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Ivory Coastraises awareness
about leprosy as victims
suffer in silence
January 29th, 11:42am
Dan Izzett has lived with leprosy's effects on his body for
70 years, and has lost much to what he calls an
"ancient, fascinating, very unkind disease".
The Zimbabwean former civil engineering technician and
pastor was diagnosed at the age of 25 in 1972, but first
contracted the disease when he was just five.
That long incubation period gave the bacteria that causes
leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, lots of time to spread
through his body.
His right leg was amputated in 1980 in Zimbabwe's capital
Harare. Now 75, Izzett has no feeling above his elbows,
below his knees or in 70 percent of his face.
That lack of feeling poses a "constant danger," Izzett told
AFP in a 'phone call from his home in southwest England.
In October 2020, "I put my hands on a hot plate and hadn't
noticed it until I could smell my flesh burning," he said,
leading to the amputation of the middle finger of his
The following year, the little toe on his left foot was
amputated. Last month, he lost another toe.
Izzett said he chose to speak out about his experience
because millions of survivors who were less well off
were unable to, partly because of the stigma and
discrimination that still surrounds the disease.
- The 'forgotten' patients -
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, has been
haunting humanity for at least 4,000 years, often
affecting the poorest communities.
It is a considered a neglected tropical disease by the
World Health Organization, and remains under
researched and little discussed compared
to many other illnesses.
In 2021, more than 140,500 new cases were detected
worldwide, nearly three quarters of them in Brazil,
India and Indonesia, according to the WHO.
However pandemic-related disruptions have led to
nearly 40 percent fewer cases being detected a
year, with fears that tens of thousands have
Even before the pandemic, the official
numbers likely did not reflect reality.
"We know the number of patients who have been tested,
but we don't count the forgotten, undetected patients,"
said Bertrand Cauchoix, a leprosy specialist at the
Raoul Follereau Foundation in France.
This is in part because the disease's incubation period can
last up to 20 years. Testing and diagnosis also takes time,
during which patients could potentially infect their
Before he received his diagnosis, said Izzett,
"my wife got the disease from me".
Back in the 1970s, Izzett was given the antibiotic
Dapsone, which was then a lifetime treatment.
In the mid-80s, a combination of drugs including Dapsone
known as multidrug therapy (MDT) became available. It
can cure leprosy over a 12-month course -- though
nerve damage and other remnants of the
Mathias Duck, a former chaplain in Paraguay's capital
Asuncion, only needed six-months of MDT after
being diagnosed with leprosy in 2010.
"I consider myself the luckiest person affected by leprosy
because I was diagnosed and treated in time and so I
have no impairments whatsoever," the 44-year-old
The WHO provides MDT to patients worldwide for free,
with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis donating
doses since 2000.
However there has been little
progress for new treatments.
"There is no money for leprosy.... only
charitable donations," Cauchoix said.
- Don't use the 'L word' -
Alexandra Aubry, a specialist at the Centre for Immunology
and Infectious Diseases in France, evaluates whether
every new antibiotic developed for other illnesses
could also be used for leprosy.
Her laboratory is one of the few in the world able to
carry out tests on the leprosy bacteria, which
does not survive in a petri dish.
They are trying to find a way to "simplify" treatment
so it can take less than six months, she said.
There are also a couple of vaccines being developed,
though they remain in early phases of human testing.
"It is very complex to get funding for this," Aubry said.
"To assess the effectiveness of a vaccine, you have to
follow the vaccinated population for 10 to 15 years,"
with the timeframe extended further...... by the
disease's long incubation period, she said.
In comparison to how swiftly the world responded to
Covid, leprosy efforts are "a drop in the bucket,"
Duck said, calling for far more research and
But he added that there is something everyone
can do for World Leprosy Day on Sunday --
stop using the word "leper".
"We call it the 'L word'," Duck said,
describing it as discriminatory.
"It's a little step that most people can do," he added,
"to give people affected by leprosy "the dignity
Additional sources • AFP
Burkina:demonstration for sovereignty
and in support of the Govt in power
January 29th, 9:46am
Several thousand people demonstrated in Ouagadougou for
the sovereignty of Burkina Faso, in support of the Govt. in
power, a few days after the confirmation of the departure
of French forces from the country by the end of January.
"We have decided to take our destiny in hand and it is not
the international community -- or anyone else -- who will
stop us," said Pan-Africanist Fatime Nahor N'Gawara.
With anti-France feelings running high in many of its former
colonies in West Africa --- Paris is being forced to retreat
ever further from the increasingly unstable region and
re-think its presence, experts say.
After the ruling junta in Mali forced French troops out last year,
the army officers running neighbouring Burkina Faso followed
suit this week, asking Paris to empty its garrison in the
Under President Emmanuel Macron, France was already
drawing down its troops across the Sahel region, who
just a few years ago, numbered more than 5,000,
backed up with fighter jets, helicopters and
infantry fighting vehicles.
Around 3,000 remain, but the forced departures from Mali and
Burkina Faso -- as well as the Central African Republic to the
south last year -- underline how anti-French winds...... are
"France is paying for its desire to maintain a very significant
political and military presence in its former dominions,"
said Jean-Herve Jezequel, a region specialist from
the International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict-
focused think tank.
After the independence movement in the 1950s and 60s, Paris
still intervened regularly in the domestic affairs of its former
colonies and for decades retained sway through business
and political ties under an unofficial policy known
Today, its influence has shrunk, and it faces growing
competition from Russia, but its permanent military
presence and the existence of common regional
currencies underpinned by the French central
bank, are targets for populist politicians.
"The idea that the former colonial power.. can retain such
a strong military presence is hard to stomach for many
people," Jezequel told AFP, adding that there
remained a "post-colonial hangover that
has not been resolved".
Gilles Yabi, founder of the Senegal-based WATHI think-tank,
told AFP there was a "desire from some sections of
society to enter a new phase, to grasp a
- Popular France-bashing -
The biggest source of anti-French feeling is Paris's military
intervention in Mali in 2013, to beat back jihadists who
were advancing from the north and threatening to
overrun the government in the capital Bamako.
Though the operation was a success and the
elected government saved, any credit has
long since disappeared.
A heavy French presence afterwards failed to stop the
insurgency spreading, with the violence spilling over
into neighbouring countries.. and now threatening
communities all over the Sahel region beneath
the Sahara desert.
"It is clear that it (France).. has not managed to stop the
continued worsening of the security crisis, which has
many, many different causes," said Paul Melly, an
expert on the Sahel and consulting fellow at the
Chatham House, a London-based think tank.
"People say.....'if they're here,
what use are they?'," he said.
In Senegal, President Macky Sall is regularly accused by his opponents of taking instructions from his "master" in Paris ahead of elections next year, with top rival Ousmane Sonko, backing a reset in relations.
Italy's Eni signs $8
billion gas deal as
Meloni visits Libya
January 29th, 8:52am
Italian energy giant Eni signed an $8 billion gas deal with
Libya's state-run National Oil Corporation on Saturday
as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited Tripoli.
European governments... have been scrambling to find
alternatives to Russian gas since last year's invasion
of Ukraine saw deliveries slashed to less than half
their pre-war levels, sending prices soaring to
record highs and triggering costly state
subsidies to protect consumers.
Eni said it was the first major project in Libya since
early 2000 and involved the development of two
offshore gas fields.
"The combined gas production from the two structures, will
start in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million of standard
gas cubic feet per day," Eni said in a statement.
"Production will be ensured through two main platforms tied
in to the existing treatment facilities at the Mellitah
Complex," 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the
capital, it added.
"The project also includes the construction of a carbon
capture and storage (CCS) facility at Mellitah, allowing
a significant reduction of the overall carbon footprint,"
the company added.
"The overall estimated investment will amount to $8 billion,
with significant impact on the industry and the associated
supply chain, allowing a significant contribution to the
Eni has an 80 percent slice of Libya'sgas production.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Meloni &
her host, Abdulhamid Dbeibah, who heads the UN-
brokered Government of National Unity which is
contested by a rival administration in the east.
Her visit is the first by a European leader to war-battered
Libya... since her predecessor Mario Draghi's visit in
Meloni also visited Algeria this week seeking
supply deals from Africa's top gas exporter.
During her trip to Libya, she was expected to discuss the
issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular
migrants from Libya to Italy.
Libya is a conduit for thousands of people each year
fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking
refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.
Meloni's far-right government took office in October,
vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which
reached more than 105,000 in 2022.
Additional sources • AFP
Cargo vessel carrying 63,000 tons
of Russian grain arrives at Egypt’s
Safaga port — portal
January 28th, 1:43pm (TASS)
The PAREA dry cargo ship delivered more than 60,000
tons of grain to the Egyptian port of Safaga on the
Red Sea, on Saturday, the Alyaum as-Sabia
news portal reported.
According to the online resource, the Malta-flagged
PAREA vessel has brought 63,000 tons of wheat
from Russia to Egypt.
The Russian grain delivered to Safaga is reported to
fall under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of
Supply and Internal Trade.
Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat, with some 11-
13 million tons being purchased from abroad yearly. Russia
and Ukraine are the largest grain exporters to that Arab
country. The Ukraine crisis and the European Union’s
and the United States’ large-scale anti-Russian
sanctions have entailed breaks in key grain
supply chains, so Cairo was forced to
Last autumn, First Deputy Supply and Internal Trade
Minister Ibrahim Ashmawy said that Egypt had a
sufficient stock of goods both at the minister’s
trading facilities and at wholesale companies.
He added that the ministry had established a department
to monitor the stock of goods, including grain, at the
level of provinces, in order to ensure their
South Africa, Russia,
China Naval Drills
January 27th, 5pm
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Pandor claimed
the sovereignty of her country to decide with whom
it establishes relations.
On Friday, the European Union's High Representative for
Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said the EU respects
South Africa's decision to carry out naval
exercises with Russia and China...
although it would prefer it not
to participate in such
The Ukrainian conflict "is not just a European war. It is
happening on European soil... but it affects the whole
world. The consequences are felt around the globe,"
Borrell said before hinting at the EU stance on the
military maneuvers that will take place
"We have always respected South Africa's traditional non-
alignment stance in foreign policy. The European Union,
doesn't ask Africa to choose sides. We are just asking
all countries in the world to stand on the side of the
United Nations charter," he added.
These statements were made, during a press conference
held in Pretoria together with the South African Foreign
Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor.
Commenting on the opinions issued by Borrell, she limited
herself to wondering.. why no one questioned before... the military exercises that South Africa carried out
with Western countries, such as France, or the
A week ago, the South African Armed Forces announced that
they would hold the "MOSI exercises" off the country's east
coast between February 17 and 27. These drills include
the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy and the
Russian Federal Navy.
Besides defending the naval maneuvers, Pandor claimed
the sovereignty of South Africa: to decide with whom it establishes relations. Her statements occurred amid
this week's visit to the South African nation of the
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Egypt to allocate land
to Indian industries
in Suez Canal
by Luis Linares Petrov
January 27th, 10:39am
Egypt plans to allocate land to Indian industries in the Suez
Canal special economic zone, according to the joint
statement issued by the two countries, after
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's visit to
The proposal comes in the context of India’s offer to
encourage its companies to carry out investment
abroad by using the investment opportunities
available in Egypt.
According to the statement, Cairo welcomes the inflow
of more Indian investments --- and promises to offer
incentives and facilities.... according to the
applicable regulations and frameworks.
Both Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and Egyptian
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed the expansion
of Indian investment in Egypt, which currently exceeds
Both leaders agreed to encourage companies from
their respective countries.. to explore new
economic investment opportunities.
Modi and El-Sisi appreciated the bilateral economic
commitment and welcomed the current level of
trade between the two nations at a record
$7.26 billion in 2021-22, despite the
challenges posed by the
The dignitaries also expressed their confidence that
both countries may achieve their bilateral trade
objectives of 12 billion dollars over the next
five years, diversifying the trade basket
and focusing on added values.
Lavrov reaffirms Russia’s
commitment to - food
exports to Africa
January 26th, 8:50pm (TASS)
Sergey Lavrov, the nation’s top diplomat, reaffirmed
Moscow’s commitments regarding food exports to
poor countries in Africa in the wake of his visit to
The determination that came into effect on December the
16th, 2022, applies to all banking institutions authorized
by the BoN to conduct banking business or control
companies of banking institutions in Namibia.
Rwanda accuses DR Congoof
hiring foreign mercenaries
by Pavel López Lazo
January 19th, 2:37pm
Rwanda on Thursday accused authorities of the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) of hiring foreign mercenaries
to bring stability to the eastern part of the
Rwanda also condemned that the DRC Army continues to
provide weapons and its forces are fighting alongside
illegal armed groups in eastern DRC including the
genocidal militia FDLR (Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda).
“This also constitutes a clear violation of the Nairobi Process,
which is aimed at disarmament and demobilization of these
armed groups, and a threat to Rwanda’s security,” reads
the statement issued on Thursday.
The statement came a few hours after Congolese President
Félix Tshisekedi told business leaders at the ongoing World
Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, that Rwanda
is “blocking development in the region” and that M23
rebels have not withdrawn from recently seized
positions -- despite international pressure.
Egypt calls onIsraelto negotiate
and avoid changes in Jerusalem
by Ana Luisa Brown
January 19th, 1:49pm
Egypt today called on Israel to return to the negotiating table
with the Palestinians to seek a solution to the conflict and
called to preserve the legal and historical status quo of
During a telephone conversation, the Egyptian Foreign
Minister, Sameh Shoukry, told his Israeli counterpart,
Eli Cohen, that maintaining the current status of the
city has a direct impact on easing tensions, the
Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
He also emphasized the need to work to reactivate the
peace process as soon as possible, given that it is the
only way to achieve the two-state solution,
The return to talks.. will be the path to the establishment
of the Palestinian state, and the achievement of stability
and comprehensive peace for the peoples of the region,
he stressed, according to the text.
The head of Egyptian diplomacy assured.. that his
government will continue its efforts to keep calm
between Palestinians and Israelis.
In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace
agreement with Israel and in recent decades has
become an essential mediator between
Cairo played a key role in halting the Israeli military
offensive against the Gaza Strip last August, which
killed 49 Palestinians, 17 of them minors.
The nation’s efforts were also instrumental in reaching
a truce during another aggression on the coastal
enclave in May 2021, when more than 250
people were killed.
The 'phone call came, two days after a summit in this capital
between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II,
who criticized Israeli colonization and land confiscation,
home demolitions and the displacement of Arabs in
the West Bank.
They also urged the international community to protect
these people, who are fighting for their legitimate rights.
Prensa Latina and Algerie
Presse Servicesign accord
by Ileana Ferrer Fonte
January 19th, 11:53am
Prensa Latina and the Algerie Presse Service (APS) signed a cooperation agreement on Thursday, aimed at strengthening the existing links.. and projecting new ways to disseminate the events of their respective countries and regions.
Prensa Latina President Luis Enrique González Acosta and
APS General Director Samir Gaid were pleased with the
renewal of the agreement.... at a time when the
challenges of information are more worrying,
due to the proliferation of the so-called
fake news in cyberspace.
González Acosta praised the long and fruitful relationship
between both agencies and expressed his conviction
that in addition to the will of understanding and
collaboration, the conditions allow advance-
ment, towards ambitious goals... in the
exchange of services, consultancy,
He said that Prensa Latina is working on launching a news
service in the Arabic language soon, which will result in
positioning its offices in North Africa and the Middle
East in general.
Samir Gaid announced that APS is also preparing the
conditions to launch a news service in the Spanish
language, to be added to the current broadcasts in Arabic, French, and the local language, on its websites, for national and regional use.
Gaid and Gonzalez Acosta appreciated Cuban President
Miguel Diaz Canel’s recent visit to Algeria and the
spirit of increasing ties.
A tour of the APS facilities, which covered its communication