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Cabo Verde Received the First Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines

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Cabo Verde received Friday, March 12, its first batch of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, sent through the COVAX Initiative, a partnership between the Government of Cabo Verde, CEPI (Coalition for Innovation in Epidemic Preparedness), GAVI (Global Vaccine Alliance) and WHO (World Health Organization), in partnership with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), the World Bank and others.

This is a historic step towards achieving our goal of ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, and which is already considered the largest acquisition and operation of vaccine supply in human history. This delivery is the first batch part of the government plan agreed with the COVAX mechanism, aiming to cover 20% of the country’s population (111,372 people) prioritizing the population at more at risk.

On March 8, after submission of the required regulatory documentation required from Cabo Verde, COVAX through UNICEF supply division shipped to the capital city of Praia 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, licensed and manufactured by serum institute (PVT) Limited from Maharashtra, India and the shipment arrived at Nelson Mandela International Airport on March 12, 2021.

This first batch of 24,000 doses, part of a larger batch of 108,000 doses already planned for Cabo Verde expected to arrive in the country until May 2021, enables the country to start the vaccination campaign against COVID 19, prioritizing critical target groups already identified.

To vaccinate all these groups, the equivalent of 20% of the country population, Cabo Verde will needs a total of 267,293 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 under the COVAX Initiative.

“Today is a moment of renewed hope and a witness to the solidarity the world needs to respond to the global challenges and end human, social and economic suffering brought by this pandemic. The arrival of this first batch of Covid-19 vaccines to Cabo Verde under the COVAX Facility is a historic step for the country in what is consider the largest and most complex vaccine distribution operation ever.  For several months, the Government of Cabo Verde and COVAX’s partners have been working together for this moment to be a reality. The United Nations System in Cabo Verde will continue to support the Government in implementing vaccination alongside other health and socio-economic measures already underway. We thank all countries and partners who contribute to COVAX aware that only together we can recover from this crisis and achieve sustainable development in Cabo Verde, leaving no one behind,” said Ana Graça, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cabo Verde.

WHO, through its Representative Hernando Agudelo, states that “WHO is proud to co-lead COVAX together with Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in order to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID- 19 vaccines and guarantee a fair and equitable access for all countries in the world ”. WHO is the normative entity that has been monitoring the whole process including global recommendation on priority groups, in order to ensure that health professionals and the front line workers, people over 65; and people underlying risky health problems, are properly protected. The main objective of COVAX is to make vaccines available to at least 20% of the population in all participating countries for the population at risk and that low and middle income countries receive these 20% of vaccines free of charge, as in Cabo Verde, thanks to financial support provided by several countries and international donors. ”

For the UNICEF Representative, Steven Ursino, “This is indeed a crucial moment for Cabo Verde, the culmination of several efforts led by the Government of Cabo Verde to stop and prevent the spread of the pandemic and save lives. The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccines are available to everyone. The more people are vaccinated, the faster it will be to see a gradual return to normality and better access to health, education and protection services for all Cabo Verdeans. We salute the Government of Cabo Verde, in particular the Ministry of Health, for the commitment and all partners that support the COVAX Facility in its mission to deliver safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 to all countries and quickly and equitably. We reinforce our commitment to support the vaccination campaign and contain the spread of the virus, in close cooperation with all partners. ”

The World Bank, Represented by Eneida Fernandes said, “This is an important day for Cabo Verde. With the arrival of the first batch of vaccines and the country’s track record in vaccination campaigns, the World Bank is convinced that the country will be able to roll-out its COVID vaccine campaign swiftly and promote resilient recovery for the people of Cabo Verde. Together with partners, the World Bank is stepping up its support through the Cabo Verde COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to help purchase and distribute vaccines, and strengthen vaccination systems”.

According to the national authorities, vaccination will begin in the 18 of March and will be implemented in a phased manner, depending on the distribution by different priority groups, such as health professionals, chronically ill and people over 60 years, professionals working in airports and ports, in the tourism sector, teachers and support staff in schools, National Police, Armed Forces, Civil Protection and Fire Service professionals. According to the national vaccination plan, health professionals, who are on the front line, will be the first to be vaccinated.

For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting the government in its preparedness efforts for this moment and several key steps have been taken, including confirming national regulatory authorization criteria related to delivered vaccines, compensation agreements, national vaccination plan, as well as other logistical factors such as special import authorizations. COVAX partners have also being collaborating with the preparation of the country readiness, technical and multisectoral coordination, the development of the National Vaccination Plan, support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as the storage of syringes and safety boxes for disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is sufficient equipment for health professionals to start vaccinating priority groups follow-up and surveillance of adverse effects after the injection, among other.

It should be noted that COVAX Facility is co-led by GAVI – The Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank, and is part of the COVID-19 Tool Access Accelerator (ACT), an innovative global collaboration to accelerate development, production and equitable access to testing COVID-19 treatments and vaccines ensuring that low- and middle-income countries can also have access to vaccines with the aim of leaving no one behind.

COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a variety of configurations and populations and is on track to meet its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine to the initiative’s participating countries worldwide by 2021, including about 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to the 92 low-income countries that are part of the COVAX Initiative.

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Humanitarian catastrophe in northern Mozambique ‘beyond epic proportions’

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A displaced woman in northern Mozambique receives food aid. © WFP/Grant Lee Neuenburg

The UN and partners are “following with deep concern” new reports of violations against civilians in northern Mozambique, the UN Spokesperson said on Thursday. 

Citing reports of atrocities carried out by child soldiers, alleged beheadings during attacks by non-State armed groups, and clashes in the Cabo Delgado region, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the regular daily briefing that although verifying information was extremely difficult, “we are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma”. 

The coastal town just south of the border with Tanzania, was reportedly overrun by militant extremists on 24 March, but three days ago, Mozambique’s military reported that it had regained control. 

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), attacks in and around Palma uprooted many who had been sheltering there after having fled conflict in other parts of the province. 

Prior to that, nearly 670,000 – including some 160,000 women and adolescent girls as well as 19,000 pregnant women – were internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula provinces, the vast majority of them reliant on host families, whose scarce resources are being exhausted.  

On the ground 

The UN spokesperson said that nearly 12,800 people, 43 per cent of whom are children, have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba since violence erupted.  

“Many more are expected to still be on the move in search of safety and assistance”, he added. 

Humanitarian partners in Mozambique are assisting displaced people at arrival points and scaling up the ongoing humanitarian response in Cabo Delgado. 

“So far in 2021, more than 500,000 people in the province have received humanitarian assistance”, he said. 

Humanitarians stretched 

On top of conflict in Cabo Delgado, in the first months of 2021 and prior to the Palma attacks, the humanitarian community in Mozambique was already stretched, having responded to multiple climate emergencies. 

Yet, the humanitarian appeal for the current crisis is currently just one per cent funded.  

“More resources are immediately required to meet the needs of people fleeing the violence in Palma”, underscored the UN spokesperson.   

“The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict in Cabo Delgado to protect civilians.” 

Trapped and displaced 

Earlier in the week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the insurgent attack on Palma had forced at least 11,000 people to leave their homes and reportedly rendered thousands of others trapped as it “continues to work around the clock” to assist them. 

UNHCR said that its teams in Pemba were following up on worrying reports that more than 1,000 displaced people were prevented from crossing the border into Tanzania and called on Mozambique’s neighbours to provide access to territory and asylum for people escaping violence. 

This is a humanitarian catastrophe beyond epic proportions — WFP Representative

‘Saving lives’ priority 

At the same time, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that the deteriorating security situation has caused evacuation flights to be suspended and left UN agencies struggling to get into Palma with food assistance.  

“This is a humanitarian catastrophe beyond epic proportions”, said Antonella D’Aprile, WFP Representative and Country Director for Mozambique, on Tuesday.  

The UN food relief agency warned that hunger is rising in Palma, with some arrivals into Pemba saying they had not eaten for weeks. 

“People fleeing Palma are completely traumatized by the violence they’ve witnessed in the past few days, and now, more than ever, they need our help”, said Ms. D’Aprile. “Our priority is saving lives and making sure emergency assistance reaches those who need it most”.

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Ethiopia: Humanitarian situation remains ‘dire’

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Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

The humanitarian situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, remains “dire”, the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday.  

“While there has been substantial improvement in humanitarian access, active hostilities have been reported in the north-western, central, eastern, south-eastern and southern zones”, Stéphane Dujarric told correspondents at a regular press briefing.  

Following months of escalating tensions between the Ethiopian Government and the dominant regional force, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base.  

Within days, militias from the neighbouring Amhara region had joined the fray, reportedly followed by some troops from neighbouring Eritrea – a long-time rival of Tigray. 

According to government forces, the region had been secured by the end of November, however TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses on all sides.  

Mass displacement 

The UN Spokesperson said that some humanitarian partners have accessed the towns of Gijet and Samre, in the southern and southeastern zones.  

“They reported that most of the population in these towns has fled”, he said, adding that the Alamata-Mekelle-Adigrat-Shire road remains “partially accessible”.   

Mr. Dujarric referenced the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in saying that an estimated 2.5 million people in rural Tigray have not had access to essential services over the last five months.  

Moreover, the conflict continues to drive massive displacement across the region, with tens of thousands of people moving towards urban areas, including to Mekelle and Shire.  

“According to a recent assessment report, there could be as many as 450,000 people displaced in Shire”, he stated. 

As UN humanitarian partners scale up the response, they are grappling with capacity and resource challenges, “which remains inadequate for the estimated 4.5 million people who need life-saving assistance”, said Mr. Dujarric.

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New programme to support Kenya’s coast and blue economy

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Team Europe, together with the Governors of six coastal counties in Kenya, the Ministry of Devolution and the Blue Economy Secretariat, launched the Go Blue initiative in Kenya on March 25, 2021. The four-year programme aims to protect Kenya’s coastal ecosystems while creating environmentally friendly jobs in a host of industries, including recycling, tourism and small-scale fishing. It is designed to foster a “sustainable blue economy” in six coastal counties and generate more than 3,000 jobs for youth and women alone.

Go Blue has received 25 million euros in funding from the European Union. Four EU Member States – France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal – will provide technical expertise on economic growth, while two UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and  UN-Habitat – will ensure that interventions are aligned with environmental conservation and urban planning goals and that the initiative helps coastal cities and communities adapt to adverse effects of climate change.

“Our marine and coastal ecosystems are extremely valuable in terms of providing ecosystem services – with many people earning their livelihoods through them,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Rather than depleting or polluting these resources, we must develop ways in which to harness and protect them.”

The push comes with maritime environments around the world, including those in Kenya, facing increasing pressure from climate change and pollution.  

Kenya has an abundance of untapped maritime resources along its coast. Go Blue will focus on helping coastal communities develop those resources in a way that is sustainable and that provides economic opportunities for women and youth. The initiative will bring inclusive, integrated and sustainable approaches to economic growth, while developing new work streams, like small-scale fisheries, waste recycling, aquaculture or tourism, and technical skills in blue economy sectors, strengthening value chains and tackling regional bottlenecks.

It will also promote coastal counties’ efforts to develop integrated approaches to land-sea planning and management with a focus on restoring key coastal and marine ecosystems. Lastly, the capacity of Kenya’s Coast Guard will be strengthened to safeguard ocean assets.

“Jointly working on integrated spatial planning solutions–both on land and in water–on different levels of government and with consideration to different sectors is key to achieving a sustainable blue economy,” said Maimunah Mohd. Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

Go Blue will be implemented in cooperation with the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani  – Kenya’s coast regional counties Economic Development Organization – together with national ministries, such as the Blue Economy Secretariat, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Kenya Coast Guard Service, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transport and Bandari Maritime Academy.

UN-Habitat and UNEP will support the six counties in developing three methodologies:

  • an integrated, ecosystem-based land-sea planning and management framework, which will improve spatial planning
  • a regional land-sea vision to prioritize blue economy-related issues
  • mapping, data collection and analysis on spatial planning and ecosystems assessments

This will feed into each county’s GIS data lab, as well as a regional GIS data hub, to strengthen data collection and analysis on land use changes, urbanization and environmental change patterns, marine and coastal natural assets, and human activity (e.g. fisheries, tourism, waste). In addition, the project will support waste management, constructed wetlands, blue carbon, mangrove restoration, spatial planning and community empowerment.

The information and evidence from all activities will support replication in other Kenyan towns through the initiative’s online knowledge-sharing platform and trainings. Furthermore, four counties should have developed their own land-sea planning proposals as a result of the project, and six innovative activities will be funded by investors that directly contribute to the blue economy and land-sea planning.

UN Environment

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