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IDN-InDepthNews

 

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UN INSIDER

Photo: Nigerian President Buhari | Credit: The News Nigeria

NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – Cancellation of the scheduled appointments of President Muhammadu Buhari and the arrangement of a 10 day trip to England for treatment of an ear infection have raised concerns that a serious health issue is afflicting the recently-elected leader.

Though it would not be the first time a Nigerian president claimed to be receiving treatment abroad but was actually at an advanced stage of a serious illness. In 2010, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was reportedly receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia for a long-standing kidney ailment when in fact he was near death and died quickly upon his return.

Photo: Haidar El Ali.

DAKAR (IDN | GIN) – Illegal timber smuggling is devastating the lush Casamance region of Senegal and could strip it completely within two years, predicts Senegalese environmentalist and former minister Haidar El Ali.

Casamance in southern Senegal contains the country's last remaining forests, an area of 74,000 acres that could be depleted by 2018 as smugglers feed the demand for rosewood furniture in China, said El Ali.

Exporting timber from Senegal is illegal, so traffickers smuggle it to neighbouring Gambia for shipping to China.

Photo: Mandela Statue

RAMALLAH, Palestine (IDN | GIN) – Now that the media circus has moved on, a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela is a curious icon standing impressively tall in the well-to-do city of Ramallah, the economic capital of Palestine.

Weighing two metric tons and rising almost 6 metres towards the sky, the bronze likeness of Mandela stands straight, with his right arm raised and hand in a fist. Created by South African artists Christina Salvodi, Lungisa Khala and Tanya Lee‚ the project was funded by the City of Johannesburg.

The statue took seven months to produce and has been placed on high land for "all the people of Palestine to see," according to Sowetan Live.

Photo: #ThisFlag

HARARE (IDN | GIN) – A “Million Men” march in support of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that drew thousands in support of the aging leader failed to diminish the impact of an opposition rally last month that brought out thousands of citizens concerned with the country’s troubled economy.

Despite his advanced age, Mugabe has vowed to run for another term in office at the next election in 2018 when he will be 94.

At the “Million Men” march, Mrs Mugabe declared that her husband would rule Zimbabwe even from the grave.

The opposition, meanwhile, has been energized by a Twitter campaign called #ThisFlag, or what The Guardian newspaper called “an accidental movement for change”.

Ghana e-Waste

LONDON (IDN | GIN) – Digital dumping ground, world’s largest e-waste dump – whatever you call it, Agbogbloshie, a former wetland and suburb of Ghanaian capital Accra, is one the top ten “worst polluted” places on earth where tonnes of discarded electronics, refrigerators, microwaves and televisions, also known as e-waste, end up decomposing in a massive scrap heap.

"Mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic – these are the four most toxic substances [in the world], and they are found in e-waste residues in very large quantities," Atiemo Sampson, an environmental researcher at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, who has conducted several studies of the Agbogbloshie site, said in an interview with the BBC.

Exposure to these toxins is known to cause a whole range of illnesses from cancers to heart disease and respiratory illnesses.