Connect with us

News

DNA to rediscover a forgotten immigration

Published

on

The project “Le Vie Aleramiche, Normanno-Sveve”, with the support of the Euro-Mediterranean Federation, after having deepened the linguistic, toponymic and cultural aspects, will make use of the important demo-genetic research, already expressed in a pioneering form in 2016, which has the declared purpose of uncovering traces, more less hidden, of an almost forgotten migration, which started, starting from the 11th century AD, from districts not better circumscribed in northern Italy towards what will later be understood as “Lombard of Sicily”.

This is a survey that involves, on different but strictly interdependent fronts, the three universities of Palermo, Messina, and Bologna, with the coordination of Prof. Luca Sineo, the Professor of Anthropology at the University of Palermo and current President of the ‘AAI (Italian Anthropological Association), and the action on the field by dr. Marco Nania, responsible for the sampling phase. This research, which fascinates the communities involved so much, acts by a comparative analysis of specific DNA segments deriving from biological samples taken from a group of selected subjects from the population currently residing in the Sicilian localities of interest, so qualified as possible receptacles of traces, even significant ones, of the passage and rooting of the “Lombard” colonizers.

With the method of “active” sampling, we will deliberately and hopefully proceed towards a close collaboration and widespread participation of local communities. They will feel as promoters of the survey themselves and, even more, creators of the re-determination, on a genetic basis, of their own history. A fundamental aspect of the pre-sample anthropological analysis is then based on the onomastic study of surnames, first names and nicknames, which say so much about culture and family and social relationships within a given community. The identification of endemic surnames and others of the suspicious and ancient high-Italic matrix, in combination with the reconstruction, up to the third parental generation (that of the great-grandparents), of genealogies purely embodied in the socio-demographic context of reference, will be the guides discriminating factors that will lead to establishing the perimeter within which to include the subjects of greatest interest.

It will be a question of demonstrating, in a definitive way, an indisputable ancestral link between the people of some strips of Sicily, where the progeny of Nordic migrants would be stationed, and the descendants of the sedentary stocks of the Ligurian, Piedmonts, and more generally “Lombard” ancestors. This should consolidate, with real scientific data, the narrative of that “reverse immigration”, now almost forgotten, which saw families and perhaps entire communities of Northern Italy follow the Aleramici, linked to the Norman-Swabian dynasty, in their transfer to the South and, in particular, towards Sicily.

An aspect of the research that before the pandemic had already seen the interest of the University of Bologna and of the Anthropologist Prof. Davide Pettener, interviewed by Fabrizio Di Salvo.

Sampling will take place, in stages and in successive periods, in the localities of San Fratello, Aidone, Piazza Armerina, Corleone, and Fondachelli Fantina. Thanks to the intermediation of Calogero Ridulfo, Filadelfio Crivillaro, Lavinia Garsia, Marco Incalcaterra, Franca Ciantia, Serena Raffiotta, Rosa Maria Restivo and Tiziana Laversa and coordinated by Anna Maria Di Rosa Placa, and Fabrizio Di Salvo of the Euro-Mediterranean Federation on the ancient Medieval Migrations, following the instructions already communicated by the experts in a videoconference.

In the case of Fondachelli-Fantina, however, it was the entire municipal administration, led by the mayor Dr. Marco Pettinato, to have raised awareness and to have promoted and supported, thanks also to the active collaboration of the councillor Gioconda Grasso and the cultural center “Le Miniere”, all the phases that will lead to the imminent sampling.

This is an opportunity to break down, through the science and study of DNA, prejudices and parochialisms that are firmly rooted and that do not allow us to look, with a broad breath, at the numerous pages of the history of mankind that speak of peoples in constant migration and relocation.

Continue Reading
Comments

Human Rights

Millions in Yemen ‘a step away from starvation’

Published

on

Mobile health clinics are distributing nutritional supplements to children in Yemen. WFP/Saleh Bin Haiyan

The crisis in Yemen, now in its seventh year of war, continues unabated, with thousands of people displaced and millions “a step away from starvation”, the UN Humanitarian Relief Coordinator said on Wednesday during a high-level side event on the margins of the 76th General Assembly.

“The country’s economy has reached new depths of collapse, and a third wave of the pandemic is threatening to crash the country’s already fragile health-care system”, Humanitarian Affairs chief Martin Griffiths told world leaders at the meeting: Yemen: Responding to the crises within the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Underscoring that the most vulnerable always “bear the highest cost” of the crisis, he said that females were more likely to be hungry, sick or exposed to gender-based violence and, with little access to essential services, millions of internally displaced people face “a daily struggle to survive”.

Cause for hope

In a positive development, the UN official credited the international community for stepping up support to the country’s humanitarian aid operation.

Thanking the world leaders, he said that Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan is “among the most well-funded”, with 98 per cent of the pledges made at an event in March fulfilled.

With over $2 billion received, the UN and its partners were able to “prevent famine and pull people back from the brink of despair”, delivering assistance to “every single one of the country’s 333 districts”.

‘Far from done’

Despite these important achievements, Mr. Griffiths acknowledged that the work there is “far from done”, as many sectors still face “alarming funding gaps” and humanitarians are working with less than one-fifth of the money needed to provide health care, sanitation, and shelter.

“Without additional funding, these and other forms of critical life-saving support – including food assistance – will have to be reduced in the coming weeks and months”, he warned.

Three requests

The UN relief chief asked global leaders to continue generously supporting Yemen’s humanitarian operation; respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians; and address the root drivers of the crisis, including restrictions on imports, which elevate the prices of essential goods.

He urged them to do “everything in our collective power to stop this war”, saying, “at the end of the day, peace is what will provide Yemenis the most sustainable form of relief”.

Children robbed

The war has robbed too many of Yemen’s children of safety, education and opportunities.

“Each day, the violence and destruction wreak havoc on the lives of children and their families”, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told the meeting.

She painted a grim picture of 1.7 million displaced youth, 11.3 million youngsters depending on humanitarian assistance to survive and 2.3 million under-five “acutely malnourished” – nearly 400,000 of whom are at “imminent risk of death”.

“Being a child in Yemen means you have probably either experienced or witnessed horrific violence that no child should ever face”, said the UNICEF chief.

“Quite simply, Yemen is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a child”.

Millions ‘marching towards starvation’

In his address, World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley said that in a nation of 30 million people, food rations are needed by 12.9 million; while 3.3 million children and women need special nutrition, together with 1.6 million school children.

“We’re literally looking at 16 million people marching towards starvation”, he said.

With one thousand people a week dying from a lack of food and nutrition, the senior WFP official warned that if $800 million is not received in the next six months, the need to cut rations could lead to the death of 400,000 children under the age of five next year.

We have a moral, obligation, to speak out and step up”, he stated, appealing to the world leaders to “put the pressure on all parties…to end this conflict”.

“These are our children; these are our brothers and sisters we need the donors to step up immediately otherwise children are going to die. Let’s not let them down. Let’s do what we need to do”, concluded Mr. Beasley.

Continue Reading

Africa Today

South Sudan ‘determined to never go back to war’

Published

on

Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, Vice-President of the Republic of South Sudan, addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

South Sudan is “ready to turn a new page” towards greater peace, development and prosperity, Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior said in her speech in the UN General Assembly on Friday. 

A decade after gaining independence from Sudan, the country remains “on a path of nation-building” and is working to implement a 2018 revitalized peace deal which led to the formation of a unity government last year.

 “I want to assure our friends and partners that we are determined to never go back to war,” said Ms. De Mabior.

“We must replace the destruction of war with the productive use of our vast natural resources and national assets for the good of our people.”

Prioritize nation-building

The Vice-President recalled that when South Sudan became independent, the international community pledged to build capacity in nation-building, establishing a UN mission in the country, UNMISS, to support this process.

“However, after the outbreak of the war, that vision was abandoned, and priority was placed on protecting civilians and providing humanitarian assistance. As a result, support for capacity building of the State was terminated,” she said.

Ms. De Mabior stressed that supporting a State’s ability to govern responsibly and effectively is essential.  It is also necessary to guard against what she called “the unintended consequences of dependency on humanitarian assistance.”

Given improvements in peace and security, she said it was now time to transition from emergency towards sustainable development.

“It is a painful and shameful situation for a country endowed with vast fertile land to be regarded as poor,” she added.  

“We must ensure peace and security in the country and double our efforts to support our people who want to return, and are returning, to their areas of origin, for them to participate fully in nation-building and contribute to building food security in the country.”

Support youth and women

South Sudan is also “a youthful country”, and the Vice-President called for continued efforts to develop the skills of its youth and women “to provide an alternative to picking up the gun again and engaging in destructive behavior.”

Encouraging developments have included joint efforts by the national security forces and their UNMISS counterparts to promote rural peace and security, while the Government is set to unveil a national youth service programme.

“To fulfill the vision of our liberation struggle, we must use our oil revenues to fuel economic growth through investment in agriculture,” she said.  

“We will invest in infrastructure to connect our rural communities to the markets. We need the public and private sectors, including foreign investors, to join hands in turning South Sudan’s potential wealth into a reality.”

Glass ‘half-empty’

Ms. De Mabior reported progress in implementing aspects of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, particularly in the creation of state and national bodies and public financial management reforms

However, “the glass remains half-empty” in implementing a permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, she said, noting the urgency for a unified army.

“The security sector reform is the most challenging part of the Agreement as it contains elements at the center of the violent conflicts in the country,” she said, calling for continued dialogue.

“Building sustainable peace requires inclusivity, collective investment, determination, diligence, and patience.”

Meanwhile, relations with Sudan have also improved, though outstanding issues remain over the oil-rich Abyei border area.

Ms. De Mabior stressed her country is determined to learn from the past.

 “We must make the Revitalized Peace Agreement succeed, and we can only do that with the support of our regional and international partners. Simply stated, South Sudan desires and is ready to turn a new page,” she said.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

WHO backs Regeneron COVID-19 drug cocktail – with equal access, price cut

Published

on

A technician carries out an experiment in the Regeneron laboratory. © Regeneron

The Regeneron antibody drug cocktail – casirivimab and imdevimab – has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of treatments for COVID-19 patients, the UN agency said on Friday, before underscoring the need for lower prices and equitable distribution. 

“This is a major breakthrough in the care of COVID-19 patients”, said Dr. Janet Diaz, WHO head of clinical care. “This is our first recommendation for a therapeutic for those patients with mild, moderate disease,” she said, because it reduces “the need for hospitalisation if they are at high risk”. 

Effective ‘reduction in mortality’  

WHO’s conditional recommendations are for use of the drug combination on patients who are 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.  

“Giving them this additional antibody seems to show an effect. And what effect is that? A reduction in mortality” Dr. Diaz told a briefing in Geneva. 

The antibody therapy was granted emergency use authorization in the United States November last year after it was used to treat former President Donald Trump when he was admitted to hospital with the virus. The United Kingdom has also approved Regeneron, while it is under review in Europe. 

‘Meaningful’ benefit 

The WHO recommendations were largely based on data from a British study of 9,000 patients in June which found that the therapy reduced deaths in hospitalised patients whose own immune systems had failed to produce a response. 

“We are taking the information (from the UK study) and generalizing it to other persons,” said Dr. Diaz. “We saw there was a benefit we thought was meaningful.” 

The treatment has been on the market for decades to treat many other diseases, including cancers. It is based on a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies which mimic natural antibodies produced by the human body to fight off infections. 

Equity, price cut call 

Swiss drugmaker Roche, has been working in partnership with Regeneron, which holds the patent, to produce the antibody treatment. 

Dr. Diaz urged Regeneron to lower the drug’s price and work on equitable distribution worldwide: “We know that the life-saving benefits and the benefits for patients with COVID-19 is significant and requires action.” 

She added that WHO-hosted health agency UNITAID, has been negotiating directly with Roche for lower prices and equitable distribution across all parts of the world, “including low and middle-income countries”. 

WHO has also been in discussions with the company for a donation and distribution of the drug through UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, following an allocation criteria set by the health agency. “We are working together with the company so we can address these very important issues so we can have equitable access” she said. 

Call to manufacturers 

In a statement, WHO said in parallel it had “launched a call to manufacturers who may wish to submit their products for pre-qualification, which would allow for a ramping-up of production and therefore greater availability of the treatment and expanded access. 

ACT-A partners are also working with WHO on an equitable access framework for recommended COVID-19 therapeutics”. On that subject, Dr Diaz added that “there are bottlenecks and we are aware of those. 

WHO has launched the pre-qualification expression of interest call so that the manufacturing companies can start to submit their dossiers to WHO”. 

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Reports19 mins ago

Study of Diversity Shows Scale of Opportunity in Media and Entertainment Industries

The World Economic Forum’s Power of Media Initiative has compiled a first-of-its-kind compilation of the state of diversity and representation...

South Asia3 hours ago

Afghanistan and the Quest for Democracy Promotion: Symptoms of Post-Cold War Malaise

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the first step in a reduced American overseas force posture. Democracy promotion in...

Middle East5 hours ago

UAE-Israel relations risk being built on questionable assumptions

A year of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel has proven to be mutually beneficial. The question...

Americas7 hours ago

Afghanistan and Beginning of the Decline of American Power

Has America’s disgraceful withdrawal from Afghanistan spoiled its global standing? The pictures of retreating American soldiers at Kabul International Airport...

Defense9 hours ago

North Korea’s Nuclear Shadow: A Worrisome Expansion

Abstract: The nuclear news from North Korea remains clear and threatening.  Ignoring both political warnings and legal prohibitions, Kim Jong...

Russia13 hours ago

Russia’s Blueprint For Success in the Middle East

As a tradition in the modern world the Middle East remains unstable. Continuous political turbulence in the region extinguishes all...

pakistan-terrorism pakistan-terrorism
Terrorism20 hours ago

India’s view of “terrorism: at the UNGA?

At the recent United Nations’ general Assembly session, India was furious at mention of Kashmir by Pakistan’s prime minister Imran...

Trending