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Health officials race to prevent Congo yellow fever disaster

By Tim Cocks DAKAR (Reuters) – It is the stuff of a disaster movie: an outbreak of yellow fever in Congo's capital city, full of unvaccinated people mostly huddled together in slums with too few drains and the kind of sticky, fetid climate that mosquitoes love. Kinshasa's 12 million people – twice as many as there are doses of yellow fever vaccine anywhere in the world – are largely unprotected against this sometimes deadly but easily preventable illness, which has killed at least 353 in Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbor Angola. With three weeks to go before they start a vaccination campaign for 11.6 million people against the hemorrhagic virus in three Congolese provinces, and only 1.3 million doses of the vaccine on their way to Congo, time is not on their side.

World Humanitarian Summit: ‘The way we respond to crisis is itself a crisis’

Governments, aid organizations and U.N. agencies are meeting in Istanbul this week to develop a better response to what has been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, as conflicts and natural disasters have left some 130 million people in need of aid. On Monday, celebrities who work on humanitarian issues set out their concerns and hopes for the two-day U.N. summit: FOREST WHITAKER, U.S. ACTOR AND FILMMAKER “Around the world 250,000 boys and girls are serving as soldiers.

U.N. plans aid for 154,000 besieged Syrians in next five days

The United Nations and partner aid organizations plan to deliver life-saving aid to 154,000 Syrians in besieged areas in the next five days, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Damascus Yacoub El Hillo said in a statement on Sunday. Pending approval from parties to the conflict, the U.N. is ready to deliver aid to about 1.7 million people in hard-to-reach areas in the first quarter of 2016, he said. The U.N. estimates there are almost 500,000 people living under siege, out of a total 4.6 million who are hard to reach with aid, but it hopes that a cessation of hostilities that began on Friday night will bring an end to the 15 sieges.

Syria to South Sudan: aid groups list their top humanitarian concerns for 2016

By Tom Esslemont LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – There's one prediction for 2016 that most aid workers can make with confidence – that the new year will usher in rising humanitarian needs. The United Nations projects that at least 87 million people in dozens of countries will require humanitarian aid next year, and is seeking a record $20.1 billion to meet their needs. In a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 15 of the world's leading aid agencies, we asked them to name their top three humanitarian priorities for 2016.

Ivory Coast launches enrollment for universal healthcare scheme

Ivory Coast launched enrollment for a planned universal healthcare program on Thursday with initial government financing of 20 billion CFA francs ($34.67 million), the scheme’s director said. The West African nation is expecting 4 million people to sign up this year, in a country where officials say less than five percent of the population is covered by health insurance. Low-cost treatment of basic health problems is due to begin in September before expanding next year.