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UN Sets Up Emergency Shelters for Lesbos Refugees After Fire

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – U.N. officials say they are erecting temporary shelters at lightning speed to ..

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – U.N. officials say they are erecting temporary shelters at lightning speed to accommodate thousands of refugees and migrants left homeless by the fire that destroyed the Moria Reception Center on the Greek Island of Lesbos last week.

Asylum seekers are sleeping in makeshift shelters or out in the open, in fields, groves and parking lots.

The U.N. agencies say they are working at top speed and expect to have enough emergency shelters set up soon to protect the more than 12,000 refugees and migrants who were forced to flee their flaming camp.

The U.N. refugee agencys representative in Greece, Philippe Leclerc, said his agency is providing hundreds of tents and distributing basic relief, including blankets, sleeping bags, mats and other items to cover peoples essential needs.

“We have also provided chemical toilets and hand washing stations and are ready to provide additional water, hygiene and sanitation support that may be required. To prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 asylum seekers are undergoing rapid COVID-19 tests,” he said.

Leclerc said 20 people have tested positive and now are quarantined in a special isolation area. He said the Hellenic Army and non-governmental organizations are providing food and water to the asylum seekers.

The U.N. childrens fund reports 3,800 children are among those affected by the fire at the Moria Reception center. It says it is caring for more than 400 unaccompanied minors. UNICEF notes there are enough emergency shelters to accommodate the children and their families, only 800 individuals have agreed to stay there.

Refugees and migrants gather water next to destroyed shelters following a fire at the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos,…

Refugees and migrants gather water next to destroyed shelters following a fire at the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 9, 2020.

UNICEF representative in Greece, Luciano Calestini, said the circulation of false information and rumors is discouraging the refugees and migrants from moving to the new site.

“The rumors pertain to the camp becoming another place of lockdown with very little access to leave. So, potential residents are expressing a fear that once they enter it will be another situation of being in a protracted displacement and dislocation,” he said.

U.N. agencies are calling for long-term solutions to this untenable situation. The European Union has announced it will release its new Pact on Migration and Asylum next week.

Agencies say they are looking for concrete action and hope the pact will translate into better protection for refugees and ensure a more manageable and fairer common European asylum system.

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Coronavirus pandemic: 156 nations join WHO-led global plan for vaccine, US and China absent

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 11:11Modified: 22/09/2020 – 11:18

A total of 156 countries have joined the..

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 11:11Modified: 22/09/2020 – 11:18

A total of 156 countries have joined the global COVAX scheme intended to ensure fair distribution of supplies of future #vaccines against #Covid-19, an alliance led by the World Health Organization said on Monday. #WRead More – Source

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More than 60 wealthy countries join WHO’s plan for distributing Covid-19 vaccine

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 07:44

More than 60 wealthy nations have joined a WHO-backed programme to f..

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 07:44

More than 60 wealthy nations have joined a WHO-backed programme to facilitate poor countries' access to coronavirus vaccines, but the US and China are not on the list published Monday.

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The World Health Organization has in coordination with the global vaccine alliance group Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) created a mechanism aimed at ensuring a more equitable distribution of any future Covid-19 vaccines.

But the mechanism, known as Covax, has struggled to raise the funds needed to provide for the 92 low-income countries and other economies that quickly signed up.

WHO had encouraged richer nations to step up to the plate by the end of last week and when the deadline fell, 64 were onboard with another 38 expected to join in "coming days", the three organisations said in a joint statement.

Among those who have signed up are "the European Commission … on behalf of 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland," it said.

The United States, which under President Donald Trump has relentlessly criticised the WHO's handling of the pandemic and which is in the process of withdrawing from the organisation, is not on the list.

And China, where the novel coronavirus first surfaced late last year, is also absent.

"The purpose of the Covax facility is to try to work with every country in the world," Gavi chief Seth Berkley told a virtual briefing when asked about China's absence from the list.

"I can assure you that we have had conversations and will continue to have conversations with all countries," he said.

'Not charity'

In addition to working to get more countries to join Covax, Berkley said there was also an ongoing dialogue with vaccine-producing countries about "if they have successful vaccines that come out, how we can make sure they are made available to others in the world."

The aim is for Covax to lay its hands on two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines by the end of 2021.

But the mechanism is facing a range of significant challenges, not least a serious funding shortfall.

The WHO has said some $38 billion is needed for its overall ACT-Accelerator programme, which includes Covax, but also global collaboration towards developing and ensuring equitable access to tests and treatments for Covid-19, and strengthening health systems.

But so far it has received just $3.0 billion of that.

The 64 members of the Facility will be joined by 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the Read More – Source

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Madrid opera canceled after audience revolts over social distancing concerns

An opera in Madrid was halted on Sunday night after audience members protested over concerns that se..

An opera in Madrid was halted on Sunday night after audience members protested over concerns that seating was too crowded in the venue.The Teatro Real in Spain's capital city was forced to cancel the performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera" after a group of spectators staged a protest during the performance, eventually ending the show and closing the venue for the night.Police officers were called to the site on Sunday.The venue said Monday that it "greatly regrets what happened" but attributed the upset to shifts in the city's health regulations.In July, the theater hosted performances of another Verdi opera, "La Traviata," and spaced out audience members by sealing off some chairs and placing empty chairs between each pair of occupied seats, it said.But it relaxed its seating policy after the city eased coronavirus restrictions, allowing some venues to host bigger audiences. On Sunday, the Teatro Real was at 65% capacity, still below city guidelines that allow such venues to fill up to 75% of normal capacity, it said. Audience members were allowed to freely choose their seats, though they wore masks during the performance.The Teatro Real on Monday acknowledged in a statement that some spectators had felt unsafe in their seats, "even if the current health regulations were scrupulously complied with, verified by the police who traveled to the [Teatro Real] last night." The statement added: "The Teatro Real wants to reiterate its commitment to the health safety of the public, artists and workers, in which it has been working with dedication, responsibility and great energy, since April, with its own Medical Committee and scrupulous monitoRead More – Source



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