Saturday February 22, 2020

As Refugees Flee DR Congo, UN Steps Up to Reduce The Risk of Ebola

The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area.

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Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The U.N. refugee agency reports it is stepping up efforts to reduce the risk of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus as refugees flee DR Congo. Latest estimates put the number of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in eastern DRC at 49, including 38 deaths.

The U.N. refugee agency is working closely with DRC authorities and other agencies on actions to contain Ebola on the national and regional level. But, its main focus is to monitor possible Ebola infections among refugees fleeing across the border, mainly to Uganda, from conflict ridden North Kivu and Ituri.

UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler says the number of newly arriving refugees into Uganda from these two Ebola affected provinces increased during July from 170 a day to 250 a day. He says the majority currently is crossing at the Kisoro border point.

A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo, June 1, 2018. For the first time since the Ebola virus was identified more than 40 years ago, a vaccine has been dispatched to front line health workers.
A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo,
VOA

“So UNHCR is working with WHO, UNICEF and other partners and with the Ministry of Health of Uganda to intensify screening for Ebola at all border entry points. And, additional health workers have been deployed in the border districts to improve response capacity,” he said.

Spindler notes the World Health Organization is not recommending any restriction on the movement of people. Therefore, he says UNHCR is urging countries neighboring DRC to allow refugees in need of protection to enter their territory and to include them into preparedness and response plans and activities.

Also Read: United Nations Security Council to Closse 13-year-old Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area. Therefore, it urges governments and local communities not to adopt measures that single out refugees. Those measures may not be scientifically sound and will only serve to stigmatize and restrict refugees’ freedom of movement. (VOA)

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High Temperature Records in Antarctica will Take Months to Verify: UN

Antarctic High Temp Records Will Take Months to Verify, says the UN Weather Agency

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ANTARCTICA
View of Orne Harbour in South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. - Brazilian scientists registered Antarctic temperature above 20C for first time on record at Seymour Island on February 9, 2020. VOA

Record high temperatures reportedly measured in Antarctica will take months to verify, the U.N. weather agency said Sunday.

A spokesman for the World Meteorological Organization said the measurements made by researchers from Argentina and Brazil earlier this month have to undergo a formal process to ensure that they meet international standards.

“A formal decision on whether or not this is a record is likely to be several months away,” said Jonathan Fowler, the WMO spokesman.

Scientists at an Argentine research base measured a temperature of 18.3° C (nearly 65° F) Feb. 6 on a peninsula that juts out from Antarctica toward the southern tip of South America. Last week, researchers from Brazil claimed to have measured temperatures above 20° C on an island off the peninsula.

ANTARCTICA
Frigid Antarctica is an expanse of white ice and blue waters, as pictured in March, 2017, at the U.S. research facility McMurdo Station. NASA’s Operation IceBridge has collected annual measurements of Antarctic ice to track changes and help predict sea level rise. VOA

Fowler said both measurements would need to be transmitted to Prof. Randall Cerveny, a researcher at Arizona State University who examines reported temperature records for WMO.

Cerveny then shares the data with a wider group of scientists who “will carefully evaluate the available evidence (including comparisons to surrounding stations) and debate the merits and problems of the observation,” said Fowler.

Also Read- “India Should be Seen as An Important Player To Combat Climate Change”, Says Norway

The evaluation normally takes six to nine months, after which Cerveny would “formally either accept or reject the potential extreme,” giving official WMO approval to the new record, he said.

Climate change is causing the Arctic and the Antarctic to warm faster than other parts of the planet. (VOA)