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UK Provides £29 Million to Support People Affected by Conflict in Northern Ethiopia

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The Minister for Africa Vicky Ford has announced an additional £29m of humanitarian aid to people affected by the catastrophic conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The announcement marks World Food Day today [16 October] and increases the UK’s commitment to the crisis to more than £75m – making the UK the second largest donor.

The Minister is also calling on all parties in Ethiopia to urgently agree a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid through and for the Ethiopian Government to lift the de facto blockade of humanitarian relief into the Tigray region. The people of Tigray need 500 trucks of critical assistance per week, but less than 10% of this has been met since June.

The conflict has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with the UN estimating that 5.5 million people face acute food insecurity. Over 400,000 people in northern Ethiopia are experiencing famine-like conditions – more than in all of the humanitarian crises in the rest of the world combined.

Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said:

The Ethiopian people are facing a humanitarian catastrophe and are in urgent need of support.

This pledge will provide vital food, water and healthcare to the hundreds of thousands of people facing famine in northern Ethiopia.

This is a man-made crisis. I urge all parties to urgently agree a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach starving people.

The new funding comes as the UK’s Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer, recently concluded his third visit to Ethiopia since the start of the conflict in November 2020, where he pressed for improved humanitarian access to the areas affected by conflict.

Special Envoy Nick Dyer said:

On my third visit to Ethiopia since the start of the Tigray conflict, I saw a further deterioration of the crisis and the conditions for humanitarian operations.

We are pleased to provide more funding but humanitarian agencies need access into all areas where people are in need now, so that lives can be saved and catastrophic famine avoided.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has spread beyond the borders of Tigray now, so we are expanding UK funding to reach those in urgent need in Afar and Amhara.

The funding will be delivered by UN agencies and NGOs, including the WFP, UNICEF, and the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund. Our partners expect to deliver lifesaving nutrition treatment for more than 100,000 malnourished children, and 27,000 pregnant and new mothers.

The pledge will also deliver clean water and sanitation for 26,000 people and provide services to prevent and respond to gender-based violence for almost 3,000 women and children.

It will also support people who have been forced to flee their homes by the spread of conflict across northern Ethiopia, providing shelter, healthcare, and support to children who have been separated from their families and to survivors of sexual violence.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Omicron, WHO Gives New COVID Variant Name

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the new COVID variant B.1.1.529, Omicron on Friday.

The organisation disclosed in a statement published on its website after its officials assessed data received from South Africa earlier today.

It said “The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.”

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”

Therefore, countries are asked to do the following:

  • enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
  • report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
  • where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

WHO said its independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will continue to evaluate this variant and communicate new findings to member states.

On Friday, Belgium reported a case of Omicron variant covid in a traveler from Egypt while Hong Kong reported two cases.

The United Kingdom, US, Israel and others have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa and other six nations to curb Omicron outbreak in the nations.

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US, UK, EU Nations, Israel, Others Restrict Travel From South Africa

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The United States has joined the United Kingdom, Israel, European Nations and a host of others to restrict flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi starting from Monday.

US Senior officials announced on Friday, saying the restriction was recommended by Joe Biden’s chief medical officer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the restriction does not apply to US citizens or permanent residents.

The decision was after reports of a fast-spreading new covid variant called B.1.1.529 hits headline on Thursday, raising concerns it could spread across the world if nothing is done fast. On Friday, Hong Kong reported two cases of the virus while Belgium confirmed one case in a traveler from Egypt.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the heavily mutated coronavirus strain ‘a variant of concern’.

WHO said the new COVID variant would be given the name Omicron after data examined by its officials showed exponential growth in cases of the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant.

The news plunged global financial markets, with stocks falling to their lowest in more than a year. The Standard and Poor 500 dropped 2.3 percent while Europe’s Stoxx 600 sheds 3.7 percent and the MSCI Asia-Pacific index dipped by 1.7 percent.

Crude oil dropped over $10 or more than 5 percent to $72 a barrel. Even gold, a known haven commodity, pulled back, losing its earlier gains.

“What should have been a quiet Friday trading in both bonds and equities globally has turned into a rout,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance Securities.

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Npower Batch C: Payment Status Now Pending

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In an update concerning the Npower batch C volunteers, the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS) has stated that the payment issues are one step closer to being resolved.

NASIMS stated that previous complaints about error messages like ‘Failed Payment’ and ‘No Payment Data Available’ have now been changed to pending.

In a previous update, some reasons for the failure in payment were revealed. Some of the reasons revealed were the lack of completion of a physical verification exercise, provision of wrong account details, no provision of account details at all, failure to provide Bank Verification Number or the lack of matching information on different documents.

Newsonlineng reports that NASIMS has stated that once the resolution has been effected, it cannot be instantaneous but will rather take a few days before the changes made can reflect. The site has however also confirmed that all the payment issues have been resolved days ago and that the resolution has reflected on every Batch C volunteer’s NASIMS profile page.

The profile page is now showing ‘Pending’ which is the very first page of the payment process.

By virtue of the resolution made, all the beneficiaries of Batch C of the Npower programme have been advised to login to their NASIMS page for the confirmation of the update. All the Batch C volunteers whose issues are yet to be resolved and the update yet to be reflected on their page have been encouraged to exercise patience as all the payment issues will be resolved and the payments will surely be made.

Some other information released from NASIMS include:

  1. Collation of account details as well as the resolution of problems is still going on
  2. Resolution of the payment issues have now been rectified, and the pending status seen is the first step of payment before processing
  3. For wrong account details, those affected should call the NASIMS support lines 092203102 and 018888340 to lodge complaints and provide the correct details.

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