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NightWatch 20140505

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NightWatch

For the night of 5 May 2014

Pakistan: The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Pakistan's failure to stem the spread of polio has triggered a global health emergency. The WHO is recommending all residents must show proof of vaccination before they can leave the country and should present a polio vaccination certificate.

The WHO's emergency measures also apply to Syria and Cameroon, which, along with Pakistan, pose the greatest risk of exporting the polio virus.

According to Pakistani press, Pakistan is the only country with endemic polio that saw cases rise last year. The number of Pakistanis with polio rose to 93 from 58 in 2012, accounting for more than a fifth of the 417 cases globally in 2013.

A WHO official said the virus has spread recently to Iraq, Israel and Syria, and has been found in sewage in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and greater Cairo. These outbreaks have been traced back to Pakistan, according to Pakistani press. Polio also appeared in China two years ago.

An official of UNICEF said that Pakistanis will face immense difficulties in visiting other countries, especially those that are polio-free.

Comment: The Organization recommends that the emergency measures to prevent polio's export should remain in place for up to 12 months.

There has been a backlash against vaccination in northwestern Pakistan as the result of the CIA's manipulation of a vaccination program to help in the hunt for bin Laden. Chronic instability in the northwest also has hampered public health programs in general. All the most recent cases of polio have been discovered in the northwest.

It is almost astonishing that polio has not been reported in India, considering their proximity.

Violent instability and public health intersect in the outbreak of diseases that attack all parties to a conflict and their civilian populations. Disease is always a conflict multiplier. Most of the countries that were free from polio and now have it again also have chronic internal violence. Others might be considered victims of a globally integrated travel system

Egypt: Presidential candidate and former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has vowed that the ousted Muslim Brotherhood group "will not exist" should he win. In his first interview with Egyptian TV, he also said that two assassination plots against him had been frustrated.

Most analysts expect him to win the presidential election on 26 and 27 May.

Comment: Outside interests that advocate on behalf of the Brotherhood are out of step with the political turn Egypt has taken.

Ukraine: Pro-Russia activists took another town's city hall in the east and continued to resist Ukraine army soldiers. The new capture is the town of Debaltseve, which is midway between Luhansk and Donetsk. It is a railroad town and the location of two power generation plants.

Meanwhile, farther north at Slovyansk, regime units continued to make slow progress against pro-Russia "self-defense forces." A Ukrainian military spokesman later said that four soldiers had been killed and about 30 injured in the fighting. The Kyiv regime claimed that the pro-Russia activists used large caliber weapons and mortars.

Slovyansk authorities said 20 people were killed, including civilians. Odessa was quiet as citizens buried and mourned their dead.

Comment: Although western media described the fighting as fierce, that might refer to a lack of fire discipline. At least some of the casualties were victims of stray bullets, according to Slovyansk activists. Videos posted to the web showed limited firefights and hasty retreats.

The most significant new information is the claim that defenders in Slovyansk used crew-served weapons, specifically mortars.

Nigeria: Update. The Boko Haram leader claimed responsibility for abducting 276 teenage girls from northern Nigeria. "I abducted your girls," the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, said on Monday in a 57-minute video. "By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace."

End of NightWatch for 5 May.

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