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News in Brief 11 September 2020

News in Brief 11 September 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

New fires at Greek island refugee camp ‘destroy all remaining accommodation’ 

New fires at a Greek island centre for thousands of refugees and migrants have destroyed all remaining accommodation for those affected by the initial blaze on Tuesday evening. 

In an alert on Friday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said that people of all ages have been left homeless in Lesbos after further fires on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Why they started has not been determined. 

Here’s agency spokesperson Shabia Mantoo: 

“The latest fires have affected the adjacent fields next to Moria Registration and Identification Center (RIC) in … ‘Olive Grove’. While no casualties have been reported to date, the fires have now left 11,500 asylum seekers – among them 2,200 women and 4,000 children without adequate shelter sleeping out in the open the past few nights. In the streets, fields and beaches.” 

The camp has long been home to far greater number of migrants and refugees than was ever intended.  

In an appeal for solidarity for those left homeless, UNHCR urged “restraint” and for all to refrain “from actions or rhetoric that could heighten tensions”. 

The agency also repeated its call for “long-term solutions” from the authorities and the European Union, for refugees and asylum seekers in Moria and other sites on the Greek islands.  

Ebola: DR Congo outbreak could spread across border 

The Ebola virus outbreak in western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has continued to spread in Equateur province, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. 

The development brings to 17 the number of health zones now affected since the outbreak began in June in Mbandaka - a city of one million people and a major trading hub on the Congo river. 

The affected health zones include two which border the Republic of Congo, raising concerns that the outbreak could spread there. 

In a call for cooperation between the two countries, the UN health agency urged coordination on disease surveillance - as communities are extremely mobile - and increased screening of travellers. 

Latest data from WHO indicates 113 cases of Ebola infection in the current outbreak and 48 deaths.  

Fifty-two people have recovered and been discharged from Ebola treatment centres, while more than 2 400 contacts have been seen and nearly 28,000 people vaccinated.  

Fears of disease spread amid devastating flooding in Sudan 

Devastating flooding across Sudan has affected well over half a million people, raising fears of disease spreading widely. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 17 out of 18 states in Sudan have been hit by torrential rainfall, with dams, bridges and highways damaged. 

Forecasts indicate that heavy rain will continue to fall across Ethiopia and parts of Sudan, causing the Blue Nile to rise by another 30 centimetres in the next three days. 

According to UN-partner the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), more than 111,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, along with farmland, schools, health centres and government offices. 

More than 350 shops and warehouses have also been hit and some 5,500 head of livestock have been killed. 

Amid the devastation, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the spread of endemic diseases such as dengue, chikungyunya, and malaria, is a real danger. 

Cases of malaria are already rising, said WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib. 

She cited years of underfunding and a lack of equipment, with medical supplies at around 25 per cent of what is needed. 

To help, the UN agency is supporting 10 mobile clinics in Sudan, and it has deployed 10 environmental officers to try and ensure clean water and sanitation. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • New fires at Greek island refugee camp ‘destroy all remaining accommodation’ 

  • Ebola: DR Congo outbreak could spread across border 

  • Fears of disease spread amid devastating flooding in Sudan 

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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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