News in Brief 2 September 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Two doses of vaccine are needed to protect people against cholera. Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi

This is the news in brief, from the United Nations in Geneva

Cholera fears for the Democratic Republic of Congo

A massive cholera vaccination campaign is gearing up in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

The central African country last saw an outbreak in 2011 which lasted two years and claimed more than 400 lives.

Concerns are high because the disease has become established in the west of the country, where fatality rates are unusually high.

It has already taken hold further east along the Congo river, making a vaccination campaign less effective, as the WHO's Dr Dominique Legros explains:

"In Mbandaka it was too late, you do the vaccination really at the beginning, when it starts, if you wait too long the impact is very limited. So here you really here have an opportunity to contain it. It's only two weeks old – of course the time to organise it will be about a month, a bit more – that should have a better impact."

The plan to vaccinate 300,000 people in Kinshasa gets under way later this month.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.

Florida's hurricane Hermine “a taste of things to come”

Hurricane Hermine, the first major storm to make landfall in the US state of Florida in 11 years, is almost certainly the first of many batterings the region should expect from Mother Nature, the UN said Friday.

Fifty-one counties in Florida have been put on alert and schools closed, after forecasts of 100 kilometre-an-hour winds, four-metre high storm surges and 50 centimetres of rainfall.

Denis McClean from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said that the hurricane would be "the most severe test" of the region's disaster resilience since Hurricane Sandy struck four years ago.

"We would urge people to guard against complacency and understand that partly because of climate change these events cannot be on the same scale of past experiences. We're going to see greater storm surges because of rising sea levels and increasing temperatures."

Until now, the El Nino weather phenomenon which is associated with warmer sea temperatures has been seen as having a dampening effect on storms in the Caribbean region.

Mediterranean Sea deaths rising a year after tragic toddler Alan

And finally, it's been exactly a year since the world woke up to pictures of drowned toddler Alan Kurdi on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting the plight of migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe.

Marking the date on Friday, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said that in that year, little has changed.

The agency estimates that since Alan's death, more than 4,100 people have either died or gone missing in the Mediterranean; an average of 11 men, women and children every single day.

And in a call for governments to provide legal pathways for refugees and migrants to reach safer shores, UNHCR warns that while arrivals in Greece have dropped dramatically, the North Africa to Italy route is as busy as ever.

It's also more deadly the agency says, with one person dying for every 42 crossings, compared to one in every 52 journeys in 2015.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’11″

 

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