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UNICEF Says Malnutrition Spikes for Haiti Kids Amid Pandemic

Severe acute childhood malnutrition is expected to more than double this year in Haiti as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, a spike in violence and dwindling resources, a UNICEF report said Monday.
More than 86,000 children under age 5 could be affected, compared with 41,000 reported last year, said Jean Gough, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“I was saddened to see so many children suffering from malnutrition,” she said after a weeklong visit to Haiti. “Some will not recover unless they receive treatment on time.”
Severe acute malnutrition is considered a life-threatening condition.  
In a slightly less dangerous category, acute malnutrition in kids younger than 5 in Haiti has risen 61%, with some 217,000 children expected to suffer from it this year, compared with 134,000 last year.  
Overall, UNICEF said, about 4.4 million of Haiti’s more than 11 million inhabitants lack sufficient food, including 1.9 million children.
Gough told The Associated Press during a recent visit to a hospital in the southern city of Les Cayes that UNICEF has only a one-month supply left of a special food paste given to children in need and is seeking $3 million by the end of June.  
Officials said the pandemic also has disrupted health services, with childhood immunization rates dropping from 28% to 44%, depending on the vaccine. The decrease has led to a rise in diphtheria cases as health workers brace for an expected measles outbreak this year.
UNICEF noted that unvaccinated children also are more likely to die from malnutrition.
Lamir Samedi, a nurse who works at a community health center in the southern town of Saint-Jean-du-Sud, said the target was to vaccinate 80% of children in the area, but they had yet to reach 50%.
Among the children hospitalized is 11-month-old Denise Joseph, who lay quietly in a crib in Les Cayes after being diagnosed with tuberculosis two weeks ago.
“She never eats,” said her grandmother, Marie-Rose Emile, who is caring for the infant since her mother also is ill. Emile is struggling to provide for the baby, saying she has barely harvested any beans, corn or potatoes this year.
Gough, the UNICEF official, said she was discouraged by the dismal numbers of malnutrition and drop in childhood immunizations. She said more outreach services are needed because not enough people are visiting community health centers.
Among those visiting a health center for the first time was 27-year-old Franceline Mileon, who brought her young child after hearing a health official with a bullhorn in her neighborhood announcing that a vaccination program had begun. She sat on a bench, coddling her baby, as she waited for a nurse to weigh her.
Overall, UNICEF said it needs nearly $49 million this year to meet humanitarian needs in Haiti, adding that little of that amount has been pledged. The agency $5.2 million of that amount would go toward nutrition and $4.9 million for health, including childhood immunizations.

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British, Other Western Intel Agencies Assist US in Wuhan Probe

Britain’s intelligence agencies — along with other Western European security services — are assisting a new American investigation to try to establish the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials on both sides of the Atlantic.  The central focus of the investigation is on the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China as suspicions mount that the novel bat-derived virus roiling the world, and which has led to at least four million deaths, may have leaked from its lab, a claim Beijing has furiously denied.British officials briefed London newspapers Sunday that the thesis the virus escaped from the lab is “plausible” and “feasible,” a turnaround from British intelligence’s skepticism for most of the past 18 months of the possibility that the pandemic may have been triggered by a lab leak. Other Western intelligence agencies were also skeptical last year of the leak theory, seeing it as being only a remote possibility.But last week, U.S. President Joe Biden instructed American intelligence agencies to investigate the leak theory and report back within three months. Biden’s order came after U.S. intelligence discovered more details about three researchers at the Wuhan lab who fell ill in November 2019, several weeks before the first identified case of the outbreak — and more than a month before China informed the World Health Organization of “cases of pneumonia” of an “unknown cause” had been detected in Wuhan.The researchers were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, but also with common seasonal respiratory illnesses, according to a U.S. intelligence report first publicly disclosed by The Wall Street Journal.The new details have added to circumstantial evidence supporting the theory that the virus may have spread to humans after a leak from the Wuhan lab, say Western officials.FILE – An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in Wuhan, China, April 17, 2020.A WHO-led team report earlier this year ruled the lab-leak theory “extremely unlikely,” and favored the prevailing theory that the coronavirus most likely originated in a Wuhan wet market, jumping from an animal, likely a bat or pangolin, to humans. But the WHO inquiry has come under mounting criticism from some prominent Western scientists — as well as Western governments, who say the Chinese authorities blocked the WHO team during a four-week visit to Wuhan in January.
Eighteen of the world’s top epidemiologists and geneticists wrote a letter to the journal Science calling for an independent inquiry into the lab leak theory.British intelligence officials confirmed to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph that British security agencies are cooperating with the new American probe. “We are contributing what intelligence we have on Wuhan, as well as offering to help the American to corroborate and analyze any intelligence they have that we can assist with,” an official was quoted as saying.They added: “What is required to establish the truth behind the coronavirus outbreak is well-sourced intelligence rather than informed analysis, and that is difficult to come by.”Intelligence officials on both sides of the Atlantic say the probe will include using artificial intelligence systems to help data mine everything from Chinese social media comments to intercepted phone and electronic communications in China. Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, also known as GCHQ, the eavesdropping spy agency and the country’s largest intelligence service, will be key in Britain’s collaboration with the U.S., British officials told VOA.With few on-the-ground intelligence sources in China, Western intelligence agencies are believed to be trawling the so-called “dark web” to unearth information posted and shared there anonymously by Chinese scientists and officials secretly critical of the Communist government.FILE – A technician is seen inside the the P4 laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in Wuhan, China, Feb. 23, 2017.British lawmakers are welcoming the redoubled effort to identify the origins of the pandemic. “The silence coming from Wuhan is troubling. We need to open the crypt and to see what happened, to be able to protect ourselves in the future,” Tom Tugendhat, chair of the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee said on Sunday.  China’s authorities have denied there was any leak from the Wuhan lab, which conducts research on viruses and receives some funding from the U.S. government. Last year, Chinese propagandists blamed the coronavirus outbreak on a U.S. Army sports delegation which visited Wuhan and touted several conspiracy theories subsequently discredited by prominent virologists and epidemiologists.Last week, China’s Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party daily tabloid newspaper, condemned Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, for saying he supported investigating multiple theories of the virus’ origins, including probing whether it leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.Fauci said it was important to increase efforts to unearth why, where and how the pandemic began because knowing the origin could help prevent future outbreaks of coronaviruses. “I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” he said.The Global Times accused Fauci of attempting “to hype the old and groundless narrative that the virus was leaked from a lab in Wuhan.” It said the leak theory “is a blatant lie, a conspiracy created by U.S. intelligence agencies and media outlets to slander China, and China has denied it.”

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Прокуратура Миколаївщини оскаржує в суді регіональний статус російської мови – омбудсмен

Ухвалений у 2019 році закон про забезпечення функціонування української мови не передбачає надання будь-яким мовам статусу регіональних на будь-якій частині території України

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Pakistan’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Dips, But ‘We Aren’t Out of the Woods’, Official Tells VOA

Pakistan reported Monday that the national coronavirus positivity rate had remained well below 5% over the past week, with the country’s top health official attributing the declining trend to “effective” government policies, including restrictions on public movement and effective screening of international travelers.Officials recorded 43 deaths and detected more than 2,100 new cases in the last 24 hours, raising the national tally of deaths to nearly 21,000 and infections to more than 921,000 since the pandemic hit the South Asian nation early last year.The national positivity ratio decreased to just over 4% from more than 11% a couple of weeks ago.Last week, health authorities reported the detection of the first case of a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus which has caused record infections and deaths in neighboring India, threatening Pakistan’s gains against the disease.But Faisal Sultan, an infectious disease physician who is also special assistant to the prime minister on national health services, told VOA that an “effective” screening system for international travelers and other measures to deal with the health crisis have so far enabled the country to keep the situation under control in a country of about 220 million.“I would say we are not out of the woods yet, but it seems at this point that I don’t foresee an India-like situation,” Sultan, who is directing all health-related interventions and measures against the pandemic, told VOA in a detailed interview at his office in Islamabad.People queue to receive the first shot of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Karachi, Pakistan, May 8, 2021.“We really do think that to reach our targets, we need to go over the 500,000 a day mark, perhaps the 600,000 a day mark. So, I think that we really need to ramp up our vaccinations.”Sultan said government surveys have found that “at least two-thirds” of the Pakistani population is willing to get vaccinated.“So, the vaccine centers will have to go close to their homes. It will have to be easy and accessible. It will have to be so easy that in the United States, even normal retail pharmacies were allowed to do the vaccination,” he said.Sultan said the government really needed “to get at least a quarter of its population” in dense urban areas vaccinated before Pakistan “can even talk about any relaxation” in coronavirus-related restrictions, including asking those inoculated against the disease to remove their masks.Health care systemPrime Minister Imran Khan’s government, which took office in August 2018, has from the outset focused on the country’s underfunded and largely neglected national health care system.The focus, Sultan noted, enabled the government to timely position itself to combat the pandemic, despite critical economic challenges facing Pakistan.“We added over 7,000 oxygenated beds into the health care system across Pakistan. The second expansion that was done is even more important — a 66% increase in the medical oxygen capacity was done. Had we not done that, we would have faced a crisis. We came to about 90% capacity in the ongoing third wave,” Sultan explained.A vendor refills oxygen cylinders which will supply private hospitals for COVID-19 patients, in Karachi, Pakistan, April 26, 2021.Pakistan initially received vaccine donations from close ally China to launch the national vaccination drive in early March before purchasing large quantities of vaccine doses to ensure supplies for the national campaign.“They came out, gifted us the first lot, although we had told them we can pay for it. But they insisted. I think it speaks volumes about the level of trust and cooperation between China and Pakistan,” Sultan said.The Pakistani government is using the Chinese-made Sinovac, Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines. It has also received just over a million doses of AstraZeneca under a United Nations-backed program for poor nations, known as COVAX.Pakistani officials say they are in conversations with several suppliers, and the government will have procured about 20 million additional vaccine doses by end of July.“The only challenge is, in an environment where everybody wants the vaccine, to have a steady supply so that you don’t run out of it. This is a challenge that will stay for the rest of the world,” Sultan said, noting that Pakistan was in talks with several suppliers to secure enough doses to sustain domestic supplies.Beijing has also trained Pakistani staff and established a facility at Islamabad’s National Health Institute, where the one-dose CanSino vaccine is being filled from the concentrate provided by China. Sultan noted that the rare facility has the capacity to roll out about 3 million doses of CanSino a month to help boost the vaccination drive.“It may be a small step for us that we have started filling the vaccine from concentrate. But it is a vital step toward actually manufacturing the vaccine in Pakistan, and I think it may take a few months,” he said. 

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Climate Talks Resume Online as Pressure to Act Grows

For the first time since 2019 and following a flurry of net-zero pledges from the world’s largest emitters, UN climate negotiations resume Monday in a virtual format just six months before the crunch COP26 summit. The talks, nominally hosted by the United Nations climate change program in the German city of Bonn, will all be informal, meaning that no decisions will be taken during the three-week dialogue. But with increasingly dire warnings from scientists that the pace of global warming is already outstripping humanity’s best plan to cut emissions, the pressure for progress to be made on several thorny issues is high.   In 2018, countries agreed to many elements of the Paris agreement “rulebook”, governing how each nation implements its goals. But several issues remain unresolved, including rules about transparency, carbon markets, and a unified timeframe for all countries to ratchet up their emissions cuts.At the last UN climate summit in December 2019, countries also failed to agree upon a universal system of reporting climate finance. Nathan Cogswell, a research associate at the World Resources Institute, said a deal on greater transparency was “a central component of the effective implementation of the Paris agreement”. “The upcoming session will hopefully help parties get closer to that.”   One of the thorniest debates during recent UN climate talks has been Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with the trade of emissions cuts.   A major sticking point remains over rules to avoid double counting emissions reductions within both bi-lateral and international carbon markets. Some wealthy nations without the natural resources — forests, for instance — to mitigate their contribution to climate change have spent huge amounts on projects to preserve those habitats in other countries.    Currently both the buying and selling nations may count the project towards their domestic climate action, opening the door for the same cut to be counted twice.   Cogswell said that a failure to agree on a protection against double counting emissions reductions by the end of the COP26 in Glasgow in November would “weaken the ambition of global efforts” to fight climate change.  ‘Not ideal’COVID-19 forced Britain and the UN to shelve talks originally scheduled for last year until the end of 2021. As the pandemic continues to rage, particularly among developing nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, negotiators will need to achieve tangible progress during the three-week Bonn talks. “The absence of a COP left a tremendous amount of work to be done… if we want to deliver at Glasgow,” said Marianne Karlsen, chair of a major technical forum at the UN-led negotiations.   The two-week sessions — expanded this year to three — normally involve thousands of representatives from more than 180 countries, and often rely on behind-closed-doors bargaining between delegates to get deals done.   Karlsen said the virtual configuration of talks was “not ideal at all”.   “We really wanted to be able to have all the interactions of when we meet in person but there was no other option,” she said. Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, chair of the UN’s SBSTA technical working group, said delegates needed to use the virtual negotiations to “prioritize a way to capture progress, so we can capture that progress when we meet in person, and make decisions” in Glasgow. “It’s important that we send a clear message to the world: We are very much engaged in resolving the Paris rulebook and to tackling this climate change conundrum.” 

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Путін зруйнував Мінські угоди паспортизацією жителів ОРДЛО – Клімкін

На початку травня Міністерство внутрішніх справ Росії повідомило, що за два роки Росія видала за спрощеною системою понад 527 тисяч паспортів жителям сходу України