More than 80 reported killed this week in Ethiopia’s unrest

A man pushes a hand-cart past closed shops following protests in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 1, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 July 2020

More than 80 reported killed this week in Ethiopia’s unrest

  • The deaths reported followed the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundessa

ADDIS ABABA: More than 80 people have been killed in unrest in Ethiopia after a popular singer was shot dead this week, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation says. He was buried Thursday amid tight security.
The deaths reported Wednesday, citing police in the Oromia region, followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018. Angry protests, including three bomb blasts, followed his death in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The unrest poses a major challenge for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took power in 2018 and introduced sweeping political reforms. The singer’s killing further increased tensions after the government recently delayed the national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Abiy on Thursday said the government will do whatever it takes to restore calm in Ethiopia and accused the perpetrators of the singer’s killing of trying to kill the country as well.
We will come out of this, the prime minister said, hinting there could be links to the killing of the army chief last year and the grenade thrown at one of his own rallies in 2018.
Police late Wednesday said three people had been arrested in the death of the singer, who was buried in his hometown of Ambo. His service was carried on national television.
The mood remained tense and fearful in Addis Ababa as some residents formed protection groups to defend their property from vandals. Hundreds of cars this week have been burned or damaged. Downtown streets were largely empty aside from fire trucks and ambulances.
Internet and mobile data service remain cut in Ethiopia as human rights groups raise concerns about the restrictions. The shutdown has “made it impossible to access information on those killed and injured in the protests,” Human Rights Watch said.
Other arrests this week include that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. The arrest of opposition figures “could make a volatile situation even worse,” Human Rights Watch said,
Abiy has seen his administration’s sweeping reforms challenged as the loosening of political space opened the way for ethnic and other grievances, leading in some cases to deadly intercommunal violence.
Abiy earlier called the singer’s killing a “tragedy” and declared that “our enemies will not succeed.”


Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

Updated 15 August 2020

Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

  • Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio is still endemic
  • Since Jan., Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials on Saturday launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio as part of efforts aimed at eliminating the crippling disease amid a steady decline in fatalities and infections from the coronavirus, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s fragile health system.
The anti-polio campaign, which began amid tight security, aims to vaccinate as many as 34 million children across Pakistan, including former Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan, a government statement said.
Medical workers participating in the drive against polio were seen adhering to social distancing regulations as they wore face masks and gloves while going house-to-house to avoid a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign,” said Faisal Sultan, an adviser to the prime minister on health issues.
According to Rana Safdar, who heads the government’s polio program, similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.
Earlier Saturday, Pakistan’s military said Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, praised Islamabad’s success in the fight against coronavirus in a telephone call to the country’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. It said Gates also discussed the resumption of the drive against polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. The nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Pakistan and other places worldwide fight the disease.
Pakistan had hoped to eliminate the disease by 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But there was a surge in new cases the following year. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country, including the northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them because they claim the anti-polio drive is part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. Attacks on polio teams increased after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.
Pakistan halted the drive against polio in March and resumed it last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19.
On Saturday, Pakistan reported only 9 new deaths from the new virus in the past 24 hours, increasing the country’s total of COVID-19 deaths to 6,162. So far, Pakistan has reported 288,047 cases and officials say about 93% of the patients recovered since February, when the country reported its first confirmed case.