Death is a great leveller: Taliban agree to mass vaccination against polio and a campaign against Covid 19

Women to be giving jabs in a frontline role

The Taliban’s ideological stance against women having an equal role with men has had to take a back seat in the face of a potential major health crisis in the country. For once the extremist leaders are finding out they can’t fight disease without the participation of women.

In what must be a welcome breakthrough following negotiations between the World Health Organisation and the Taliban the leaders have agreed to a country wide vaccination programme against polio and for a new campaign to fight Covid 19 and measles.

Failure to do so would have opened the country -already reeling from the loss of Western and humanitarian aid – to the spread of life threatening diseases which have all but disappeared in more advanced countries. The prospect of widespread deaths from unchecked diseases as well as growing hunger and poverty has focused minds.

The new deal was revealed in an announcement from the World Health Organisation today.

The vaccination campaign, which begins on November 8, will be the first in over three years to reach all children in Afghanistan, including more than 3.3 million children in some parts of the country who have previously remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns.  A second nationwide polio vaccination campaign has also been agreed and will be synchronised with Pakistan’s own polio campaign planned in December.

WHO welcomes programme

“This is an extremely important step in the right direction,” said Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.  “We know that multiple doses of oral polio vaccine offer the best protection, so we are pleased to see that there is another campaign planned before the end of this year.  Sustained access to all children is essential to end polio for good.  This must remain a top priority,” he said.

So far there has been only one case of polio this year under the previous government but with no vaccination programme a resurgence of the disease was likely. Instead now it could be eradicated.

“This is not only a win for Afghanistan but also a win for the region as it opens a real path to achieve wild poliovirus eradication,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.  “The urgency with which the Taliban leadership wants the polio campaign to proceed demonstrates a joint commitment to maintain the health system and restart essential immunizations to avert further outbreaks of preventable diseases,” he said.

The overall health system in Afghanistan remains vulnerable.  To mitigate against the risk of a rise in diseases and deaths, all parties have agreed on the need to immediately start measles and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.  This will be complemented with the support of the polio eradication programme and with outreach activities that will urgently begin to deliver other life-saving vaccinations through the national expanded programme for immunization.

The Taliban leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers and for providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country, which is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of polio vaccination campaigns.

WHO and UNICEF call on authorities and community leaders at all levels to respect and uphold the neutrality of health interventions and ensure unhindered access to children now and for future campaigns.

This is probably the one gleam of light in what has been an extremely bad autumn for the people of Afghanistan and a huge setback for women’s rights. The threat of mass deaths from preventable diseases has obviously alarmed the new regime.

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European Court of Human Rights rules against review of the cause of Yasser Arafat’s death


The European Court of Justice has thrown out an attempt by Yasser Arafat’s widow and daughter to have a case that examined the death of former Palestinian leader who died 17 years ago re-opened again.

As predicted by @NewsEchr the court chaired by a Ukrainian judge decided that his widow’s claIm that there had not been a fair trial in France was ” inadmissible” because it was beyond the power of the court to re-examine the evidence.

Yasser Arafat, who died on 11 November 2004 in France at the Percy Military Hospital where he was being treated following a decline in his state of health at a time when he was in Ramallah, Palestine. On his widow’s request, no post mortem was carried out.

Traces of highly radioactive polonium alleged to be found on Arafat’s belongings

In March 2012 traces of polonium 210, a highly radioactive material, suggesting that Yasser Arafat might have been poisoned, were found on his personal belongings that his widow had recovered after his death. They were entrusted to a journalist from the Al Jazeera television channel, C.S., to be analysed.

On 28 August 2012 the public prosecutor of Nanterre opened a judicial investigation on a charge of premeditated murder

Three investigating judges were appointed and three experts were asked to determine the cause of the decline in Mr Arafat’s health. Their operations took place in the presence of French and Swiss teams, together with a Russian team at the request of the Palestinian Authority.

The French judicial expert’s report concluded that the result of radiological analyses did not prove the existence of exposure to polonium 210. The Swiss report disagreed with the French findings. An additional expert’s report, ordered by the investigating judge, confirmed the findings of the French report.

The dispute began when the applicants wanted to submit another expert report and this was refused by the French judges. This led them to appealing to the European Court of Human Rights because they did not think the trial was fair.

The ECHR said that it couldn’t re-open the case again on a quarrel over the admissibility of evidence, this being primarily a matter for regulation by domestic law. It therefore did not fall within the Court’s remit to substitute its own
assessment of the facts and evidence for that of the domestic courts, its task being to ensure that
the evidence was taken in a manner that guaranteed a fair hearing. The judges ruled the application was “inadmissible” thus ending a long legal fight by his widow and daughter.

Exclusive with @NewsEchr: Murder or death by natural causes? European Court of Human Rights ruling 17 years after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death

Picture of Yasser Arafat by SA’AR YA’ACOV at the time he won the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE in 1994.

Family raise suspicions over his death

As the Middle East is still in turmoil an extraordinary ruling will be made by the European Court of Human Rights concerning events around the death of the Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat nearly 17 years ago.

His family have been suspicious he died from poisoning in 2004 and claim there was not a fair trial looking into this after he died in a French military hospital.

The applicants to the ECHR Suha El Kodwa Arafat and Zahwa El Kodwa Arafat, are French nationals.The case concerns a criminal complaint filed by the applicants, the widow and daughter of Yasser Arafat, who died on 11 November 2004 in France at the Percy Military Hospital where he was being treated, claiming that Mr Arafat had been the victim of premeditated murder.

They claim that the French authorities didn’t give their case a fair trial by refusing to include additional expert evidence.

They wanted an additional expert report on the cause of the decline in Mr Arafat’s health, as they had requested on account of their doubts concerning the origin and traceability of the sample used for that assessment, the methodology applied and the results, which were contradicted by the results obtained by Swiss experts.

They also criticise the refusal to order a fresh expert report on their behalf and to grant their other claims, based on contradictions between the results obtained by the different experts, Swiss and French, from their respective measurements and analyses. In French courts, Arafat’s wife and daughter were unsuccessful with their lawsuits and appeals. In 2017, they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights In French courts, Arafat’s wife and daughter were unsuccessful with their lawsuits and appeals. In 2017, they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

The court decision will be announced on Thursday raising an issue that has literally thought to have gone away and could not come at a worse time for Palestinian and Israeli relations. A ruling in their favour might re-open the issue but ECHR News believe they may lose the appeal.