Catalan separatists in massive Barcelona protest

Carme Forcadell
Updated 11 November 2017
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Catalan separatists in massive Barcelona protest

MADRID: A protest was held in Barcelona Saturday calling for the release of jailed separatist leaders, the day after pro-independence Catalan parliamentarian Carme Forcadell was freed on bail.
Separatists had called on supporters to match the annual turn-out of Catalonia’s national day.
Forcadell, the sacked speaker of Catalonia’s Parliament, left a prison near Madrid on Friday hours after supporters posted her bail of €150,000 ($175,000), ending her brief detention.
A judge at the Supreme Court in Madrid on Thursday had ordered Forcadell to be held on charges of “rebellion” — which carries a maximum jail term of 30 years — as Spain’s worst political crisis in a generation rumbles on.
She was one of several dismissed Catalan officials to be detained after their shock decision last month to declare the region of 7.5 million people independent from Spain.
Forcadell appeared at the Supreme Court in Madrid on Thursday along with five former Catalan lawmakers.
The others were given a temporary reprieve by the judge, who said they must pay €25,000 each within a week or be detained.
Acting judge Pablo Llarena said his decision to grant bail was made after they either “renounced all future political activity” or agreed to respect the law, according to a court document.
The Catalan crisis has caused shock waves across the EU, prompting nearly 2,400 businesses to move their legal headquarters and re-register outside of the wealthy northeastern region.
Lawmakers opted to split from Spain, claiming they had a mandate after a referendum on Oct. 1 in which 90 percent of voters backed secession.
But less than half of the electorate took part in a vote denounced as illegitimate by Madrid, and Catalans themselves remain deeply split over whether their region should break away from the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
After the declaration, Madrid dismissed Catalonia’s government, dissolved Parliament, suspended the region’s autonomy and called new elections for the region next month.


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 10 December 2018
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.