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NAIROBI, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Six bodies were on Sunday retrieved from a building in central Kenyan county of Murang'a that collapsed while under construction.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development said at a briefing in Nairobi that the search for survivors in the collapsed four-story building had intensified.

He said the rescue operation was expected to end on Sunday, adding that the government will enhance inspection of residential and commercial buildings to ensure their structural integrity was not compromised.

The building was under construction when it collapsed on Friday, prompting a rescue mission. A search for more is ongoing. Macharia added that a building adjacent to the collapsed hotel was also under construction and will be demolished.

Macharia disclosed that 4,000 buildings had been identified as unsafe countrywide even as state agencies work on modalities of demolishing them to avert potential danger. - Xinhua

Source: AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan

Imagine knowing that the very act of going to a religious service would likely result in violence and death. In Nigeria, churches have been sent warning letters instructing them to shut down or face "ferocious" attacks. That's some Christmas card! In a perhaps not unrelated event, just before Thanksgiving, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to arrive in Nigeria as part of his tour of Africa, the country was cruelly and infuriatingly de-listed from the roster of Countries of Particular Concern for Religious Freedom by the U.S. State Department.


Christians in Nigeria rightfully feel abandoned by the United States. In a distressing new video released by the Religious Freedom Institute, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of Northeast Nigeria says Christians are disheartened by the perplexing move. "All Christians in Nigeria are feeling bad" about it, he says, fearing an upswing in anti-Christian violence.

In 2014, much of Bishop Mamza's diocese was devastated by Boko Haram marauders. As the region was occupied by the Islamist terrorist group, members of his flock fled, leaving their whole lives behind. Some of them were able to go back in 2016, but there was nothing there for them. Their homes and farms had all been destroyed.

Mamza says he is hard-pressed to find a family that has not lost someone to that murderous violence -- he lost his elder brother, cousins and uncles. He says people are traumatized -- and they remain surrounded by people who hate them. 


The religious-freedom designation exists for countries where there are "systematic, ongoing egregious violations of religious freedom, among other cruelties to the human person because of religion. The bipartisan United States Commission on Religious Freedom (USCRF) immediately said it was "appalled" by the move. The USCRF exists in part to advise the U.S. government about the list, and the State Department ignored its recommendation to keep Nigeria on the list.

"How is Nigeria different than the Nigeria of two years ago?" Mamza asks. "The persecution here is more intense now than ever." He asks the U.S. State Department to explain what data they used, because it's not reflective of the facts on the ground. He is saddened that the Biden administration didn't actually talk to Christians in Nigeria before making its move.

Eric Patterson of the Religious Freedom Institute also warns against explaining away the violence in Nigeria as something other than religious. Listen to the perpetrators, he says -- they say their motivation is religious -- they want Christians dead.

The Religious Freedom Institute recently held a virtual panel that should embarrass all Americans. It was called "America's Indifference to the Plight of Nigerian Christians: A Conversation about U.S. Policy."

"There are a set of overlapping catastrophes happening in Nigeria," Patterson said. "For more than a decade, Boko Haram, Islamic State of West Africa and criminal and terrorist organizations have murdered 90,000 of their fellow citizens -- their fellow Sunni Muslims, the Shia minority and Christians." 

The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria has dismissed concerns about the violence against Christians. During the Religious Freedom panel, Nina Shea from the Hudson Institute pointed out that we are watching "a growing spreading, bloodied disintegration of northern Nigeria." If it continues unabated, it will both destabilize the country and radicalize it, and "create incalculable human misery."

Rebecca Downs

"This is a U.S. national security threat," Shea says, "that the United States is completely missing." She says the delisting of Nigeria is a "betrayal" for what we stand for as a country.

Remember these long-suffering people this Christmas. You can watch a short video on the YouTube of the Religious Freedom Institute -- look in the faces of some of the people we have abandoned -- and witness the courage of Bishop Mamza, who says God will bless you for your prayers. Keep an eye on what is happening and educate people to create moral pressure for our government to undo this injustice. By Kathryn Lopez, Townhall.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book "A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living." She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan's pro-life commission in New York. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The formation of the AMA is a milestone for drug safety and trust in Africa

Girls stand in a truck during a campaign to raise awareness about illegal and false drugs in Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on October 11, 2018.
Girls ride in a truck as they participate in a campaign to raise awareness about illegal and false drugs in Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The African Medicines Agency will require strong government partners to build trust

Established by a treaty that the Africa Union Assembly adopted in 2019, the AMA will work to harmonize regulations across the continent, with the aim of improving reliable access to safe and effective medicines. The appeal of the idea is easy to understand. Tackling the issue of fake and substandard drugs—which in the African context includes imported fake medication, counterfeits generated on the continent, and well-established trafficking networks—is clearly a transboundary undertaking that could benefit from a coordinated approach. is clearly a transboundary undertaking that could benefit from a coordinated approach.

Fighting Fake Drugs

Africa has the highest prevalence of falsified, outdated, and substandard medicines of any region in the world. These dubious drugs are killing people; some estimates suggest that more than 280,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa die every year due to the use of falsified or substandard medicines for pneumonia and malaria. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated even more fake drugs and medical supplies.

In June, South African authorities seized 2,400 doses of fake vaccines and counterfeit 3M-branded N95 masks worth almost $450,000; national and international health authorities have also sounded the alarm about fake COVID vaccines in NigeriaKenya, and Uganda. In addition to outright fakes, substandard medicines can also enable the rise of drug-resistant strains of disease. These counterfeit, expired, and defective drugs give the public good reason to doubt the veracity of scientific claims about the safety and value of medicines. Experience teaches many in Africa that medicines cannot be trusted.

A History of Distrust in Medicine

Skepticism is the result of more than just dodgy drugs. There is also a history of unethical medical practices in Africa, and no new institution can restore the trust eroded in this regard. From German experiments on people from Namibia and South Africa in the early 1900s to Pfizer’s notorious 1996 clinical trial of an experimental antibiotic given to children in Kano, Nigeria—that a panel of experts hired by the Nigerian government later concluded was illegal and did not meet standards of informed consent—the historical record does not inspire confidence in the ethics of high-income countries, or their respect for African lives.

This history informs concerns so powerful that they helped to shape former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s disastrous flirtation with AIDS denialism—leading to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in one of the world’s HIV hotspots—and feeds into Africans’ hesitancy when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines today.

Distrust has spilled over into how people view COVID-19 vaccines. When Afrobarometer conducted surveys in fourteen African countries earlier this year, they found that on average only 37 percent of citizens trusted their government “somewhat” or “a lot” to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Part of this is about experience and history, but another is about how African citizens feel about their own governments and officials. Polling shows that levels of trust in government authorities vary widely from country to country, but they are consistently tied [PDF] to whether people believed an institution to be corrupt or self-serving.

Official misuse of funds intended for combatting COVID or relieving the economic strain caused by the pandemic has generated headlines in many African countries, including Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Onerous restrictions on daily life, combined with economic hardship and the spectacle of people in positions of public trust enriching themselves in the midst of crisis, have dealt a real blow to public confidence in health governance.

This matters for the AMA, because ensuring that standardized regulations deliver for Africa will require effective and predictable enforcement of those regulations by the very governments that have been sowing mistrust among their populations. Governing capacity, which varies quite widely among African Union member states, depends on the integrity and competence in the civil service and law enforcement agencies within countries. There are places where this is in abundant supply, but in many states the civil service is overstretched and under-resourced. These public servants are up against the forces behind the world’s most lucrative trade in illegally copied goods, estimated to be worth some $200 billion annually. The AMA can help harmonize rules across countries, but they will remain aspirational without meaningful investments in and attention to state-level capacity to follow and enforce them.

80 Percent

Africa imports more than 80 percent of its medicines and medical supplies

Despite the challenges and limitations, the creation of the AMA is a significant step forward that can be an important part of the effort to strengthen Africa’s health sector. The most optimistic vision for the AMA it is that it will incentive more robust pharmaceutical supply chains in Africa, thereby creating jobs and opportunity for innovation closer to home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed glaring inequities in global access to new vaccines—nowhere more so than in Africa, where only 8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated to date. These disparities have reinvigorated efforts to increase pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent. Room for growth is vast: Africa currently imports more than 80 percent of its medicines and medical supplies.

Capital outlays to help build the infrastructure for more robust African pharmaceutical production become far more commercially attractive when one set of standards and regulations apply, rather than over fifty different rulebooks. By Michelle D. Gavin, Think Global Health

Top officials stress importance of holding 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit face to face despite pandemic


Hailing the large turnout at the ongoing Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul, the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday said this participation shows Africa's trust in Turkey.

"This turnout is a sign of Africa's confidence in Turkey. Africa trusts the Turkish people. It also shows how Africa benefits from cooperating with Turkey," Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen'Apala said at the three-day summit, held under the auspices of Turkey's presidency, which wraps up on Saturday.

Over 100 government ministers and 16 presidents from Africa are attending the summit, whose theme is “Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity."

Besides the growing trade between Turkey and Africa, Pen'Apala also pointed to how the number of Turkish diplomatic missions abroad has soared in recent years – from just a dozen in 2002 to 43 in 2021.

He stressed that strategic partners of the continent should consider the priority of industrialization for Africa.

Albert Muchanga, the African Union commissioner for trade and industry, stressed the importance of holding the summit face to face despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saying Africa is determined to curb the virus, Muchanga said no one should be left alone to face the pandemic, as no one is safe until everyone is vaccinated.

So the delivery of vaccines to all is necessary, he added.

The first Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held in Istanbul, the second in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and the third at the Istanbul Congress Center in Turkey’s commercial capital.

Under the government’s outreach to Africa policy, Turkey’s engagement with Africa has gained speed in recent years, including President Recep Tayyip’s groundbreaking visits to multiple countries on the continent.

Turkey has said its African policy, which encompasses political, humanitarian, economic, and cultural ties, is part of its multidimensional foreign policy and is pursued in the spirit of win-win relations. By Tuba Sahin, AA

Principal Secretary for State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Charles Hinga addressing the press.
Image: KNA
In Summary
  • Housing PS Charles Hinga said the project will take four years to complete.

  • The project is in partnership with UN Habitat. 

It's all systems go as the government is set to launch the Mavoko Affordable Housing Programme as President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four agenda continues to take shape.


It's all systems go as the government is set to launch the Mavoko Affordable Housing Programme as President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four agenda continues to takes shape.

The groundbreaking which is set to take place this Saturday will see the construction of 5,360 units, costing the government slightly above Sh20 billion. 

Housing PS Charles Hinga said the project will take four years to complete. The project is in partnership with UN Habitat.

Given the uniqueness of the project, which will be on 55 acres, Hinga noted that it was the first affordable housing project undertaken by a local contractor .

"The uniqueness of this project is that it is being undertaken by a local contractor, hence money for the project will circulate locally ,"Hinga added.

Epco builders Limited managing director Ramji Varsani highlighted that the housing project is the biggest in Machakos county.

"It has been a long journey doing consultation on pricing, specification of the units, but finally the D-day is almost here," he said.

Epco has in total delivered of 10,000 units in Kenya in various projects.

The MD assured the government that Epco Builders will deliver good quality houses at an affordable price. 

Mavoko housing project will consist of 960 units for one bedroomed houses, 2,400 units for two bedroom, 1,440 units for three bedroom and 560 units for studio design.

PS Hinga also disclosed that the project will consist of a community centre, primary school, kindergarten, commercial centre, fire station and police station. 

"Adjacent to this project is the just-concluded Mavoko Sustainable Development Housing where we have put up the largest police station in Machakos county and probably the lower Eastern region and will be commissioned soon," he added.

Hinga noted that the government was delivering affordable housing and at the same time playing a part in creating employment opportunities for hundreds of youths and women who will work on-site.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, only 23.1 per cent of urban dwellers own a house indicating that Kenya lacks decent housing.

The Affordable Housing Programme, which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, is one of the pillars under the Big Four Agenda.

It is intended to provide decent and affordable housing to low and middle-income households By Maureen Kinyanjui, The Star

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