- - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

United Nations

LONDON — The future of a pricey malaria program meant to provide cheap drugs for poor patients may be in jeopardy after health officials clashed over its effectiveness in two new reports.

In 2010, the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria was started by groups including U.N. agencies and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It was a pilot project to subsidize artemesinin combination drugs, the most effective malaria treatment.

The initiative cost more than $460 million, mostly funded by the Global Fund, UNITAID, and the Canadian and British governments.

It was tested in eight countries: Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Most of the drugs bought were sold in the private sector, where there are few controls on who gets them.

Last week, a report by Oxfam, an international charity, labeled the program a failure and said there was no proof it had saved lives because officials didn’t track who received the drugs.


Unemployment rises to new record

LONDON — Unemployment in the 17-country eurozone hit a record high of 11.6 percent in September, official figures showed Wednesday, a sign the economy is deteriorating as governments struggle to get a grip on their three-year debt crisis.

The rate reported by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, was up from an upwardly revised 11.5 percent in August.

In total, 18.49 million people were out of work in the eurozone in September, up 146,000 on the previous month, the biggest increase in three months.

While the eurozone’s unemployment rate has been rising steadily for the past year as the economy struggled with a financial crisis and government spending cuts, the U.S. has seen its equivalent rate fall to 7.8 percent. The latest U.S. figures are due Friday.

With the eurozone economy fading, most economists think unemployment will keep increasing over the coming months and that the deteriorating economic picture will soon spook investors again after a brief hiatus.


Leader warns against public political clashes

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader warned government officials and politicians Wednesday against turning their disputes into a public discussion, calling it “treason” against the state.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments were a direct jab at embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who publicly lambasted Iran’s judiciary chief last week for rejecting his request to visit Evin prison.

Mr. Ahmadinejad accused the judiciary of “unconstitutional” behavior, claiming that as Iran’s president he did not need permission to visit the prison.

Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani fired back, saying Mr. Ahmadinejad does not understand his constitutional powers.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, said that provoking political differences ahead of presidential elections, scheduled for June 14, is “treason.”


Gunmen kill 20 in northern village

LAGOS — Gunmen suspected to belong to a violent robbery gang raided a remote village in northern Nigeria, killing 20 people in an attack highlighting the growing insecurity in the nation, an official said Wednesday.

The assault happened Tuesday before dawn in Kabaru, a village near other towns in Zamfara state that were attacked recently by the gang, state spokesman Nuhu Anka said.

The gunmen fatally shot most of those they found in the village, then “slaughtered” the local village chief in a brutal machete attack, Mr. Anka said.

Police have begun an investigation into the attack, he said.

The assault appeared to be the work of a violent gang blamed for several mass casualty attacks in recent months.


Tens of thousands flee as storm hits south

CHENNAI — More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes Wednesday as a tropical storm hit southern India from the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Rain lashed the region and strong winds uprooted trees in some places. Weather officials said the storm packed winds of up to 60 mph as it made landfall near Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

A storm surge of up to 5 feet was expected to flood low-lying areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states, the India Meteorological Department said.

It said it expected heavy to very heavy rainfall over parts of the states during the next 24 hours. Fishermen were asked to stay at shore until Thursday.


Official vows to end draft exemptions

JERUSALEM — Israel’s new hawkish bloc will do away with a contentious system of draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men if it forms the next government, Israel’s deputy foreign minister pledged Wednesday.

If the vow is implemented, it would put the recently formed bloc on a potential collision course with its likely religious coalition partners.

The issue of the draft exemptions has become a major source of friction in Israel, and the outgoing government failed to meet a Supreme Court order to abolish the system.

Heading into elections in January, the issue is now caught in legal limbo.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, a member of the secular Yisrael Beitenu Party, said the government failed to find a new formula thus far for the draft because of objections by the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party.

Both Shas and Yisrael Beitenu are key members in the current Israeli government.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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