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Africa 54 – August 6, 2020

You are watching Africa 54, your daily news and feature magazine-style program, from the Voice of America. Host Esther Githui-Ewart and a team of correspondents zero in on the big stories making news on the continent and around the world with context and analysis.

Top Stories:

The issues of police brutality and social justice are not unique to one country. As the black lives matter movement has grown in the United States, it has inspired citizens of other countries — including many in Africa to take a hard look at their own policing systems. VOA’s Salem Solomon has this in-depth report.

The death of African American George Floyd in may while in the custody of Minneapolis police is renewing conversations about whether having more women in law enforcement might lower the use of excessive force. “Women in Blue,” a recent documentary by Deidre Fishel showcases de-escalation skills by female police officers at the Minneapolis police department. It also presents challenges for women in a male dominated field.

Lebanon’s president has called a two-week state of emergency and declared a period of mourning after at least one huge explosion rocked the capital, Beirut, killing at least 135 people and wounding five-thousand others. Many remain missing as rescue workers comb through massive piles of rubble. Lebanon’s interior minister says the blast in the city’s port area appears to be have been caused by ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse — but how it happened is still not clear. Among the injured was Beirut reporter Anchal Vohra, whose home was damaged in the explosion. After getting treatment, she filed this report.

South Africa is receiving help in its fight against COVID-19. The country is hosting a team of experts from the World Health Organization. The WHO says the group of 43, specializes in epidemiology and surveillance, prevention and control, and health education — and are supporting South Africa’s COVID-19 response team. The WHO surge team is observing the work of South Africa’s health department before lending special support to jurisdictions impacted the most including; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, and Mpumalanga.

In a separate development, health minister Dr. Zwelini Mkhize says cases in Gauteng, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape are slowing, but it’s too early to determine if the infections have peaked. Elsewhere in Africa, Gambia is imposing a three-week, 10pm to 5am, curfew beginning, after coronavirus cases jumped 60 percent in the last week to nearly 800 with 16 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. A Gambia government spokesman says public gatherings are being banned and markets will have to close by 2pm.

Diamond prices and demand were weak before the corona-virus lock-down, but enforced proximity looks to be kindling romance and feel-good spending in South Africa.

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