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Foreign Policy

Improve in COVID-19 deaths in Africa

Here is today’s foreign policy: The World health organization warns of a rise in the coronavirus on the African continent, at least 69 die in Floods in Europe, and Taliban The leaders are reportedly offering a three-month ceasefire.

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Here is today’s foreign policy: The World health organization warns of a rise in the coronavirus on the African continent, at least 69 die in Floods in Europe, and Taliban The leaders are reportedly offering a three-month ceasefire.

If you would like to receive the Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please register here.

Africa sees COVID-19 surge

The World Health Organization warned Thursday that hospitals across the African continent were reaching a “breaking point” as the continent saw a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose 43 percent in the past week alone, rising to 6,273 new deaths from 4,384 the previous week. These deaths are due to the steady increase in cases: African countries reported 1 million new cases last month, the highest monthly number of cases to date during the pandemic and the shortest time it took the continent to add a million cases.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has cited oxygen starvation as a key factor in the rising number of deaths. “The top priority for African countries is to increase oxygen production to give seriously ill patients a chance to fight,” said Moeti. The WHO estimates that the oxygen demand in Africa has increased by 50 percent compared to the same point in time last year, but has not maintained the supply.

HIV risk. With more than 65 percent of the world’s active HIV cases, Africa is particularly at risk during the recent surge. A new study by WHO found that people living with HIV are more likely to become seriously ill and more likely to die from contracting COVID-19 than the general population.

The vaccine divide. With cases likely to spike across the continent for the ninth straight week, WHO has again urged rich countries to abandon booster vaccination plans to share their supplies. While the United States and the European Union have given at least one dose to approximately 55 percent of their populations, fewer than 3 percent of Africans have received a single dose.

What we are following today

Political crisis in Lebanon. Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has given up forming a new government nine months after President Michel Aoun gave him the job. Hariri said he and Aoun could not have agreed on the composition of a new cabinet, forcing the three-time prime minister to resign. Aoun’s office questioned Hariri’s version of events, saying his unwillingness to negotiate was a sign that he had “made a prior decision to resign”. Hariri’s decision has shaken Lebanon’s already weak currency and means the country has gone on for almost a year without a functioning government.

Europe’s floods. At least 69 people have died and another 1,300 are missing in Western Europe as the region has been hit by severe flooding. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland were hardest hit by floods after severe storms. North Rhine-Westphalian governor Armin Laschet, whose state has so far recorded 30 deaths, said the unusual weather could be linked to climate change as he was under pressure to support the coal industry in his home country ahead of the general election in September.

US-Cuba Policy. US President Joe Biden said he will not allow US-based Cubans to send remittances home as part of the White House’s plans to assist the Cuban people following Sunday’s protests. Biden said he was ready to give COVID-19 vaccines to the island, but only on condition that an international organization administer them. In a speech on Wednesday, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel once again criticized the “cruel” and “genocidal” US blockade of Cuba and at the same time promised a “critical analysis” of the country’s problems. Since the weekend protests, Cuba has lifted restrictions on the amount of food and medicine travelers can bring into the country, fulfilling one of the protesters’ demands.

EU sues Hungary and Poland. The European Commission has taken legal action against EU member states Hungary and Poland over recent laws and decisions by the two countries attacking LGBT people. The EU accuses Hungary of violating the bloc’s anti-discrimination rules over a new law banning content depicting homosexuality for anyone under the age of 18. Poland is accused of violating EU rules as a number of regions and municipalities have passed resolutions on “LGBT ideology-free” zones. “Both countries have two months to respond to the EU’s arguments.

Taliban ceasefire. The Taliban have reportedly offered the Afghan government a three-month ceasefire in exchange for a new prisoner exchange, a government spokesman said Thursday. “The Taliban have offered a plan for a three-month ceasefire, but in return they have demanded the release of 7,000 of their prisoners and the removal of their leaders from the United Nations blacklist,” said Nader Nadery, spokesman for the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha said . A Taliban spokesman has denied having made the overture.

The war in Ethiopia is widening. Reinforcements from the Ethiopian regions of Sidama, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s home region of Oromia will join the war in Tigray, state media reported on Thursday. The move comes after Abiy effectively canceled his June 28 ceasefire declaration in which he said government forces would repel any enemy attacks. The new regional forces join Amhara regional forces, who said Wednesday they would switch to “attack mode” in an attempt to push back the Tigers’ armed forces.

Jaw no more. Officials in the state of Queensland, Australia are working to rename shark attacks “interactions” and “negative encounters” in an effort to change public perceptions of the endangered species and aid conservation efforts. Leonardo Guida of the Australian Marine Conservation Society said the move would “help dispel the inherent belief that sharks are voracious, mindless, man-eating monsters.”

Conservationists point out that sharks rarely kill and negative perceptions are a modern phenomenon. Eight people were killed by sharks in Australia in 2020, while the World Wildlife Fund estimates that 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year, contributing to the rapid decline in marine species.

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