Africa's immunization boost and concerns about Trump's immigration order: This week in development news

A yellow fever vaccination drive in Togo. Photo by: Sanofi Pasteur / CC BY-NC-ND

President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees threatened U.S. foreign assistance programs, African heads of state threw their weight behind immunizations, and U.K. researchers said it’s too soon to panic. This week in development news.

President Donald Trump made headlines with an executive order suspending refugee admissions to the United States for 120 days and suspending entry to the U.S. by people traveling from seven countries for 90 days. Refugee advocates immediately condemned the policy as an abdication of moral leadership and a wrongheaded approach to national security. As Devex reported, Trump’s order could also put U.S. foreign assistance programs at risk, since these rely heavily on local staffers who may now be ineligible for the special visas and preferential refugee status they have been granted for their service in the past. In a testy — and abbreviated — phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Wednesday, Trump also called into question whether the U.S. will honor a refugee resettlement agreement struck by President Obama to help resolve Australia’s heavily criticized detention of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. “The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz took a different approach, announcing that his company will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.

The U.K. Department for International Development released its first-ever economic development policy this week, and while the move won’t increase the amount DfID spends on economic development — currently about $2.2 billion — it puts into practice both Prime Minister Theresa May and Development Secretary Priti Patel’s pledge to use U.K. aid to bolster global trade prospects in a post-Brexit world, in part by spending 30 percent of aid through other U.K. government departments.

While the U.S. development community continues to speculate about how the new administration will approach foreign assistance, the U.S. foreign aid leadership picture is slowly coming into view. The U.S. Senate confirmed former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state Wednesday, and the White House announced that the U.S. Agency for International Development’s administrator — whoever that may be — will have a permanent seat on the National Security Council’s deputies committee. This week Devex reported that one of the people rumored to be at the top of Trump’s list for the administrator job — former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Martin J. Silverstein — has long-standing connections to the family of Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner. Devex also reported that the future of the Obama-established Global Development Council is in question. More than half of its members have resigned, Devex discovered.

At the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, heads of state from the continent made some big health announcements. The AU launched the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a long-sought institution based in Addis Ababa that will aid in health systems strengthening and global health security on the continent. AU leaders also announced a new immunization declaration, expressing commitments from heads of state to finance vaccine access so immunization will be available throughout the continent by 2020. The African Union also chose a new chairperson — Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, who beat Amina Mohamed, a Kenyan diplomat, for the role.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says it’s too early to panic, but a new study reveals four cases in which front-line malaria drugs failed to cure patients in the U.K. who had contracted the parasite in Africa. The findings have provoked fears that the prevalence of drug resistance could be growing — though experts were quick to note it is too early to draw any definitive conclusion, except about “the need to be constantly vigilant when treating patients with malaria and larger studies are certainly needed to explore this issue further," as David Lalloo, a dean at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, told the BBC.

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About the author

  • Igoe michael 1

    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.