Leading the News
West Africa Ebola Outbreak
On October 1st, Mauritius implemented a policy refusing entry to all foreign nationals who have set food in an Ebola-affected country anytime in the past two months. Critics have said the policy in an overreaction, especially as the maximum incubation period for the virus is just three weeks. In addition, opponents say the travel ban is not only an inconvenience, but will also send a negative image to Western investors. Details can be viewed here.
On October 1st, U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) sent a letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan asking questions regarding the $1 billion funding request recently approved for Ebola response efforts in West Africa. The letter asks Obama Administration officials to explain the overall strategy to control the epidemic, the U.S. role in the fight against Ebola, how U.S. efforts will be coordinated with the broader international effort, and key indicators to measure the plan’s success. The letter can be read here.
On October 2nd, Liberian authorities said they would prosecute Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national confirmed to be the first case of Ebola in the U.S., upon his return home to Liberia. According to the Liberia Airport Authority, Duncan lied on his airport screening questionnaire when asked about whether he had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola. It is unclear whether or not Duncan knew the pregnant women who he had tried to assist in getting medical attention had been infected with Ebola or if he suspected that she had been suffering from a pregnancy-related illness. The full story is available here.
On October 2nd, U.S. President Barack Obama called Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to discuss the local, state, and federal response to the first U.S. case of Ebola. President Obama expressed his confidence in local doctors to care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. In addition, President Obama pledged the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies would continue to help coordinate efforts to help prevent further spread of the disease in the U.S. The call was summarized
On October 2nd, U.S. State Department Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response Donald Lu announced the State Department has entered into agreements with partner countries and the United Nations (U.N.) World Health Organization (WHO) to provide Medevac coverage to international health workers who are going to work in Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. The U.S. has Medevaced 12 people so far. More information can be found here.
On October 2nd, more than 60 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Senegal to establish a cargo-processing hub in support of Operation United Assistance. The hub will be established at the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport to accept large quantities of cargo that will later be distributed to Ebola-affected areas via smaller aircraft. An article on the deployment can be read here.
On October 2nd, NBC News reported that an American freelance cameraman working with their news crew in Liberia tested positive for Ebola and would be flown back to the U.S. for treatment. In addition, NBC News announced that four other employees, including Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman, would also be flown back to the U.S. on a private charter plane and quarantined for 21 days as a precautionary measure. Details can be seen here.
On October 2nd, at a press conference held to announce $18 million in grants to three hospitals in Houston, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said the Ebola outbreak has delayed some of the company’s offshore drilling plans in Liberia. As a precautionary measure, ExxonMobil is also prohibiting some employees traveling to the African counties directly impacted by the virus. ExxonMobil has a presence in both Liberia and Nigeria and has donated $250,000 and $225,000, respectively to aid each country’s response efforts. Comments from Tillerson were recorded here.
On October 3rd, the WHO update its statistics for Ebola cases in West Africa, reporting 7,470 cases of Ebola and 3,431 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, as of October 1st. In Nigeria, there have been 20 cases and eight deaths. Both Senegal and the U.S. reported one case, and, at the time, no deaths. Further details were issued here.
On October 3rd, Head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury traveled to Liberia to assess the Ebola situation. While in Monrovia, Special Representative Banbury was briefed by U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director Denise Brown, who warned that the virus is spreading faster than WFP can provide food, planes, helicopters, and ships to aid in containment efforts. His visit comes as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the response effort is just 26 percent funded. The full request is $988 million. Special Representative Banbury will travel to Guinea next week. More information can be viewed here.
On October 3rd, U.S. Government officials held a press conference to reassure Americans that an Ebola outbreak is unlikely in the U.S., where the conditions are vastly different from those that have fueled the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. U.S. officials also discussed response efforts to the crisis in West Africa, noting the main priority is to get the spread of the disease under control in Africa. Clips from the press conference can be watched here.
On October 3rd, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General David Rodriguez provided President Barack Obama with an update on the U.S. Government’s military response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. President Obama and Commander Rodriguez discussed the progress of Operation United Assistance and noted the Operation is bringing additional speed and scale to the regional response led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). President Obama also underscored the pivotal role of American leadership in containing the epidemic at its source. A readout of the call was posted here.
On October 3rd, U.S. troops opened a second Ebola laboratory in Liberia, after opening the first laboratory on Thursday. Both laboratories are managed by personnel from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC). In addition, U.S. military personnel began construction on two Ebola treatments centers in Liberia that are due to be completed by the end of the month, while a 25-bed
hospital for infected medical personnel is expected to open on October 18th. Developments were shared
On October 3rd, the U.S. Army announced additional units that will deploy in support of USAID’s efforts to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa. In addition to previously announced units from Fort Campbell, the Army will also deploy 500 soldiers from Fort Hood, 500 soldiers from Fort Bliss, 160 soldiers from Fort Carson, and 120 soldiers from Fort Bragg. The Army forces will deploy in mid-late October, with continued deployments throughout November that bring the Army’s presence in West
Africa to approximately 3,200 soldiers. A press release was issued here.
On October 3rd, USAID Chief Economist Stephen O’Connell authored a post for USAID’s Impact Blog criticizing a recent Washington Post story on Liberia’s handling of the Ebola crisis. Chief Economist O’Connell notes that Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world following the end of its 15- year civil war in 2003. He also clarified that Liberia has been hit by the Ebola crisis at a time when it is on the rise economically and in the midst of constructing effective government institutions. The blog post can be accessed here.
On October 3rd, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provided an update on the clinical trial of the Ebola vaccine that has been underway for the past month. NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci noted 20 people have already received doses of an experimental vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Vaccine Research Center without any red flags. If the trials continue to run smoothly, a second phase could be launched in West Africa in the first quarter of 2015. An update was provided here.
On October 3rd, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the CDC, issued an emergency special permit to allow Stericycle to transport large quantities of Ebola-related waste in Texas. The permit provides instructions for operation controls during transport and requires the carrier to maintain a written spill response plan with guidelines for protecting employees and decontaminating any released material in the event of an accident. More information was posted here.
On October 3rd, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) announced the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Ebola outbreak and the first case of Ebola in the U.S. on October 16th. Witnesses will include CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. The hearing was announced here.
On October 3rd, Congressmen Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Tim Griffin (R-AR), and Steve Womack (R-AR) sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama calling for travel restrictions in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The congressmen asked President Obama to consider a ban on flights from Ebola-affected countries, additional travel screenings for passengers who have traveled to countries dealing with Ebola, and the suspension of nonimmigrant visas issued to persons from African countries facing the Ebola outbreak. The letter can be downloaded here.
On October 3rd, Texas health officials quarantined four family members of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan after they failed to comply with a request not to leave their apartment. The family members were moved to a new location on Friday once a cleanup crew began decontamination work at the apartment where Duncan had been staying with family upon his arrival in the U.S. The situation was detailed here.
On October 4th, doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas treating Thomas Eric Duncan for Ebola reported his condition has deteriorated from serious, but stable, to critical. In addition, after previous reports indicating that a flaw in the hospital’s electronic health records (EHR) system did not allow the doctor who initially saw Duncan access to his travel history, hospital officials clarified that all medical professionals did, in fact, have access to travel information. Updates were reported here.
On October 4th, Texas health officials said they have narrowed the number of people thought to be exposed to Ebola by Thomas Eric Duncan to nine family members and health care workers, none who were showing any symptoms of the virus. Those nine people, as well as 40 others who may have come into Duncan, are being tracked by federal and local public health officials as part of an effort to keep Ebola from spreading in the U.S. More information is available here.
On October 4th, two hospitals in the Washington, DC, area treating patients who had both recently
traveled to West Africa concluded that both patients did not have Ebola. Officials at Howard University Hospital reported that Ebola was ruled out based on the patient’s symptoms, while officials at Shady Grove Adventist hospital diagnosed their patient with malaria, which has similar symptoms to Ebola. Both cases were noted here.
On October 4th, Newark University Hospital in New Jersey confirmed that a patient who arrived on an international flight from Brussels, Belgium, and was showing symptoms of Ebola did not have the virus. After vomiting on his flight, the man and his daughter both underwent testing for Ebola after traveling from West Africa. Both the patient and his daughter were discharged, but will continue to undergo monitoring. The case was described here.
On October 5th, the New York Times reported that a container holding $140,000 worth of medical equipment to help fight Ebola has been held a port in Sierra Leone since early August waiting to be cleared for use following the Government of Sierra Leone’s failure to pay shipping fees. The container holds 100 bags and boxes of hospital linens, 100 cases of protective suits, 80 cases of face masks, and other personal protective gear that have been donated by U.S. individuals and aid institutions. The full story can be seen here.
On October 5th, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the CDC has been getting 800 calls a day from health care workers who are concerned a patient might be showing Ebola symptoms. This figure is up from 50 calls per day since the first Ebola case was confirmed in the U.S. last week. The CDC has assessed more than 100 cases, and tested 15 patients. There remains only one confirmed Ebola case in the U.S. The increase in calls was reported here.
On October 6th, health workers operating Liberia’s Ebola treatment wards indicated they may go on strike next week if the Liberian Government does not increase the hazard pay scale recently announced by the Finance Ministry. The Government has proposed $850 per month in hazard pay for Ebola treatment center supervisors, $825 per month for doctors, $450 for general practitioners, and $435 for nurses and lab technicians. Since the start of the West African Ebola outbreak in March, 200 Liberian
health care workers have been infected with the virus and 92 have died, according to the Health Ministry. The full story is available here.
On October 6th, Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato said a nurse in Spain contracted Ebola virus after caring for a sick priest who had recently been flown back to Spain from West Africa for treatment and died from the disease. Two tests confirmed the diagnosis, but the patient remains in stable condition. This is the first case of Ebola transmission outside of West Africa. The case was described here.
On October 6th, U.S. President Barack Obama convened a meeting of his senior health, homeland security, and national security advisors to receive an update on the Ebola case in Texas, broader domestic preparedness plans, and U.S. international efforts to contain and end the epidemic in West Africa. President Obama and his team discussed the progress made on monitoring patient contacts in Dallas. There was also agreement to consider options to enhance airport screening in the U.S. and the need to tackle Ebola at its source in West Africa. A readout of the meeting was posted here. A fact sheet on the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was issued here.
On October 6th, Stars and Stripes reported the U.S. military response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been slowed by poor infrastructure, equipment challenges, and heavy rain. For example, construction on a new field hospital in Liberia has been delayed by heavy rains in addition to a mix up in the delivery of supplies. An update was provided here.
On October 6th, Chris Thomas of USAID’s Bureau for Global Health wrote for USAID’s Impact Blog about how the Ebola crisis in West Africa has demonstrated the need to improve health care systems in the region. The post describes how health systems in Africa are challenged by health worker shortages, inadequate financing, disjointed information systems, lack of information on public health threats, and inexperienced leadership. The full post can be read here.
On October 6th, U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced plans to hold a field hearing in Dallas entitled, “Ebola in the Homeland: The Importance of Effective International, Federal, State, and Local Coordination,” on October 10th. The hearing was announced here.
On October 6th, Texas Governor Rick Perry held a press conference to announce the launch of the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which has been asked to assess and enhance the state’s existing capabilities to respond to pandemics, such as Ebola virus. In addition, Governor Perry called for improved advanced screening for Ebola at U.S. points of entry, including obtaining additional information, checking temperatures, and creating quarantine stations to help prevent Ebola from entering the country. Highlights from the press conference were noted here.
On October 6th, officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said they were treating Thomas Eric Duncan for Ebola with Brincidofovir, an experimental antiviral drug. The use of the experimental drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on an emergency basis. Brincidofovir is currently in late-stage testing for treatment of several types of viruses. More information can be viewed here.
On October 6th, Ashoka Mukpo, the American video journalist who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia, arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. The hospital, which also effectively treated Dr. Rick Sacra for Ebola, has the fourth largest isolation unit in the U.S. Mukpo allegedly walked off the plane before being loaded on to a stretcher for the ambulance ride to the hospital. Details were shared here.
On October 7th, the U.N. Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) approved the $49.9 million funding request for UNMEER through the end of this year and recommended approval of the budget by the U.N. General Assembly. UNMEER teams have already deployed to headquarters in Ghana, and to offices in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The UNMEER budget request was detailed here.
On October 7th, WHO European Director Zsuzanna Jakab said the WHO is ready to support authorities in Spain in their efforts to contain the spread of Ebola. She added that Europe is still at low risk for an Ebola outbreak similar to the one in West Africa and that the region is among the best prepared in the world to respond to the disease. Director Jakab’s comments come ahead of an emergency meeting on Ebola convened by British Prime Minister David Cameron. More information is available here.
On October 7th, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez held a press conference on the U.S. military response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He said the overarching goal is to get 70 percent of infected people diagnosed, quarantined, and under treatment in Liberia, which will allow the outbreak to begin to subside. Commander Rodriguez also estimated the U.S. military effort could cost $750 million over the next six months. Excerpts from the briefing were highlighted here.
On October 7th, Carol Han, a Press Officer for the USAID Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployed to Liberia, authored a blog post on the efforts of the CDC, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USMRIID), NIH, and USAID to improve the capabilities of the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research (LIBR) to test patient specimens for Ebola. As part of the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, U.S. personnel are helping the LIBR process samples more quickly and train local technicians. The blog post can be read here.
On October 7th, a CDC team and their Liberian counterparts visited four counties in southeastern Liberia where no Ebola cases have been reported. The team observed that despite no presence of Ebola, only three physicians remained after all others had fled out of fear of the virus. The team also found that many of the villages and their health care clinics lack clean, running water and electricity. Additional observations were highlighted here.
On October 7th, the NIH announced the discharge of a patient flown back to the U.S. from Sierra Leone for observation for Ebola. In addition, NIH officials revealed the unidentified patient was exposed to Ebola by a needle stick injury and isolated out of precaution that he had an active infection. The patient will remain in his home and check his temperature regularly until the conclusion of a 21-day observation period. His release from the NIH Clinical Center was announced here.
On October 7th, following a call with CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) applauded the U.S. Coast Guard for stepping up its screening of cargo ship personnel arriving at
ports in the northeastern U.S. from West Africa. The announcement comes as U.S. officials articulated plans to announced enhanced screenings for airline passengers for Ebola in the coming days. Senator Schumer’s comments were transcribed here.
On October 7th, Democrats on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education sent a letter to Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) requesting a hearing on Ebola in West Africa and the threat of a public health crisis in the U.S. The letter can be downloaded here.
On October 7th, aid groups responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa expressed opposition to British Airways’ decision to extend its ban on flights to and from Sierra Leone and Liberia, from December through the end of March. Critics argued British Airways’ decision sends the wrong message, hampers relief efforts, and will only increase the risk of the Ebola epidemic spreading further throughout West Africa. Details can be viewed here.
On October 8th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Marcel Ridasingwa of Rwanda to serve as Ebola Crisis Manager for Guinea, Peter Jan Graaff of the Netherlands to serve as Ebola Crisis Manager for Liberia, and Amadu Kamara of the U.S. to serve as Ebola Crisis Manager for Sierra Leone. The appointments came as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a program to provide food to 90,000 households affected by Ebola across all three countries and as the U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) announced that one of its international staff members had tested positive for Ebola. Developments at the U.N. were shared here.
On October 8th, the World Bank issued a new economic impact assessment on the potential economic effects of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. If Ebola is not contained and the virus spreads beyond Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the World Bank forecasts the two-year regional financial impact could reach $32.6 billion by the end of 2015. The report expresses optimism that the outbreak can be contained, similar to the outcomes in Nigeria and Senegal, and encourages responders to focus on dispelling the fear that has led some countries to close their borders and airlines and companies to suspend their activities in the hardest hit West African countries. The full report can be downloaded here.
On October 8th, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a conference call with federal, state, and local officials to discuss domestic preparedness for Ebola. Additional participants included HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor Lisa Monaco. A transcript of the call was posted here.
On October 8th, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest announced that temperature screenings of passengers coming from West Africa would be implemented in the next seven days at five international airports, including Kennedy International, Washington Dulles International, O’Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson International, and Newark Liberty International. Officials report that about 90 percent of those arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea enter the U.S. through these airports. Read the full story here.
On October 8th, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced 100 Marines and sailors from the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Africa, based in Moron, Spain, would arrive in Monrovia, Liberia, on Thursday to inject airlift capabilities into U.S. response efforts to Ebola in West Africa. The bridging task force will arrive with four MV 22 Osprey aircraft and 2 KC-130 tanker and aircraft that will be used to transport people and cargo between Liberia and a U.S. air hub in Senegal. Details are available here.
On October 8th, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) noted it has been coordinating with humanitarian assistance staff from AFRICOM to help send 1,400 cots, more than 100 pallets of meals, and about 150 ballets of bottled water to Liberia and Senegal, to aid in U.S. Ebola response efforts. DLA is also sending insect repellent and mosquito nets to the Ebola-affected region. A press release was issued here.
On October 8th, 27 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including three Democrats, sent a
letter to President Barack Obama calling for more active screening of travelers to and from countries in West Africa affected by the Ebola outbreak. They also requested that the State Department impose a travel ban and restrict travel visas issued to citizens of the West African countries experiencing the epidemic until Ebola has been contained. The letter can be downloaded here.
On October 8th, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital announced that Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola virus. Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, said Duncan’s potential for recovery was further complicated by a two-day delay in treatment. Health officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital indicated Duncan will be cremated according to CDC instructions for handling a body infected with Ebola. Details on Duncan’s passing can be read here.
On October 8th, Bloomberg reported the bill for Thomas Eric Duncan’s care for Ebola may total
$500,000. These costs factor in various treatments, including a ventilator, experimental medicine, dialysis, fluid replacement, blood transfusions, and blood pressure drugs, as well as the indirect costs related to security, disposal of Ebola-related waste, and protective equipment for caregivers. Duncan did not have health insurance and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is expected to cover the expenses as charity care. The costs of Duncan’s treatment were detailed here.
On October 8th, Texas health officials said they are continuing to monitor ten people who had direct contact with Duncan while he was symptomatic, as well as 38 others who may have been in indirect contact with Duncan. So far, no one under monitoring has shown symptoms of Ebola. Symptoms of the virus commonly begin to present eight to ten days after exposure to the virus, meaning that anyone who was exposed and infected would likely begin to show symptoms this week. More information was reported here.
On October 8th, paramedics transported Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Sargent Michael Monning to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after he arrived at a clinic showing signs and symptoms of Ebola. Sargent Monning had accompanied health officials to the apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying when he fell ill with Ebola, but is not thought to have had direct contact with Duncan. Sargent Monning was kept in isolation while undergoing tests for Ebola and other viruses. The full story is available here.
On October 8th, Ashoka Mukpo, the American videographer being treated for Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center, received a blood transfusion from fellow American Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly. While the effectiveness of the blood transfusion is unknown, it is believed that a survivor’s blood contains antibodies to fight the disease. Mukpo is also receiving the experimental Ebola drug Brincidofovir. More information can be viewed here.
On October 8th, Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola, said she believes she became infected while removing her protective suit after cleaning up the room of an Ebola patient. While Romero first became symptomatic on September 30th, she was not tested for Ebola until October 6th. Meanwhile, despite public protests, Spanish officials executed Romero’s dog, Excalibur, out of concern that the dog could spread Ebola virus. Developments in Romero’s case were described here.
On October 8th, the Wall Street Journal detailed the supplies needed to care for an Ebola patient. According to the report, each day, treating a single Ebola patient requires 52.8 gallons of water, 20 gallons of bleach, eight pairs of rubber gloves, and three body suits. More information can be seen here.
On October 9th, the Presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone participated in a meeting on Ebola convened as part of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. At the meeting, Guinean President Alpha Conde made an urgent plea for money, supplies, medicine, equipment, and training for health care workers. Appearing by video conference, President of Sierra Leone Ernst Bai Koroma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called for a rapid increase in assistance. These comments were echoed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. The meeting was summarized here. A transcript of President Kim’s remarks
can be found here.
On October 9th, Spanish health authorities announced three more people were quarantined in Madrid overnight as part of Spain’s effort to contain the risk of Ebola spreading. The three new patients bring the
total number of Spanish patients quarantined at a Madrid hospital to six, while health officials are also continuing to monitor 80 people for symptoms of Ebola. An update was issued here.
On October 9th, the Texas Department of Health Services completed testing on a specimen from Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Sargent Michael Monning, who had fallen ill after coming into contact with a family member of deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. The specimen tested negative for Ebola. The result was announced here.
On October 9th, following briefings with DOD officials and the provision of a force protection plan, U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) said he is prepared to release $750 million for the first six months of the U.S. military’s mission to combat Ebola in West Africa. Congressman McKeon said the release of the funds marks the beginning of the Committee’s oversight of the military mission in West Africa. The Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to release its hold that prevents DOD from spending more than $100 million on the mission. More information was posted here.
On October 5th, African Union (AU) and Somali trooped retook control of Barawe, which since 1993, has been a stronghold for Al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab insurgents had been using the port city to import troops and weapons and to exploit charcoal worth millions of dollars to fund military operations. According to Somali military officials, Al Shabaab fighters retreated and were unsuccessful in trying to push back against AU and government forces at the city’s edge. The retaking of Barawe was reported here.
On October 6th, U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay welcomed the recovery of the port city Barawe from Al Shabaab fighters by the Somali National Army (SNA) and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He said the retaking of Barawe is a critical milestone for Somalia’s peace and stability. Special Representative Kay’s comments were recorded here.
On October 3rd, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed shock and outrage at the killing of nine Nigerien peacekeepers in an attack on a Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) convoy traveling from Menaka to Asongo. Secretary-General Ban warned that attacks against peacekeepers constitute a serious violation of international law. Addressing ongoing peace talks in Algiers, Algeria, he also called for commitment to a political solution in the inter-Malian negotiations. Secretary-General Ban’s reaction to the attack was noted here.
On October 3rd, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement condemning last week’s ambush in northern Mali that killed nine Nigerien peacekeepers. Vice President Biden observed this is the latest in a series of attacks against MINUSMA, which have taken the lives of 30 peacekeepers and wounded 90 others since the mission’s deployment. More broadly, Vice President Biden expressed U.S. support for
U.N. peacekeepers and their contributions to international peace and security. His full statement can be seen here.
On October 6th, Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara called on French forces deployed in Mali to go on the offensive in the northern part of the country to stop the resurgence of Islamic extremists. In addition, Prime Minister Mara requested that MINUSMA deploy more of its force in Mali’s northern regions and begin to use its helicopters, special forces, and other assets to hunt down the Islamists who led the 2012 coup. Prime Minister Mara’s comments were captured here.
On October 8th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage at the second attack this week against U.N. peacekeepers in Mali. On Wednesday, unidentified assailants launched approximately six mortar rounds at the MINUSMA camp in Kidal, killing one Senegalese peacekeeper and wounding another. The attack coincided with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous’ briefing to the U.N. Security Council on the situation in Mali and the status of the second phase of peace negotiations currently underway in Algeria. Details were shared here.
On October 2nd, the U.N. Security Council expressed support for the meeting facilitated by the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) between members of Libya’s House of Representatives, held on September 29th. The Security Council continued to encourage peaceful and inclusive dialogue, called on all sides to reject violence and embrace a political process, and welcomed the agreement for the U.N. to
facilitate another meeting aimed at achieving a solution for peace in Libya. Feedback from the U.N. Security Council was shared here.
On October 5th, the British principal at the now-closed International School Benghazi, David Bolam, was released after being held captive by rebels for five months. Bolam was abducted by Libyan militants at a shopping mall in May. Reportedly, local political factions secured his release in a deal involving the payment of a ransom. It remains unclear which group held Bolam captive. Details on his release can be read here.
On October 6th, Libya’s Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). According to media reports in the country, the group paraded in the town of Derna with ISIL flags while shouting pro-ISIL slogans. The full story can be seen here.
On October 6th, more than 100 people were reported missing after a vessel sank off the coast of Libya over the weekend. The vessel sank near the town of Zuwarah, west of Tripoli. Approximately 70 people were rescued. Local authorities report that survivors said the vessel was carrying over 250 migrants hoping to get to Europe. Details were posted here
On October 7th, a judge in London’s High Court ordered Goldman Sachs to pay 200,000 pounds to the Libyan Investment Authority. The money will go toward the costs of the Authority’s battle against Goldman Sachs’ efforts to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them in January. The Authority, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, is suing Goldman over $1.2 billion worth of derivative transactions the bank designed and executed in 2008. After the financial crisis, the transactions were rendered worthless, but Goldman earned $350 million in profit, the suit contends. More can be read here.
On October 8th, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni announced that Egypt will help train Libyan forces. In addition, the leaders agreed to work together on efforts to combat Islamist insurgents and secure a shared border. The meeting was summarized here.
On October 8th, OCHA appealed for $35 million in additional funding to provide assistance to the more than 331,000 people affected by the ongoing crisis in Libya. In addition, OHCA reported that more than 100,000 Libyans have sought refuge in neighboring countries as rival militias continue to perpetuate violence in the country. The funding request was announced here.
On October 2nd, following an incident that involved the advance of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops on the Bentiu refugee camp in Unity state, the U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported the situation has returned to normal. While the troops did not enter the camp and no weapons were fired, U.N. personnel reported panic at the site where 47,000 people are sheltering. The incident was reported here.
On October 3rd, the U.S. Department of State issued a press statement expressing concern for draft legislation that would regulate NGOs and the National Security Services (NSS) in South Sudan and urging government officials to engage in an inclusive consultation process. State Department officials said, as currently written, the NGO bill could restrict civil society and restrict the delivery of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. U.S. officials also expressed concern that the NSS bill could curtail due process and counter the freedoms articulated in South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution and international norms. The full statement can be read here.
On October 6th, in conjunction with her first visit to South Sudan, U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura expressed concern for continuing acts of sexual violence in violation of a ceasefire agreement. While in South Sudan, Special Representative Bangura conducted meetings
focused on measures that can be taken to prevent human rights violations and to provide rape victims with they care and support they need. Special Representative Bangura’s visit to South Sudan was noted here.
On October 6th, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks between the South Sudanese Government and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar went into a consultative recess. South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin reported the break is intended to allow negotiators time to consult with their leaders on some of the sticking points in the peace talks. Negotiations are expected to resume on October 15th. An update was provided here.
On October 7th, U.N. Special Representative to South Sudan and head of UNMISS Margrethe Loj held her first press conference to address the challenges facing South Sudan. In particular, Special Representative Loj highlighted the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ongoing ethnic tensions throughout the country. She also discussed the need to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need. Excerpts from the press conference were highlighted here.
On October 9th, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth delivered remarks on the political and humanitarian situation in Sudan and South Sudan at the Atlantic Council. In his address entitled, “U.S. Policy on Sudan and South Sudan: The Way Forward,” Special Envoy Booth discussed
U.S. goals and policies to achieve two peaceful and prosperous states. More information was shared
On October 9th, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp traveled to Juba, South Sudan, for meetings on accountability and transitional justice with members of the Government of South Sudan, civil society, UNMISS, and the AU. Ambassador Rapp’s travel was announced here.
Central African Republic
On October 5th, Abdoulaye Bathily, head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, said that a long- term postponement of elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) could worsen the crisis in the region. The statement comes after talks suggesting the February elections could be delayed until July or September 2015. More can be read here.
On October 7th, Christian militias called for the CAR President Catherine Samba-Panza and Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun to step down. In a statement on Monday, Edouard Patrice Ngaissona, leader for the anti-balaka coalition, said the government leaders should step down due to their failure to address the chaotic conditions in the CAR. He also accused President Samba-Panza of embezzling financial aid. The situation was detailed here.
On October 8th, a Christian anti-balaka mob killed a Muslim man, decapitating and burning his corpse. In response, Muslims killed a taxi driver. Despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers, seven have now been killed in the attacks in the CAR that began September 29th. The full story can be viewed here.
On October 2nd, Director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch Richard Dicker said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had a legal obligation to be present at the October 8th hearing to determine the start date for his trial before the ICC. President Kenyatta, who is charged with crimes against humanity in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 elections, had previously suggested his executive responsibilities might preclude him from attending. The situation was described here.
On October 8th, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared at the ICC. President Kenyatta’s appearance is notable because he is the first head of state to ever appear at the ICC since it was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes. At the ICC, President Kenyatta’s defense attorney argued the case against his client should be dropped due to insufficient evidence. An article on the case can be read here.
United States – Africa Relations
Department of State
On October 6th, Detroit welcomed 15 delegates from 12 nations around the Middle East and North Africa for a small business and entrepreneurship program. The event is a part of the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program, which concluded on Wednesday. More information can be accessed here.
On October 7th, Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp traveled to Kampala, Uganda, for meetings on the counter-Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) mission and on international justice issues with judicial authorities and members of civil society. Ambassador Rapp’s travel was noticed here.
On October 7th, the State Department issued a fact sheet on the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2014, which will be held November 19th-21st, in Marrakech, Morocco. This year’s Summit, which is themed, “Harnessing the Power of Technology for Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” will explore the new opportunities technology has created for entrepreneurs. Participants will include entrepreneurs, mentors, incubator managers, policymakers, educators, and social entrepreneurs. Additional information was
On October 7th, American University’s School of International Service (SIS) hosted an event on “U.S.- Africa Policy for the Next Generation of Leaders.” Keynote remarks were delivered by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda-Thomas Greenfield. Event details can be viewed here.
On October 8th, while in Perth, Australia, for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Ministerial, State Department Counselor Tom Shannon met with South Africa Director General Anil Sookal. The meeting, which was held on the margins of the Ministerial, was noted here.
On October 8th, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli met with Tunisian Minister of Economy and Finance Hakim Ben Hammouda at the Department of State. The meeting was listed here.
On October 8th, as part of his trip to Kampala, Uganda, Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp delivered remarks at a screening of the film “Nuremberg: It’s Lesson for Today,” sponsored by the Amakula Cultural Foundation at the Ugandan National Theater. Ambassador Rapp’s participation was detailed here.
On October 9th, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Guinean President Alpha Conde at the Department of State. The meeting was included on the State Department’s daily appointment schedule, which can be accessed here.
On October 9th, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press statement on Uganda’s national day. Secretary Kerry said Uganda is an important partner in the fight against terrorism and expressed appreciation for Uganda’s efforts to address the threat posed by the LRA and its contributions to AMISOM. In addition, Secretary Kerry encouraged Uganda to continue to promote democracy, human rights, and peace and prosperity throughout the region. The full statement can be read here.
On October 9th, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns hosted a swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Ambassador-Designate to Zambia Eric Schultz. The swearing-in ceremony, held at the State Department, was noted here.
On October 9th, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Puneet Talwar met with AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez at the Department of State. The meeting was noticed here.
On October 12th, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cairo, Egypt, to participate in an international conference for Gaza reconstruction. Secretary Kerry will join European Union (EU), U.N., Arab League, and other foreign leaders in support of a major humanitarian assistance and reconstruction effort to benefit Palestinians living in Gaza. Secretary Kerry’s travel was announced here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On September 29th-October 10th, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) hosted a reverse trade mission (RTM) on Malawi Power Sector Opportunities. The RTM introduced high-level representatives from Malawi’s electric power sector to U.S. technologies, equipment, and services, as well as policies, regulations, and financing mechanisms that can support the modernization of Malawi’s power sector. Participating delegates from Malawi attended a Business Briefing at USTDA headquarters, participated in the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) annual conference, and conducted additional site visits in Washington, DC, Miami, and Atlanta. More information can be found here.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
On October 8th, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) published a blog post detailing how President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative is assisting Africa not only with its off-grid energy challenges, but also in addressing on-grid challenges in large cities. Recognizing that countries such as Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, South Sudan, and Uganda are expected to become significantly more urbanized by 2050, OPIC suggests that larger power plants will be needed in Africa to address the growing demand for on-grid power. The blog post can be accessed here.
On October 2nd, the World Bank and the Center for Mediterranean Integration released a new analysis of factors in Tunisia that perpetuate high youth unemployment. The report, “Breaking the Barriers to Youth Inclusion,” suggests that while active citizenship and civil participation among young Tunisians is critical to sustaining economic momentum and political stability, youth activism primarily occurs in an ad-hoc manner and outside of civil and political institutions. The report can be downloaded here.
On October 6th, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges called on Saudi Arabian authorities to execute arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who was on pilgrimage in Mecca. Saudi Arabia responded by stating it is not a state party to the ICC’s founding charter and, as a result, had no obligation to cooperate with the court. The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against President Bashir for crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur. The full story is available here.
On October 8th, Amnesty International reported that Mohammed Soltan, the Egyptian-American prisoner who has been on hunger strike for more than eight month, has been transferred to an intensive care unit after a dramatic deterioration in his health. Soltan was arrested in 2013 as part of the massive crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. His trial on charges that he spread false information and financed an anti-government sit-in is due to resume on Saturday. More information can be seen here.
On October 1st, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) updated its GDP to increase the size of Kenya’s economy by 25.3 percent. With the latest update, Kenya is now ranked as Africa’s ninth largest economy, up from 12th, surpassing Ghana, Tunisia, and Ethiopia. The increase in Kenya’s economic
growth was attributed to robust activity in the agricultural, manufacturing, and real estate sectors. Additional analysis was provided here.
On October 2nd, U.N. Special Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi concluded a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia, focused on empowering young people to participate in the development and peace processes. Special Envoy Alhendawi warned that 25 years of conflict in Somalia have deprived two generations of youth access to education and employment. As a result, he observed that young people have increasingly turned to crime and radicalization and remain at risk for recruitment by armed groups. Special Envoy Alhendawi’s visit to Somalia was summarized here.
On October 6th, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) held a briefing entitled, “Under the Spotlight: Kenya’s Fight Against Terrorism.” The discussion focused on Kenya’s ongoing fight against Al Shabaab in light of the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Speakers included Mark Yarnell of Refugees International, Lauren Ploch Blanchard of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College. Event details were posted here.
On October 7th, Mail and Guardian reported Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is reconsidering anti- homosexuality legislation that he signed into law earlier this year, but was recently struck down by Uganda’s constitutional court. As social conservatives in the Ugandan parliament consider their response to the court ruling, President Museveni published an opinion piece warning that any further action on anti-homosexuality policies should take into account the potential negative impacts on Uganda’s economic growth. An article on the situation can be read here.
On October 8th, Abu Dhabi’s Ministry of Economy, in coordination with the Department of Economic Development, organized an East African Buyers forum. The forum in Abu Dhabi brought together nearly 40 companies from East Africa and 80 local exporters across different sectors. The event aims to increase the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) exports and bilateral trade with African countries. More can be read here.
On October 8th, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda decreased the costs of mobile phone calls across their borders by more than 60 percent. Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications said the slash comes as a part of efforts to increase regional integration. Details on the agreement can be read here.
On October 9th, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) unveiled a new web portal to serve as a clearinghouse for information on trade, markets, and integration for the region. TMEA works with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations to increase trade in East Africa. TMEA has also undertaken additional efforts to automate import and export clearing systems, facilitate more seamless movement of goods through East Africa, and improve the efficiency of government systems related to trade. The website launch was reported here.
On October 2nd, an IMF team concluded a visit to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to conduct discussions on the sixth review of Cote d’Ivoire’s economic and financial program supported by an arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). IMF officials met with President Alassane Ouattara, Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Finance and Budget Daniel Kablan Duncan, and other government officials. IMF staff reported strong macroeconomic performance supported by robust economic activity in Cote d’Ivoire’s construction, public work, and services sectors, and projected GDP growth to reach eight percent in 2014 and 2015. Additional analysis was provided here.
On October 6th, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the implementation of Phase Two of the Foundation’s Cocoa Livelihood Program (CLP). The $70 million program was launched in Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria in 2009 to help cocoa producers achieve better livelihoods. The second phase of the CLP will focus on increasing cocoa productivity, improving service delivery efficiency such as access to planting materials, fertilizers, and agrochemicals, and improving farmer resiliency through the production of food crops. More information was shared here.
On October 2nd, the FAO called attention to the funding shortfall for efforts to prevent a resurgence of a locust plague in Madagascar. According to the FAO, $14.7 million is needed to cover aerial surveys, control operations, equipment, and pesticides. A campaign to combat the plague was first launched in September 2013. Since then, 30 million hectares of land have been surveyed and locust populations have been controlled over 1.2 million hectares. More information is available here.
On October 3rd, the U.N. Security Council marked the half-way point of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of the Democratic Forcers for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). While the timeframe was agreed upon by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Security Council expressed concern that no further surrenders of members of the FDLR have occurred and the group has failed to deliver on its promise to demobilize. The situation was described here.
On October 6th, Angolan Finance Minister Armando Manuel announced Angola is two years behind
schedule to increase its oil output to 2 million barrels per day. The new production levels will not be achieved until 2017. Angola is currently producing 1.87 million barrels of oil per day. Output fell to a seven-year low earlier this year as some oil fields peaked and others were shut down for maintenance. More information can be found here.
On October 7th, Morocco’s Embassy in South Africa reported that a Moroccan diplomat had been killed. The victim, M. Noureddine Fatmi, in charge of consular affairs, was apparently murdered in his home in Pretoria. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working with South African authorities on the investigation. More can be read here.
On October 7th, an IMF team concluded a visit to Kigali, Rwanda, to conduct the 2014 Article IV Consultation and the second review of the economic program supported by the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). As part of the visit, staff met with Rwandan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gate, Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda John Rwangombwa, and other senior government officials. The mission found that Rwanda’s recent economic performance has been favorable, with economic growth expected at six percent for 2014. Further observations were issued here.
General Africa News
On October 1st, Microsoft 4Afrika awarded seven more Innovation Grants to African startup companies. Along with financial support, the awardees will also have access to professional and technical support. Microsoft issued five additional awards earlier this year. The most recent awardees were listed here.
On October 7th, the World Bank issued its Africa Pulse, a biannual analysis of the issues influencing Africa’s economic prospects. The most recent analysis finds that despite weaker than expected global growth and stable or declining commodity prices, African economies are continuing to expand at a moderately rapid pace, with regional GDP growth projected to strengthen to 5.2 percent yearly in 2015- 2016 from 4.6 percent in 2014. The World Bank forecasts economic growth as the result of increase public investment in infrastructure, greater agricultural production, and expanded retail, telecommunications, transportation, and finance services. Additional analysis can be seen here.
On October 7th-9th, the Corporate Council on Africa hosted its annual U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference in Washington, DC. This year’s conference, themed “Building Resilient Cities,” highlighted how major metropolises in Africa are coping with rapid urbanization and the needs of a steadily growing middle class. The conference included panels on solutions for potable water, intermodal transportation, communications technology, and on- and off-grid electricity. Details can be viewed here.
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Boston Washington www.mlstrategies.com
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