Kenya

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US sends fire experts to help Kenya investigate airport fire

August 9, 2013 (NAIROBI) – The US state department has sent two military fire experts to help the Kenyan government investigate the cause of Wednesday morning’s fire that gutted the transit area at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), leaving travellers stranded and flights diverted.

Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, quoted a US state department official as saying two American fire experts had already arrived in the country to assist the Kenyan authorities.

In addition to the fire experts, the newspaper also reported that the US is providing equipment to Kenya to help restore regular flights at JKIA.

On Wednesday, the head of Kenya’s anti-terrorism police unit ruled out terrorism as the cause of the fire.

The Kenyan media reported on Friday that during an inspection of repair work being carried out at the airport, president Uhuru Kenyatta also ruled out terrorism as a possible cause of the fire.

In the aftermath of the fire, US president Barack Obama, along with several other regional presidents called Kenyatta to offer words of encouragement and support.

Domestic flights have since resumed at the airport.

“We are determined that normal operations resume at the airport quickly, and are glad to see that a partial reopening has already taken place, with successful domestic flight operations”, Kenyatta was quoted by the Kenyan media as saying.

JKIA serves as a key hub for travellers from Africa en route to Europe and other parts of the world. The fire left many travellers stranded, with Uganda saying as many as 500 passengers bound for Kenya at its Entebbe international airport were also affected by the incident.

(ST)

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47599

Kenya’s international airport in flames, travellers left stranded

August 7, 2013 (NAIROBI) – Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was on Wednesday morning closed after a massive fire gutted the transit area, leaving passengers stranded and flights diverted.

The cause of the early morning fire that destroyed the transit area of the airport is still unknown but Boniface Mwaniki, Kenya’s head of the Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Police Unit ruled out terrorism as cause of the fire.

“We don’t want to speculate, but at this stage we do not think there is any such link”, he told the Reuters news agency.

No casualties were reported as a result of the fire.

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta visited the airport at 9am on Wednesday, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported.

There were reports of delays in responding to the fire with fire trucks reportedly taking to reach the airport and in some cases trucks run out of water.

The closure of the airport which serves as a key hub for passengers from African countries destined for Europe led to several travellers getting stranded.

In Uganda 35 passengers destined for Kenya aboard an air Uganda flight failed to travel.

Kenyan media reported that the Kenya government had formed a committee to “evaluate the situation and ensure resumption of operations”.

Domestic flights have resumed at the airport after the fire.

(ST)

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47582

UNICEF steps up efforts to stop polio outbreak in Somalia with help of Japanese grant

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5 August 2013 An emergency contribution from Japan will enable the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners to tackle a polio outbreak in Somalia that has already paralyzed nearly 100 children and threatens hundreds of thousands more who are not vaccinated.

UNICEF said it will be able to procure and distribute urgently needed polio vaccines, and prevent the further spread of the virus across the Horn of Africa nation and into neighbouring countries with the $1.3 million provided by the Japanese Government.

“Lack of access to routine immunization in Somalia has created the largest known reservoir of unvaccinated children in a single geographic area in the world. The total number of Somali children who had never been vaccinated between 2008 and 2012 was estimated to reach a million,” says Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia Representative.

“The poliovirus in such a large reservoir has the potential to result in a catastrophic outbreak, the likes of which are beginning to be seen and as such constitutes an international emergency,” he added in a news release.

In May, a two-year-old girl from the capital, Mogadishu, became the first confirmed case of polio in Somalia in more than six years. The country had been polio-free since March 2007.

As of July, the virus has paralyzed 95 Somali children: 94 confirmed cases in South Central Zone, which includes Mogadishu, and a case in Somaliland. Another nine cases have also been reported in the Dadaab camp in Kenya – the largest refugee complex in the world.

With the help of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), Somali communities have launched emergency vaccination campaigns to boost their low polio vaccination coverage. The country currently has the second lowest coverage in the world at 47 per cent, after Equatorial Guinea.

So far, polio vaccines were prepared for six immunization campaigns between May and August, and five rounds have already been carried out. However, vaccines for additional campaigns between September and December have not yet been secured.

More than 2.8 million children under the age of 10 are expected to benefit from Japan’s contribution, which will cover more than 5 million doses of oral polio vaccines for two rounds of immunization activities in the coming months.

UNICEF has been working to support partners and local communities to minimize the scale of this outbreak. However, it warned that frequent movement of people within and between Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan could transport the virus further from Somalia to the entire Horn of Africa.

Before the new outbreak, the worldwide number of polio cases had decreased by more than 99 per cent from 350,000 in 1988 to 223 cases in 2012 with active cases reported in only three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

“The outbreak in Somalia, if not controlled quickly, could jeopardize global efforts to wipe out polio once and for all,” UNICEF warned.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45564&Cr=polio&Cr1=

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