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News in Brief 14 April 2020

News in Brief 14 April 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

COVID-19: major relief airlift reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations

The first of the UN’s new “Solidarity Flights” carrying urgently needed medical equipment has arrived in Addis Ababa, agencies said on Tuesday.

On board the World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO)-chartered jet are one million face masks, along with gloves, goggles, ventilators and other essentials.

There is enough equipment to protect health workers while they treat more than 30,000 patients across the continent.

It’s to be distributed in five other countries initially: Djibouti, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Tanzania, said World Food Programme spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs:

“This is by far the largest single shipment of supplies since the start of the pandemic and (it) will ensure that people living in countries with some of the weakest heaths systems are able to get test and treated, while ensuring that health workers on the frontlines are properly protected.”

WFP’s flights are part of a larger effort to reach 95 countries most at risk from the new coronavirus with medical equipment and humanitarian workers.

To do this, WFP has appealed for $350 million but it has so far only received a quarter of that amount.

New Ebola virus infections dash hopes of an end to DR Congo epidemic

To the Democratic Republic of the Congo now, where cases of deadly Ebola virus disease have resurfaced, ending hopes that the latest outbreak there is over for the moment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three new cases have been identified since last Friday.

Two people have died, and the third person is still battling the disease, reportedly in the eastern city of Beni.

All those who have come into contact with the infected individuals have been found and vaccinated, WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said.

She added that an Emergency Committee was due to meet later on Tuesday to decide whether the Ebola outbreak still constituted a public health emergency of international concern.

DR Congo, where the Ebola outbreak began in August 2018, is also battling the new coronavirus, along with malaria, cholera and measles.

Lifesaving aid funding released to help cyclone survivors in Vanuatu

Finally, to the islands of the South Pacific, where the UN is gearing up to send aid to communities hit by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

After making landfall as a category 5 cyclone eight days ago, with winds of more than 200 kilometres per hour, the huge storm caused widespread destruction in the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga – but especially in Vanuatu.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Tuesday that nearly 77,000 people, including more than 20,000 children, live in the worst affected areas.

In Sanma province , nine in 10 people have lost their homes and more than half of all schools and almost a quarter of health centres have been damaged.

Crops have been destroyed and many communities remain cut off because of flooding and the destruction of roads.

To help, the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund has released $2.5 million to get safe drinking water to people in need, along with food, shelter, and healthcare.

Here’s OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke:

“The Government and first responders in Vanuatu were very active in making people safe ahead of the storm and meeting the immediate needs after it hit. As the extent of the destruction becomes clear, the UN funding will ensure aid supplies are maintained and reach the people who need it.”

Mr Laerke said that COVID-19 restrictions had created challenges in delivering aid and humanitarian workers, although the Government of Vanuatu had eased travel restrictions inside the country.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • COVID-19: major relief airlift reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations

  • New Ebola virus infections dash hopes of an end to DR Congo epidemic

  • Lifesaving aid funding released to help cyclone survivors in Vanuatu

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News, Geneva
Audio Duration
3'18"
Photo Credit
WFP/Edward Johnson