Third of DR Congo Ebola cases are children: UN

A healthcare worker stands after cleaning a room after an Ebola patient stays in a hospital in Bwana Suri, Ituri province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 December 2018

Third of DR Congo Ebola cases are children: UN

BENI, DR CONGO: Children account for a third of Ebola cases in an outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with hundreds orphaned or isolated, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Nearly 300 people have died from the highly contagious disease since August in the restive east around the city of Beni.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said the organization and its partners had identified more than 400 children who have been orphaned or isolated during the outbreak.
“We are deeply concerned by the growing number of children confirmed to have contracted Ebola,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier, returning from Beni.
“The earlier children infected with Ebola receive treatment in a specialized health facility, the greater their chances of survival. Community mobilization and public awareness activities are also crucial.”
After it was declared on August 1 — the tenth outbreak in DR Congo since 1976 — at least 285 people have died, according to the last health ministry update on December 9.
Nearly 44,000 people have been vaccinated.
The outbreak has hit an area already struggling with violence from armed groups.
In November, medical and vaccination efforts were briefly suspended and health workers evacuated after clashes between UN peacekeepers and fighters from the local Allied Democratic Forces militia.


India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago

India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

  • Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar
  • ‘We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be’
NEW DELHI: A Parliament member who is a senior pro-India politician in Indian-controlled Kashmir was arrested Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.
Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar, the summer capital and main city of the disputed Himalayan region.
“We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be,” said Muneer Khan, a top police official.
Abdullah is the first pro-India politician who has been arrested under the Public Safety Act, under which rights activists say more than 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained in the last two decades.
Amnesty International has called the PSA a “lawless law,” and rights groups say India has used the law to stifle dissent and circumvent the criminal justice system, undermining accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.
The PSA came into effect in 1978, under the government of Abdullah’s father, who himself was a highly popular Kashmir leader.
The law, in its early days, was supposedly meant to target timber smugglers in Kashmir. After an armed rebellion started in the region in 1989, the law was used against rebels and anti-India protesters.
Abdullah’s residence was declared a subsidiary jail and he was put under house arrest on Aug. 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government in New Delhi stripped Jammu and Kashmir of semi-autonomy and statehood, creating two federal territories.
Thousands of additional Indian troops were sent to the Kashmir Valley, already one of the world’s most militarized regions. Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband Internet and cable TV services were cut for the valley’s 7 million people, although some communications have been gradually restored.
On Aug. 6, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah denied to the lower house of Parliament that Abdullah had been detained or arrested.
“If he (Abdullah) does not want to come out of his house, he cannot be brought out at gunpoint,” Shah said, when other parliamentarians expressed concern over Abdullah’s absence during the debate on Kashmir’s status.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sought a response from the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking to produce Abdullah before the court.
Many anti-India protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders have been held in jails and other makeshift facilities to contain protests against India’s decisions, according to police officials.
Kashmir’s special status was instituted shortly after India achieved independence from Britain in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety, but each control only part of it.
India has often tried to suppress uprisings in the region, including a bloody armed rebellion in 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed since that uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.