WHO Doctor Freed in Mali

A World Health Organization doctor abducted in Mali has been freed, authorities told Agence France-Presse on Saturday.

“Diawara Mahamadou, a WHO support doctor with the regional health directorate in Menaka, was released on February 2,” said a health official in the town of Menaka in northern Mali. “He is doing well.”

A regional official said the WHO medic had been freed not far from Gao city, further west. “He told us he was not mistreated,” he said.

It was unclear who had taken the doctor hostage, he said.

Since 2012, Mali has been in the grip of a serious security crisis and violence. Kidnappings of foreigners and Malians is common.

Motives range from ransom demands to acts of reprisal.

The WHO doctor, who has worked for the organization in Menaka since early 2020, providing medical care to often isolated communities at risk of insecurity and violence.

In October 2022, the WHO quoted the surgeon as saying: “A patient is a patient… Our job is to go where people are and need health care.”

After several years in Gao, also in eastern Mali, the doctor asked to be assigned to Menaka, near the border with Niger, where more than 25,500 displaced Malians lived as of last October.

They were located across six sites in precarious conditions and with limited access to health care.

Source: Voice of America

Mother, baby among 12 migrants who died crossing to Italy

Twelve migrants have died in the Central Mediterranean, Italian officials and a rescue charity said, as a debate rages over Rome’s crackdown on NGOs operating in the world’s deadliest crossing.

Italy’s coastguard recovered the bodies of eight migrants — five men and three women, one of whom was pregnant — in a boat late Thursday.

The 42 survivors on board, who were brought to the island of Lampedusa, said the bodies of a baby and a man had been lost at sea, the coastguard said.

Separately, German charity Sea-Eye said its ship Sea-Eye 4 rescued 109 people, including numerous children, in two operations in the central Mediterranean overnight.

They also recovered two bodies.

The deaths come ahead of a European Council summit next week at which Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will push for greater assistance from the bloc on managing boat migrants.

Italy’s geographical position makes it a prime destination for asylum seekers crossing from North Africa to Europe, and Rome has long complained about the number of arrivals.

Meloni was visiting Berlin and Stockholm Friday as she attempted to rally support for EU mechanisms to boost repatriations and readmissions of migrants whose asylum bids fail.

Her right-wing government has also sought to limit the actions of charity vessels that rescue migrants, sparking criticism from the Council of Europe that the policy would risk lives.

Located off the coast of Tunisia, Lampedusa has long been on the frontline of migrant arrivals.

Mayor Filippo Mannino, who took office six months ago, said the bodies of victims were brought to the island almost weekly.

“The situation is becoming truly dramatic. Europe must do something, the government must do something. I’ve lost count of the number of dead,” he said.

Nearly 5,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the start of the year, according to the interior ministry, up from just over 3,000 in the same period last year and 1,000 in 2021.

Charity vessels only rescue around 10 percent of migrants brought to safety in Italy, with most saved by coastguard or navy vessels.

The migrants brought to Lampedusa late Thursday were soaked through and those who perished were believed to have died of cold and hunger, according to Italian media reports, citing translators who spoke to the survivors.

The migrants told translators they had sailed from Sfax in Tunisia in the early hours of Saturday.

The baby lost at sea had been four months old and died on board before its mother, in her grief, put the body in the water, according to ANSA news agency. A man then jumped in to recover it, but drowned, ANSA said, citing


The baby’s mother was believed to be one of the three women who died.

Some 1,377 people died or went missing during the Central Mediterranean crossing last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).


Egypt’s Tourism Revenues Hit Record High In Q1 Of FY 2022/23

Egypt’s tourism revenues rose by 43.5 percent, to a record high of 4.1 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022-2023, which ran from Jul to Sept, last year, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said in a statement.

Egypt’s fiscal year begins at the beginning of Jul and ends at the end of Jun the following year.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt from Jul to Sept last year, rose by 52.2 percent to 3.4 million, while the number of nights tourists spent in the country increased by 47.1 percent to 43.6 million, the statement revealed.

Over the past few years, Egypt’s tourism sector, a main source of national income and hard currency for the country, has been greatly affected by the country’s fight against terrorism, especially after a Russian plane crashed over the Sinai Peninsula in Oct, 2015, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.

With improving security conditions in Egypt, tourism gradually recovered in the following years to bring Egypt a record high of 13 billion dollars in revenues in 2019, when more than 13 million tourists visited the country, before tourist numbers declined again because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has also cast a shadow on Egypt’s tourism, as the two countries were among top sources of tourists to the country.

Abdel Fattah al-Assi, a former assistant minister of tourism and antiquities for hotel facilities control, attributed the revival of Egypt’s tourism industry to the incentives provided for foreign travel agencies, and the country’s improved stability and security, among other factors.

“After the COVID-19 lockdowns, more people will spend their holidays abroad, and Egypt has many advantages for tourists, as it enjoys a nice weather and offers reasonable prices.”

The ongoing development in Egypt, such as better roads, less traffic and the renovation of most tourist destinations, will impress tourists, he noted.