DR Congo: ‘Intense activity’ at Nyiragongo volcano

Vulcanologists in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported “intense activity” at the active Nyiragongo volcano in the country’s east, where a May eruption killed 32 people.

“As well as activity in Nyiragongo’s central crater, intense activity of volcanic tremors can be observed on the southern slopes,” Adalbert Muhindo, head of the Goma Vulcanological Observatory (OVG), said in a statement.

Temperatures have ranged as high as 400 Celsius (750 Fahrenheit) in some places, while the volcano was emitting sulphur dioxide gas and smoke and carbon dioxide readings have increased, he added.

After receiving reports of ash falls from local people, the OVG asked residents of Goma and the Rwandan city of Gisenyi “to observe strict hygiene measures and avoid ingesting rainwater”.

Nevertheless, the OVG did not increase the alert level at the volcano from its existing yellow rating.

Nyiragongo’s May 22 eruption killed 32 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in Goma.

On Sept 26, the volcano’s crater refilled with lava.


Nigerian pastor, six others die in New Year’s eve boat collision

A New Year eve boat mishap has thrown Ogbinbiri community in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Nigeria’s Bayelsa state into mourning following the death of a 39-year-old pastor and six others.

According to eyewitnesses, the accident occurred when two boats collided Friday afternoon, causing them to capsize.

The deceased pastor identified as Pastor Salvation Degemy, was the General Overseer of the Supernatural Church of God located in the community.

The other victims were a husband, his sick wife, two children and other relatives travelling to Yenagoa from the community.

Sources said one of the boats in which the family and the pastor were travelling was conveying a sick woman to Yenagoa for emergency treatment when the accident occurred.

The sick lady, sources said, was initially admitted at the Cottage Hospital in the community but the decision was made to move her to Yenagoa after the Cottage Hospital ran out of oxygen.

Said the source: “It was recommended that she be taken to Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa for oxygen. That was where they were heading before the accident happened.

“Pastor Salvation Degemy was travelling with them to engage in prayer for the dying patient,” the source said.

Community sources said the tragic event has disrupted the New Year celebration in the community as many people are mourning.


Nigerian police kill 38 bandits in Katsina state

Thirty-eight bandits were killed in a police operation carried out in parts of Nigeria’s North West Katsina state to rid the region of bandits that have continued to attack, kill and kidnap people. Five police officers died in the offensive.

The public relations officer of Katsina State Police Command, Gambo Isa, who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, said that during the Thursday operation, 874 suspected bandits were also arrested.

Reporting that the offensive against the rampaging bandits was carried out during the week, he said: “Indeed, it is no doubt a challenging period for the command.’’

“Nevertheless, the Command has recorded tremendous successes against the menace of banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and other forms of crime and criminality in the state.”

While 2021 saw a reduction in crime rate in the state compared to the previous year, data show that at least 6,329 people were killed by bandits in the state.

The bandits have also kidnapped at least 1,367 people, including children and students, many of whom have been released after the payment of ransom.

Isa said 244 suspected cattle rustlers were arrested, of whom 230 suspects have been charged in court while 14 are under investigation.

He said 215 kidnapped victims were also rescued from suspected bandits/kidnappers during the period under review.

“Some of the items recovered include 20 suspected stolen motor vehicles, 18 stolen/bandits’ motorcycles, 4 general purpose machine guns, 44 AK 47 riffles, 1 LAR riffle; 1 G3 Rifle; 20 locally made guns, 689 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition of AK 47 rifle and 109 anti-aircraft ammunition (AA).

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, has directed newly-promoted major generals and brigadier generals in the Nigerian army to be ruthless and brutal with bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and other criminal groups disturbing the peace of the country.

The COAS, gave the directive while decorating the officers with their new ranks at a decoration ceremony held at the army headquarters in Abuja.

Yahaya reminded the senior officers of their oath of allegiance to protect and defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

“You are aware of our security challenges. As senior officers, we must remain committed and focused in dealing with these challenges and it rests squarely on us to do that.

“What it requires is continuous commitment, dedication, boldness and courage, including very ruthless determination to succeed and determination to be ruthless with the terrorists, with the kidnappers, with bandits and all other violent criminals.

“2022 is here and it’s a political year and it has its own political undertones and we must remain focused and remain apolitical in discharging our responsibilities in ensuring peace and security and defence of our democracy.

“Anywhere we find ourselves deployed, it is our duty to carry these messages and see to it that we restore peace and security across board,” he said.


Sudan crisis: Transitional Sovereign Council denounces violence in mass protests

Sudan’s transitional Sovereign Council denounced violence in recent mass protests, which led to the deaths of four protesters and injuries of hundreds of others.

The council ordered authorities concerned to take all legal and military measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents, and ensure that no aggressor escapes punishment, the council said in a statement.

“Four protesters were killed, while 297 others, along with 49 policemen, were injured in Omdurman,” the Sudanese police said earlier.

Omdurman is the most populated city in Sudan, situated on the western bank of the Nile river, opposite the capital Khartoum.

Police accused some of the protesters of committing sabotage and attacking police forces.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Khartoum and other cities on Thursday in mass protests.

Sudan has been suffering a political crisis after General Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan declared a state of emergency on Oct 25, 2021 and dissolved the sovereign council and government.

On Nov 11, Al-Burhan issued a constitutional decree forming a transitional Sovereign Council. On Nov 21, he and then removed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok signed a political declaration, which included reinstating Hamdok as prime minister, but the deal has so far failed to calm the street.


Covid-19: WHO optimistic about beating coronavirus in 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) chief says he is optimistic that the coronavirus pandemic will be defeated in 2022, provided countries work together to contain its spread.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu warned against “narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding” in a New Year statement.

His comments come two years since the WHO was first notified of cases of an unknown pneumonia strain in China.

Global Covid cases now stand at 287m, while nearly 5.5m people have died.

Across the world, people are marking the New Year but celebrations are muted, with many countries wanting to discourage crowds gathering.

Coronavirus remains part of daily life: a disease that has shut borders, split families and in some places made it unthinkable to leave the house without carrying a mask.

Despite all this, Dr Tedros sounded a positive note in his speech, noting that there are now many more tools to treat Covid-19.

But he warned that continuing inequity in vaccine distribution was increasing the risk of the virus evolving.

“Narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding by some countries have undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of the virus evolving in ways we can’t prevent or predict,” he said.

In his comments, Dr Tedros also alluded to low vaccination rates.

While most of the population in Europe and the Americas have received at least one dose, a WHO target of full vaccination rates in 40% of every country by the end of 2021 has been missed across most of Africa.

Dr Tedros has previously criticised wealthier nations for “gobbling up” the global vaccine supply, fully vaccinating much of their populations while others wait for their first doses.

The WHO has set a new goal for 2022: vaccinate 70% of people in all countries by July to end the pandemic.