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Updated 1 Nov 2014 - 4 stories|
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Fiji Earthquake Today:
7.1-Magnitude Quake Hits Pacific
by Jack Philips
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake has struck near the island nation of
No tsunami warning was issued after the earthquake.
It’s not clear if there was any damage done during the temblor.
The earthquake struck about 90 miles north of Nodi Island in Fiji,
195 miles west-northwest of Tonga, and 268 mile east of Lambasa in
Fiji, said the US Geological Survey.
The area is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” which frequently
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Wars and Rumors of Wars
'Gaza War Number Four is Just a
Matter of Time'
by Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar
Eshkol Regional head says rocket Friday is sign of coming rockets on
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as effects of operation slip away.
A rocket from Gaza was shot down as it streaked towards the Eshkol
Regional Council area on Friday night and apparently landed in the
region, in the second such attack since the August 26 ceasefire
ended Operation Protective Edge.
According to Chaim Yelin, chair of the Eshkol Regional Council, it's
only a matter of time until the next operation against Hamas, of
which Protective Edge was already the third since Israel's 2005
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"It doesn't make a difference to us who fires," Yelin told Arutz
Sheva. "Hamas or rebellious groups; we demand a military response
against rocket fire on the residents of the state of Israel."
Yelin said he is convinced that rockets will soon be pummeling the
center of the country as they did during the operation, saying "the
hourglass has already turned ahead of the next war."
"Today it's in Eshkol, tomorrow in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the
military and diplomatic response needs to be appropriate," said
Yelin. "The military achievement of Protective Edge is dissipating,
with no national outline to give true quiet to the residents of the
south and residents of the state of Israel."
The IDF has yet to locate the remains of the rocket fired on Friday,
although it is thought to have landed in Israeli territory. "Color
Red" rocket warning sirens were not sounded in Eshkol ahead of the
The issue of sirens has been a question point since the latest
operation, with sirens being heard occasionally in September and
October - including five in one day - with the IDF claiming all of
them were false alarms.
Last month Maj. (res.) Ran Levy, a social activist who heads the 'Hadromiyim'
('The Southerners') organization fighting for the rights of
residents of Israel's embattled south, accused the IDF of covering
up Hamas rockets for political purposes given the current ceasefire.
"I am an officer in the Home Front Command and I say, as a resident
of Ashkelon, that there is no such thing as a false alarm and there
never was," claimed Levy. "Once the system identifies a launch, it
calculates within a short time the area in which the rocket is
expected to fall, so there is no such thing as a false alarm."
Hamas has also restarted building its terror tunnels into Israel,
after bragging that the IDF didn't destroy all of them.
Nevertheless, Israel began transporting more construction materials
into Gaza early last month as a "humanitarian gesture," including
600 tons of cement, 50 truckloads of aggregate and 10 truckloads of
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Ebola outbreak: Charity MSF warns
US on quarantine
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders has warned some
mandatory US state Ebola quarantine measures are having a "chilling
effect" on its work.
The group has said it may shorten some assignments to West Africa as
a result of recent state restrictions.
One of the charity's volunteers has defied orders by the US state of
Maine that she remain quarantined in her house after being in Sierra
There have been nearly 14,000 cases worldwide, but only nine in the
Doctors Without Borders - also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
- has 270 international and 3,000 locally hired staff in Guinea,
Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
But the foreign workers now have additional concerns when heading
home, said executive director Sophie Delaunay.
"There is rising anxiety and confusion among staff members in the
field over what they may face when they return home upon completion
of their assignments in West Africa," she told Reuters news agency.
Some health workers are delaying returning to the US and staying in
Europe for 21 days, she added, "in order to avoid facing rising
stigmatisation at home and possible quarantine".
Some people are being discouraged by their families from returning
to the field, she added.
Maine Governor Paul LePage said the state was willing to agree to
arrangements that would have allowed Hickox to go for walks, runs
and bicycle rides, but not allow her to go to public places.
The governor said discussions with Ms Hickox, 33, had failed.
She says her freedom should not be limited when she is perfectly
People are not infectious until they show symptoms, usually a fever.
Another worker, Dr Craig Spencer, travelled around New York City
before he fell ill. He is currently in isolation in hospital.
After his case was announced, New York, New Jersey and other states
ordered the mandatory quarantine of healthcare workers who had been
exposed to Ebola patients.
But President Barack Obama has warned that overly restrictive
measures could discourage volunteering in West Africa.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the actions of US
states ordering medics to be isolated.
"Returning health workers are exceptional people who are giving of
themselves for humanity," he said.
"They should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on
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deepening the Ebola crisis
by Jeanne Kamara
Since the Ebola virus first hit Sierra Leone in May, the deadly
disease has slowly but steadily brought the nation to its knees. The
past few weeks have seen an exponential rise in the number of cases
and deaths. To date, 4,500 people have died in West Africa, with
more than 1,000 of them in Sierra Leone. The outlook is bleak.
After a very slow initial response, the international community has
finally recognized the scale of the catastrophe. Treatment centres
are being built, military personnel have been deployed and medical
supplies are arriving in the country. This is, undoubtedly,
critical. Nevertheless, a new challenge is emerging that could
jeopardize all these efforts: the threat of a hunger crisis.
With nearly 4,000 confirmed cases in Sierra Leone and only a few
hundred hospital beds available, the need far outweighs the demand.
We have reached a stage where many who develop the symptoms are now
unlikely to find much relief from a medical facility: they have no
choice but to stay home and hope for the best.
Effective but humane quarantine measures are now seen as key to
breaking the chain of transmission and stopping Ebola in its tracks.
But at the moment, the system is failing the people it is designed
to protect: hunger and food insecurity are undermining it.
Across Sierra Leone, over a million people in households,
neighbourhoods and even entire districts have been isolated and
their basic needs are going unmet. It is counter-productive to
isolate people without providing a sufficient and constant supply of
nutritious food and clean water. And yet, this is what is happening
Official procedures dictate that as soon as someone is suspected of
having contracted the virus, their entire household must remain at
home for 21 days (the incubation period). They are then subjected to
regular health checks. They should also be given food aid, a task
coordinated by the World Food Programme. However, there seems to be
a huge disconnect between demand and supply.
Often enough, food parcels don’t reach those who need them, if they
get to the area at all. There are reports of quarantined homes
falling through the cracks, people going without food assistance for
weeks, tensions and violence within angry, hungry communities.
People are being driven to break out of their houses and go in
search of food.
With farming disrupted, markets closed, livelihoods hit and food
prices shooting up, those who lived hand-to-mouth before the
outbreak are now facing even more hardship. In ordinary times,
people here do not have enough food to feed themselves for a day,
never mind three weeks. It is no surprise that they are breaking
If your child is hungry, you have an unbearable choice: stay at home
and watch them slowly starve, or leave the house and expose yourself
– and potentially others – to the virus.
The consequences of the looming hunger crisis go far beyond
malnutrition. The Ebola virus is encroaching on the treatment of
another virus: HIV, which affects some 60,000 people in Sierra
Prior to the outbreak, over 130 facilities provided the HIV
anti-retroviral treatment (ART), which improves quality of life and
prolongs survival. Before the Ebola epidemic, around a third of
people eligible for ART were receiving it.
With health facilities now either closed or acting as Ebola holding
centres, access to other medical services is severely limited, while
the work of many HIV-focused organisations, including local
Christian Aid partners, has been disrupted.
Now, the number of people receiving treatment, nutritional support,
counselling, HIV testing and contraceptives is plummeting. The same
is likely to be true for the numbers of pregnant women taking the
treatment needed to prevent mother-to-child-transmission.
What’s more, good nutrition is necessary in ensuring that ART is
effective in reducing the risk of rapid progression from HIV to
AIDS; yet another reason why the scarcity of food is serious cause
for concern. The Ebola epidemic could easily reverse the gains
Sierra Leone has made on HIV in the past few years.
Christian Aid has distributed emergency food and hygiene kits to
vulnerable households in two of the worst-affected districts,
including those with young children, elderly people, people living
with HIV and single mothers.
The packages include enough food to feed a household for 14 days, as
well as items such as soap, female sanitary kits, chlorine,
disinfectant, gloves and thermometers. We have already given out
200,000 pairs of disposable gloves and more than 360kg of powdered
chlorine to medical teams nationwide.
These are just some of the basic necessities which are essential to
creating a humane and effective environment in which people can
remain in quarantine.
Much more is needed, of course. The medical response to the Ebola
crisis will only work if we respond holistically to all elements of
the outbreak. People must be kept in quarantine but they can’t be
left to face starvation. We must act quickly. Time is running out.
Christian Aid has been working in Sierra Leone for over 25 years,
delivering development programmes through local partners to tackle
issues such as gender-based violence, poverty and HIV. Christian Aid
is part of the Disasters Emergency Committee Ebola Crisis Appeal. To
donate to the appeal, see here.
Jeanne Kamara is Christian Aid’s country manager for Sierra Leone.
She is based in Freetown.
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