Monday, January 25

Women Referees Make African Football History at CHAN

General
LIMBE, CAMEROON - Three women referees created history Saturday at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarterfinals. Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse and her assistants, Malawian Bernadettar Kwimbira and Nigerian Mimisen Iyorhe, became the first women to control a match at a senior CAF male tournament. The breakthrough came two years after women referees handled matches at the African under-23 and under-17 Cup of Nations tournaments. Tafesse, a former professional basketball player, tolerated no foul play as she yellow-carded three Tanzanians within 10 minutes during the second half. African male footballers often dispute decisions against them, but most accepted without hesitation the rulings of Tafesse at the Stade Omnisport in the southwestern coastal resort. "Lidya r...

WHO Warns of Diseases Spreading in Tigray Because of Conflict

Medical
GENEVA - The World Health Organization is warning that conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray province and the consequent disruption of health services could lead to the spread of deadly diseases there. Ethiopia’s November military assault on Tigray has caused a major break in the humanitarian pipeline there. The United Nations estimates that over 4.5 million people, about half of them children, need assistance. The WHO and other agencies have been granted only limited access to the region.  WHO officials who recently visited the area say many hospitals and clinics are only partially functioning, health care workers have been displaced and essential services have been disrupted. WHO health emergency officer Teresa Zakaria warns the disruption of essential health services has sever...

Internal Displacement in the Sahel Tops 2 Million as Armed Conflict Intensifies

General
GENEVA - The U.N. Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, is warning that countries in the Sahel have reached a breaking point as unrelenting violence in the region has caused more than 2 million people to become displaced inside their own countries for the first time ever. Humanitarian needs in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger are surging as escalating violence sends an increasing number of people fleeing for their lives.  The U.N. refugee agency reports internal displacement in the Sahel has quadrupled in just two years and is rising. Already this year, the agency reports violence in Niger and Burkina Faso has forced more than 21,000 people to flee their homes.  The Sahel also is hosting more than 850,000 refugees, mainly from Mali.  This creates an additional layer of insecurity and increases...

Zimbabweans Blame Government for COVID-19 Deaths of Officials

General
HARARE, ZIMBABWE - A surge in coronavirus cases in Zimbabwe has included the deaths of two Cabinet ministers in 48 hours. The government announced Friday night that Transport Minister Joel Matiza had died of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the president's office said Sibusiso Busi Moyo, Zimbabwe’s minister of foreign affairs and international trade, had died of  complications related to COVID-19. Zimbabweans have taken to social media to blame the deaths on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which takes senior officials abroad for treatment instead of rehabilitating the country's collapsed health care delivery system. Critics say Mnangagwa and his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, never bothered to upgrade hospitals or adequately pay health workers, who have recently been on st...

Central African Republic Begins 15-Day State of Emergency

Politics
A 15-day nationwide state of emergency began in the Central African Republic at midnight Thursday in response to rebel-inspired violence over last month’s disputed reelection of President Faustin-Archange Touadera. The state of emergency announcement Thursday came on the same day the head of the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, appealed to the U.N. Security Council to add more peacekeepers, warning the country was “at grave risk of a setback in terms of security and peacebuilding." Ndiaye also suggested that regional and international support should be sought to support the Central African Republic. Former president Francois Bozize has been blamed for the inflaming violence after the Constitutional Court rejected his candidacy in the...

Public Face of South Africa’s COVID-19 Fight Dies of Virus Complications

Medical
South Africa is mourning the sudden death of Jackson Mthembu, a cabinet minister and presidential adviser who was the public face of South Africa's fight against COVID-19. President Cyril Ramaphosa offered condolences in a statement Thursday, saying he was shocked and saddened that 62-year-old Mthembu had died from COVID-related complications. He is the first of six South African cabinet members infected with COVID-19 to succumb to the disease. Mthembu revealed last week that he tested positive for the virus during a checkup for abdominal pain. His death comes as South Africa battles a second wave of COVID-19 propelled by a virus variant believed to be more easily spread. So far, South Africa has confirmed more than 1.3 million infections and 39,501 deaths, according to John...