September 10, 2021
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of the weekly report! This week covers the accusations against Nicaragua’s former Vice President Sergio Ramirez, an update on China’s relations with the new Taliban government, and how a fire has revealed systemic problems in Indonesia’s prisons. Enjoy!
The prison break of six Palestinian prisoners from a high-security Israeli prison led to the evacuation of 90 Palestinian prisoners out of the Gilboa facility in order for it to be inspected for other escape tunnels. Among the escapees were Zakariya Zubeidi, former Fatah leader in Jenin, and five Palestinian Islamic jihad members. One of the escapees was held in administrative detention despite not having any charges leveled against him, which is illegal under international law. As part of the effort to recapture the prisoners, Israel has placed 200 additional checkpoints throughout Israel. The city of Jenin has been surrounded by IDF forces, and identification is being regularly checked. At least seven of the relatives of escapees have been arrested by Israeli forces in Jenin. In solidarity with the escapees and imprisoned Palestinians held in Israeli jail, Palestinians held “day of rage” protests. On Friday in Beita, Occupied West Bank, Palestinians protested against the punitive measures Islamic Jihad members are subject to in Israeli jail. One hundred protesters marched through Evyatar, an illegal Israeli settlement, where drones dropped tear gas and IDF soldiers monitored closely. On Friday, there were reported 30 injuries in Beita, and evidence of an ambulance being hit by IDF forces. On Wednesday, 100 people were injured when the IDF fired guns and tear gas to disperse solidarity rallies in cities all over the West Bank. In Ramallah, IDF forces were shot at but sustained no injuries. Reports of cell burnings and prison riots have been made in the last few days as well, leading Israel to send in the Masada Prison unit, known for its severe violent tactics. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad group have threatened violent retaliation if the escapees are harmed.
On Wednesday, September 8, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called, once again, for well-supplied countries to hold off on offering booster shots until at least the end of the year “to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population,” he stated during a news conference in Geneva. Tedros’ moratorium comes at a time when several countries like Denmark, Britain, France, Spain, and Greece have started or are considering administering booster shots to vulnerable groups like the elderly and immunocompromised. However, WHO officials insist that there is unclear scientific justification for boosters, and that, from Tedros: “we do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated.” Tedros added that 80 percent of the 5.5 billion vaccines administered worldwide went to high-income countries. In response to Tedros’ moratorium, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. has donated and shared around 140 million vaccine doses with over 90 countries. “More,” she said, “than all other countries combined.” Tedros’ sentiments appear to be shared by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC) who, prior to the press conference, said “there is no urgent need for the administration of booster doses of vaccines to fully vaccinated individuals in the general population.” Although the ECDPC did acknowledge that additional shots should be considered for people with severely weakened immune systems. Meanwhile, in North Macedonia, a fire at a temporary COVID hospital in North Macedonia has left ten dead. According to a statement by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the fire broke out on Wednesday evening in Tetovo. Health Minister Venko Filipche said on Twitter that “at the moment, ten people are confirmed to have died, but that number could rise.” According to Tetovo deputy fire chief Saso Trajcevski, speaking to local television: “the fire was huge because the hospital is modular, there was plastic.” Al Jazeera noted that North Macedonia has a population of about two million, and “its healthcare services are run down,” with COVID-19 cases on the rise since mid-August. Tetovo, with its population of about 50,000, has one of the country’s highest number of coronavirus cases. In other COVID news, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) declared in its weekly news briefing on Wednesday, 8 September that the rate of COVID-19 infections in the Americas have nearly doubled compared to the same time last year. PAHO Director Carissa Etienne added that only 28 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated due to limited vaccine supplies. Etienne also emphasized the issue of maternal health, stating: “most countries in the region have already reported more cases and deaths among pregnant women this year than in all of 2020″. Meanwhile, in the United States, there has been a 4.9 increase in COVID cases per day, at a seven-day average of more than 153,000 new cases daily.