MOGADISHU, November 9 -- At least 20 people have been killed and 17 injured in explosions followed by heavy gunfire in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, according to police.
Plumes of smoke billowed into the air on Friday as at least two car bombs went off near the popular Sahafi Hotel and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Initially, "two blasts struck the perimeter of the Sahafi Hotel along the main road," Ibrahim Mohamed, police official, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. A third explosion later hit the busy street, according to witnesses. Although the attackers "failed to access the hotel, the blasts outside the hotel killed many people," police captain Mohamed Hussein told the Associated Press news agency.
"I’ve pulled many dead bodies from the cars," Mohamed Aden, a witness of the attack, told Al Jazeera in Mogadishu. "The number of casualties is unknown as bodies are still being pulled from the burning cars".
Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition when one car bomb exploded next to a minibus, Mohamed Hussein, a police captain, told The Associated Press news agency.
"The street was crowded with people and cars, bodies were everywhere," said Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper who suffered light shrapnel injuries on his right hand. "Gunfire killed several people, too."
Another police captain, Mohamed Ahmed, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying 22 civilians were killed, along with six of the attackers. "So, in total, 28 people died," Ahmed said.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the armed group's Adalus radio station.
"In South Sudan there are still 19,000 children in armed forces, with boys trained to fight and girls taken as 'wives'."
EYL, February 26 -- Hawa Mohamed Saeed recites a prayer in a barely audible voice as she waits for the phone to ring with news of her imprisoned son. This has been her daily routine for the past five years.
Dressed in red flowing garment from top-to-toe, Hawa, 80, paces gingerly back and forth in front of a white-washed stone house with a corrugated tin roof perched on top of a mountain in the picturesque town of Eyl, in Somalia's northeast.
Colourful prayer beads play in one hand, an old battered mobile phone in the other. The elderly woman is awaiting news of her son who is jailed in Yemen. Farhan Mohamed Jaama - a convicted Somali pirate serving life behind bars - hasn't called in months.
Once in a while when the waiting gets unbearable, Hawa finds the courage to call him on the smuggled phone he hides, taking a chance the no-nonsense Yemeni prison guards won't find him answering her call.
"He was a seaman just like most people in this town, he used to go out to sea and sell the catch," Hawa says. "Our life was good. He did not only provide for us, but also for his relatives who live in towns and villages far from here. He used to pay for their rent and school fees."
Farhan is one of more than 200 men from this town who have been hauled off to prisons far from this Horn of Africa country. More than 1,300 young Somali men have been jailed in prisons abroad for piracy since 2005. Most have been sentenced to life in jail.
Eyl - an ancient town sandwiched between the blue warm waters of the Indian Ocean on one side, and the rolling Nugaal mountains on the other - was until recently known as Somalia's piracy capital. This once well-to-do town has fallen on hard times. Eyl has paid the heaviest price, and continues to do so.
With the seas empty of fish because of toxic waste dumping and illegal fishing by foreign trawlers - and the soil too rocky and barren to support farming - residents have run out of ideas on how to support themselves.
They have exhausted all options. Prayers at the local mosque are all that is left in their armour. The abandoned crumbling homes are a clear sign that many have given up and left.
"Life has turned for the worst, first our central government collapsed, then the sea got polluted by foreigners using it as dump site that killed most of the fish," Hawa says. "Life became tough not only for us but most of the people in this town. Then the little fish that was left was swept clean by the trawlers - illegal trawlers."
OTTAWA, November 1 -- Visa applications from worst-affected nations suspended in move slammed as ineffective and disheartening by critics.
Canada has suspended visa applications for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread transmission" of the Ebola virus, becoming the second nation after Australia to introduce such a measure. The countries most severely hit by the worst Ebola outbreak ever are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Canada has not yet had a case of the disease.
The similar move by Australia was slammed on Wednesday by Dr Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation's director general, who said closing borders won't stop spread of the Ebola virus. Canadians, including healthcare workers, in West Africa will be permitted to travel back to Canada, the government said.
Kevin Menard, a spokesman for Canada's immigration ministry, said the government has "instituted a pause" in issuing visas for foreigners from risky countries, but noted "there was room for discretion if we can be assured that someone is not infected with the virus," according to the Associated Press news agency.
Nancy Caron, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said that "a number of African countries have imposed stricter travel bans as have several other countries around the world. Other countries such as the United States have started to place restrictions on travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks".
The government also noted that all travelers, including Canadian citizens, will continue to be screened at ports of entry in Canada and will be subject to appropriate health screening. Menard said the move is similar to, but a bit less restrictive than, the Australian measure.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said the body welcomed Canada's support in fighting the Ebola outbreak but advocated "against isolating the three most impacted countries and stigmatising its citizens".
NEW YORK, October 22 -- NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia, has been declared free of the virus and can leave the Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha, where he has been treated for the past two weeks, the centre reported on Tuesday.
Earlier reports said the experimental drug Brincidofovir developed by U.S. Chimerix company was used to treat the Ebola patient.
Mukpo contracted the virus while on an assignment in Liberia. After he began showing symptoms, he was immediately isolated and soon brought to the United States for medical treatment. His colleagues returned from Liberia a bit later and were examined by medics who found no Ebola symptoms.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health upgraded from “fair” to “good” the condition of another Ebola patient, Texas nurse Nina Pham. She was also diagnosed with Ebola earlier in October after taking care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed on U.S. soil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week that the Ebola epidemic was spreading geographically and the death toll exceeds 4,500, while the number of probable and suspected cases nears 9,000.
GENEVA, October 20 -- Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after a 42 day period with no new cases elapsed, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
The WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases detected. Senegal was the first West African country declared free of the deadly virus on Friday.
The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa and infected more than twice as many this year, the vast majority of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the WHO.
The death toll of the Ebola outbreak reached 4,447 last Tuesday. and the number of probable and suspected cases stood at more than 8,900.
The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. T
The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days.
There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is “supportive intensive care.” During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.
Reports from Lagos, said details of the deal have yet to emerge.
"Both sides have agreed there will be no more attacks, no more bombs and no more attacks on Boko Haram.The government will not attack any Boko Haram strongholds for the moment." Mutasa said. "We do know Boko Haram wanted certain conditions met, for example they wanted their senior commanders released from government captivity." Mutasa added.
Sources told Al Jazeera that substantial progress had been reached in negotiations about the abducted girls but that no definite deal had been agreed. A senior adviser to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan told that the deal reached on Friday included the release of the girls, but that no date had been set and that the release was part of an "ongoing process".
Doyin Okupe said the government had agreed to "some concessions" but did not give any details. Boko Haram has been demanding the release of detained fighters in exchange for the girls. The group attracted international condemnation with the April abduction of nearly 300 girls from a boarding school in northeast Chibok town. Dozens escaped but 219 remain missing.
Nigeria's president has been criticised at home and abroad for his slow response to the abducted and for his inability to quell the violence by the group, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa's biggest economy. Jonathan is expected to announce he will run for a second term in office on Saturday.
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as "Western education is sinful", has killed thousands of people in a five-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in the country's northeast.
WASHINGTON, October 16 -- US President Barack Obama has vowed "much more aggressive" response to Ebola cases in the United States and warned that in an age of frequent travel the disease could spread globally if the world does not respond to the "raging epidemic in West Africa".'
Obama sought on Wednesday to ease growing anxiety in the US, as a second nurse was diagnosed with Ebola after treating a patient in a Dallas hospital. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died of Ebola on October 8.
In an interview with a local US television station, that nurse said she informed authorities several times that she had a slight fever before boarding a commercial flight, and was told that it was okay to fly. She has now been transferred to a hospital in the city of Atlanta for treatment.
The president said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to step up its response to new cases.
"We want a rapid response team, a SWAT team essentially, from the CDC to be on the ground as quickly as possible, hopefully within 24 hours, so that they are taking the local hospital step by step though what needs to be done," he said.
Obama spoke after cancelling a political campaign trip to convene a session of top Cabinet officials involved in the Ebola response both in the US and in the West African region, where the disease has been spreading at alarming rates.
The meeting included the top military commander General Martin Dempsey and defence chief Chuck Hagel. Obama has been pressing the international community to step up its assistance in combating the disease.
Hours before Obama canceled his trip, officials confirmed the infection of the second nurse who helped treat Duncan. The Texas developments added a new domestic element to what has developed into an Ebola crisis in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
US government officials on Wednesday said the nurse should never have got on the plane.
Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said no one else involved in Duncan's care will be allowed to travel "other than in a controlled environment''. "We could've sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,'' he said Tuesday.
Infected Ebola patients are not considered contagious until they have symptoms. Frieden said it was unlikely that other passengers or airline crew members were at risk because the nurse did not have any vomiting or bleeding.
However, the CDC has alerted the 132 passengers aboard Monday's Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas' Fort Worth on Monday "because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning''.
The woman is being treated in Texas and will be flown to a specialist hospital in Atlanta where some previous Ebola patients have recovered.
NEW YORK, October 15 -- Infection said to be killing seven out of 10 patients in W Africa as German hospital reports death of UN medical worker.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa kills seven out of 10 victims and new cases could hit 10,000 a week within two months if it is not brought under control, the World Health Organisation has said.
Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO's assistant director-general, said on Tuesday that the death rate was higher than the official 50 percent rate and that "a lot more people will die" if the West Africa outbreak was not stopped.
"What we're finding is 70 percent mortality," Aylward said, adding that he had a "working forecast" of 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a week by December to guide the international response. "It's been running at about a thousand cases a week now for about three to four weeks. The labs sometimes can't keep up with the amount of specimens they're getting."
The announcement comes as the Texas Department of Health Services announced a second health worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for Ebola.
WHO figures released on Tuesday show 8,914 confirmed cases and a total of 4,447 people dead. However, WHO has said several times that the tallies are unreliable due to difficult recording conditions and workload.
Hardest hit countries
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been hardest hit.
"There are this many cases that we're aware of, this many deaths that have been reported to us, but that doesn't mean you divide one by the other and get how many this disease kills," Aylward said. "To get that number, you need to take a bunch of people, follow them right through the course of their disease, and understand how many survive. "That subset of people, who we know were sick, and we know their final outcome, what we're finding is 70 percent mortality. "It's almost the exact same number across the three countries," he said.
Aylward said WHO needs to isolate 70 percent of cases within two months to contain the outbreak.
"Every time you isolate another patient, every time you have a safe burial, you're taking some of the heat out if this outbreak," he said. "But this is Ebola. This is a horrible, unforgiving disease. You've got to get to zero."
Death in Germany
Aylward's comments came on a day a UN medical worker infected with Ebola in Liberia died in Germany. The St Georg hospital in Leipzig said on Tuesday that the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight of the infection.
The man tested positive for Ebola on October 6, prompting Liberia's UN peacekeeping mission to place 41 other staff members under "close medical observation". Also on Tuesday, a UN official gave warning that the world was failing to gain the upper hand against the deadly outbreak.
"Ebola got a head start on us," Anthony Banbury, the British head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, said.
Addressing the UN Security Council in New York by remote link from UNMEER headquarters in Accra, Banbury said: "It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race.
"If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much. "We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan."
ROTTERDAM, October 14 -- Ebola is threatening much of the world’s chocolate supply.
Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cacao, the raw ingredient in M&M’s, Butterfingers and Snickers Bars, has shut down its borders with Liberia and Guinea, putting a major crimp on the workforce needed to pick the beans that end up in chocolate bars and other treats just as the harvest season begins. The West African nation of about 20 million — also known as Côte D’Ivoire — has yet to experience a single case of Ebola, but the outbreak already could raise prices. The world’s chocolate makers have taken notice.
The World Cocoa Foundation is working now to collect large donations from Nestlé, Mars and many of its 113 other members for its Coca Industry Response to Ebola Initiative. The initiative hasn’t been publicly unveiled, but the WCF plans to announce details Wednesday, during its annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on how the money will fuel Red Cross and Caritas Internationalis work to help the infected and staunch Ebola’s spread.
Morristown, N.J.-based Transmar Group, an international cocoa supplier, already has pledged $100,000, and Mars has indicated its support, too.
“As a member of the WCF and a supporter of the CocoaAction strategy, Mars is pleased to see the industry coming together to help organizations on the ground in the prevention and eradication of the Ebola virus,” the company said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “We look forward to the WCF partnership meeting in Copenhagen next week where we will learn more about the industry effort.”
Ivory Coast, which produces about 1.6 million metric tons of cacao beans per year — roughly 33 percent of the world’s total, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization — closed its borders in August to Guinea and Liberia. More than 8,000 have been diagnosed with Ebola, and nearly 4,000 have died in those two countries and Sierra Leone. Next to Ivory Coast is Ghana, the world’s third-largest producer of cacao beans — 879,348 metric tons per year — or 15 percent of the world’s total.
Tim McCoy, a senior adviser for the WCF, said signs that Ivory Coast residents already are concerned were immediately obvious during his last trip to the country in September.
“Going into meetings where … you always shake hands and often times, with men and women, you do the cheek kiss thing … They weren’t doing that,” McCoy said.
The market is worried, too. Prices on cocoa futures jumped from their normal trading range of $2,000 to $2,700 per ton, to as high as $3,400 in September over concerns about the spread of Ebola to Côte D’Ivoire, noted Jack Scoville, an analyst and vice president at the Chicago-based Price Futures Group. Since then, prices have yo-yoed down to $3,030 and then back to $3,155 in the past couple of weeks.
One of the top authors of The Peet Journal is Pete McGea. As a native born Scotsman, Pete
Editor in Chief
As Editor in chief I manage and oversee the content produced for publications or websites. This includes reviewing all content produced, such as articles and photographs, developing strategies and style guidelines, and representing the brand at social events throughout the year. I work in an office-based environment and typically work full time, although they may be required to work additional hours, particularly around deadlines. I have a strong business acumen, excellent writing and proofreading skills, networking and interpersonal skills, and the ability to guide a team towards business goals. By the way, my name is Lora Smith.