Cholera vaccinations launched in post-cyclone Mozambique

The Mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango receives an oral cholera vaccination at a camp for displaced survivors of cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Updated 03 April 2019
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Cholera vaccinations launched in post-cyclone Mozambique

  • Some 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine arrived on Tuesday in Mozambique
  • Humanitarian efforts are turning to preventing further loss of life due to disease

GENEVA: Health officials launched a vaccination campaign in Mozambique's cyclone-hit port city of Beira on Wednesday in an effort to contain an outbreak of cholera that has already infected more than 1,400 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Some 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine arrived on Tuesday in Mozambique, where Cyclone Idai last month flattened homes and unleashed widespread flooding.
The vaccination campaign is currently planned to last six days and aims to immunise 900,000 people across four districts including 500,000 in Beira.
"We are pretty confident that we will reach the target," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said in Geneva.
Some 843 people were killed by the storm and subsequent flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Humanitarian efforts are turning to preventing further loss of life due to disease.
As of Tuesday, Mozambique's health ministry had reported 1,428 cases of cholera including one death since the outbreak was declared on 27 March.
"We shouldn't focus too much on the numbers as there are still a lot of people who are not getting tested for cholera," Lindmeier said. "The important thing is to get sick people into treatment as soon as possible."
Cholera is endemic to Mozambique, which has had regular outbreaks over the past five years. About 2,000 people were infected in the last outbreak, which ended in February 2018, according to the WHO.
The scale of the damage to Beira's water and sanitation infrastructure, coupled with its dense population, have raised fears that another epidemic would be difficult to control.
The United Nations has appealed for $392 million to fund the humanitarian response to the disaster in southern Africa for the next three months. Just $46 million in funding has been received so far.


Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

Updated 21 May 2019
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Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

  • Madrasas to be absorbed by Ministry of Education in wake of Easter Sunday attacks
  • More than 100 arrests have been made following the rioting. A curfew has been lifted and life is returning to normal

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday refused permission for a planned $10 million (SR37.5 million) Shariah university in one of the country’s main cities.

And in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on hotels and churches, the premier also announced that all madrasas would be brought under the umbrella of Sri Lanka’s Education Ministry.

The latest moves by the Sri Lankan government follow widespread unrest on the island, with anti-Muslim riots having caused damage running into millions of dollars.

Wickremesinghe’s orders came after a fact-finding report into the university compiled by MP Ashu Marasinghe. He recommended that the institution, being constructed at Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, should be privately operated and titled Batticaloa Technology University. The new education complex is located close to the township of Kattankudy where suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, Zahran Hashim, lived and preached his messages of hate and violence.

The Sri Lankan government analyst’s department said on Tuesday that DNA tests proved Hashim died in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

President’s Counsel, Ali Sabry, a prominent lawyer and political analyst, told Arab News on Tuesday that the premier’s announcement was welcome.

“We don’t need a Shariah university at this juncture when there is a lot of suspicions on various Islamic topics that need to be clarified by Islamic theologians following the suicide attacks by Muslim extremists,” Sabry said. He stressed that the country’s main focus should be on strengthening ways to ensure peaceful coexistence among all communities.

The Sri Lankan University Grants Commission had a set of guidelines to license new universities, and Wickremesinghe’s latest recommendations would also be included among the requirements for a new university, Sabry added.

The prime minister’s ruling on madrasas (Islamic seminaries) would provide more transparency on the activities of the institutions, he said. “Their curriculum and their co-curricular activities should maintain a common standard and these madrasas should prepare the students to make them fit into society instead of just learning Arabic and Islam only.”

M.R.M. Malik, director of the Muslim Affairs Ministry in Colombo, told Arab News that currently all madrasas function under his ministry. “There are 317 madrasas throughout the island with an estimated 25,000 students. In addition to the local teachers, there are 38 Arabic teachers and 85 foreign students,” he said.

Most of the teachers are from Egypt, Pakistan and India, while many of the overseas students studying at the madrasas are from Libya, Pakistan, Jordan and India.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council President N.M. Ameen told Arab News that the local community had never wanted a Shariah university. However, he said the proposed curriculum for the madrasas should be constructed in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley, revealed that damage caused by anti-Muslim riots had reached nearly Rs900 million (SR19.2 million). The governor was speaking to Arab News following a visit to some of the worst-affected villages on the island.

“Speaking to the families of the vandalized properties, it’s clear that an organized gang had attacked these earmarked properties owned by Muslims,” said Salley. “One child, whose father was killed in his presence, is still in a state of utter shock and dismay.” He added that turpentine oil had been poured on the face of the dead carpenter by his killers and set on fire.

The governor urged the authorities to bring the attackers to justice. He added that the government would provide compensation to victims of wrecked properties.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasakera said that more than 100 arrests had been made following the rioting, and that a curfew had been lifted and life was returning to normal.