health Resources Daniel Varga. A webcast of the hearing can be watched here.
On October 16th, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) expressed support for a travel ban as a responsible, necessary, and common sense action to protect the American public from exposure to Ebola and spread of the virus. In addition, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (R-WV) and Congressman John Barrow (D- GA), both who are in tough reelection battles, joined other lawmakers in calling for a ban on travel to the
U.S. from the West African countries afflicted by Ebola. Senator Inhofe’s comments were posted here. Both congressmen’s support for a travel ban was articulated here.
On October 16th, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an article authored by infectious disease experts expressing the belief that most facilities in the U.S. are unequipped to handle Ebola cases. In addition, the article suggests the repetitive training needed to train medical personnel on the proper use of personnel protective equipment might be more than traditional care settings can handle. As a result, the experts advocate for the creation of regional referral centers where Ebola patients can be transferred for high-level care. The article can be accessed here.
On October 16th, Dallas Country Commissioners decided to avoid issuing a disaster declaration, while moving forward with efforts to restrict the travel of health care workers who might be exposed to the Ebola virus. Commissioners ultimately decided that a disaster declaration would do more harm than good, but noted if a disaster declaration is needed, it will be implemented. The full story is available here.
On October 10th the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said intensified fighting between rival armed groups in Libya has displaced as many as 290,000 people across the country, leaving as many as 100,000 in urgent need of food, health care, and shelter. Some of the worst displacement has occurred in the Warshefana area on the outskirts of Tripoli and near Benghazi. The U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNMIL) has called for an immediate ceasefire to allow for the distribution of humanitarian aid. An update from UNHCR was provided here.
On October 11th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew to Tripoli, Libya. There, he urged for the warring factions to make peace. While in Tripoli, Secretary-General Ban urged the need for political dialogue. In addition, he noted the pat the peace in Libya will be long and challenging. Details on Secretary-General Ban’s trip can be viewed here.
On October 12th, fighting between Islamist militias and rival groups in the town of Kikla, Libya, killed at least 23 people and left 43 others wounded. The anti-Islamist Zintan militia, named for its hometown in western Libya, attacked the town, an Islamist stronghold, over the weekend. More details can be read here.
On October 14th, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said civil society in Libya faces a climate of fear created by warring militias in the country. In a press release, U.N. officials condemned the targeted attacks and threats on human rights groups and activists by armed groups in Libya. The press release can be accessed here.
On October 14th, the National Salvation Government, the armed group that took control of Tripoli in
August, seized the websites of the state administration and the national oil company. The group has now posted photos of their declared prime minister, Omar al-Hasi, as well as their newly announced oil minister on their respective websites. The full story is available here.
On October 15th, fighting escalated in Benghazi. Just one day after former Libyan General Khalifa Hiftar announced an offensive to drive out the Islamist militias, gunfire and explosions were reported. General Hiftar is a member of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, a military coalition allied with the Al Qaeda-linked armed group Ansar al-Sharia. It was reported that 22 people have were killed. The escalation in fighting was described here.
On October 15th, Egyptian officials, under anonymity, reported that Egyptian warplanes were bombing positions of Islamist militias in Benghazi. Tareq al-Jorushi, a Libyan lawmaker, corroborated this report by saying that Egyptian warplanes were indeed taking part in the ongoing operation in Benghazi, but said Libyan pilots were flying the planes. Details can be found here.
On October 15th, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called on all parties in Libya to stop the destruction of Libya’s cultural and religious heritage as violence between rival militia groups intensified. For example, UNESCO actively condemned the recent vandalizing of the Karamanli Mosque and other damage at the historic Othman Pasha Madrassa. UNESCO Director- General Irina Bokova warned the looting and illicit trafficking of cultural objects can only deepen the wounds of the Libyan society struggling for normalcy and recovery. Feedback from UNESCO was posted here.
On October 13th, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and U.N. Special Representative for South Sudan Margrethe Loj met to discuss the current crisis in South Sudan. Prime Minister Desalegn and Special Representative Loj stressed the importance of finding a solution to the political crisis. Prime Minister Desalegn stressed Ethiopia’s commitment to efforts in finding a sustainable political solution, and Special Representative Loj stressed the need for continued international assistance. The discussion was summarized here.
On October 13th, upon concluding a visit to South Sudan, U.N. Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura warned that sexual violence is a consistent characteristic of the conflict in South Sudan and is being perpetrated by all parties. While in South Sudan, Special Representative Bangura visited Bentiu and met with the local commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), government authorities, U.N. staff, humanitarian workers, and survivors of sexual violence. She also met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, cabinet ministers, the army, and police forces. Special Representative Bangura’s visit to South Sudan was detailed here.
On October 14th, human rights groups issued a statement urging South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to veto a bill giving South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) broad sweeping power. If signed into law, the bill would give NSS the unrestricted authority to arrest suspects, monitor communications, conduct searches, and seize property. The full statement is available here.
On October 14th, the Government of South Sudan announced it was increasing security measures in Warrap state. New security measures were announced with the hopes of preventing potential revenge attacks after the outbreak of violence in separate locations in August and September. Details on the security situation in Warrap can be read here.
On October 15th, a long-term agreement on military cooperation was signed by the South Sudanese and Ugandan governments. Details have yet to be made public, however, it is understood the agreement will enable Uganda to procure weapons and technological support for South Sudan. The agreement was noted here.
Central African Republic
On October 9th, U.N. Special Representative to the CAR and head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) Babacar Gaye condemned the ambush of a MINUSCA convoy traveling on the
outskirts of Bangui. One peacekeeper was wounded, another was slightly injured, and seven additional peacekeepers suffered slight injuries in the attack. Special Representative Gaye labeled the attack on
U.N. peacekeepers an unacceptable crime and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. MINUSCA’s feedback to the attack was posted here.
On October 10th, the U.N. Security Council also condemned the deadly ambush of a MINUSCA convoy in the CAR. In a press statement, the Security Council reiterated that all provocations against U.N. peacekeepers in the country may be considered war crimes. In addition to calling upon authorities in the CAR to investigate the attack, the Security Council also offered condolences to the peacekeepers from Pakistan and Bangladesh who were killed and injured. The Security Council’s response to the attack was described here.
On October 10th, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf issued a statement expressing deep concern for ongoing incidents of violence in the CAR and calling for the violence to stop immediately. In addition to extending condolences to the Governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh, who have lost peacekeepers in the fighting, the U.S. Government thanked MINUSCA, the EU Mission to the CAR (EUFOR), and French forces for their efforts to calm tensions. In addition, Deputy Spokesperson Harf reiterated U.S. support for CAR Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza and cooperation on national reconciliation that can lead to a political transition and democratic elections. The full statement can be read here.
On October 14th, UNHCR reported that attacks targeting civilians, humanitarian workers, and peacekeepers outside of Bangui have hampered humanitarian activities in the CAR. According to UNHCR, the latest wave of violence has displaced 6,500 people. More broadly UNHCR believes 410,000 people are internally displaced and 420,000 CAR refugees have fled the country. In light of the continuing violence, MINUSCA remains on high alert. The UNHCR update was released here.
On October 15th, voters in Mozambique went to the polls to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. Large voter turnout was reported as the ruling Frelimo party anticipated a tough challenge from its political rival, Renamo. Former Defense Minister Filipe Nyusi, a member of the Frelimo party, contested veteran Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama for the presidency. The EU, the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sent observers to monitor the elections. At the close of the polls, campaigning and voting was reported to have occurred peacefully.
On October 16th, as vote counting was underway in Mozambique, a partial vote count suggested that Felimo’s Filipe Nyusi would win the presidential election with 60 percent of the vote, leaving Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama with just 31 percent of the vote. The Frelimo party won approximately 75 percent of the vote in the 2009 elections. Despite some claims of voter fraud, the national Electoral Commission reported that the polls had been free and fair. The results of the partial vote count were detailed here.
United States – Africa Relations
On October 14th, National Security Advisor Susan Rice issued a statement marking the six month anniversary of the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria. She reiterated the U.S. commitment to bringing the girls home safely and noted efforts to assist in Nigerian investigations, including by deploying personnel on the ground, facilitating strategic communications, and providing assistance to families. These continuing efforts are part of broader support for a holistic counterterrorism strategy in Nigeria that also includes strengthening rule of law and security institutions. As efforts continue to release the girls still in captivity, National Security Advisor Rice said the U.S. will continue to stand with all girls who seek to achieve their full potential through education. National Security Advisor Rice’s statement was posted here. A fact sheet on U.S. efforts to assist the Nigerian Government in its fight against Boko Haram was shared here.
Department of State
On October 10th, Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in recognition of the International Day of the Girl. Celebrated on October 11th, the International Day of the Girls is a reminder of the need to invest in the world’s 850 million girls so that they can contribute to their communities and countries. In his statement, Secretary Kerry called for efforts to stand against extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, that target women and girls and subject them to sexual violence and forced marriage. Secretary Kerry’s full
statement can be read here.
On October 10th, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli met with Nigerian Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala at the World Bank. The meeting was noticed here.
On October 10th, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Criminal Justice Issues Stephen Rapp traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for meetings on international justice and accountability issues. Ambassador Rapp’s travel was noted here.
On October 11th, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement congratulating Equatorial Guinea on its Independence Day. Secretary Kerry said the U.S. and Equatorial Guinea’s cooperation on maritime security has contributed to freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea. In addition, Secretary Kerry noted the U.S. remains committed to continuing its partnership with Equatorial Guinea on health and education. Secretary Kerry’s full statement can be seen here.
On October 12th, Secretary of State John Kerry was on foreign travel to Cairo, Egypt. While in Cairo, Secretary Kerry met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and met with other foreign leaders on the sidelines of the Gaza Donors Conference. Secretary Kerry was accompanied by Deputy Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Frank Lowenstein, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, National Security Council (NSC) Director for Russia and Eurasia Celeste Wallander, and Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Secretary Kerry’s schedule was detailed here. Secretary Kerry’s remarks with Foreign Minister Shoukry were transcribed here.
On October 12th-14th, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard joined Secretary of State John Kerry, EU, U.N., Arab League, and other foreign leaders in Cairo, Egypt, for discussions related to humanitarian assistance in Gaza. While in Cairo, Assistant Secretary Richard also held meetings with Egyptian officials on improving protection and assistance to refugees and migrants in Egypt. Assistant Secretary Richard’s travel was announced here.
On October 13th, while continuing his visit to Cairo, Egypt, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi. Secretary Kerry also held meetings with other foreign leaders in Cairo. Details on Secretary Kerry’s schedule can be found here.
On October 13th, the Washington Post Editorial Board published on op-ed on U.S. foreign policy towards Egypt in conjunction with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Cairo. The op-ed criticizes the Obama Administration for expressing strong support for reforms in Egypt, without addressing massive human rights violations and Egypt’s ongoing detention of political prisoners. The op-ed can be read here.
On October 14th, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Paris, France, to meet with U.S. partners. While in Paris, Secretary Kerry met with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi. The meeting was listed here.
On October 15th, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, issued a statement warning U.S. citizens in Ethiopia of a possible attack by Somali militant group Al Shabaab. According to threat information received by the Embassy, Al Shabaab intends to target the wealthy Bole area of Addis Ababa. U.S. citizens were advised to avoid restaurants, hotels, bars, places of worship, supermarkets, and shopping malls until further notice. Ethiopian security forces have been on alert since a botched suicide bombing planned by Al Shabaab last year. The warning was issued here.
On October 16th, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Policy Board to discuss strategic questions and to provide the Secretary and other senior State Department officials with
independent informed perspectives and ideas. Newly appointment members of the Foreign Affairs Policy Board include former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Johnnie Carson and former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Daniel Kurtzer. More information was shared here.
U.S. Agency for International Development
On October 15th, USAID announced the appointment of Katie Taylor to serve as interim Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator, focused on the goal of ending preventable maternal and child deaths. Currently serving as USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Coordinator Taylor will also be tasked with overseeing all of the agency’s child survival and maternal health policy and programs. USAID’s child survival and material health work prioritizes 24 countries, including many in sub-Saharan Africa. A press release was issued here.
On October 15th, lead Information Officer of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace Jessica Hartl reported on the success experienced by USAID and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in using Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to treat acute malnutrition in Burundi. More than 73 percent of Burundi’s population is undernourished and 50 percent of the population is stunted. Since 2012, RUTF has been provided to 16,500 severely acutely malnourished children in nine provinces. Details can be accessed here.
Department of Defense
On October 10th, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) reported on a survival combat course hosted by French Marines in the Gran Bara desert of Djibouti. More than 30 soldiers and joint service members from Camp Lemonnier participated in the course, which provided lessons on tactical movements, combat casualty care, small arms engagements, and obstacle courses. The course was described here.
Department of Justice
On October 14th, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new 18-count grand jury indictment for Libyan terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was captured in June and is believed to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2012, attacks against U.S. compounds in Benghazi. The new indictment includes multiple counts that make Abu Khattala eligible for the death penalty if convicted, including murder of an internationally protected person and killing a person during an armed attack on a federal facility. Details can be seen here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On October 18th-30th, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will sponsor a Sub-Saharan Africa Light Aircraft and Helicopter Reverse Trade Mission (RTM). The RTM will introduce delegates from across sub-Saharan Africa to U.S. technology and industry best practices in the aviation sector. Delegates from private sector aviation companies in sub-Saharan Africa will participate in site visits where they will meet with U.S. industry experts and suppliers of light aircraft and helicopters. Details on the RTM were posted here.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
On October 14th, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) posted a video on the agency’s OPIC Blog of remarks that OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield delivered last month at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on the momentum behind President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. President Littlefield said Power Africa has generated strong interest among new developers who had previously not considered doing business in Africa and has shown that business can be a force for good in developing countries. Her remarks were recorded here.
On October 10th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tunisia for meetings related to Tunisia’s upcoming elections and ongoing transition to democracy. Secretary-General Ban met with
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and welcomed his leadership. In addition, Secretary-General Ban met with President of the National Constitutional Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar, Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi, and representatives of NGOs, journalists, and activists. Secretary-General Ban’s visit to Tunisia was summarized here.
On October 10th, the World Bank launched a new report entitled, “Jobs or Privileges: Unleashing the Employment Potential of the Middle East and North Africa.” The report explores why countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have struggled to generate enough quality jobs for their large and increasingly educated populations. In addition, the report recommends steps governments can take to spur job creation, including by increasing competition and transparency. The report can be downloaded here.
On October 14th, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) through February 2015. The Abyei region, which remains contested by Sudan and South Sudan, has seen violence since Sudanese troops took control of parts of the oil rich region in 2011, just weeks before South Sudan achieved independence. In addition, the Security Council called on Sudan and South Sudan to resume the work of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) and to make temporary administrative arrangements for the region. More information can be found here.
On October 15th, the World Bank announced an $18 million International Development Association (IDA) grant for Chad’s Emergency Food and Livestock Crisis Response Project. The goal of the project is to improve food security and increase livestock production for those affected by the conflict in the CAR. The funding was announced here.
On October 13th, U.N. Special Representative for Somalia and head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Nicholas Kay condemned a car bombing in Mogadishu that left 13 people dead and many more injured. While calling on Somali authorities to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice, Special Representative Kay also called for greater humanitarian assistance in response to ongoing factional fighting and instability in Somalia. Special Representative Kay’s response to the attack can be viewed here.
On October 14th, U.N. Special Representative for Somalia and head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Nicholas Kay briefed the U.N. Security Council on the situation in the country. While reporting on political and security gains in Somalia, Special Representative Kay warned the humanitarian situation has worsened, with more than three million people in dire need of assistance. In addition, Special Representative Kay continued to encourage coherent actions by the Government of Somalia and international partners in the areas of security, development, and political stabilization. Excerpts from the briefing were highlighted here.
On October 16th, Kenya sold its first bond in a year to help fund power plants, highways, and water treatment systems as part of its annual $4 billion plan for infrastructure investment. The government is selling $169 million of 12-year securities until October 21st at a fixed rate of 11 percent. As an incentive to potential investors, the infrastructure bonds are tax-free and are intended to help increase the number
of public-private partnerships in Kenyan infrastructure projects. More information is available here.
On October 9th, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said Burkina Faso’s subsistence farmers are leading the fight against climate change while still producing enough food for half a million people and avoiding famine. Burkina Faso is prone to serve droughts and erratic rainfall. Farmers have adapted by deploying new techniques to conserve water and soil. Details can be found here.
On October 9th, the World Bank promoted the use of its Digital Identity Toolkit in sub-Saharan Africa. According to World Bank estimates, as many as 55 percent of people in the region have no official identification records, which creates challenges for governments in delivering public services, such as economic development, education, health, and social welfare, to local populations. Driven by the rapid
growth of mobile phone usage, the Toolkit is intended to help improve the delivery of these services to previously unreached populations. The Toolkit can be downloaded here.
On October 12th, Cameroonian President Paul Biya announced 27 hostages abducted by Boko Haram in Cameroon earlier this year have been released. Among those released were ten Chinese workers who were seized in May near the town of Waza. Also released was the wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali, who was kidnapped in July. President Biya reported the victims and the members of their families who are also kidnapped are now safe. Their release was announced here.
On October 14th, members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign demonstrated in Abuja to mark the six month anniversary of the capture of more than 270 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram and to continue to pressure the Nigerian Government to secure the release of the girls who remain missing. Protestors marched to President Goodluck Jonathan’s official residence and held a candlelit vigil. The Nigerian military reported identifying the girls’ location in May, but warned that a rescue attempt could jeopardize the victims’ safety. The anniversary was described here.
On October 14th, Ventures reported West Africa could expand its rice production area by almost 50 percent by 2031. Cote d’Ivoire is planning to invest $4 billion in agriculture development in order to improve crop yields and become a rice exporter within the next four years. The ability of other rice producers in West Africa to expand their production is largely dependent upon containment of the Ebola virus. More information can be seen here.
On October 9th, the Joint Office of the U.N. for Human Rights in the DRC (JHRO) released a new report detailing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the March 23 Movement (M23) when the group held control of parts of North Kivu province in 2012 and 2013. The
U.N. applauded Congolese authorities for prosecution of such cases against M23 and encouraged them to continue their efforts to bring those accountable for human rights violations to justice. The report’s findings were further detailed here.
On October 13th, U.N. Special Representative for the DRC and head of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) Martin Kobler visited Garamba National Park, where he urged national and international actors to take up new efforts to preserve natural resources and biodiversity. In particular, Special Representative Kobler highlighted that armed groups in the eastern DRC are primarily funded by poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Special Representative Kobler’s visit to the park was noted here.
On October 13th, former President of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana returned to Madagascar from exile in South Africa after being ousted from office in 2009. After delivering an address to supporters outside of his home in Antananarivo, President Ravalomanana was picked up by special forces and taken to an undisclosed location for his safety. Since his exile from South Africa, President Ravalomanana has been sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor related to the deaths of 30 protestors killed by his presidential guard in 2009. The full story is available here.
On October 16th, South African Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned Olympian Oscar Pistorius’ sentencing hearing for culpable homicide in the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, until Friday. Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, but Judge Masipa could decide to suspend the jail sentence and impose a fine. The Steenkamp family is seeking the full jail sentence. Developments in Pistorius’ sentencing hearing were reported here.
General Africa News
On October 10th, Director of the IMF’s African Department Antoinette Sayeh and Senior Communications Officer Andrew Kanyergirire hosted a press briefing on economic developments on the continent. Director Sayeh reported the IMF expects the region’s economy to expand by 5 percent this year, due primarily to strong economic growth, continued public investment in infrastructure, and strong agricultural production. Director Sayeh also discussed economic challenges, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and other more localized policy challenges. The press briefing was transcribed here.
On October 11th, as part of the IMF/World Bank annual meetings, the World Bank hosted an event entitled, “State of the Africa Region.” World Bank Chief Economist for the Africa Region Francisco Ferreira led a panel discussion focused on the uneven nature of economic growth across African countries, sectors, and regions. While Chief Economist Ferreira observed positive growth trend, he said African economies are not growing fast enough to significantly reduce poverty. The discussion was summarized here.
On October 13th, U.N. officials kicked off Africa Week at U.N. headquarters. Throughout the week, U.N. officials held high-level discussions and events related to various interests in Africa on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual consideration of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Various Africa Week events were listed here.
On October 13th, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said renewable energy, and notably hydropower, will satisfy much of Africa’s growing power demand by 2040. In addition to hydropower, the IEA forecasts solar energy will also make a growing contribution to Africa’s power supply. In addition, large fossil fuel plants are expected to increase power generation in urban areas, while mini-grid and off-grid systems will improve coverage in rural areas. Additional analysis was provided here.
On October 15th, the Financial Times published an article predicting that Libya and Nigeria could alleviate recent downward pressure on oil prices. According to the report, both countries posted large output gains this past summer, during an environment of decreasing demand and accelerating North American production. To read the full story, click here.
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