News in Brief 12 May 2017 (PM)

12 May 2017

Ebola case confirmed in DRC, nine others suspected

A case of the often-deadly Ebola virus has been confirmed by a laboratory test in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and nine other cases are suspected, said the government in statement on Friday.

DRC’s public health minister said he had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the suspected outbreak.

Oly Illunga Kalenga said the outbreak occurred in a remote part of northern DRC, in the Likati Health District, and he asked WHO for support “to strengthen the response to this epidemic”.

According to news reports, he warned in a televised address, that the outbreak was a “national health emergency with international significance.”

Since 22 April, he said, 9 suspected cases had been reported, of which three had died.

WHO country representative, Yokouidé Allarangar, said the organization would chair a coordination meeting in the capital Kinshasa this weekend, to deal with the emergency “and ensure that WHO provides all necessary assistance to DRC".

More than 11,000 died in West Africa’s 2014 Ebola epidemic; the most deadly outbreak in history.

Britain’s foreign aid chief to head UN relief wing

Mark Lowcock the Permanent Secretary at the UK Department for International Development, DFID, has been appointed by the Secretary-General to head the UN relief wing, OCHA, the UN Spokesperson said on Friday.

Mr. Lowcock will take on a dual role: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

He will succeed Stephen O’Brien, who will remain in his current role until the end of August.

Stéphane Dujarric Dujarric has more.

“After the end of August, Mr. O’Brien will be succeeded by Mark Lowcock of the United Kingdom. Mr. Lowcock brings to the position more than 30 years of experience leading and managing responses to humanitarian crises around the globe, and wider strategic leadership in the international development arena.”

DFID leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

Zambian small-scale farmers at risk of becoming squatters: UN expert

Small-scale farmers in Zambia are at risk of becoming squatters on their own land as the country is turned into Southern Africa’s food basket, an independent UN expert has warned.

Hilal Elver, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, made the remarks at the end of her official visit to Zambia.

The push to turn commercial large-scale agriculture into the “driving engine of the economy” is forcing smallholder farmers off their land and out of production.

She warned that this would severely impact people’s right to food, adding that the protection of access to land is weak in Zambia.

“Companies are coming and buying or leasing huge amounts of land - this is the trend in Africa and in Zambia too” she said, adding that the smallholders were being pushed out.

Zambia has a dual-system of land tenure where tenants on state land enjoy the full protection of their property rights.

However, Ms Elver noted, landholders under customary tenure, affecting around 85% of the land, are essentially occupants or users of land and their property and land rights remain unprotected.

Many are forced to work as contract farmers for the larger commercial industrial farms in adverse conditions, or are obliged to sell their products at undervalued prices to monopolistic multinationals who buy farmers’ product for export, the expert explained.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3'42"


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