President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on South Africa’s response to Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, 27 Jun

IMC on COVID-19 briefing cancelled
Today 26 June 2021 a special National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) convened, to receive a report from the scientists on the prevalence of the Delta variant in South Africa and the acting Minister of Health, Minister Kubayi – Ngubane has subsequently briefed the media about this variant.

As the result of these developments, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) will convene this afternoon to propose recommendations on the country’s response to both the Delta variant and the continued surge in COVID-19 infections.

The NCCC will convene again tomorrow (27 June ) to process the NATJOINTS Report. This will be followed by, the Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC) which includes premiers, executive mayors and representatives of traditional leaderships. A special Cabinet meeting will take place to process the recommendations from the NATJOINTS. The President will address the nation at 20h00 on Sunday, 27 June 2021.

Therefore, the scheduled Ministerial media briefing that was scheduled to take place on Sunday, 27 June 2021 has been cancelled.

Source: Government of South Africa

UN: Madagascar Droughts Push 400,000 Toward Starvation

The U.N. World Food Program says southern Madagascar is in the throes of back-to-back droughts that are pushing 400,000 people toward starvation and have already caused deaths from severe hunger.
Lola Castro, WFP’s regional director in southern Africa, told a news conference Friday that she witnessed “a very dramatic and desperate situation” during her recent visit with WFP chief David Beasley to the Indian Ocean island nation of 26 million people.
Hundreds of adults and children were “wasted,” and hundreds of kids were skin and bones and receiving nutritional support, she said.
In 28 years working for WFP on four continents, Castro said she had “never seen anything this bad” except in 1998 in Bahr el-Gazal in what is now South Sudan.
The U.N. and Madagascar’s government are launching an appeal for about $155 million in a few days to provide lifesaving food and prevent a major famine, she said. Thousands of people have left their homes in rural areas and moved to more urban environments in search of food, she added.
Beasley tweeted Friday that 400,000 people are “marching towards starvation,” 14,000 are “in famine-like conditions,” and “if we do not act ASAP, the number of people facing starvation will reach 500,000 in a few short months.”
“Families have been living on raw red cactus fruits, wild leaves and locusts for months now,” he said Wednesday.
“This is not because of war or conflict, this is because of climate change,” Beasley stressed. “This is an area of the world that has contributed nothing to climate change, but now, they’re the ones paying the highest price.”
According to WFP, 1.14 million people in southern Madagascar don’t have enough food including 14,000 in “catastrophic” conditions, and this will double to 28,000 by October.
Madagascar is the only country that isn’t in conflict but still has people facing “Famine-Humanitarian Catastrophe” in the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification known as the IPC, which is a global partnership of 15 U.N. agencies and international humanitarian organizations that uses five categories to measure food security, Castro said.

Source: Voice of America

Somalia Executes Militants Amid Deadly Attack

Security officials in Somalia say dozens of people were killed after militants attacked a small town in the central state of Galmudug early on Sunday.

At least 30 people were killed, among them civilian residents caught in the crossfire between militants and security forces in the town of Wisil, local officials told VOA Somali.
The attack started with the militants detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in an area close to a security camp in the town, said a regional official who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media.
Galmudug’s information minister, Ahmed Shire Falagle, told VOA Somali that regional forces repulsed the dawn attack and inflicted losses on the militants. Falagle said three soldiers were among the dead with at least seven others injured. He said about 100 militants attacked the town and that “many of them have not returned alive.” He did not elaborate.
For its part, the al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it killed 34 members of the security forces.

Wisil lies 200 kilometers southeast of Galkayo in an area where al-Shabab recently made advances. In April, the group captured the town of Ba’adweyne, not far from Wisil, after government and regional forces vacated it for undisclosed reasons.
About two hours after the attack in Wisil, authorities in the regional state of Puntland executed 21 men accused of al-Shabab membership and terrorism, regional police commander Colonel Mumin Abdi Shire told the media.
The men were convicted in separate trials in the towns of Galkayo, Garowe and Qardho this year.
Eighteen of the men were lined up next to a sand hill outside the town of Galkayo. Security forces facing them opened fire, executing them. Separately, three other men were executed in Garowe and Qardho town. All of the executions were by firing squad. It is the largest single execution of al-Shabab militants in Somalia, observers say.
Security officials in Puntland accused the men of involvement in a series of assassinations and attacks, spanning more than 10 years, which claimed the lives of regional and community leaders, security officers and journalists.
Al-Shabab is largely active in south-central Somalia. The group also has a small footprint in Puntland in the northeast. Puntland is a semi-autonomous state.

Source: Voice of America

Malawi’s LGBTI Community Marches, Petitions Government for Change

In Malawi, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex (LGBTI) community Saturday held their first ever pride parade in the capital, Lilongwe, pushing for recognition by the government, legalization of same-sex marriage and equal access to health care.
During the parade, marchers carried placards with messages like; “We Are Also Human Beings,” “Diversity Creates Community” and, “We Are Also an Image of God.”
Many of them covered their faces not only with coronavirus protective masks to hide their identity.
Eric Sambisa, director of Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, which organized the parade, told reporters that sexual minorities are in danger in Malawi.
“People are not safe here because they are targeted for violence all the time. There are so many forms of violence targeted to LGBTI people, so I don’t blame them if they cover their [faces]. It’s for their own safety,” Sambisa said.
The marchers petitioned Malawi’s government to cancel an online survey on citizens’ views on homosexuality announced last November during a United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country’s human rights record.

A U.N. report stemming from the review noted that “Malawi had refused to accept the recommendations” related to the LGBTI community “and the hate crimes, physical violence, and mental health issues that its members faced.”
Malawi held out the survey as a reason for delaying the government’s response to pressure from the international community to better protect sexual minorities.
George Kachimanga, program manager for Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, said progress on human rights should not depend on the results of a poll.
“So, we said we cannot expose issues of the minority to the majority because you actually know the outcome. So, we are saying ‘no’ to that because Malawi is sitting [on the] Human Rights Council now and it should lead by example. It shouldn’t be selective on the rights that it can actually implement or fulfill. So that [is our] our argument,” he said.
Kachimanga also said the alliance wants Malawi authorities to review its laws on homosexuality, which is currently illegal and punishable by a 14-year maximum prison sentence.
In 2010, Malawi sentenced two gay couples, who received the maximum sentence on charges of gross indecency and unnatural acts.
They were, however, pardoned a week later following an international condemnation of the convictions.
In 2015, the country issued a moratorium on punishing homosexuality until a decision was made on possibly repealing applicable laws.
Some commentators argue the moratorium serves as de facto recognition by the government of sexual minorities – and that further agitation by the LGTBI community is therefore unnecessary.
But Kachimanga said the absence of legal reform subjects LGBTI people to human rights violations, discrimination, stigma and unequal access to health care.
“Despite the moratorium, cases are still ongoing. Mind you it’s not all the cases that have to come in the national media, there are other cases that happen underground, so you need to take care of those cases as well. So, we need something concrete that will determine the right direction in terms of these issues,” Kachimanga said.
VOA was unable to reach government officials for comment.
Nyasa Rainbow Alliance is appealing to the Malawi Law Society as well as the country’s parliament and human rights commission for change.
Habiba Osman, executive director for the human rights commission, said the group’s petition is in line with provisions in the Malawi Constitution.
“The Constitution is very clear. It says no one shall be discriminated [against] based on race, tribe, and sex. It’s very clear; Section 20 says that. And again, if you notice the treaty mechanisms that Malawi has ratified among other binding treaty obligations, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 says all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” Osman said.
The principal administrative officer for the Lilongwe City Council, Hudson Kuphanga, has received the petition and says he will deliver it to the appropriate authorities on Monday.

Source: Voice of America