Windstorm in Gambia kills 10 and disrupts services
A windstorm in The Gambia
has killed at least 10 people, the country’s national disaster agency said on
At least 1,500
people have also been displaced in the overnight storm that hit the country on Wednesday.
disrupted disrupted electricity,
water, and other services
President Adama Barrow convened an emergency meeting on Thursday for an
assessment of the damage across the West African country.
“The president urges good
Samaritans to support in any way they can to ease the burden on affected
families while his Government assesses the needed support,” said a statement
from The Gambia presidency.
The Gambia eliminates trachoma as public health threat
The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed The Gambia's elimination of trachoma as a public health threat, saying it will save families, including children, from blindness.
Health workers have been urged to closely monitor the trend to "sustain the gains".
Trachoma is caused by the chlamydia bacteria, and is spread from person to person by contaminated fingers, flies and towels. If untreated, the eyelids become chronically inflamed, and this in turn can eventually lead to blindness.
Trachoma remains endemic in 29 countries on the African continent, according to the WHO.
The Gambia eliminated trachoma after almost four decades of work, the government said in its announcement
"Gambia's success in trachoma elimination starts from the community," Sarjo Kanyi, manager of The Gambia's National Eye Health Programme and coordinator of the trachoma initiative, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
A network of eye units was set up across the country with the help of non-governmental organisations and thousands of volunteers went door-to-door to find people with the disease.
Gambia's Ramadan leave-work-early memo 'sexist'
memo allowing all female civil servants in The Gambia to leave work two
hours early during Ramadan has been criticised as sexist.
Monday to Thursday they could leave at 14:00 local time - and at 12:30 on
Fridays as usual, the authorities said earlier this week at the start of the Muslim holy fasting month.
"This is to allow female
staff to attend to their traditional evening 'iftar' preparations ahead of the
breaking of the fast," the statement noted.
rights activist Fatou Baldeh says the initiative is a way of
confining "women to the kitchen, while men work in the office".
He argued that criminalising people for using cosmetic products was an unfair punishment, the AFP news agency reports.
But lawmakers were in favour of maintaining the ban.
"The chemicals used in the production of skin-bleaching creams is hazardous to human health," Momodou Camara, an MP, was quoted as saying by AFP.
The West African country banned skin bleaching in 1996 during the rule of Yahya Jammeh - who was in power for more than 20 years.
Gambian alleged hit-squad driver detained in Germany
German police have detained a Gambian man who they suspect of participating in crimes against humanity as a driver for a feared paramilitary unit for former President Yahya Jammeh.
The Federal Public Prosecutor
General called the suspect just Bai L, under German
privacy rules which don't allow the authorities to release the surname of suspects.
Bai L is accused of driving officers from the paramilitary unit known as the Junglers, which has been described as a hit squad for Mr Jammeh, to locations where they fired on the
One of the victims was a journalist who was a critic
of Mr Jammeh's government who was shot dead in 2004 and another was a lawyer who was attacked in 2003.
Mr Jammeh led The Gambia for 22 years and has been accused of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
He was removed from power in 2017 and the Gambian government set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to investigate the alleged rights violations.
Gambian migrant takes his Sicilian mother back home
Letter from Africa
A young orphaned migrant fostered by a family in Italy has taken
his foster mother to meet his grandmother in The Gambia.
Last year I wrote a BBC Letter from Africa about how Muhammed Sanneh had taken the perilous
journey to the Italian island of Sicily aged 16.
His life took an unexpected turn after he had arrived in
2015, when he was fostered by the close-knit Ferraro family who live in the town
of Favara in the south of the island.
Last month, the young man, who prefers to go by his
childhood nickname of Lexy, made the reverse journey with his
foster mother Giusella Ferraro
- this time by aeroplane.
Like thousands of young Gambians, Lexy
had made the arduous trip to Italy so that he could find a way to financially
support his two younger siblings and grandmother.
They now live in Serekunda, the largest urban centre in The
Gambia - and he and his foster mother have been spending time with them.
He tells me he is extremely happy to be back home - talking, eating and rekindling his bond with his family that he has not seen in
The experience has not been all smiles, he says, as it has felt “extremely emotional” to be back, but the warm welcome has made it worth it.
The best bit has been introducing Giusella to his family. He says they have fallen in love with her and that she is extremely happy to be there.
Unfortunately his foster father, Antonio, and foster sisters, Alexia and Alysea, could not join them on this trip, but he says they will come in the future.
I have eagerly been following Lexy’s return journey on Facebook and Instagram via the countless photos he has being posting with relatives dressed up in vibrant and beautiful traditional Gambian clothes and eating plates brimming with delicious fish curries, jollof rice and peanut stews.
His cousin even had traditional Gambian clothes made for him and his foster mother as a welcome gift, he says.
Giusella has easily adopted to the Gambian way of living and loves the food and the warmth of the people, he says.
Lexy’s story, despite the traumatic experiences he’s gone through, has a happy ending unlike many young African migrants who try to get to Europe.
In Sicily he has mastered the Italian language, even speaks the local Favara dialect - which fills his foster mother with pride - and he works at a pharmacy in the town, a job he loves and that has enabled him to financially support his family in Gambia.
Still on holiday in The Gambia, he says he cannot stop smiling.
Quote Message: Everyone is treating me and my mum like a prince and a queen, it’s just amazing."
Everyone is treating me and my mum like a prince and a queen, it’s just amazing."
The Gambia is experiencing prolonged downtime of
internet and mobile telephony resulting in general disruption of services.
This is the second time in a week that the West Africa country has experienced hours of shutdown
in communication services.
Last week, the state-owned telecommunications company, Gamtel, apologised
to consumers for the failure of the country's main cable - Africa Coast to
Europe (ACE) and backup links which it said was beyond its control.
It is uncertain
how long the internet blackout will last this
Gambia to name and shame Covid rulebreakers
Authorities in the Gambia say they are going to reveal the identities of 40 people who have
violated Covid-19 regulations.
Gambian journalist Omar Wally told BBC Newsday that the 40 walked out of coronavirus treatment centres and the government says they were endangering the lives of people.
"They tested positive and were taken to treatment centres and they decided to leave, out of 155 people 40 of them decided not to abide by the Covid rules," Mr Wally said.
The country has registered 4,019 confirmed cases and 128 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.
"Many people still don’t believe Covid exists so if government can go ahead and publish these names is one thing, but whether those people will abide by rules is another thing," he said.
Mr Wally says political leaders have continued with campaign activities ahead of elections in December disregarding guidelines.
University of OxfordCopyright: University of Oxford
The Gambia has recorded its first two cases of a coronavirus strain first detected in the UK, news agencies report.
Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh told lawmakers the strain was detected in two people entering the country, the AFP reports.
A second official, director of health services Mustapha Bittaye is quoted by Reuters as saying the first case was a man who had travelled from the UK, while the other was a Gambian woman.
The ministry said it was tracking down the origins of transmission.
The World Health Organization in its latest update listed 50 countries where the variant had been detected.
None of the 50 countries was in the African continent.
'Unique' Covid-19 variant detected in Kenya
A new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Kenya, preliminary research by the state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has revealed.
The variant, unique to Kenya, had been detected in the south-east of the country following a study done between June and October, Kemri said.
More research needed to be done to asses the impact of the variant, it added. It is perfectly normal for viruses to mutate, scientists say.
Kenya has so far recorded nearly 100,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 1,700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states - neighbouring Botswana, Zambia and The Gambia in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Africa has now topped three million Covid-19 cases, and daily
case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak, it said.
An average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28
December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than
the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases, the WHO said.
"Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point," it added.
In December 2019 the banned "Operation Three Years Jotna" movement staged protests in the capital Banjul to pressure President Barrow to honour his 2016 promise to stand down after a three-year transitional period.