Ghana received the world’s first delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative — the long-awaited start for a program that has thus far fallen short of hopes that it would ensure shots were given quickly to the world’s most vulnerable people. The arrival of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the West African country marks the beginning of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
It is a linchpin of efforts to bring the pandemic to an end and has been hailed as the first time the world has delivered a highly sought-after vaccine to poor countries during an ongoing outbreak. “With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, which delivered the vaccines.
Seventy-nine inmates died in riots at prisons in three cities in Ecuador as a result of fights between rival gangs and an escape attempt, authorities said. Prisons Director Edmundo Moncayo said in a news conference that 800 police offices have been helping to regain control of the facilities. Hundreds of officers from tactical units had been deployed since the clashes broke out late Monday (Feb 22).
Moncayo said that two groups were trying to gain “criminal leadership within the detention centers” and that the clashes were precipitated by a search for weapons carried out Monday by police officers. Photographs and videos on social media show alleged inmates decapitated and dismembered amid pools of blood. Deadly prison riots have happened relatively frequently in recent years in Ecuador, whose prisons were designed for some 27,000 inmates but house about 38,000.
Iran will begin to offer United Nations inspectors “less access” to its nuclear program as part of its pressure campaign on the West, though investigators will still be able to monitor Tehran’s work, the U.N. atomic watchdog’s chief said after an emergency trip to the country. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reached a “technical understanding” with Tehran to continue to allow monitoring of its nuclear program for up to three months. But his remarks to journalists underlined a narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran, which is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who under President Hassan Rouhani helped reach the atomic accord, said the IAEA would be prevented from accessing footage from their cameras at nuclear sites.
A former member of Bashar Assad’s secret police was convicted by a German court of facilitating the torture of prisoners in a landmark ruling that human rights activists hope will set a precedent for other cases in the decade-long Syrian conflict. Eyad Al-Gharib was convicted of accessory to crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz state court to 4 1/2 years in prison. It marked the first time that a court outside Syria ruled in a case alleging Syrian government officials committed crimes against humanity.
German prosecutors invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes to bring the case that involved victims and defendants who were in Germany. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the trial was a step against impunity in the conflict. Germany has backed international efforts to collect prosecutable evidence of crimes in Syria. But Russia and China have used their vetoes to block attempts by the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.