Madagascar UNICEF warns of potential disease outbreaks after cyclone

17 February 2012The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) voiced concern today that waterborne diseases may soon spread in the areas of Madagascar that were pummelled by Cyclone Giovanna earlier this week. The provisional death toll from the disaster has reached 17, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva, with information not yet in from all cyclone-affected areas, which are largely concentrated in the east of the island country.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that almost 2,000 Malagasy have been displaced so far, including more than 500 residents of the capital, Antananarivo.Agricultural production has also been hit, with damage to key commercial crops such as banana, litchi and sugar cane.Ms. Mercado said waterborne diseases is now a key concern for aid agencies, with the cyclone having destroyed some water sources and hot and humid weather conditions now prevailing. An estimated 580,000 people live in the hardest-hit areas.UNICEF has begun distributing medicines, mosquito nets and other emergency materials, working with local authorities and partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure the supplies reach those in need.Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for OCHA, said authorities are monitoring the water levels of the five main rivers surrounding Antananarivo. The water levels are expected to rise but not yet to alert levels. read more

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Jaffna university students stage protest and submit petition

Students in Kilinochchi also staged a protest and demanded justice over the killing of the two Jaffna university students. Five Police officers were arrested over the incident and were immediately interdicted and were remanded by court.The Government said necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the law is fully implemented in this regard. (Colombo Gazette) He said there is a concern that state sponsored terrorism was behind the killing of the two Jaffna university students.President Maithripala Sirisena last week called for an impartial investigation into the death of the two youth.The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is investigating the deaths of the two Jaffna University students. A hartal is also to be staged in the North tomorrow against the killing of the two students.Tamil National Alliance, Northern Provincial Council member M.K. Sivajilingham said that several Tamil political parties in the North will take part in the protest. Jaffna university students staged a protest march today and later submitted a petition to the Government over the death of two Jaffna university students last week.The protest march resulted in traffic along the A9 highway being disrupted as the students protested in the Jaffna town. The two youth were shot dead by the Police after they reportedly failed to stop when ordered to do so by the Police in Kankasanturai last week. The students later gathered opposite the Jaffna Government Agent’s office and handed over a petition to be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. read more

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