The Blue Brigade - Stories of creativity and resilience

Youth and COVID-19: Stories of creativity and resilience

This World Youth Skills Day 2021 let’s recognize adolescents and young people who helped fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

5 August 2021

India’s young people are leading the way in the battle against COVID-19 through heroic acts of goodwill and support in their families and communities.

Through some of the harshest times, these young champions have stepped up as researchers, advocates, innovators and communicators on the frontline, promoting health and safety. Their courage and relentless determination to help those around them is a reminder of how we can achieve a healthier, safer and equal world.

As adolescents and young people continue to showcase their adaptability and resilience in this challenging time, it is important for the rest of us to recognize, support and champion their skills development.

Dlamini-Zuma gazettes municipal election date

4 August 2021

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has gazetted the date of 27 October 2021 for the scheduled fifth edition of the local government elections.

Making the announcement on Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma said this was to comply with Constitutional requirements.

Section 159 of the Constitution, read with the Municipal Structures Act, prescribes that the end of a five-year term of local government elections be held within a period of 90 days.

US donates Pfizer vaccine doses to SA

South African Acting Minister of Health, Mmamoloko Kubayi joined by Health Deputy Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla and Chief of Mission at US Embassy in South Africa Mr Todd Haskell as 2.8 Million Pfizer vaccine doses arrive at OR Tambo International Airport donated by the USA government. The next batch will arrive on Tuesday to conclude the 5.6 m doses donation. (Photo credit Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)

2 August 2021

South Africa has received 2.8 million Pfizer vaccine doses from the United States as part of a donation that is set to boost the country’s vaccination rollout campaign.

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi was joined by Deputy Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla and the Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in South Africa, Todd Haskell, in accepting the consignment at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday.

The initiative is part of the collaboration between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), COVAX, and the US government, with the African Union Member States set to receive about 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to enhance coverage across the continent, and vaccinate at least 60% of the African population.

Minister Creecy participates in Ministerial Climate Change Meeting in London

26 July 2021

Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment of South Africa participated in a July Ministerial Climate Change meeting hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 26 President-Designate, Mr. Alok Sharma, on 25 and 26 July 2021 in London, UK.

The July Ministerial brought climate and environment ministers and representatives from more than 50 countries together to lay the groundwork for success ahead of November’s Glasgow COP26 negotiations on climate change. The event marks the first face-to-face ministerial of its kind in more than 18 months. The topics under discussion included the Global Goal on Adaptation and scaling up efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, keeping 1.5°C alive, loss and damage caused by climate change, focus on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and mobilizing climate finance.

The Asian Roundabout: Afghanistan After the West's Withdrawal

26 July 2021

Between 2001 and 2019, two million men and women from abroad served in Afghanistan, and more than $2 trillion was expended, an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation commitment of resources to a poor country, a staggering opportunity cost.

As NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by 11 September in the face of a Taliban surge, this documentary asks two timely and critical questions: why did the international intervenors fail in their mission to bring stability to Afghanistan, and how might peace now occur?

Drawing on the two presenters’ vast experience in government and in making peace, and shot in various locations around Afghanistan during February and June-July 2021, this 30-minute production identifies five critical reasons for the West’s failure to bring about peace:

The West’s best wasn’t good enough. The lives of 3,500 international troops plus an estimated 200,000 Afghans have not been sufficient to turn the tide against a highly motivated Taliban. The West’s political leaders have simply lacked the strategy and patience necessary to execute a longer war.

Biovac to manufacture and distribute Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine doses within Africa

21 July 2021

Cape Town based, specialist biotech company, Biovac, has been appointed to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution within the African Union, making it the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine.

Biovac is set to immediately commence technical transfer activities, which includes on-site development and equipment installation activities. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will commence in 2022. At full operational capacity, the annual COVID-19 vaccine production will exceed 100 million finished doses annually. All doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the African Union. Biovac expects the facility will be brought into the Pfizer-BioNTech supply chain by the end of 2021.

A Philosophy that Empowers from Within

by Mr Dusit Manapan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

21 July 2021

Thailand is a dedicated advocate for global sustainable development. The Kingdom has been promoting its homegrown Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) as an alternative approach to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). First introduced by King Bhumibol Adulyadej after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, SEP has become Thailand’s development concept that is universally applicable.

The philosophy is a culmination of His Majesty’s reflections from decades of extensive tours and conversations with villagers around the country. Even the grounds of Chitralada Villa, his royal palace, were used for experimenting agricultural projects that could be extended to other areas. This royal legacy remains the core of Thailand’s national development efforts to this day.

A gallant, visionary and progressive Traditional Leader leaves a legacy: iNkosi Sipho Mahlangu

by HRH Stella Sigcau

19 July 2021

On 16 July 2021, South Africa woke up to the news of the passing of the Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa and Senior Traditional Leader of Ndzundza Mabusa Traditional Council in Mpumalanga, INkosi Sipho Mahlangu. He was the eldest son of the late iNkosi Senzangakhona James Mahlangu and Ndlunkulu Busi, a grandson of the Ndzundza-Mabhoko King Mabusabesala II, and Queen Johanna.

This loss happens at a time when South Africa is faced with the worst kind of instability since democracy on the one hand and the emergence of a new mutation of covid as well as the rise in the reported cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV), a time where visionary, selfless and dedicated leaders like INkosi Mahlangu who lived to serve the people are needed to contribute in this regard for a better life for all South Africans.

Argentina Celebrates its National Day and Reaffirms its Friendship with South Africa

By María Florencia Segura, Chargé d´Affaires, Embassy of Argentina to South Africa

9 July 2021

The Embassy of Argentina to South Africa celebrated, on the 9th of July, the 205th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Argentina that took place in the city of Tucumán, on July the 9th of 1816. In 1816, we declared our political independence and started our road as a young nation to build our own future.

As it happened in the past, we are facing new challenges. Nowadays, Argentina to-gether with the rest of the world is suffering all the health, economic and social conse-quences of the COVID-19 pandemic. I do believe that what the pandemic has shown us is the recognition of the values of solidarity, the need for multilateralism and the presence of the state to help its people, especially to those who have been affected the most. Argentina and South Africa share with the international community the idea that in this pandemic, no country can survive alone, and to achieve sustainable development for its societies and to fight COVID-19, more than ever, multilateralism is needed as was conveyed by our pres-idents in the last G-20 meetings.

The “No Name Campaign”: a game-changer in ensuring all African children acquire their legal identity

2 July 2021

In June 2020, the African Union and UNICEF launched the No Name Campaign, an initiative aimed at promoting the right for every child in Africa to a legal identity, and therefore to justice. With barely half of the children under 5 years living on the continent registered at birth, thereby denying millions of others the ability to enjoy their human rights, the No Name Campaign calls on Governments and relevant stakeholders to accelerate measures that have proven efficient to provide children with a legal identity.

MeerKAT discovers large gas-rich galaxy group hiding in plain sight
 
(Credit: Shilpa Ranchod/MIGHTEE/HSC project): Optical image of the galaxy group with 3-colour optical images of each member galaxy using data from the Hyper-Suprime Camera on the Subaru telescope. The red outline indicates the extent of the neutral hydrogen gas around each galaxy. The central image, also showing the many thousands of background galaxies, is one degree on each side, large enough to fit four full moons.

6 July 2021

A group of 20 galaxies has been discovered with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope. This large galaxy group is likely the most neutral hydrogen gas-rich group ever discovered, and it is the first time this group has been identified, despite residing in a very well-studied area of the sky.

Most star-forming galaxies are embedded within a cloud of cold neutral hydrogen gas, which acts as the raw fuel from which stars can eventually form. This gas is extremely faint, and can only be detected in radio wavelengths. It is diffuse, and extends beyond the visible part of the galaxy. By observing this hydrogen gas, astronomers are able to understand the evolutionary processes that take place in galaxies.

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