Thursday, September 30, 2021

Ethiopia Expels 7 United Nations Agencies Staff in Pursuit of Sovereignty, UN Calls it “Shocking”

September 30, 2021

The UN workers were meddling in Ethiopian internal affairs, according to the gov’t. The UN secretary general said his office is engaging Ethiopia after the news was heard. The White House denounced it. 

PM Abiy Ahmed visits a needy Ethiopia during the Ethiopian New Year (Photo credit : SM)


Ethiopia on Thursday announced that it has declared seven individuals working for United Nations agencies operating in the country a “persona non grata.”  The individuals are required to leave the country within  the next 72 hours.  

Based on a brief statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia issued on Thursday, the decision seems to be a move in the direction of defending the sovereignty of Ethiopia. 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, in letters issued today (30 September 2021), has declared a ”persona non grata” for seven individuals who are working for UN humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia for meddling in the internal affairs of the country,” said the statement from the country. 

UNICEF representative in Ethiopia, Mr. Adele Khodr, is among those who must leave Ethiopia within 72 hours.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disclosed the names of the individuals required to leave the country. They are : 

1. Mr. Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia

2. Mr. Sonny Onyegbula, Monitoring, Reporting and Advocacy Team Leader : United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights

3. Mr. Kwesi Sansculotte, Peace and Development Advisor: UNOCHA

4.  Mr. Saeed Mohamoud Hersi: Deputy Head of Office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia 

5.  Mr. Grant Leaity, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia

6. Ms. Ghada Eltahir Mudawi: Acting Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia

7. Mrs. Marcy Vigoda, Head of office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia

Office of the Spokesperson 

The United Nations called Ethiopia’s decision “shocking.”  Mr. Antonio Guterres said “I was shocked by the information that the Government of Ethiopia has declared seven UN officials, including senior UN humanitarian officials, as persona non grata.”  ( 

The UN seems to be engaging the Ethiopian government with the hope that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government will change the decision.  

MR António Guterres said, “We are now engaging with the Government of Ethiopia in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.” 

For many Ethiopians, Ethiopia’s action is rather late in view of credible allegations that the United Nations, and other state funded aid agencies in the country, were involved in facilitating different forms of support for the Tigray rebels. 

Many Ethiopians who are active on social media seem to be rather shocked that the “UN is shocked” by the Ethiopian government decision. 

Bisrat Lemessa Kabeta replied to the UN Secretary General spokesperson saying, “You’re still pointing fingers at #Ethiopia while blindly defending your staffers. Is this how multilateralism works? Instead of, at least gesturally, hinting on investigating the accusations, you arrogantly dismissed them. Then you’re demanding the Govt to reverse its decision!…” 

Dr. Ir. Middle Lander, apparently using the Twitter platform anonymously, reacted to the news “Shocked ??? I thought they would say expected (knowing how they treated Ethiopia).” 

Ethiopia’s decision came at a time when the country is  facing increasing pressure from the UN in connection with aid delivery to the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

This week, the UN aid chief remarked about the situation in Ethiopia in a way that seems to implicate the Ethiopian government. 

The United Nations branch office in Ethiopia admitted earlier this month that only 38 of the 466 trucks that entered the Tigray region of Ethiopia since July 12 returned. It means the  remaining trucks are under the control of the Tigray rebels, Tigray People’s Liberation Front  (TPLF) – but the UN has not officially condemned it. 

Apart from the UN, the U.S. government has reacted to Ethiopia’s decision. The White House said, “The U.S. Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the Government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations,” as tweeted by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. 


The foreign ministry's announcement came as Africa's second most populous country held elections for dozens of federal parliamentary seats, the final round of voting before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed forms a new government next week. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gestures at the House of Peoples Representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30 November 2020 to respond to the Parliament on the current conflict between Ethiopian National Defence Forces and the leaders of the TPLF. Picture: AFP.


ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia said Thursday it would expel seven senior UN officials for "meddling" in its affairs, ratcheting up worries over the humanitarian response in the war-torn and famine-threatened Tigray region.

The foreign ministry's announcement came as Africa's second most populous country held elections for dozens of federal parliamentary seats, the final round of voting before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed forms a new government next week.

The seven UN officials, including the local heads of the UN children's agency UNICEF and its humanitarian coordination office, have been declared "persona non grata" for "meddling in the internal affairs of the country," the ministry said in a statement published on its Facebook page.

"According to the letters addressed to each of the 7 individuals listed below, all of them must leave the territory of Ethiopia within the next 72 hours," it said.

Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray region has been mired in conflict since November, when Abiy sent troops to topple the regional ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a move he said came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

Fighting ground on for months before Tigrayan rebels retook the regional capital Mekele and government forces largely withdrew from the region.

Since then the TPLF has launched offensives into neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, while Tigray itself is receiving only about 10 percent of the aid it needs.

In July, the UN warned that 400,000 people across Tigray had "crossed the threshold into famine".

The situation has only deteriorated since then, as a de-facto blockade prevents most aid from getting in.

Federal officials blame the TPLF for obstructing deliveries, but a US State Department spokesperson told AFP last week that access to essential supplies and services was "being denied by the Ethiopian government" and that there were "indications of a siege".


Government officials offered no further explanation for the expulsions, although several of the targets have spoken out about dire conditions in Tigray.

Grant Leaity, the UN's acting humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia who is on the list, warned this month that stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel were "running very low or are completely depleted" and that food stocks had run out in late August.

Earlier this month, doctors told AFP that Tigray was entering a new phase of fatalities driven by the kind of widespread starvation that turned Ethiopia into a byword for famine in the 1980s.

Internal aid agency documents reviewed by AFP said mothers were feeding leaves to their children to keep them alive, and that malnutrition cases and starvation deaths were on the rise.

UNICEF estimated in July that more than 100,000 children could suffer from life-threatening acute malnutrition in the coming 12 months - 10 times the annual average.

Expelling senior UN officials is a crushing "blow" to the aid response, said Dr Hayelom Kebede, research director of Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray's capital Mekele.

"Now there will be no help for malnourished children. And it's a blow. We will see a catastrophic increase in dying children in the coming days," he said.

In the past week, six more children have died of starvation at Ayder Referral alone, he said.


TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said on Twitter that the expulsions reflected a "sad but real" situation in which Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, cannot be "counseled into sanity".

Last month, Ethiopia also ordered two humanitarian groups active in Tigray - the Dutch section of Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Council - to suspend their activities, accusing them of "disseminating misinformation" online.

Meanwhile, Thursday's parliamentary elections contests were taking place in the Somali, Harari and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' (SNNP) regions of the country of 110 million people.

Abiy's Prosperity Party already secured a new five-year term with a landslide win in national polls in June, and Thursday's contests will not tip the balance of power in parliament.

Abiy is due to be sworn in again on Monday at a time when his government faces heavy international criticism.

US President Joe Biden this month signed an executive order allowing for sanctions against the warring parties if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement.


President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move to lockdown level 1 from 1 October.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

Eyewitness News 

My fellow South Africans,

This evening, I would like to talk to you about four matters that are vital to our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery of our society and economy.

These are, firstly, the intensification of our national vaccination campaign; secondly, the measures we will be taking to further open our economy; thirdly, the introduction of a vaccination certificate; and, fourthly, our engagements with the United Kingdom to restore travel, tourism and trade.

A few days ago, the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium confirmed that South Africa has emerged from a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

This wave, which was driven by the Delta variant, was far more severe than the previous two waves. This third wave lasted more than 130 days, and was about two weeks longer than each of the earlier waves.

At the peak of the third wave, we were recording around 20,000 new cases each day. In the last seven days, the average number of new cases was at around 1,800 a day.

There are also sustained decreases in COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths in all provinces.

This is news that is welcome to all of us.

We have been living under the shadow of the pandemic for 574 days now, and all of us have taken strain.

We have experienced much hardship, and the most difficult of these has been the many relatives, colleagues and friends we have lost to this pandemic. We mourn each and every one of them.

Naturally we all want to resume many of the activities that we have been unable to do for much of the past two years.

We want to attend traditional rituals, birthday parties, weddings and other social functions freely with our friends and family.

We long for a time when we can go to church, to the mosque, to the shul and to the temple without restrictions, and to be able to hug and shake hands without worrying about getting sick.

The sports fans among us cannot wait to return to FNB, to Moses Mabhida, to Royal Bafokeng, to Newlands, and to Loftus to cheer on our teams.

We want to socialise freely again at restaurants, taverns and theatres, and we want to travel freely whenever and wherever we choose.

These freedoms, which we all long for, are within our reach.

But we will only be able to get there if we are all vaccinated and we all continue to observe the basic health protocols.

Since we launched our national vaccination drive, it has been gathering pace.

To date we have administered over 17 million vaccine doses.

Over 8.6 million people are fully vaccinated, which is more than one-fifth of the adult population.

Significantly, 60% of South Africans over the age of 60, and 50% of people between the ages of 50 and 59 have now received at least one vaccine dose.

These numbers give us confidence and hope.

We have set ourselves the target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the adult population in South Africa by the end of the year.

If we reach this target, the Department of Health estimates that we could save up to 20,000 lives.

That represents 20,000 people – mothers, fathers, sons and daughters – whose death can be prevented if the majority of us chooses to get vaccinated.

To reach our goal we need to administer an additional 16 million vaccine doses this year, which amounts to around 250,000 first dose vaccinations every single workday of every week until mid-December.

We know that the older you are, the greater the risk that you will get severely ill with COVID-19 or that you will need to be hospitalised.

We also know that the risk of death from COVID-19 is higher among the elderly than younger people.

To save lives and prevent our health facilities and staff from being overwhelmed, we have therefore prioritised those above 50 and those above 60 for vaccination.

This does not mean that people younger than 50 are not at risk.

In recent months, we have seen an increasing number of younger people being hospitalised and dying from COVID-19.

It is for this reason that from the 20th of August we extended our vaccination programme to all people in South Africa over 18 years of age.

While we have made important progress, and secured sufficient vaccine doses for the target population, our vaccination programme is still too slow.

We have therefore decided to upscale our vaccination campaign by launching the ‘Vooma Vaccination Weekends’ campaign from tomorrow.

The Vooma Vaccination Weekends campaign will be a countrywide drive to encourage our people to get vaccinated.

We know that getting to a vaccination site during weekdays can be difficult for many people, especially those who work, who have to commute long distances, or have family responsibilities.

Those who might not be able to get the vaccine during the week should take up this opportunity.

Tomorrow, the 1st of October and on Saturday the 2nd of October, we will be opening vaccination sites around the country to reach over half a million people.

The Department of Health has identified priority districts in each province based on the number of unvaccinated people and the current vaccination coverage in each district.

This will be the first Vooma Vaccination Weekend in a series of outreach programmes.

Leaders from across the political spectrum, civil society, religious leaders, traditional leaders, labour and business will mobilise communities to stay safe by being vaccinated.

The Deputy President and I, as well as Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, MECs, Mayors and Councillors, will also be out in communities on Friday and Saturday to encourage citizens to get vaccinated.

The vaccination is free to everyone living in South Africa, whether you are a South African citizen or from another country.

You can go to a government or a private health facility that offers vaccinations, even if you don’t have medical aid.

You can walk into your nearest vaccination site with your ID or other proof of identity and be registered on the spot.

The Vooma Vaccination Weekends are also an opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution made by our frontline health workers and health service managers – from our community health workers who have gone door-to-door encouraging people to go to vaccination sites to our staff members at the sites and outreach vehicles and in health facilities across the country.

We also want to acknowledge the huge number of volunteers who have helped and the many initiatives by local leaders.

We must applaud the efforts that are being made by business to have their workers vaccinated.

We call on all businesses to facilitate the vaccination of their workers and encourage their workers to get vaccinated.

The involvement of all sectors of society in the national effort will become all the more critical in the run-up to local government elections in November.

Campaign activities pose the greatest risk to a surge in new infections.

Every one of us – from party leaders and organisers to supporters and elections staff – has a responsibility to ensure that the regulations are followed and all health protocols are observed during the election campaign.

The Independent Electoral Commission is putting in place measures to ensure that every voter can freely exercise their democratic right without being exposed to unnecessary risk.

Fellow South Africans, when I announced on the 12th of September that the country would be moving to Adjusted Alert Level 2, I said that we would be reviewing the situation after two weeks.

The current trends in the progression of the pandemic mean that a number of the restrictions in place can be eased, as per the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19.

Following meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council and the President’s Coordinating Council, Cabinet has decided to move South Africa from Adjusted Alert Level 2 to Adjusted Alert

Level 1 from midnight tonight.

The following measures will apply as part of Alert Level 1:

The hours of the curfew will change, from 12 midnight to 4 am. Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 11 pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.

The maximum number of people permitted to gather indoors will increase from 250 to 750, and the maximum number of people permitted to gather outdoors will increase from 500 to 2,000. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings, as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places.

The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral will increase from 50 to 100. As before, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed.

The sale of alcohol – for both off-site and on-site consumption – will be permitted, according to normal licence provisions. However, no alcohol may be sold after 11 pm.

The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.

As part of the effort to return the most affected parts of the economy to operation we are looking at further relaxation of restrictions, particularly with respect to sporting and cultural events.

As I said earlier, we all long for our freedom back, and if we continue to work together as we have been doing, more areas of activity will open up.

The Department of Health will soon be rolling out a vaccination certificate, which will provide a secure and verifiable proof of vaccination.

It can be used to facilitate travel, access to establishments and gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination status.

Our approach is informed by World Health Organization guidelines and is in line with international best practice.

Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased.

Getting vaccinated is not only about protecting yourself and those around you.

It is also about preventing new and more dangerous variants from emerging, as the virus is able to spread and mutate in unvaccinated populations.

However, we should remember that even if we are vaccinated, we need to continue to adhere to the basic precautions to limit the spread of the virus from one person to another.

We know that indoor gatherings, particularly in places that have poor ventilation, are the major cause of outbreaks and super spreader events.

We must continue wearing our masks at all times when in public, keep our distance from others and always ensure that windows are open and that there is a flow of fresh air.

If we continue to adhere to these regulations, if we keep the rate of infections low, and most importantly if we vaccinate significant numbers of the adult population, we will keep the pandemic at bay and eventually, force it into decline.

In an effort to prevent rising infections, a number of countries around the world have opted to restrict travel from other countries.

The United Kingdom imposed a travel ban on South Africans by red listing our country.

This has put us in a disadvantaged position, since the United Kingdom is South Africa’s biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner.

While UK scientists were concerned about the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa, the reality is that the Delta variant is now by far the dominant variant in the country.

Earlier today I had a call with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss this matter. I put South Africa’s case to him, which he understood very well.

We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days.

Fellow South Africans, Our greatest priority now is to ensure that the economy recovers as quickly as possible, so that we can create jobs and help businesses to get back on their feet.

The only way that we can do this is if more South Africans choose to get vaccinated, more quickly.

If the majority of our population is vaccinated, we can declare South Africa to be a safe destination and welcome tourists back over the summer season.

We can resume sporting events and concerts, lift restrictions on restaurants and bars, and encourage people to return safely to their workplaces, shops and public spaces.

If we can reach our vaccination targets by the end of this year, we can avoid further restrictions and kick our economic recovery into high gear.

I want to urge you all to take advantage of Vooma Vaccination Weekends.

Let us all go out and get vaccinated.

Let us take our friends and family who are not yet vaccinated to go and get vaccinated.

Let us as one to reach our 70% target by December.

Let us pick up the pace. Let us Vooma.

May God bless South Africa and continue to protect her people.

I thank you.


Clement Chiwaya, who was 50, killed himself inside the parliament building, where he had gone to discuss vehicle benefits entitled to him when he left office in 2019.

Flag of Malawi. Picture:


LILONGWE - A former deputy speaker in Malawi on Thursday shot himself in the head inside parliament, where he had gone for a meeting, parliament said.

Clement Chiwaya, who was 50, killed himself inside the parliament building, where he had gone to discuss vehicle benefits entitled to him when he left office in 2019.

Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the incident but refused to give details until he had received a full report from investigators.

Parliament "regrets to inform the public that the former deputy speaker... committed suicide at the parliament building," it said in a statement.

It said the incident was linked to "frustration with the implementation of his conditions of service."

Chiwaya bought his official vehicle at the end of his five-year term in 2019, as provided for in his contract.

But he had tried to get parliament to pay for damages incurred in an accident that happened six months later.

He took the case to court. The legal process is still pending.

The statement from parliament appeared to suggest that Chiwaya, who moved in a wheelchair, had sneaked a gun into the high-security building.

"Having been a person with a disability, the (security) scanner alerts were deemed to be from the wheelchair," it said.

A source at parliament told AFP that Chiwaya shot himself in the head inside the office of the clerk of parliament, Fiona Kalembera.

Before he became deputy speaker, he served as a member of parliament from 2004.

Anti-democratic Transition Actions in Sudan Put U.S. Support at Risk: Feltman

September 29 2021 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman on Wednesday warned that actions against the civilian-led government in Sudan will put Washington support at risk.

In a meeting with Prime Minsiter Abdallah Hamdok attended by Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi and Political Adviser Yasir Arman, the visiting envoy condemned the 21 September failed coup attempt and his country support for the civilian-led transitional government.

The visiting diplomat underscored that such attempts might lead "the Congress to stop supporting Sudan," said Hamdok office in a statement issued after the meeting.

"It is important for the two parties to realize that their cooperation is crucial for a smooth transition and for Sudan to maintain its place within the international system, which reached after hard efforts," said Feltman according to the statement.

In December 2020, the U.S. Congress passed a bill supporting the democratic transition in Sudan and tightening oversight of the Sudanese security and intelligence forces.

The "Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability, and Fiscal Transparency Act of 2020" includes an assessment of the security sector reforms which should lead to militias’ merger in the regular army and strengthening civilian control of the military sector.

It also expresses the lawmakers’ substantial support for providing aid to facilitate the political transition in Khartoum. This bill has been called the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability and Fiscal Transparency Act of 2020, and it enjoys broad support from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Accordingly, it was included in the Defense Financing bill that Congress passed with a great bipartisan consensus. The draft law requires the State Department to submit a report on its strategy, including the goals of the United States for a peaceful political transition in Sudan, and the plan it will adopt to achieve these goals.

On 24 September, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to express Biden Administration’s commitment to supporting the civilian-led transition to democracy in Sudan.

Also, Sullivan told Hamdok that President Biden looks forward to meeting him in the near future.

Sudan on Tuesday received 10,000 metric tons of wheat provided by the United States as part of the Abraham Accords.

In a statement on Wednesday, the U.S. embassy said this shipment is part of the fourth delivery in what will be 300,000 metric tons total valued at $115M USD.

Another U.S. delegation led by Bryan David Hunt Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa and the Sudans is also visiting Khartoum to discuss the "need to resolve economic, governance, and security challenges, including forming a transitional legislative council".

Hunt on Wednesday met with several members of the Sovereign Council including Siddiq Tawer, Mohamed al-Faki; Hadi Idriss, Shams al-Din Kabbashi and Mohamed Hassan Emtaishi.

In a short statement issued on Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said the diplomat met with Minister of Federal Government Buthaina Dinar to discuss holding a governance conference as provided in the Juba peace agreement.


Sudan Repels Ethiopian Attack on Border Area

A Sudanese army officer with some of his troops deployed on the eastern Sudan border on 21 Dec 2020 (ST photo)

September 26, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese army repelled an attack by the Ethiopian army in the border area of Al-Fashaqa said a military statement on Sunday.

Al-Tahir Abu Haja, Sudanese army spokesman stated that the attack took place in Um Brakhit sector of the disputed area.

"The Sudanese Armed Forces had repelled the incursion attempt and forced the Ethiopian forces to withdraw," said Abu Haja in a short statement.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since November 2020 when the Sudanese army redeployed its troops in Al-Fashaqa recovering about 2 million acres of fertile land inside the Sudanese border cultivated with the support of armed militiamen.

Three months ago closed the road linking the two countries after an attack on the Sudanese army by Ethiopian militiamen.

On 22 September, local officials from the two sides met the Ethiopian border town of Metama to discuss the reopening of the crossing point.

The Ethiopian side requested to open the crossing point and called for joint cooperation to settle the issue of detainees from both sides.

A source close to the meeting said the Ethiopian officials spoke again about the presence of Tigryian fighters in the refugee camps a matter that the Sudanese side strongly rejected.


Civilian Forces Say Ready to Protect Transition, Burhan Dismisses Coup Rumors

Empowerment Removal Committee meeting in Khartoum on 26 September 2021 (SUNA photo)September 26, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Representatives of the civilian component announced their readiness to defend the democratic transition and confront the military leaders, while Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reiterated they have no intention to seize power.

On Sunday, hundreds of activists flocked to the headquarters of the Empowerment Removal Committee to protect it, after the withdrawal of the security forces tasked with the protection of the committee’s premises and 22 facilities confiscated from the leaders of the ousted regime. Also, the military withdrew the guards of the Spokesman of the Sovereignty Council and the head of the removal committee, Mohamed al-Faki.

This escalation has been perceived as part of a plan to seize power by the army after the refusal of the military component to protect strategic economic facilities in eastern Sudan.

In his speech to the activists at the crowded headquarters of the committee which was the former Sudanese parliament, al-Faki thanked them for responding quickly to their call to protect the committee, stressing that this shows the strength of the revolutionary tide in the country.

"This Holy Place, where Sudan’s independence was declared, will be a centre for confrontation operations if they want it," he said to the galvanised supporters.

He pointed out that the meeting room will be open throughout the day for the resistance committees, political forces and unions to prepare, coordinate and daily political discussion, stressing that they are "ready for any adventure with uncalculated consequences, and for anyone who thinks of altering the Constitutional Document."

He went further to say he was not afraid after the withdrawal of his bodyguards pointing that the masses protect him.

Al-Faki’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by the crowd chanting slogans such as “The army is the army of Sudan, the army is not the army of al-Burhan. All the streets would be blocked in a moment when they receive orders. Oh you who is ready to defend the country, prepare your coffin.”

The remarks by the different orators and slogans chanted by the crowd recalled the popular mobilization outside the army headquarters when the army seized power and refused to hand it to the revolutionary forces in April 2019.

Also, the Forces for Freedom and Changes (FFC) held a meeting at the headquarters of the Empowerment Removal Committee to discuss the recent developments and determine the way forward.

In their remakes at the opening session attended by the media, the FFC leaders reaffirmed their support to the democratic transition and called to adhere to the Constitutional Document, preserving the country’s security, and implementing the security reforms.

They expressed their support for the Empowerment Removal Committee and hope that they would not need to stage a new uprising after the December revolution.

Al-Buran committed to democratic transition

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Sunday renewed his keenness on the country’s unity and the consensus of political forces, stressing that this unity is the only way to safeguard the country.

Speaking before the army senior officers, al-Burhan stressed that the armed forces are keen to complete the transitional process leading to building a state of freedom, peace and justice.

He emphasized that the army should stay far from political polarization.

"what is rumoured about the intention of the armed forces to carry out a coup is pure fabrication," he further said.

He repeated that the armed forces were the ones who thwarted the recent coup attempt.

Hamdok calls for patriotism

The Prime Minister who leads the transitional government sought to contain the crisis and held a lengthy meeting with the Chairman of the Sovereign Council al-Burhan, but the outcome of the meetings was not disclosed.

After the meeting, he stated that the current conflict is not between military and civilians, but between those who believe in the democratic civil transformation, and who seek to obstruct it.

He added that the unity of the revolutionary forces is the guarantee to immunize the transition from all the threats it faces.

"I call on all parties to strictly adhere to the Constitutional Document, to stay away from unilateral positions, to bear their full responsibility, and to be armed with a high patriotic spirit that advances the interests of our country and our people over everything else," he added.


Sudanese Officials Say Oil Flow Through Port Sudan Resumed

Some tribal protesters block the Khartoum Port Sudan road on 17 September 2021 (ST photo)September 27, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council has acknowledged the resumption in oil flow to Port Sudan, days after protests in eastern Sudan disrupted production in its northern oil fields.

The move, SUNA reported, followed a meeting between the government delegation led by Lt. Gen, Shamseddeen Kabbashi, the Red Sea Security Committee and the Higher Council for Beja chieftains headed by Mohammed Al-Amin Terk.

The meeting agreed on the safe passage of oil from South Sudan to Sudan through Bashair.

During the meeting, the government delegation presented a number of proposals to solve the East Sudan issue, including reopening ports and national roads as well as holding a comprehensive conference for the people of Eastern Sudan.

Lt. Gen Kabbashi, who chaired the meeting, announced the security of the civil movement of the Supreme Council of Beja Higher Council until a final agreement is reached on the pending issues.

He also received, at the conclusion of the meeting, a memorandum containing demands of the people of eastern Sudan which the head of the Supreme Council of Beja chiefdoms handed to him.

On Sunday, Kabashi and the accompanying government delegation also witnessed the end of the disruption of oil flow at the Bashayer terminal and the resumption of South Sudan’s oil exports.

The head of the government delegation also addressed the Beja youth who were closing the Bashayer port praising the peaceful behaviour during the protests and their cooperation with the state government by allowing the entry of basic commodities through ports and airports.

Last week, a tribal group rejecting the Juba Peace Agreement in eastern Sudan closed the roads leading to the maritime ports on the Red Sea. On Sunday the Hadandaw group closed the Bashayer crude oil export terminal, located 25 km south of Port Sudan.


Two Sudanese Armed Groups Form New FFC Faction

JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim congratulates Minni Minnawi after his election as new SRF leader on 13 October 2017 (ST Photo)September 27, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - A prominent member in the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) confirmed the formation of a separate faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) they lead together with the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM).

Political and civil society forces in addition to several armed groups signatory of the Juba Peace Agreement agreed on 8 September to reunite the FFC in response to an initiative by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

JEM refused to sign the new charter and called to amend it. The group said that decisions be taken by consensus, not the majority and the representation of the forces should be determined according to their weight.

Suleiman Sandal JEM Political Secretary told the Sudan Tribune they launched this new alliance because "some small groups" hijacked the ruling coalition to implement their agenda.

"We have no other choice but to establish a broad and comprehensive national alternative and present our platform to the Sudanese people," he said.

During the peace process in Juba, the SLM-MM split from the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) accusing "small groups" including JEM of controlling the decision making in the alliance of the armed group.

After the signing of the peace agreement, JEM leadership was criticized for its "pro-Islamists" positions. Also, JEM leaders criticized the Empowerment Removal Committee and called to dissolve it.

Besides JEM and SLM-MM, The FFC (2) includes an SPLM-N faction led by Khamis Jalab, Mohamed Ali Quraishi, head of the Third Front, Tamazuj and al-Amin Daoud, (ex) head of the Popular Front for Liberation and Justice. as well as other groups.

The new alliance says Ibrahim al-Amin a leading figure in the National Umma Party and Mohamed Ismat head of a Unionist group joined them. However, the two politicians issued statements dismissing the claim.

"We have a national, moral and political responsibility to spare the country any dangers or political crisis," said Sandal.

The presence of two signatory groups outside the ruling coalition would not affect the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement but would create strained relations between them and the main FFC groups, say observers.

Minnawi calls to reunite FFC

On Monday, Minnawi discussed with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok the political situation after the failed coup attempt and verbal war between the civilian and military components.

In a statement released after the meeting, the cabinet said Minnawi condemned the attempt and called for the unity of the FFC groups to prevent similar adventures in the future.

"The ongoing crisis is not between FFC and the military component, but the crisis of FFC itself," added Minnawi who called to reform the coalition according to the statement.


Climate Activist Nakate Seeks Immediate Action in Glasgow


Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, right, speaks at the start of a three-day Youth for Climate summit in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Sitting at left is Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate said Wednesday that youth delegates meeting in Milan want to see immediate action from leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland — not cheap, last-ditch grasps at supporting polluting fuels before getting down to business.

Nakate is among 400 activists invited to Italy’s financial capital for a three-day Youth4Climate meeting that will draft a document for the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, which opens on Oct. 31.

“If leaders and governments are going to talk about net zeroes or cutting emissions, halving emissions by 2030 or 2040 or 2050, that means it has to start now,″ Nakate told The Associated Press.

”It doesn’t mean, if we are going to do it by 2030, between now and 2030 let’s open a coal power plant, you know, let’s frack some gas, or let us construct an oil pipeline. That is not the real climate action that we want,″ she said. “”If you are to go net zero by 2030, it has to start now.″

Although the activists have traveled to Milan from 180 countries, Nakate said many have the feeling that their suggestions for the closing document that will be published Thursday are not welcome. She said the dynamic was “concerning.”

“It really feels like everything has been decided for us,″ Nakate, a 24-year-old with a degree in business administration. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg similarly accused the organizers on Tuesday of bringing in “cherry-picked” delegates and pretending to listen.

But she said young people were speaking up, and had created their own working group on fossil fuels.

“Hopefully it’s something they can accept,″ she said.

Nakate gave an emotional opening speech to the gathering on Tuesday, calling out leaders for failing to meet financial pledges and describing the devastating impact of climate change at home in Uganda. While she said she was overwhelmed by the support she has received after her speech, she rejected the media’s tendency to dub leaders of the movement.

“It’s how people portray the climate movement,″ Nakate said. “It is not just one face or two faces. It’s communities. It is people who are organizing in different countries. I think that is the true face of the climate movement. The people who are standing up for the planet and a better future.”

In 2020, Nakate was cropped out of an Associated Press photo at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The AP apologized and acknowledged mistakes in how it initially responded.

Pope Francis on Wednesday praised young environmental activists for challenging global leaders to make good on promises to curb emissions and insisted that political leaders make wise decisions to promote “a culture of responsible sharing.”

Francis thanked the activists for their “dreams and good projects” and encouraged them to form an educational alliance to help “rebuild the fabric” of humanity through care for the planet.

“This vision is capable of challenging the adult world, for it reveals that you are prepared not only for action, but also for patient listening, constructive dialogue and mutual understanding,” he said.

Francis has made care for “our common home” of the Earth a hallmark of his papacy and devoted an entire encyclical to the issue in 2015. The Scottish bishops conference has said it expects Francis to attend the Glasgow climate summit, though the Vatican hasn’t yet confirmed his presence.

“It is time to take wise decisions so that we can make use of the many experiences gained in recent years, in order to make possible a culture of care, a culture of responsible sharing,” Francis said in the message.


Follow all AP stories on climate change at

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Reply Message to Lao President

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, sent a reply message to Thongloun Sisoulith, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and president of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, on September 22.

He in the message expressed deep thanks to the general secretary for sending warm felicitations on the occasion of the 73rd birthday of the DPRK and extending encouragement and support to the WPK and the Korean people in their struggle for building a powerful socialist country.

The message said he was pleased over the fact that the good relations of friendship and cooperation between the two parties and two countries established in accomplishing the common cause of socialism have invariably developed in conformity with the noble intention and desire of the preceding leaders.

It sincerely wished the general secretary greater success in his responsible work, expressing belief that the LPRP and the Lao people would make new progress in the struggle for building a prosperous socialist state.



Reply Message to Cuban President

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, sent a reply message to Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the Republic of Cuba, on September 22.

He in the message expressed deep thanks to the first secretary for sending his heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of the 73rd founding anniversary of the DPRK.

The message expressed the belief that under the energetic guidance of the first secretary, the fraternal Cuban party and people would reliably defend the valuable achievements of the revolution, braving all sorts of challenges and difficulties.

Being convinced that the close relations of friendship and cooperation between the two parties and two countries would steadily develop, it sincerely wished the first secretary greater successes in his responsible work for guiding the party and the state.



Reply Message to Xi Jinping

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, sent a reply message to Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and president of the People's Republic of China, on September 22.

In the message, he expressed heartfelt thanks on behalf of the WPK, the DPRK government and all the Korean people and on his own behalf to General Secretary Xi Jinping for having extended warm congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the 73rd birthday of the DPRK.

The message said that the positive support and encouragement by him and by the Chinese party, government and people are a great strength and courage to the WPK and the DPRK government and people dynamically advancing to implement the decisions of the 8th WPK Congress.

It said that he was very pleased to see the comradely unity and cooperation between the DPRK and China steadily growing strong in the joint struggle to defend and glorify socialism while smashing the vicious challenges and obstruction by the hostile forces.

It expressed the belief that the traditional DPRK-China friendship would further develop day by day and fully demonstrate its invincible vitality thanks to the joint efforts of the two parties and the two countries.

It sincerely wished the fraternal Chinese people fresh and greater success in the historic struggle to comprehensively build a modern socialist country under the energetic leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

It also heartily wished the general secretary good health and happiness.



Newly-Developed Hypersonic Missile Test-fired

The Academy of Defence Science of the DPRK test-fired a newly-developed hypersonic missile Hwasong-8 in Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Jagang Province on the morning of September 28.

Pak Jong Chon, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, oversaw the test-launch with leading officials in the defence science sector.

The development of the hypersonic missile, one of 5 top-priority tasks facing the strategic weapon sector under the five-year plan for the development of defence science and weapon system set forth at the 8th Congress of the WPK, has been pushed forward according to a sequential, scientific and reliable development process.

The development of this weapon system which has been regarded as a top priority work under the special care of the Party Central Committee is of great strategic significance in markedly boosting the independent power of ultra-modern defence science and technology of the country and increasing the nation's capabilities for self-defence in every way.

In the first test-launch, the defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile in the active section and its technical specifications including the guiding manoeuvrability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead.

They also ascertained the stability of the engine as well as of missile fuel ampoule that has been introduced for the first time.

The test results proved that all the technical specifications met the design requirements.

Pak Jong Chon mentioned the strategic importance of the development of the hypersonic missile and its deployment for action, and the military significance of turning all missile fuel systems into ampoules.

He stressed the need for all the defence science research teams and workers in the munitions industry to rise up in higher spirit to implement the decisions of the 8th Party Congress, true to the WPK's policy of prioritizing defence science and technology, and thus make greater successes in the work to increase the country's defence capabilities thousand-fold.


Japan's Moves for Weaponizing Outer Space

The Defence Ministry of Japan has recently decided to organize the "second space operation unit" in a base of the Air "Self-Defence Force" by 2022 under the pretext of monitoring the obstructive moves against its satellites.

In May last year, Japan formed a "space operation unit" with a mission to prevent its satellites from colliding with space debris and other objects.

Now it is going to organize another space operation unit to track the electric waves jamming the communications between its satellites and the ground stations and study their features.

This fact shows that Japan has become ever-more undisguised in its sinister moves to use outer space for military purposes.

Japan has reached a dangerous phase in its moves for turning itself into a military power, as evidenced by its desperate efforts involving even outer space, to say nothing of sky, ground and sea.

After the publication of the Diet decision that "confines the use of outer space to the one for peaceful purposes" in 1969, it adopted "the basic law on space" permitting the use of outer space for military purposes in 2008 by slyly changing the constitutional interpretation of the decision.

Japan, which officially declared outer space as a new defence space, has emerged as a force capable of carrying out a space war by possessing a perfect information-collecting satellite system, missile technology and missile defence system.

What should not be overlooked is that the Japanese warmongers do not hide the fact that their capability for conducting a space war is aimed at realizing their wild ambition for reinvasion.

The Japanese authorities claimed that the "right of collective self-defence" can be exercised even in space, the earlier neutralization of the enemy's base ensures a war victory and the means for doing so are the electromagnetic wave and satellite, thus revealing that their moves for outer space weaponization are to subdue the countries around the Japanese archipelago and dominate the world.

Japan, a criminal state which inflicted untold damage upon humanity in the past century, desperately seeks a chance of revenge for its defeat, far from admitting its past crimes and making reparations for it. This clearly shows the danger of the moves of the descendants of Samurais for weaponizing outer space and turning itself into a military giant.

All the facts prove that Japan's undisguised moves for building a military giant being extended even to outer space are, indeed, dangerous ones destroying regional peace and security.

Today, the international community is vigilant against the Japanese reactionaries' reckless moves for realizing their ambition for reinvasion.

Those who fail to remember the past have no future and those who repeat past crimes deserve severer punishment.

Japan should not act rashly, bearing in mind that its moves for a military giant will precipitate its ruin.



First-day Sitting of 5th Session of 14th SPA of DPRK Held

The first-day sitting of the 5th Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on September 28.

Present there were the deputies to the SPA.

Attending it as observers were officials of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, the SPA Standing Committee, the Cabinet, armed forces organs, ministries and national agencies and chief secretaries of the city and county committees of the WPK, chairpersons of the city and county people's committees and officials of province-level institutions.

The platform was taken by Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, first vice-president of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and chairman of the Standing Committee of the SPA, and Kim Tok Hun, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and premier of the DPRK Cabinet.

Among those on the platform were Ri Il Hwan, O Su Yong, Thae Hyong Chol, Kim Yong Chol, Kwon Yong Jin, Ri Yong Gil, Jong Kyong Thaek, Kim Song Nam, Ho Chol Man, Pak Thae Dok, Kim Hyong Sik, Pak Myong Sun, Ri Chol Man, Jon Hyon Chol, Pak Jong Gun, Yang Sung Ho, Ju Chol Gyu, Ri Son Gwon, Jang Jong Nam, U Sang Chol, Kim Yong Hwan and members of the SAC of the DPRK, vice-chairpersons, secretary general and members of the SPA Standing Committee and a vice-chairperson of the SPA.

Choe Ryong Hae made an opening address.

The session decided on its agenda items:

First, on adopting the law of the DPRK on development of city and county

Second, on adopting the law of the DPRK on provision of education of young people

Third, on amending and supplementing the law of the DPRK on the plan of the national economy

Fourth, on the performance of execution, inspection and supervision over the law of the DPRK on recycling

Fifth, on renaming the Air Koryo Administration of the DPRK the National Aviation Administration of the DPRK

Sixth, an organizational matter

The first-day sitting discussed the draft laws to be newly enacted, amended and supplemented and the performance of execution, inspection and supervision over the law on recycling.

Deputy Ko Kil Son, secretary general of the Standing Committee of the SPA, made a report on the first, second and third agenda items.

He gave an explanation of chapters specific to the draft laws and the draft amendment and supplement of the laws which would contribute to turning all cities and counties into strategic strongholds of a civilized, prosperous and powerful socialist country and areas with their specific characteristics, successfully preparing young people to be dependable successors to the revolutionary cause of Juche with the nationwide and social support, and bolstering the independent, planned and popular nature of the national economy.

The SPA Standing Committee proposed the drafts of the laws of the DPRK on the city and county development and on the provision of education of young people and the draft amendment and supplement of the law of the DPRK on the plan of the national economy for the discussion at the SPA session according to Article 95 of the Socialist Constitution.

The first-day sitting heard speeches following the discussion of the referred draft laws and draft amendment and supplement at study and consultative meeting, and decided to adopt them as the laws of the SPA.

The fourth agenda item was discussed.

Deputy Ko Kil Son made a report to be followed by speeches by deputies Pak Jong Gun, Kim Sung Jin, Jang Kyong Il, Kang Hyong Bong, Kim Chang Nam and Ko Song Dok.

The first-day sitting adopted with unanimous approval the decision of the DPRK SPA "On thoroughly carrying out the law of the DPRK on recycling".

The deputies to the SPA began study and discussion of the draft law on the city and county development, the draft law on the provision of education of young people and the draft amendment and supplement of the law on the national economy plan.


North Korea’s Kim Seeks Better Ties with South, But Slams US


In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a parliament meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to restore stalled communication lines with South Korea in early October to promote peace while shrugging off U.S. offers for dialogue as “cunning ways” to conceal its hostility against the North, state media reported Thursday.

Kim’s statement is an apparent effort to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington as he wants South Korea to help him win relief from crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions and other concessions. Pyongyang this month has offered conditional talks with Seoul alongside its first missile firings in six months and stepped-up criticism of the United States.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency closed meeting on Thursday at the request of the United States, United Kingdom and France on North Korea’s recent tests.

During a speech at his country’s rubber-stamp parliament on Wednesday, Kim said the restoration of cross-border hotlines — which have been largely dormant for more than a year — would realize the Korean people’s wishes for a peace between the two Koreas, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Kim still accused South Korea of being “bent on begging external support and cooperation while clamoring for international cooperation in servitude to the U.S.,” rather than committing to resolving the matters independently between the Koreas.

Kim repeated his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong’s calls for Seoul to abandon “double-dealing attitude” and “hostile viewpoint” over the North’s missile tests and other developments, saying the fate of inter-Korean ties is at a critical juncture. Some experts say North Korea is pressuring South Korea to tone down its criticism of its ballistic missile tests, which are banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions, in a bid to receive an international recognition as a nuclear power.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry responded that it’ll prepare for the restoration of the hotlines that it said is needed to discuss and resolve many pending issues. It said the “stable operation” of the channels is expected because their restoration was directly instructed by Kim Jong Un.

On the United States, Kim Jong Un dismissed repeated U.S. offers to resume talks without preconditions, calling them an attempt to hide America’s “hostile policy” and “military threats” that he said remain unchanged.

The Biden administration “is touting ‘diplomatic engagement’ and ‘dialogue without preconditions’ but it is no more than a petty trick for deceiving the international community and hiding its hostile acts and an extension of the hostile policy pursued by the successive U.S. administrations,” Kim said.

He added: “The U.S. remains utterly unchanged in posing military threats and pursuing hostile policy toward (North Korea) but employs more cunning ways and methods in doing so.”

North Korea has long called U.S.-led economic sanctions on it and regular military drills between Washington and Seoul as proof of U.S. “hostile policies” on them. Kim Jong Un has said he would bolster his nuclear arsenal and not resume nuclear diplomacy with Washington unless such U.S. hostility is withdrawn.

U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed hopes to sit down for talks with North Korea “anywhere and at any time,” but have maintained they will continue sanctions until the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization. The diplomacy has been stalled for 2 ½ years due to disagreements over easing the U.S.-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearization steps.

Prior to the launch Tuesday of what North Korea said was a new hypersonic missile, it also this month launched a newly developed cruise missile and a ballistic missile from a train. Both of those weapons could carry nuclear bombs to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies where a total of 80,000 American troops are stationed.

Kim said in his parliament speech that “a spur has been given to ... developing a powerful new weapon system capable of thoroughly containing the military moves of the hostile forces.” He accused the United States and its “vassal forces” of creating a “’neo-Cold War” and ordered officials to work out “tactical measures” on U.S. relations.

Kim Jong Un maintains a moratorium on testing a longer-range missile capable of reaching the American homeland, an indication he wants to keep alive chances for future diplomacy with the U.S.

After nearly 10 years in power, Kim Jong Un has said North Korea is facing its worst-ever crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S.-led sanctions and natural disasters. In his latest speech, he claimed progress toward the troubled economy but urged stronger efforts to tighten epidemic prevention measures and fulfill other objectives set during a January ruling Workers’ Party congress.

Meanwhile, Kim’s sister was elected as a member of the State Affairs Commission led by her brother during this week’s Supreme People’s Assembly session, KCNA reported. The appointment of Kim Yo Jong, who already is a senior Workers’ Party official who handles Pyongyang’s relations with Seoul, is another sign Kim is solidifying his family’s rule in the face of the difficulties.


Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Some Fear Boosters Will Hurt Drive to Reach the Unvaccinated


FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, Dr. Yomaris Pena, Internal Medicine Physician with Somos Community Care at a COVID-19 extracts the last bit of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine out of a vial so as not to waste it at a vaccination site at the Corsi Houses in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York. The number of COVID-19 vaccinations is falling in the U.S. And some experts worry that the decision to give booster doses could end up hurting efforts to get the unvaccinated to take shots at all. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The spread of COVID-19 vaccination requirements across the U.S. hasn’t had the desired effect so far, with the number of Americans getting their first shots plunging in recent weeks. And some experts worry that the move to dispense boosters could just make matters worse.

The fear is that the rollout of booster shots will lead some people to question the effectiveness of the vaccine in the first place.

“Many of my patients are already saying, ‘If we need a third dose, what was the point?’” said Dr. Jason Goldman, a physician in Coral Springs, Florida.

The average daily count of Americans getting a first dose of vaccine has been falling for six weeks, plummeting more than 50% from about 480,000 in early August to under 230,000 by the middle of last week, according to the most recently available federal data.

An estimated 70 million vaccine-eligible Americans have yet to start vaccinations, despite a summer surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths driven by the delta variant.

This is the case despite a growing number of businesses announcing vaccination requirements for their employees, including Google, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Disney. Also, big cities such as New York and San Francisco are demanding people be vaccinated to eat at restaurants or enter certain other businesses.

Separately, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans on Sept. 9. Employees at businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll will have to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. But the mandates have yet to go into effect; the necessary regulations are still being drawn up.

Allie French, of Omaha, Nebraska, said the move toward booster shots only reinforced her strong belief that vaccinations aren’t necessary, particularly for people who take care of themselves.

“It comes back to a mindset of not needing your hand held through every situation,” said French, founder of a small advocacy group called Nebraskans Against Government Overreach.

Tara Dukart, a 40-year-old rancher from Hazen, North Dakota, and a board member for Health Freedom North Dakota, an organization that has fought mask and vaccine mandates, said: “I think that there is a tremendous amount of hesitancy because why get a third shot if the first two shots didn’t work?”

Scientists have emphasized that the vaccine remains highly effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19, noting that the unvaccinated account for the vast majority of the dead and hospitalized recently. But experts have also seen signs that the vaccine’s protection may be slipping, and they want to get out ahead of the problem.

Experts have long said the key to ending the U.S. epidemic is vaccinating the vast majority of the American public — perhaps as much as 90%. But of the more than 283 million Americans age 12 and older who are eligible for shots, only about 65% — 184 million — are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated, meaning only about 55% of the U.S. public is fully protected.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that health officials have not lost sight of that problem. The booster effort “will not distract us from our most important focus — to get as many people as possible vaccinated with a primary series,” she said.

White House officials said they doubt the need for boosters is a real concern among the vast majority of the unvaccinated, who for a variety of reasons, including misinformation, have continued to resist getting their shots despite nearly a year’s worth of data showing their lifesaving potential.

They argue, too, that as the pool of unvaccinated Americans gradually shrinks, there will be declines in the numbers of new people getting shots. They say the latest numbers should not be read as a sign that mandates aren’t working, noting that most businesses haven’t yet put in place the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test policy.

Indeed, despite the downward vaccination trends seen in CDC data, they say there is evidence employer mandates are already working. White House officials cited a number of success stories, including strong increases in the percentage of vaccinated employees at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, United Airlines and the Defense Department.

Noel Brewer, a University of North Carolina professor of health behavior, said the mandates show promise and there is good reason to be optimistic.

“I think we’re heading into a great season for vaccinations. Everything is lining up in a good way,” said Brewer, who advises the CDC and the World Health Organization on COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC authorized booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for tens of millions of Americans who are 65 and older, have underlying health conditions or work in jobs that put them at high risk. The extra dose would be given six months after the two-shot regimen.

Regulators have yet to take up the question of booster shots for people who got the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

More than 400,000 Americans got boosters at drugstores over the weekend, and 1 million more have signed up for them, according to White House officials.

But some members of an expert panel that advises the CDC worried last week that the booster discussion was a distraction from the more pressing need to get more Americans vaccinated.

“We have a very effective vaccine, and it’s like saying, ‘It’s not working,’” said Dr. Pablo Sanchez of Ohio State University.

At that meeting, a CDC official presented unpublished data from a recent 1,000-person survey that suggested that offering boosters would make 25% of unvaccinated Americans much less likely to get a shot. This week, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll of more than 1,500 adults found that 71% of the unvaccinated say the recent news about boosters is a sign that the vaccines aren’t working.

Some outside experts saw this coming.

Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Wisconsin, said last week that if vaccine-hesitant people “start to get the idea that this is only going to last for six or eight or 10 months,” they may be further soured on the whole idea.

Meanwhile, the pandemic’s summer surge has shown signs of easing. Deaths are still running high at over 2,000 a day on average, but cases and hospitalizations are trending down.

While any ebb in COVID-19′s toll is welcome, it also may undercut health officials’ effort to instill a sense of urgency in the unvaccinated. That could be a difficult task even when cases were exploding.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, director of orthopedic trauma surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the head of a coronavirus task force in Nashville, Tennessee, recalled operating on an elderly man injured in a car wreck over the summer. The man survived those injuries but ended up dying from COVID-19.

Jahangir said he was struck by how the man’s family seemed to absorb the facts about the COVID-19′s dangers only at the very end.

“Only when they were negatively impacted did they seek the truth,” Jahangir said.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington; Grant Schulte in Omaha, Nebraska; and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this story.


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Health Workers Once Saluted as Heroes Now Get Threats


FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, a nurse works on a computer while assisting a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Los Angeles. Across the country, doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are dealing with hostility, threats and violence from patients angry over safety rules designed to keep the virus from spreading. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More than a year after U.S. health care workers on the front lines against COVID-19 were saluted as heroes with nightly clapping from windows and balconies, some are being issued panic buttons in case of assault and ditching their scrubs before going out in public for fear of harassment.

Across the country, doctors and nurses are dealing with hostility, threats and violence from patients angry over safety rules designed to keep the scourge from spreading.

“A year ago, we’re health care heroes and everybody’s clapping for us,” said Dr. Stu Coffman, a Dallas-based emergency room physician. “And now we’re being in some areas harassed and disbelieved and ridiculed for what we’re trying to do, which is just depressing and frustrating.”

Cox Medical Center Branson in Missouri started giving panic buttons to up to 400 nurses and other employees after assaults per year tripled between 2019 and 2020 to 123, a spokeswoman said. One nurse had to get her shoulder X-rayed after an attack.

Hospital spokeswoman Brandei Clifton said the pandemic has driven at least some of the increase.

“So many nurses say, ‘It’s just part of the job,’” Clifton said. “It’s not part of the job.”

Some hospitals have limited the number of public entrances. In Idaho, nurses said they are scared to go to the grocery store unless they have changed out of their scrubs so they aren’t accosted by angry residents.

Doctors and nurses at a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, hospital have been accused of killing patients by grieving family members who don’t believe COVID-19 is real, said hospital spokeswoman Caiti Bobbitt. Others have been the subject of hurtful rumors spread by people angry about the pandemic.

“Our health care workers are almost feeling like Vietnam veterans, scared to go into the community after a shift,” Bobbitt said.

Over Labor Day weekend in Colorado, a passerby threw an unidentified liquid at a nurse working at a mobile vaccine clinic in suburban Denver. Another person in a pickup truck ran over and destroyed signs put up around the clinic’s tent.

About 3 in 10 nurses who took part in a survey this month by an umbrella organization of nurses unions across the U.S. reported an increase in violence where they work stemming from factors including staff shortages and fewer visitor restrictions. That was up from 2 in 10 in March, according to the National Nurses United survey of 5,000 nurses.

Michelle Jones, a nurse at a COVID-19 ICU unit in Wichita, Kansas, said patients are coming in scared, sometimes several from the same family, and often near death. Their relatives are angry, thinking the nurses and doctors are letting them die.

“They cry, they yell, they sit outside our ICU in little groups and pray,” Jones said. “Lots of people think they are going to get miracles and God is not passing those out this year. If you come into my ICU, there is a good chance you are going to die.”

She said the powerful steroids that have shown promise often make patients angrier.

“It is like ’roid rage on people,” she said. “I’ve worked in health care for 26 years. and I’ve seen anything like this. I’ve never seen the public act like this.”

Across the U.S., the COVID-19 crisis has caused people to behave badly toward one another in a multitude of ways.

Several people have been shot to death in disputes over masks in stores and other public places. Shouting matches and scuffles have broken out at school board meetings. A brawl erupted earlier this month at a New York City restaurant over its requirement that customers show proof of vaccination.

Dr. Chris Sampson, an emergency room physician in Columbia, Missouri, said violence has always been a problem in the emergency department, but the situation has gotten worse in recent months. Sampson said he has been pushed up against a wall and seen nurses kicked.

Dr. Ashley Coggins of St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center in Helena, Montana, said she recently asked a patient whether he wanted to be vaccinated.

“He said, ‘F, no,’ and I didn’t ask further because I personally don’t want to get yelled at,” Coggins said. “You know, this is a weird time in our world, and the respect that we used to have for each other, the respect that people used to have for caregivers and physicians and nurses — it’s not always there, and it makes this job way harder.”

Coggins said the patient told her that he “wanted to strangle President Biden” for pushing for vaccinations, prompting her to change the subject. She said security guards are now in charge of enforcing mask rules for hospital visitors so that nurses no longer have to be the ones to tell people to leave.

The hostility is making an already stressful job harder. Many places are suffering severe staffing shortages, in part because nurses have become burned out and quit.

“I think one thing that we have seen and heard from many of our people is that it is just really hard to come to work every day when people treat each other poorly,” said Dr. Kencee Graves, a physician at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City.

“If you have to fight with somebody about wearing a mask, or if you aren’t allowed to visit and we have to argue about that, that is stressful.”


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Associated Press writer Rebecca Boone contributed to this report from Boise, Idaho. Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas.


Iris Samuels contributed to this report from Helena, Montana. Samuels is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

AP-NORC Poll: Virus Fears Linger for Vaccinated Older Adults


In this Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, photo Bronwyn Russell poses for a photo at her home in Des Plaines, Ill. Russell, who has had the COVID-19 vaccine, wears a mask anytime she leaves her Illinois home. “I’m worried. I don’t want to get sick,” says Russell. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

NEW YORK (AP) — Bronwyn Russell wears a mask anytime she leaves her Illinois home, though she wouldn’t dream of going out to eat or to hear a band play, much less setting foot on a plane. In Virginia, Oliver Midgette rarely dons a mask, never lets COVID-19 rouse any worry and happily finds himself in restaurants and among crowds.

She is vaccinated. He is not.

In a sign of the starkly different way Americans view the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinated older adults are far more worried about the virus than the unvaccinated and far likelier to take precautions despite the protection afforded by their shots, according to a new poll out Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

While growing numbers of older unvaccinated people are planning travel, embracing group gatherings and returning to gyms and houses of worship, the vaccinated are hunkering down.

“I’m worried. I don’t want to get sick,” says Russell, a 58-year-old from Des Plaines, Illinois, who is searching for part-time work while collecting disability benefits. “The people who are going about their lives are just in their own little bubbles of selfishness and don’t believe in facts.”

As the virus’ delta variant has fueled new waves of infection, the poll of people age 50 or older found 36% are very or extremely worried that they or a family member will be infected, roughly doubled since June. The increase is fueled by the vaccinated, who are especially likely to be highly worried. Just 25% of vaccinated Americans, but 61% of unvaccinated Americans, say they are not worried.

Health workers once saluted as heroes now get threats

That worry is taking a toll: Those concerned about COVID-19 are less likely to rate their quality of life, mental and emotional health, and social activities and relationships as excellent or very good.

The dichotomy is at once peculiar and pedestrian: Though the unvaccinated stand most at risk of infection, their refusal of the shots shows many are convinced the threat is overblown.

Midgette, a 73-year-old retired electronics salesman in Norfolk, Virginia, sees the government as the culprit in fueling fear, but he’s not buying into it. He says “life is normal” again and the only thing he’s missing out on is going on a cruise with his wife because of vaccination requirements. It won’t convince him.

“I grew up in the old days. I ate dirt. I drank water from a hose. I played outside. I don’t live in a cage right now,” he says.

About two-thirds of people age 50 or older say they rarely or never feel isolated, but about half of those most worried about COVID-19 say they’ve felt that way at least sometimes in the last month.

Kathy Paiva, a 70-year-old retired bartender from Palm Coast, Florida, says she’s feeling the weight of staying home so much.

“My life is more limited than it ever was,” Paiva says. “I’m scared to go anywhere right now. I’d like to go out to eat, too, but I’m not going to put anyone’s life in danger, especially my own.”

Her son died of a heart attack in January. In July, she and her closest confidant, her 67-year-old sister, both fell ill with COVID-19. Paiva, who is vaccinated, survived. Her sister, who wasn’t, did not.

About 1 in 4 older adults, including roughly a third of those who are most worried about COVID-19, say their social lives and relationships worsened in the past year.

The poll found vaccinated older adults are more likely than the unvaccinated to say they often avoid large groups, wear a mask outside their home and avoid nonessential travel. Compared with June, vaccinated people were less likely to say they would travel or visit bars and restaurants in the next few weeks.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, a public health expert and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said unvaccinated people’s fear of the virus is lower because of their “disregard for science.”

“Vaccinated people have generally bought into the scientific realities of risk. They’re reading the reports of new variants or mutations, they’re reading stories about breakthroughs,” he said.

All of that is fueling anxiety for the vaccinated, Redlener said, compounded by a loss of confidence in experts and officials and their shifting guidance, most recently on the issue of booster shots.

Lee Sharp, a 54-year-old information technology consultant from Houston, who was so seriously ill with COVID-19 last year that he made sure his wife knew how to access all his accounts, initially thought he would get vaccinated as soon as shots were available. But as the months went by, the forcefulness with which vaccines have been pushed has made him not want to get one.

“As time has passed, I have less and less and less trust. ‘Masks don’t do anything!’ ‘Masks do something!’ ‘You need two masks!’ ‘No, you need four masks!’ ‘You need disposable masks!’ ‘No, cloth masks are OK!’” he said in exasperation. “What the heck?”

Linda Wells, a 61-year-old retired high school administrator in San Francisco, says that defiance has been discouraging. She got her shots and a booster, but because of an arthritis medication she takes, has been told by her doctors she’s in the “nebulous area of not knowing whether I’m protected.”

She’d like to go to a community pool to swim or hop on a plane to see a play in Los Angeles or to visit nieces in Arizona. She’d like to dine in a restaurant or take a leisurely shopping trip. She doesn’t, for fear of infection.

“I’m dependent on what other people do and, you know, I’ve done everything I could do. I wear a mask. I got the vaccine. And for people to be so selfish to not do this, it’s ridiculous,” she says. “A stubborn point of view keeps them from resolving a health crisis.”


The AP-NORC poll of 1,015 people age 50 or older was conducted Aug. 20-23, using a nationally representative sample drawn from the probability-based Foresight 50+ Panel, developed by NORC at the University of Chicago. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.


Sedensky can be reached at and at Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report.