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Image via Anadolu Agency

 

The US will send troops to Kenya in a bid to aid East African countries in the war against al-Shabaab terrorists, local media reported Sunday.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terrorists have plagued East African countries since 2006, leaving a trail of death, injuries, and suffering in their wake.

In a letter to the US Congress, “President Biden said that he had approved sending special operations troops to Kenya, which are expected to collaborate with the Kenyan military in combating Al-Shabaab. The number of troops is not indicated," Kenya’s Nation daily reported.

Last year the US Defense Department said in a statement that then-President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon and US AFRICOM "to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021," referring to the country east and northeast of Kenya where al-Shabaab is based.

Before the withdrawal, the US had 650-800 troops in Somalia which helped the African nation fight al-Shabaab.

In 2015, al-Shabaab terrorists killed more than 148 people in an attack on a university in Northern Kenya. Most of the victims were students.

Al-Shabaab was behind a 2017 truck bomb attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu that took some 600 lives, the worst attack in the Horn of Africa country’s history. - Andrew Wasike, Anadolu Agency

Displaced women with their children wait for assistance at a building used by refugees as shelter in Pemba, Mozambique, after they fled attacks in Palma in Northern Mozambique, April 19, 2021. Photo AP

 

GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency is repeating its call to Tanzanian authorities to stop forcibly deporting asylum seekers back to Mozambique, where their lives are in danger.

Two-and-a-half months have passed since Islamist militants attacked civilians in the gas-rich coastal town of Palma in northern Mozambique, killing dozens and displacing more than 70,000.

While the level of violence has diminished, the U.N. refugee agency said armed conflict and insecurity continue to displace thousands of people.

Desperate search for safety

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said people are fleeing daily in a desperate search for safety both in Mozambique and across the border in Tanzania.

“9,600 desperate people trying to seek a refuge across the border inside Tanzania and being forced to return to a situation of danger is really grave and it is a dire situation … Refugees must not be forced back into a situation of danger,” Baloch said.

That, he said, violates the principle of non-refoulement or no forced return. International human rights law states that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture or other treatment that could cause irreparable harm.

Forcibly returned

Baloch said UNHCR teams along the Tanzania-Mozambique border say people being forcibly returned to Mozambique arrive in desperate condition. He said many become separated from their family members adding to their anguish.

“Those pushed back from Tanzania end up in a dire situation at the border and are exposed to gender-based violence and health risks as many are sleeping in the open at night in extreme cold without blankets or a roof over their heads," Baloch said. "There is an urgent need for emergency relief items including food.”

Humanitarian agencies estimate nearly 800,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province since armed groups, some affiliated with Islamic State militants, launched attacks in the region in 2017. - Lisa Schlein, Voice of America

The leaders of the G7 nations: Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi, Joe Biden, Yoshihide Suga, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson. (PA Images)

As the G7 leaders meet in Cornwall for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, one crucial topic under discussion will be how to ensure the poorest countries are able to access vaccines.

Boris Johnson set out a plan on Friday to start donating surplus jabs to countries in need within weeks, and Joe Biden pledged earlier this week to buy up 500 million Pfizer doses to distribute to 100 countries.

While these measures have been warmly welcomed, for some they have been been a long time coming because – so far – the global rollout has been anything but equal.

As the summit takes place, figures show that of the 2.26 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, a quarter (560,271,029 doses) have been given to people in the G7 nations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

In fact, according to the data compiled by experts at Our World in Data and analysed by Yahoo News UK, this means that more coronavirus vaccines have been administered by the G7 countries than 201 other nations combined.

Even more strikingly, the total number of doses administered in G7 countries is 381 times as many as the 50 countries with the lowest total number of total vaccinations combined.

These bubbles represent the total number of vaccines administered.

G7 nations have administered 381 times more vaccines than the 50 countries with the lowest overall vaccine numbers combined. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Our World in Data)
G7 nations have administered 381 times more vaccines than the 50 countries with the lowest overall vaccine numbers combined. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Our World in Data)

China, which is not part of the G7, has administered by far the highest number of vaccine doses overall – more than a third of the global total. 

The US has the second highest overall total.

Size of total vaccine rollout by country or country group. (Yahoo News UK/ Our World in Data/  Flourish)
Size of total vaccine rollout by country or country group. (Yahoo News UK/ Our World in Data/ Flourish)

In January 2021, as the global vaccine rollout was beginning to gather steam, the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned: "The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries."

His warning fell on deaf ears. Throughout the year, richer and more powerful nations have surged ahead while poorer ones struggle to get their hands on life-saving doses.

According to analysis by experts at Oxford University's Our World in Data, high-income countries have administered 63 vaccines per 100 people. In low-income countries the number is less than one vaccine per 100 people.

These are the 20 countries with the highest rate of vaccines administered per 100 people. All countries are high-income unless marked. Four of the G7 nations feature in the list.

Vaccines administered per 100  people. (Flourish/Our World in Data/Yahoo)
Vaccines administered per 100 people. Countries with populations less than 300,000 excluded. (Flourish/Our World in Data/Yahoo)

Leaders of G7 leaders, along with heads of the European Union who attend the summit, are expected to collectively agree to provide a billion vaccine doses in an effort to end the pandemic globally in 2022, amid mounting pressure on their nations to share the burden of protecting the world from the virus.

Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low and lower-middle income countries and the African Union.

Under the PM's plan, the UK will provide five million doses by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of 2021.

There are already calls to go further, with campaigners and human rights agencies urging leaders to commit to waiving patents for jabs.

Johnson told the BBC on Friday: “I think that the people of this country should be very proud that of the 1.5 billion doses that are being distributed around the world to the poorest and neediest in the world under the Covax programme, one in three come from the Oxford/AstraZeneca deal that the UK did, allowing those vaccines to be distributed at cost.

“And that’s before we’ve talked about the £548 million that we’ve contributed to COVAX, £1.6 billion to Gavi (the vaccine alliance).  By Matilda Long, Yahoo News

 

 

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