US Lawmakers Approves $1bn For Israel’s Iron Dome
The US House of Representatives has approved $1bn in additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system after days of controversy around the push. Legislators passed the bill in a 420 to nine vote on Thursday, paving the way for a significant increase in US support for the system. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily before being signed into law by President Joe Biden, who already has signalled support for the additional aid. The move came amid the growing number of progressive voices in Congress are calling on Biden to condition US assistance to Israel on the country’s human rights record.
WHO Backs Regeneron Drug For COVID-19
The World Health Organisation has added the Regeneron antibody drug, casirivimab and imdevimab to its list of treatments for people with COVID-19, urging the manufacturer to reduce the price and ensure equitable distribution. The WHO says Clinical studies showed the drug combination was effective in patients who were not severely ill but at high risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, or those with severe cases of the disease and no existing antibodies, The antibody therapy secured emergency use authorisation in the United States in November last year after it was used to treat former President Donald Trump when he was admitted to hospital with COVID-19. The United Kingdom has also approved it, while it is under review in Europe.
Bangladesh Receives Extra 2.5 Million Covid Vaccine Doses
The United States is shipping another 2.5 million Covid vaccine doses to hard-hit Bangladesh after the Biden administration announced a ramping up of global donations. A White House official told AFP that the latest shipment of 2,508,480 Pfizer doses will bring the total of US shots to the country above nine million. The official says they are able to deliver these safe and effective vaccines to the people of Bangladesh adding that there were no strings attached to the donation.
World Powers Agree On Inclusive Afghan Government
The five permanent UN Security Council members found common ground in Afghanistan with officials saying all the powers would press the Taliban to be more inclusive after their military takeover. China and Russia have described last month’s Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and moved to work with the insurgents, but no country has moved to recognize a government that includes international pariahs. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the Security Council powers all want a peaceful and stable Afghanistan where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination. He says they seek an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population.
Haitian Ambassador to The US Resigns Over Discrimination Against Haitian Immigrants
The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday two months after his appointment, denouncing the Biden administration’s deportation of Haitian migrants from the US-Mexico border back to their poverty-stricken homeland. State Department envoy Daniel Foote says he will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti. Foote described Haiti as a place where US diplomats are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life. The resignation came after the administration of President Joe Biden began last weekend loading Haitian migrants who crossed into the country from Mexico onto aircraft and flying them back to Haiti.
Political Looting Cripples South Sudan Economy
A UN panel of experts says political, military and business leaders in South Sudan have been illicitly diverting millions of dollars and undermining the stability in the country. The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found evidence that linked to the government has embezzled and laundered at least tens of millions of dollars. The report says the level of corruption undermines human rights and security in the country adding that the figure is only a fraction of the overall amount looted. Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka says the findings revealing the patterns and trends of embezzlement include the involvement of politicians, government officials, international corporations, military personnel, and multinational banks in these crimes.
Animosity in North Africa as Algeria Shuts Its Airspace to Morocco
Algeria has closed its airspace to all Moroccan planes due to provocations and hostile practices by its neighbour. Morocco called the severing of ties completely unjustified and says the decision was based on false, even absurd pretexts. The Algerian presidency says the decision had been made "to shut its airspace immediately to all civilian and military aircraft as well as to those registered in Morocco." The presidency says they examined the situation on Algeria's border with Morocco and took into account the continuation of provocations and hostile practices by Morocco without providing details.
European Superpowers Angry Over Mali and Russian Paramilitary Alliance
France's defence minister warned Mali against hiring paramilitaries from Russian private-security firm Wagner. Florence Parly told reporters that if Mali hired the firm, at a time when international partners fighting jihadism in the Sahel had never been so numerous, such a choice would be that of isolation. A Mali defence ministry official says that no decision regarding Wagner had been made. Malian defence minister Colonel Sadio Camara told Parly that France's abandonment of Mali meant everything had to be considered to secure the country.
The British Kingdom Condemns Reductions in Aid to Africa
The UK parliamentary committee that scrutinises British aid has described funding cuts to several African countries as outrageous and hypocritical. The International Development Committee says several conflict-hit East African countries will see their aid slashed by half or more, despite being identified as priority areas. The countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Mozambique and Somalia. The committee said UK aid in the region was needed more than ever as humanitarian crises were being exacerbated by conflict and climate change.
The African Union’s health warned that Britain’s pandemic travel restrictions could make people across the continent more reluctant to get vaccinated. Britain under the restrictions only recognises vaccines administered in a few countries. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the message passed regarding the vaccine creates confusion within the population creating more reticence, reluctance for people to receive vaccines.