African Union Current Affairs - 2020

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19 June: World Sickle Cell Day observed

The World Sickle Cell Day is globally observed every year on 19 June, to raise public awareness about the sickle cell disease and its treatment methods. This year is the 40th celebration of World Sickle Cell Day.

About World Sickle Cell Day

Background:

The day was 1st recognized by United Nations General Assembly (63rd session) in 2008 and Sickle Cell Disease International Organization (SCDIO), Republic of Congo and the Republic of Senegal, African Union (AU), the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and WHO (World Health Organisation) backed the observation of day. For the first time the World Sickle Cell day was celebrated on 19 June, 2009.

Significance: It is celebrated to improve public awareness about genetic disease and to improve treatment outcomes of sickle cell disease by early diagnosis.

Celebrations: The day is observed in a way that NGOs, doctors, governments and support groups come together to find strategies to eliminate the sickle cell disease. Government also organise several campaigns for proper treatment and cure of those suffering from disease.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

It is one of the most commonly occurring genetic disease. It is an inherited genetic abnormality of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells) due to which red blood cells (RBCs) causes stuck in small blood vessels and are unable to carry adequate amount of oxygen throughout body.

In normal condition RBCs are flexible and round (thus move easily through blood vessels) and can live up to 120 days before body needs to replace them but in sickle cell anemia, RBCs are sickle shaped, become rigid and sticky and the sickle cells last only 10 to 20 days causing anemia because of red blood cells disorder.

As per UN estimation nearly 5 lakh children are born every year with this condition and half of them die before turning 5 years of age.

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India extends $15 Million assistance to Niger for holding AU summit

India has for the first time extended $15 Million financial support to Niger as a support for organising African Union (AU) summit scheduled to be held in 7-8 July 2019 in Niamey (Capital of Niger). This will be the 1st time that Niger will be hosting an AU summit.

Key Highlights

The assistance in form of grant was symbolically handed over by Rajesh Agarwal, Indian Ambassador to Niger to Lamido Ousseini Bala Goga Salamatou, Niger’s Deputy Foreign Minister, in presence of Minister and Special Advisor to Niger President Mohammed Saidil Moctar at a ceremony held in Niamey.

The support extended by India was in response to a specific request by Niger government.

Significance: India’s grant assistance to Niger for organizing AU Summit will further contribute towards enhancing bilateral ties between two countries. This grant assistance is also reiteration of India’s firm commitment to its developmental partnership with Africa. This is more important at a time when India is competing for influencing the continent with China.

AU Summit: is also expected to launch historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in world in terms of participating countries since formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), outlined in African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 52 out of 55 African Union (AU) nations.

India-Niger

Bilateral relations between India and Niger have expanded significantly since the opening of Indian Resident Diplomatic Mission in Niamey in 2009.

Both countries enjoys close relations and India has extended Lines of Credit to Niger worth $96.54 million, for projects in transport, electrification, solar energy and potable drinking water.

As per Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Niger, India is also establishing Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC) in Niamey under grant assistance. The MGICC will be a landmark for Niger-India friendship and also a symbol of India’s firm commitment towards Africa.

This convention Centre by India in Niger is part of India’s plan to build chain convention centres across 20 African states as signature infrastructure projects which was until now an expertise for China.

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