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World news in brief: Latest fighting in Sudan leads to displacement of thousands, second malaria vaccine and ‘missing’ Russian dissidents

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Wad Madani is located about 140 kilometers southeast of the war-torn capital Khartoum and in 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 Sudan’s army and a rival military group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

Huge “human tragedy”

IOM reported that thousands of people were again uprooted following clashes that broke out in the suburb of Wad Madani on December 15.

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

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

According to reports, some of those fleeing fled on foot and are taking refuge in open areas, improvised shelters, schools and with host communities.

Signs of atrocity crimes

Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, has expressed serious concern over the intensification of violence in Wad Madani and its surroundings as well as El Fasher, North Darfur, and Nyala, South Darfur.

Ms Nderitu expressed alarm that the intensifying clashes include very serious allegations of ethnically motivated violence as well as deliberate attacks on medical personnel and facilities, which could constitute international crimes.

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

“After eight months of relentless fighting and horrific levels of violence, with all signs of atrocity crimes committed, the wheel of violence continues to turn.

“The price continues to be paid by those who are most vulnerable, who cry out for safety and justice, and who receive neither,” she said.

A child recovers from malaria at the Gracia health center in the town of Beni, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo.

A child recovers from malaria at the Gracia health center in the town of Beni, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO prequalifies second malaria vaccine

The use of a second malaria vaccine has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which called its development “an important step in preventing the disease.”

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

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

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

Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in trials to prevent 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 will die from it in 2022.

The disease places a particularly heavy burden on children in Africa, where nearly half a million young people die from it each year.

Russia urged to end forced disappearances of imprisoned opponents

A “trend of enforced disappearances” of imprisoned dissidents in Russia must be stopped, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the country said Thursday.

Independent expert Mariana Katzarova issued a statement expressing concern about the situation of opposition figure Alexei Gorinov, sentenced to seven years in prison in July 2022 for criticizing Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

Ms. Katzarova said she had received information that his whereabouts and his health were unknown since December 8, when he was last seen at Penal Colony No. 2 in the region. Vladimir by his lawyer.

Since then, the authorities have not allowed him any contact with his lawyer, his 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 state of health,” she said.

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

Katzarova issued an alert on Monday expressing concern over the forced disappearance of imprisoned opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, whose whereabouts and whereabouts remain unknown after more than 10 days.

Special rapporteurs are appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to monitor a country’s specific situation or thematic issues.

They are not UN staff and are not paid for their work.

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