Africa

Since April 4, 45 hemorrhagic fever cases have been reported, including 25 deaths, the health ministry said Thursday. Fourteen of those cases are confirmed to be Ebola virus disease, 10 are suspected and 21 are probable.The WHO has deployed doses of the experimental vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment Congo. There are more than 5,000 doses of vaccine in Kinshasa, the country's capital, and health officials are expecting another batch of about 4,000 doses, said James Fulker, a spokesman for the international organization Gavi: the Vaccine Alliance."Most of the time, Ebola is contained purely by public health measures. So this is the first time that a vaccine that has been shown to have efficacy is being employed in the control of Ebola. So in that respect it's unique," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, who oversees an extensive research portfolio that includes studies on the Ebola virus.Between 2015 and 2016, the experimental vaccine was given to people in Guinea and Sierra Leone who were in contact with patients who had recently confirmed cases of Ebola, according to a study on that trial published in the journal The Lancet. The estimated vaccine efficacy in that study was 100%.Now, for the vaccine, it's showtime once again — and because the vaccine is experimental, meaning it's still being studied, it is administered with strict protocols hinging on informed consent.

How the vaccine works

The vaccine — called rVSV-ZEBOV — must be kept between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit) and are believed to last two weeks under basic refrigeration. Cold storage in Mbandaka — a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo — is in the process of being set up. The latest case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed Thursday in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka.There are multiple strains of the Ebola virus. For instance, the three species Zaire ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus and Sudan ebolavirus are responsible for the larger Ebola outbreaks in Africa. This vaccine covers those in the Zaire group."It works by inducing in the body a response that can protect against the Ebola virus. It's usually an antibody response, namely a protein that the body induces to be able to protect against Ebola," Fauci said."Right now, there are still vaccine trials that are going on. Originally, the vaccine was shown to have some efficacy when it was used in a ring vaccination in Guinea, but the trials that went on in Sierra Leone and Liberia were merely to prove safety and whether or not it induced an immune response that you might predict would be protective," he said. The vaccine, from the pharmaceutical company Merck, is used in a ring vaccinations strategy: vaccinating the close contacts of Ebola cases and the contacts of those contacts, such as family members; a buffer or "ring" of immune people around those who are sick can keep the disease from spreading. In addition to the rings, Ebola health care workers and front line works are vaccinated, said Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who was part of the research team leading the Ebola vaccine trials.Anyone receiving the vaccine will then be checked three, 14, 21, 42, 63 and 84 days later."The estimated efficacy during the trial was 100%, and it's pretty much that simple. It protects you against illness if you're vaccinated before you're infected," Longini said."There's no effective treatment against Ebola. It has about a 50% death rate for those who become ill, so there's very little we can do except vaccinate, and so the vaccine is very important," he said. "In addition, the vaccine not only protects those who are vaccinated but also those around those who are vaccinated. It affects them indirectly, so it can be quite effective in stopping an outbreak or preventing the outbreak from getting large."

'This particular vaccine … does look hopeful'

The ring vaccination strategy was used against smallpox in the 1970s, until it was officially declared eradicated in 1980."So the strategy's been used before, and it's been used successfully," said Dr. Daniel Lucey, a senior scholar with the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and adjunct professor of medicine-infectious disease at Georgetown Law, who is a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.Regarding the Ebola vaccine, "as I understand from comments from the World Health Organization and Democratic Republic of Congo this week, it will be used not surprisingly in the same way that it was first studied during the West African Ebola outbreak initially in Guinea," said Lucey, who has treated Ebola patients during outbreaks in Sierra Leone and Liberia."This particular vaccine, although it's still experimental, does look hopeful from past experience in Guinea and Sierra Leone, but we don't know for sure," he said. "If in fact it is safe and effective, it really will be a game-changer in terms of being able to more quickly stop future Ebola epidemics."This vaccine isn't the only Ebola vaccine out there. There are multiple Ebola vaccine candidates in development, including the cAd3-EBOZ vaccine, which was found to be well-tolerated and induced an immune response, according to findings presented in February 2016.Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from the disease."It never spreads through the air, thankfully," Lucey said. "So the idea is to vaccinate people who come into contact or are in contact of people who come into contact with people who have Ebola virus infection," he said. "And importantly, this vaccine can never cause Ebola disease, because it contains only one small part of the Ebola virus, so it could never cause the disease itself."West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014. A total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.Last week, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared the current Ebola outbreak, its ninth since the discovery of the virus near the country's Ebola River in 1976."Right now, it is impossible to tell what's going to happen with this. Is it going to be a big outbreak? Is it going to be a medium outbreak or a small outbreak? … We don't know at this point. That's why we're treating it as a very serious situation," Fauci said."I think the important takeaway message is that in the outbreak that took place in western Africa, we were able to be able to develop a vaccine and show that it works," he said. "So right now, this is a good example that you can and should be able to do research that tests the efficacy of products during an outbreak, the way it was done in West Africa."

CNN's Meera Senthilingam, Euan McKirdy and David McKenzie contributed to this report.

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Noura Hussein was imprisoned in Omdurman, Sudan, last year after fatally stabbing her husband, who she says raped her as his relatives held her down. On Wednesday, Sudanese security forces came to the office of Hussein's lead attorney, Adil Mohamed Al-Imam, just hours before he was due to brief the media on the latest developments in the case, activists said. "The National Intelligence Security Services 'NISS' banned the press conference and ordered Noura's defense team to cancel it," Nahid Gabralla, director of SEEMA, a non-governmental organization working with victims and survivors of gender-based violence in the capital, Khartoum, said in a statement.Women's rights activist Amal Habani, coordinator of No Oppression Against Women Initiative Sudan, also confirmed that security forces came to Al-Imam's office Wednesday morning. Both Habani and and Gabralla were in touch with Al-Imam on Wednesday. The Sudanese government has not responded to CNN requests for comment on the lawyer or the underlying case.Activists and local journalists say it's the latest effort to prevent the media from reporting on the case and to intimidate Hussein's defense team. Her case has shone a spotlight on the issues of forced marriage and marital rape in Sudan, where the legal age of marriage is only 10 and marital rape is legal. Her lawyers have until May 25 to appeal.

Activist: Hussein 'is still strong'

Gabralla last saw Hussein two days ago when she visited her at the women's prison in Omdurman. "This is the first time I saw her after the sentence. She was wearing a long dress and shackles," Gabralla told CNN. "It is very hard for her. She was crying, but she is still strong and happy that people are supporting her case." In Omdurman women's prison, a tight-knit sisterhood has formed around Hussein. Activists who have visited her there say that other inmates have rallied around her. A group of activists trying to visit Hussein in prison were turned away on Tuesday, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, Ahmed Elzobier, told CNN."There is a lot of pressure on the government, now that the EU, UN Women, and other agencies have issued a very strong statement," Elzobier said. "But unusually they (Sudanese government) have not issued a response. They're keeping their heads down amid all the exposure."The European Union Delegation issued a statement on Hussein's case on Tuesday underlining their opposition to the death penalty and forced marriage. Amnesty International is petitioning for the Sudanese government to repeal the death penalty against Hussein, and allow her a retrial. The harrowing details of Hussein's case have set social media and WhatsApp ablaze in Sudan. And in recent days the case has captured international attention with the hashtags #JusticeforNoura and #SaveNoura. Thousands of people have shared a change.org petition.Forced to marry at 15, Hussein ran away from home and sought refuge with her aunt for three years. She was tricked into returning by her father, who handed her over to her husband's family.After Hussein refused to consummate the marriage, her husband's relatives held her down while he raped her. "His brother and two cousins tried to reason with her, when she refused she was slapped and ordered into the room. One held her chest and head, the others held her legs," Al-Imam, her lawyer, told CNN last week.A day later her husband tried to rape her again, and she stabbed him to death. When she went to her parents for support, they turned her in to the police.Al-Imam said last week that the case has challenged societal expectations in Sudan that wives should submit to their husbands.But it has also highlighted gaps in Sudan's national law, Elzobier said. "The good thing about this case is it brings up a lot of laws that need to change — specifically rape and child marriage laws."Gabralla agreed: "In my work I've seen other cases like this. The suffering of Sudanese women is happening all the time. But the case of Noura is different. She stood for her rights."

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Noura Hussein was imprisoned in Omdurman, Sudan, in 2017 after fatally stabbing her husband, who she says raped her as his relatives held her down.A judge sentenced her to death last week after her husband's family refused an option to pardon her and rejected financial compensation, requesting that she be executed instead."Applying the death penalty to a young girl who was treated so appallingly would be deeply unjust," a spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement Wednesday."This is an opportunity for the Sudanese authorities to show they do not condone rape in any shape or form, and save the life of a young woman whose existence has already been devastated for reasons largely beyond her control at a very young age."The case has cast international scrutiny on women's rights in Sudan, where the legal age of marriage is 10 and marital rape is legal. Forced to marry at 15, Hussein ran away from home and sought refuge with her aunt for three years. She was tricked into returning by her father, who handed her over to her husband's family.Opinion: In the US and Sudan, women face similar hurdleActivists said Sudanese security forces went to the office of Hussein's lead attorney on Wednesday and prevented him from holding a news conference, in what activists described as an intensifying campaign of intimidation. UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa have called for clemency, along with thousands of people who signed an online petition calling for Hussein not to be executed.Sudanese teen's lawyer facing intimidationThe US State Department said it is closely following the case. But it stopped short of opposing the death penalty. "We echo the statements of many in the international community and within Sudan, condemning early and forced marriage and violence against women and girls. "We have raised this case with the government of Sudan, and note that it is still going through a judicial process; we look forward to an appropriate resolution of her case, consistent with Sudan's international human rights obligations."Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he disagrees with the sentence."The secretary-general opposes the death penalty on principle and is against the death penalty ruling that was handed down in this case," spokesman Farhan Haq told CNN.

CNN's Eliza Mackintosh, Richard Roth, Laura Koran, Radina Gigova and Deepa Agarwal contributed reporting.

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The new case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern DRC, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Thursday.The spread of the virus from rural areas into a city has raised fears it could quickly spread and become harder to control.A total of 44 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 23 deaths, according to the health ministry. Three cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests. Until now, the cases and deaths were reported from the rural Bikoro health zone, nearly 150 km from Mbandaka, allowing authorities to attempt ring-fencing vaccinations in the the affected areas.A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak."This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus."WHO is deploying around 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city and inform local communities on treatment and prevention methods in collaboration with the country's Ministry of Health.The UN agency is also partnering with NGOs, including Médecins Sans Frontières, to ensure health facilities are ready to treat patients in isolation wards."The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.The Department of Health first reported the outbreak, the ninth the country has faced in the last four decades, on May 8. "This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. And we are taking it very seriously," Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa, said Monday when two cases were suspected in Mbandaka and being kept in isolation.The World Health Organization, which earlier this week deployed 4,000 doses of experimental vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment to the DRC to control the outbreak, described the situation as "a concerning development." The Ebola vaccine being provided — called rVSV-ZEBOV — has been shown to be safe in humans and highly effective against the Ebola virus, according to the WHO. A 2016 study found it to be 100% effective in trials in Guinea in coordination with the country's Ministry of Health after the 2014-15 outbreak.The UN agency has been working with the Ministry of Health and international nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières to conduct the ring fence vaccinations across the affected areas — where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.More doses of vaccine are expected to be shipped out, a WHO spokesman said earlier in the week.Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.The first human outbreaks of Ebola occurred in 1976, one in the north of what is now the DRC and in the region which is now South Sudan.Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.

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The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and international nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.Though 4,000 doses have been shipped, more are expected to be sent out, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevik confirmed.The latest outbreak is occurring in the northwest of country, in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.Of the 39 cases of Ebola reported since April 5, two have been confirmed using laboratory tests. A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa."This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. And we are taking it very seriously because it is close to Mbandaka, a city of 1 million people," Fall said, adding that there are two suspected cases in Mbandaka, and the patients are being held in isolation.The Ebola vaccine being provided — called rVSV-ZEBOV — is an experimental vaccine that has been shown to be safe in humans and highly effective against the Ebola virus, according to the WHO. A 2016 study found it to be 100% effective in trials in Guinea in coordination with the country's Ministry of Health after the 2014-15 outbreak.In Congo, vaccines will also be administered to local and international health care workers and front-line workers in both affected areas as well as the regions expected to be at risk should the outbreak continue to spread.Any other persons with potential exposure to Ebola, such as laboratory workers, surveillance and contact teams, will also be vaccinated. Anyone receiving the vaccine will then be checked three, 14, 21, 42, 63 and 84 days later."Because it is an experimental vaccine, there are several steps to observe," Jasarevik said. In addition to an importation license, the WHO needs formal agreement on the research protocols with the government and local ethical review board approval for reasons of liability, and legal and insurance issues associated with use of experimental products, he added.Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit)."This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field. This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most difficult terrains on Earth," Salama said.Ebola Fast FactsThe disease is endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and this is the nation's ninth outbreak since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976."We know what we need to do, but we must do it quickly," Fall said.Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primatessuch as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, either through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood or secretions or contact with materials that are contaminated with these liquids.Personal protective equipment, body bags, boxes for transportation and interagency emergency health kits have been sent to the affected region.Médecins Sans Frontières has set up four five-bed mobile isolation units to increase the hospital bed capacity in Bikoro, which is currently 15 beds. Bikoro hospital has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment, according to UNICEF.West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.

CNN's David McKenzie and Susan Scutti contributed to this report.

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At some point during the celebration, they would have bowed their heads in prayer, asking God to bless Leah on her birthday and to make her dreams come true.But this birthday, her 15th, was different and her family spent the day crying and fervently praying. They don't know where she is. Leah was one of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in February from their school in Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria. All the other kidnapped schoolgirls from Dapchi have been freed — except Leah who her friends say refused to renounce her Christian faith to Boko Haram.

Kidnapping of schoolgirls

Boko Haram has become notorious for kidnapping young men and women during their nine-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria. The terror group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in the country, famously kidnapping nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls four years ago.
More than 100 of the Chibok girls remain in captivity. Thousands of parents whose children have been taken by Boko Haram never see their children again. But the Dapchi kidnapping proved to be an exception. In a highly unusual move, the militants returned the schoolgirls in March to their hometown after negotiations with the Nigerian government.The terrorists reportedly told parents, as they returned the hostages, not to allow their daughters to go back to school. They said, "boko is haram" (loosely translated as Western education is forbidden).

'She refused to convert to Islam'

Rebecca, Leah's mother, recalled how the overjoyed parents celebrated the sudden and unexpected return of their daughters after one month away. Rebecca, 45 said she waited patiently as each parent was reunited with their daughter. It suddenly dawned on her that Leah was not among the group of girls released. "Where is Leah?" she asked anxiously. One of the freed girls told her that Leah had been left behind."She refused to convert to Islam," another told her.That was the moment Rebecca's world came crashing down around her. She collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Even now, her health problems persist.

Visit to Dapchi

Ten days ago, I visited Rebecca in Dapchi. Rebecca says no other journalist had ever come to see her, so she was surprised when I showed up at her doorstep and even more surprised when she learned I had traveled more than 2,000 miles from Senegal to see her.Rebecca Sharibu, the mother of kidnapped Dapchi girl Leah Sharibu. We exchanged pleasantries as I set up my camera. She sat on a low wooden stump. A young woman could be heard in the back pounding yam in a mortar, she had a baby tightly strapped to her back with a colorful cloth. It is obvious from looking at Rebecca that she is still not fully healthy, physically nor mentally. Her eyes were in a daze, surrounded by drooping skin and deeply-etched lines. Her breaths came in haggard waves. She twisted the corners of her mouth downwards in a permanent frown. Slowly, she began to speak. "They said she should turn to Muslim before she enter motor and then she said she would never do that," she told me, looking down at one of Leah's photos. 'We've been living in anguish,' parents of missing Dapchi schoolgirls sayShe describes Leah as hardworking and quiet, a girl who enjoyed going to church. She sang in the choir. The local pastor, Daniel Auta, said Leah had a beautiful voice, soft and melodic. "When my daughter comes back, I will not allow her to go to that school again," Rebecca said.The girls high school in Dapchi is not far from Rebecca's home. Outside the campus, soldiers are posted at the main gate and members of a volunteer vigilante force posted at the other. On the day the abduction happened, there was no security at the gate. The school recently opened again but none of the abducted Dapchi girls have resumed their education, although 20 of them were given scholarships to a neighboring private school in partnership with UNICEF.

Broken windows

The Dapchi school was established nearly 40 years ago. The classrooms are in poor shape, with gaping holes in the tiled floors and broken windows everywhere. There's not much running water and the dorms where the female students live don't even have beds.It is hard to comprehend that more than 900 young girls were learning in these dire conditions. Rebecca said no official from the Nigerian government has even visited her."Only Christian organizations have been coming to see us. No one from government. We are on our own," she said. When CNN contacted Nigerian presidential aide Femi Adesina about her comments, he referred CNN to the Yobe State governor office. The state office in turn referred us to speak with the federal government about the family's concerns when they were contacted by CNN. In April, the Nigerian government said a disagreement between members of Boko Haram had caused a breakdown in negotiation talks for the release of remaining schoolgirls in the group's captivity.At the far end of the bungalow is Leah's bedroom. The empty room is a painful reminder and casts a dark shadow as the family walk past it daily for the past 85 days. Leah's brother, Nathaniel junior, came to sit beside his mother. Together, they sat in silence, wondering if they would ever see Leah again.

This story has been updated to clarify that Sharibu has been held by Boko Haram for 85 days not 84 as earlier reported.

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Noura Hussein was imprisoned in Omdurman, Sudan, last year after fatally stabbing her husband, who she says raped her as his relatives held her down. On Wednesday, Sudanese security forces came to the office of Hussein's lead attorney, Adil Mohamed Al-Imam, just hours before he was due to brief the media on the latest developments in the case, activists said. "The National Intelligence Security Services 'NISS' banned the press conference and ordered Noura's defense team to cancel it," Nahid Gabralla, director of SEEMA, a non-governmental organization working with victims and survivors of gender-based violence in the capital, Khartoum, said in a statement.Women's rights activist Amal Habani, coordinator of No Oppression Against Women Initiative Sudan, also confirmed that security forces came to Al-Imam's office Wednesday morning. Both Habani and and Gabralla were in touch with Al-Imam on Wednesday. The Sudanese government has not responded to CNN requests for comment on the lawyer or the underlying case.Activists and local journalists say it's the latest effort to prevent the media from reporting on the case and to intimidate Hussein's defense team. Her case has shone a spotlight on the issues of forced marriage and marital rape in Sudan, where the legal age of marriage is only 10 and marital rape is legal. Her lawyers have until May 25 to appeal.

Activist: Hussein 'is still strong'

Gabralla last saw Hussein two days ago when she visited her at the women's prison in Omdurman. "This is the first time I saw her after the sentence. She was wearing a long dress and shackles," Gabralla told CNN. "It is very hard for her. She was crying, but she is still strong and happy that people are supporting her case." In Omdurman women's prison, a tight-knit sisterhood has formed around Hussein. Activists who have visited her there say that other inmates have rallied around her. A group of activists trying to visit Hussein in prison were turned away on Tuesday, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, Ahmed Elzobier, told CNN."There is a lot of pressure on the government, now that the EU, UN Women, and other agencies have issued a very strong statement," Elzobier said. "But unusually they (Sudanese government) have not issued a response. They're keeping their heads down amid all the exposure."The European Union Delegation issued a statement on Hussein's case on Tuesday underlining their opposition to the death penalty and forced marriage. Amnesty International is petitioning for the Sudanese government to repeal the death penalty against Hussein, and allow her a retrial. The harrowing details of Hussein's case have set social media and WhatsApp ablaze in Sudan. And in recent days the case has captured international attention with the hashtags #JusticeforNoura and #SaveNoura. Thousands of people have shared a change.org petition.Forced to marry at 15, Hussein ran away from home and sought refuge with her aunt for three years. She was tricked into returning by her father, who handed her over to her husband's family.After Hussein refused to consummate the marriage, her husband's relatives held her down while he raped her. "His brother and two cousins tried to reason with her, when she refused she was slapped and ordered into the room. One held her chest and head, the others held her legs," Al-Imam, her lawyer, told CNN last week.A day later her husband tried to rape her again, and she stabbed him to death. When she went to her parents for support, they turned her in to the police.Al-Imam said last week that the case has challenged societal expectations in Sudan that wives should submit to their husbands.But it has also highlighted gaps in Sudan's national law, Elzobier said. "The good thing about this case is it brings up a lot of laws that need to change — specifically rape and child marriage laws."Gabralla agreed: "In my work I've seen other cases like this. The suffering of Sudanese women is happening all the time. But the case of Noura is different. She stood for her rights."

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Amal Fathy, an activist focusing on democratization in Egypt, was arrested alongside her husband — Mohamed Lotfy, director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) — early Friday, Amnesty International said.Police raided the couple's home in the Cairo suburb of Maadi at 2.30 a.m. Friday (8.30 p.m. ET Thursday) and took them and their 3-year-old child to the police station, Amnesty said in a statement.Lotfy and the child were released after three hours but Fathy was kept in detention, with police saying a prosecutor needed to examine her case, Amnesty said.A lawyer from the ECRF said a prosecutor later ordered her detained for 15 days on "on charges of incitement to overthrow the ruling system, publishing lies and misusing social media," the Reuters news agency reported.

Criticism of government

"On Wednesday, Amal had posted a video on her Facebook page in which she spoke about the prevalence of sexual harassment in Egypt, criticizing the government's failure to protect women. She also criticized the government for deteriorating human rights, socioeconomic conditions and public services," Amnesty said.Egyptian authorities detained Fathy, 33, for damaging the government's reputation by posting the video on social media, according to the state-run Ahram news agency.Reuters quoted an Egyptian security source, who said "she is accused and wanted for arrest in relation to complaints accusing her of insulting the Egyptian state, by publishing a posting that contained swearing and defamation against Egypt."Amnesty said it had examined the video and that it did not contain incitement but that "pro-government and state-owned media outlets" had accused Fathy of insulting Egypt and its institutions and identifying her as an activist in the April 6 movement. The protest group was involved in the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and is now banned in Egypt.

Freedom of expression

"Since yesterday (Thursday), she has received a wave of harassment and threats on social media, including gender-based insults and calls for her arrest," Amnesty said."Amal Fathy criticized the Egyptian government for failing to protect women, and her arrest has shown just how pertinent her concerns are. It is a dark day when the Egyptian authorities are more concerned with silencing a woman who speaks out about sexual harassment than taking steps to address the issue," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's campaigns director for North Africa, said in calling for her release.The group said Lotfy formerly worked as a researcher for Amnesty before heading the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.Amnesty said staff from the ECRF had "frequently been targets of government harassment" and that authorities in 2015 confiscated Lotfy's passport for two years as he tried to fly to Germany.

We're the real target, rights group claims

The ECRF posted what appeared to be the details of Fathy's case on Facebook, saying she was arrested for three reasons: that she posted a video on Facebook and used social media as a tool to "hit the government in the heart;" that she used Facebook to post lies and that she misused social media.In a separate statement posted to Facebook, it said security forces broke into Fathy and Lotfy's house: "They were put under severe pressure, their house was searched, their mobile phones were seized and they were denied the right to communicate with a lawyer or family."The ECRF alleged that it was the actual target of Fathy's arrest."This is the seventh time the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and its management suffer from intimidation and persecution by the hands of an Egyptian security body. Last night however, is considered a precedent in the practices used by the security to hamper the work of human rights organizations, by targeting the executive director's wife who remains in custody," it said.

Italian student

"It is important to mention that ECRF works on documenting cases of particular concern for the security authorities concerning torture in prisons, enforced disappearance, and the fact that ECRF's board director is Giulio Regeni's family legal consultant," the statement said, referencing the Italian student found dead in Cairo in February 2016. Investigations found that he had been tortured before his death."It is shameful that this is how the security authorities choose to deal with ECRF one week before the Italian technical visit to Egypt aiming at inspecting the content of the video cameras in the metro stations," it said.Regeni's death sparked outrage in Italy, with Rome recalling its ambassador to Cairo in April that year after a meeting between Egyptian and Italian investigators reached a deadlock. Italian officials have questioned the various explanations Egypt has offered for Regeni's death and magistrates from the Public Prosecutor's Office in Rome are due to visit Cairo over the case.

Human rights

Censorship watchdog Index on Censorship said Friday's raid targeted "one of the last human rights organizations in Egypt.""It is shocking how the lives of people who are working to make public information about torture in Egyptian prisons and other human rights violations are being threatened," it said in a statement."Obviously the intention of this action, and others, is to stop the incredibly brave members of staff at this organization carrying on with their important work. Index calls on governments around the world to put pressure on Egypt to release Amal Fathy and to shine a spotlight on the Egyptian government's frightening tactics to stop the public knowing what is going on in that country," Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, said.

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At some point during the celebration, they would have bowed their heads in prayer, asking God to bless Leah on her birthday and to make her dreams come true.But this birthday, her 15th, was different and her family spent the day crying and fervently praying. They don't know where she is. Leah was one of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in February from their school in Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria. All the other kidnapped schoolgirls from Dapchi have been freed — except Leah who her friends say refused to renounce her Christian faith to Boko Haram.

Kidnapping of schoolgirls

Boko Haram has become notorious for kidnapping young men and women during their nine-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria. The terror group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in the country, famously kidnapping nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls four years ago.
More than 100 of the Chibok girls remain in captivity. Thousands of parents whose children have been taken by Boko Haram never see their children again. But the Dapchi kidnapping proved to be an exception. In a highly unusual move, the militants returned the schoolgirls in March to their hometown after negotiations with the Nigerian government.The terrorists reportedly told parents, as they returned the hostages, not to allow their daughters to go back to school. They said, "boko is haram" (loosely translated as Western education is forbidden).

'She refused to convert to Islam'

Rebecca, Leah's mother, recalled how the overjoyed parents celebrated the sudden and unexpected return of their daughters after one month away. Rebecca, 45 said she waited patiently as each parent was reunited with their daughter. It suddenly dawned on her that Leah was not among the group of girls released. "Where is Leah?" she asked anxiously. One of the freed girls told her that Leah had been left behind."She refused to convert to Islam," another told her.That was the moment Rebecca's world came crashing down around her. She collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Even now, her health problems persist.

Visit to Dapchi

Ten days ago, I visited Rebecca in Dapchi. No other journalist had ever come to see Rebecca, so she was surprised when I showed up at her doorstep and even more surprised when she learned I had traveled more than 2,000 miles from Senegal to see her.Rebecca Sharibu, the mother of kidnapped Dapchi girl Leah Sharibu. We exchanged pleasantries as I set up my camera. She sat on a low wooden stump. A young woman could be heard in the back pounding yam in a mortar, she had a baby tightly strapped to her back with a colorful cloth. It is obvious from looking at Rebecca that she is still not fully healthy, physically nor mentally.Her eyes were in a daze, surrounded by drooping skin and deeply-etched lines. Her breaths came in haggard waves. She twisted the corners of her mouth downwards in a permanent frown. Slowly, she began to speak. "They said she should turn to Muslim before she enter motor and then she said she would never do that," she told me, looking down at one of Leah's photos. 'We've been living in anguish,' parents of missing Dapchi schoolgirls sayShe describes Leah as hardworking and quiet, a girl who enjoyed going to church. She sang in the choir. The local pastor, Daniel Auta, said Leah had a beautiful voice, soft and melodic. "When my daughter comes back, I will not allow her to go to that school again," Rebecca said.The girls high school in Dapchi is not far from Rebecca's home. Outside the campus, soldiers are posted at the main gate and members of a volunteer vigilante force posted at the other. On the day the abduction happened, there was no security at the gate. The school recently opened again but none of the abducted Dapchi girls have resumed their education, although 20 of them were given scholarships to a neighboring private school in partnership with UNICEF.

Broken windows

The Dapchi school was established nearly 40 years ago. The classrooms are in poor shape, with gaping holes in the tiled floors and broken windows everywhere. There's not much running water and the dorms where the female students live don't even have beds.It is hard to comprehend that more than 900 young girls were learning in these dire conditions. Rebecca said no official from the Nigerian government has even visited her."Only Christian organizations have been coming to see us. No one from government. We are on our own," she said. In April, the Nigerian government said a disagreement between members of Boko Haram had caused a breakdown in negotiation talks for the release of remaining schoolgirls in the group's captivity.At the far end of the bungalow is Leah's bedroom. The empty room is a painful reminder and casts a dark shadow as the family walk past it daily for the past 85 days. Leah's brother, Nathaniel junior, came to sit beside his mother. Together, they sat in silence, wondering if they would ever see Leah again.

This story has been updated to clarify that Sharibu has been held by Boko Haram for 85 days not 84 as earlier reported.

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Africa

The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and international nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.Though 4,000 doses have been shipped, more are expected to be sent out, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevik confirmed.The latest outbreak is occurring in the northwest of country, in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.Of the 39 cases of Ebola reported since April 5, two have been confirmed using laboratory tests. A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa."This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. And we are taking it very seriously because it is close to Mbandaka, a city of 1 million people," Fall said, adding that there are two suspected cases in Mbandaka, and the patients are being held in isolation.The Ebola vaccine being provided — called rVSV-ZEBOV — is an experimental vaccine that has been shown to be safe in humans and highly effective against the Ebola virus, according to the WHO. A 2016 study found it to be 100% effective in trials in Guinea in coordination with the country's Ministry of Health after the 2014-15 outbreak.In Congo, vaccines will also be administered to local and international health care workers and front-line workers in both affected areas as well as the regions expected to be at risk should the outbreak continue to spread.Any other persons with potential exposure to Ebola, such as laboratory workers, surveillance and contact teams, will also be vaccinated. Anyone receiving the vaccine will then be checked three, 14, 21, 42, 63 and 84 days later."Because it is an experimental vaccine, there are several steps to observe," Jasarevik said. In addition to an importation license, the WHO needs formal agreement on the research protocols with the government and local ethical review board approval for reasons of liability, and legal and insurance issues associated with use of experimental products, he added.Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit)."This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field. This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most difficult terrains on Earth," Salama said.Ebola Fast FactsThe disease is endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and this is the nation's ninth outbreak since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976."We know what we need to do, but we must do it quickly," Fall said.Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primatessuch as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, either through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood or secretions or contact with materials that are contaminated with these liquids.Personal protective equipment, body bags, boxes for transportation and interagency emergency health kits have been sent to the affected region.Médecins Sans Frontières has set up four five-bed mobile isolation units to increase the hospital bed capacity in Bikoro, which is currently 15 beds. Bikoro hospital has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment, according to UNICEF.West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.

CNN's David McKenzie and Susan Scutti contributed to this report.

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