World News in Brief: Latest Sudan fighting displaces thousands, second malaria vaccine, Russian dissidents ‘disappeared’

Children who have fled with their families from Sudan eat food provided by WFP at a centre in South Sudan.
© WFP/Eulalia Berlanga
Children who have fled with their families from Sudan eat food provided by WFP at a centre in South Sudan.
  • UN News

Wad Madani is located some 140 kilometres southeast of the war-torn capital Khartoum and sits at the heart of Al Jazirah state, known as Sudan’s breadbasket.

Nearly half a million people have fled to the state since war broke out in April between the Sudanese Army and a rival military group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

Immense ‘human tragedy’

IOM reported that thousands are again uprooted following clashes that erupted in the outskirts of Wad Madani on 15 December.

“This is a human tragedy of immense proportions, deepening the country’s already dire humanitarian crisis,” said Amy Pope, the agency’s Director General.

People affected by the fighting have sought refuge in other neighbouring states and many have also crossed the border into South Sudan.

Some of those on the run reportedly fled on foot and are sheltering in open areas, improvised shelters, schools and with host communities, according to reports.

Signs of atrocity crimes

Meanwhile, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, has expressed grave concern over the intensification of violence in and around Wad Madani as well as in El Fasher, North Darfur, and in Nyala, South Darfur.

Ms. Nderitu was alarmed that the scale-up in clashes includes very serious allegations of ethnically motivated violence as well as deliberate attacks against medical personnel and facilities, which could constitute international crimes.

She reiterated her concerns that the ongoing spread of violence could completely engulf Sudan.

“After eight months of continued fighting and horrific levels of violence, with all the signs of atrocity crimes having been committed, the wheel of violence keeps turning.

"The price continues to be paid by those who are most vulnerable, who are imploring for safety and for justice, and who are receiving neither,” she said.

A child recovering from malaria at the Gracia Health Center in Beni town, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's province of North Kivu
UN News/George Musubao
A child recovering from malaria at the Gracia Health Center in Beni town, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's province of North Kivu

WHO prequalifies second malaria vaccine

A second malaria vaccine has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO), which called the development “a significant milestone in prevention of the disease”.

WHO has added the R21/Matrix-M vaccine - developed by Oxford University and manufactured by Serum Institute of India – to its list of prequalified vaccines.

Prequalification means that countries will have larger access to vaccines that can prevent malaria in children, with the help of the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

The first malaria vaccine to get WHO prequalification was the RTS,S vaccine, which obtained this status in July 2022.

Both vaccines were shown to be safe and effective in trials at preventing malaria in children and are expected to have a high public health impact when used alongside other recommended prevention measures.

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and more than 608,000 people in 85 countries died from it in 2022.

The disease places a particularly high burden on children in Africa, where nearly half a million youngsters die from the disease each year.

Russia urged to end enforced disappearance of jailed opposition figures

A “pattern of enforced disappearances” of imprisoned dissidents in Russia must end, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the country said on Thursday.

Independent expert Mariana Katzarova issued a statement expressing concern over the situation of opposition politician Alexey Gorinov who was sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2022 for criticizing Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

Ms. Katzarova said she received information that his whereabouts and health status have been unknown since 8 December, when he was last seen at the Vladimir Region Penal Colony No. 2 by his lawyer.

Since then, authorities have not allowed him any contact with his lawyer, family or the outside world, according to the expert.

“After his last visit to the penal colony, the lawyer was alarmed that Gorinov was in a life-threatening health condition,” she said.

“I call on the Russian authorities to immediately disclose Gorinov’s whereabouts and his state of health and grant him immediate access to adequate medical care, to his family and his defence lawyers. The practice of enforced disappearance of imprisoned political figures in Russia must end,” she said.

Ms. Katzarova issued an alert just on Monday voicing concern over the enforced disappearance of jailed opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, whose whereabouts and well-being are still unknown after more than 10 days.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to monitor specific country situations or thematic issues.

They are not UN staff and do not receive payment for their work.

© UN News (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News