Saturday Links: Polio in West Africa, US and Somalia, Niger Junta

The UN and its partners fight polio in West and Central Africa. And the WHO says Nigeria is making significant progress fighting the ailment.

Nigeria has struggled to contain polio since some northern states imposed a year-long vaccine ban in mid-2003. Some state governors and religious leaders in the predominantly Muslim north alleged the vaccines were contaminated by Western powers to spread sterility and HIV/AIDS among Muslims.

But traditional leaders throughout the country pledged in January 2009 to support immunisation campaigns and are pushing parents to have their children vaccinated, the WHO says.

“Traditional and religious leadership has facilitated us reaching more children. The number of cases has collapsed,” [WHO spokesman Rod] Curtis said, noting there was a total of 388 cases last year.

The US backs the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in the buildup for the battle of Mogadishu.

A little stimulus for the Niger Delta?

Christian Science Monitor updates us on recent violence in Darfur.

Without a delicate balance, rainfall causes problems: too little and you get devastating drought, too much and you get flooding and disease.

The junta in Niger releases several detained politicians.

And to end on an uplifting note, here’s the story of Hicham Baraka, a Moroccan who runs a camp for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

“In Muslim culture if someone knocks at your door and asks for bread or water, you give it,” Baraka said.

Baraka’s group provides food, clothes, and blankets to the migrants.

“They always came to this place with some food and they help us,” migrant Fred Ogbeifuu said. “So I use this opportunity to thank them. Mr. Hicham’s organization.”

The group also monitors human rights abuses and lobbies authorities to treat migrants better.

Baraka says because so many Moroccans migrate to Europe, Morocco should set a better example. “If Morocco attacks these migrants, it gives carte blanche for my brother in Spain, my brother in Belgium, for the authorities in Spain or Belgium or France or Italy to attack Moroccan immigrants,” he said.

Feel free to treat this as an open thread for Africa-related news and discussion.

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