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Africa united in fight against polio outbreak

An extensive vaccination campaign across 19 West and Central African countries is to begin today in an attempt to stem a year-long polio epidemic in the region.

A child receives oral polio vaccine

The United Nations and international aid agencies plan to immunize 85 million children under five. More than 400, 000 volunteers and health workers will take part in the campaign, visiting children in their homes.

The current polio epidemic has been going on for a year and there have been outbreaks in the last six months in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

These countries will be the focus of the campaign, along with Benin, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. Read More…

Charles Taylor of Liberia boycotts war crimes trial

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is facing charges of war crimes for his role in the Sierra Leone Civil War, has decided to boycott the proceedings at The Hague under the auspices of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

He faces 11 charges of war crimes, all of which he denies.Taylor claims that his trial will not be fair as he only has one defense lawyer. “He has not thumbed his nose at the court,” said Karim Khan, his counsel, before producing the letter in which Taylor said he would “not receive a fair trial at the Special Court at this time.”

Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp disagrees with Taylor’s assesment. Taylor, he says, has been assigned a lawyer, a special investigator and funds. “Everything that can be done is being done,” Rapp told the Special Court.