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Black nurses fight the twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus



uk nurses racism coronavirus twin pandemics abdelaziz lon orig_00001626

“Let’s use this opportunity to heal the community,” Ada said to protesters when they entered sunny Hyde Park.

Obiakor was there to support his daughter, the main organizer behind the June 20 anti-racism demonstration, but also to defend himself.

“As a black nurse, it is very important for me to get out today because in the system where I work, and in the NHS as a whole, there is racism,” Obiakor explained.

A practice nurse with 12 years experience, Obiakor, from London, said she had long faced discrimination and harassment in the UK public health care system, known as the National Health Service (NHS).

And he is not alone.

CNN interviewed a dozen black nurses in the British health sector. From students to medical workers with decades of experience, they work in different roles and settings – hospitals, nursing homes and clinics – across the country.

They all say that they have experienced racism at work – and are getting worse amid a coronavirus outbreak.

They told CNN that the pandemic pressure had exacerbated existing racial inequality, leaving black nurses vulnerable to harassment and discrimination.

They say they have been pressured to treat Covid-19 patients without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), to work in high-risk areas with greater caseload, and to be left too afraid to speak out, for fear of retaliation.

Their testimony highlights what they say is a systemic pattern of racism in one of the world’s most respected public health care system.

Responding to 12 testimonies about racism, NHS England said, “Covid-19 has highlighted health inequality in our country.”

The statement added, “Every NHS organization is expected to prioritize and carry out risk assessments for their BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] staff and other vulnerable groups as a matter of urgency, but besides doing everything possible to eliminate discrimination, and ensure that appropriate processes are available to deal with them quickly and effectively. “The organization did not respond to accusations of PPE shortages.

“Here we are again!”

Obiakor said he did not trust the system to hear black nurses and correct discrimination.

“What it means every day is: I am not treated fairly,” he told CNN. “I have no voice. Nobody is ready to listen to me. I might scream, they know I’m screaming, but they aren’t ready to take action. That’s what a black nurse feels.”

When severely ill coronavirus patients began to flood hospitals in Britain when the pandemic occurred in mid-March, Obiakor said he knew who would bear the heaviest burden.

This nurse used to read bedtime stories for her children. Now he writes essays in case he dies

“We are used to the Black people on the front lines, so when we enter, we say: ‘Here we are again!'” He said with an ironic laugh. “We are not surprised.”

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Carol Cooper, who is the manager of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights at the NHS Trust in the United Kingdom, has attended a listening session on race and equality after a public health crisis triggered by coronavirus. He said it was inevitable that black nurses would find themselves at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19.

“This is an indication of a greater trend,” Cooper said, when CNN shared its findings with him. “This is not random noise. This is an experience echoed throughout the country.

“We are faceless people behind us, but our talent has never taken us to the upper echelons. It needs to be stopped,” he said. “There must be very honest calculations at the NHS.”

One in five of all nurses in the UK come from ethnic Black or minority backgrounds, but about 95% of executive directors are white, according to a 2019 report from the NHS England.

For 42-year-old community nurse Monifa Thompson, the calculations cannot come soon.

Thompson has spent a lot of pandemics treating patients with suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases in their homes, sometimes without getting the proper PPE from their employers.

“I find racism at the forefront of everything,” he said. “We are pressured to see a large number of patients – I can see 21 in a day.

“You feel there is nothing you can change in this system,” he explained. “If you say something, you are labeled as ‘lazy nurse.'”

Systemic racism in sharper focus

Neomi Bennett, an agency nurse in London, said she paid the price to speak – but stressed that fear she could lose her life because the coronavirus encouraged her to file complaints about PPE.

Neomi Bennet said that CNN racism was so pervasive in the NHS that black nurses had developed codes to warn one another from wards where they were not welcomed by staff.

“I’m so paranoid to death,” Bennett told CNN. “Some mornings I will wake up shocked in my sleep trying to find something to smell, because of loss of smell [is] one of the symptoms. I want people to know that I am not protected. “

Bennett wrote a letter to his supervisor at a particular hospital, explaining that he had brought his N95 respirator mask to shift, only to be prohibited from using it. Instead, he said he was given a basic mask, gloves and apron to wear when treating Covid-19 patients.

“I feel uncomfortable and disturbed. I don’t want to continue my shift without proper PPE protection,” the letter, seen by CNN, reads. “However, I believe that if I left the department, this would endanger patient safety.”

His words were ignored, and he said the only solution was to refuse to work in the ward again.

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As an agency nurse, Bennett worked in several hospitals, and said he had found a way to quickly recognize places he would not welcome as a black nurse.

& # 39; The biggest racism trick ever drawn was to convince Britain that it didn't exist.

“Some nurses (Black) will give you some kind of code,” Neomi said rubbing two fingers on the back of her hand as if to accentuate the color of her skin. “That means the staff here don’t really like black people, and there will be some form of discrimination in shifts.”

As more and more minority health care workers lose their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the systemic racism they say they face has become a sharper focus.

Minorities make up about 20% of UK NHS medical personnel, however preliminary analysis shows that they have caused 60% of health care worker deaths from the corona virus, according to British media reports.

At the height of the pandemic, the British public praised its nurses and doctors, with thousands of people gathered at the threshold of their homes every week to praise the efforts of health care workers.

But because the country “applauded to guard,” many CNN nurses spoke to say they were fighting for PPE.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) nurse union told CNN “our own recent survey shows that only 43% of BAME’s nursing staff have enough eye and face protection equipment.”

The RCN has asked employers to “take quick and comprehensive action to support and protect staff,” including providing effective PPE.

“There are no nurses who are placed at risk of contracting Covid-19 in providing care,” said a spokeswoman.

Limited government guidance

Ken Sazuze knows the risks. He and his wife Elsie, from Birmingham, returned to school as adults, to become nurses.

“I am aware of the difficult side of student life, but I am not aware of the discrimination side of nursing,” Sazuze told CNN. “Until I study, I see it: Boom! It’s different. It’s dangerous.”

He said his childhood lover faced persistent harassment and bullying but survived as a team. Elsie, a few years ahead of her husband in her studies, immediately graduated and got a job.

Ken and Elsie Sazuze met when they were teenagers in their home country, Malawi. As adults in the UK, the couple decided to go back to school and study nursing. Both soon faced racism and discrimination, but experienced their struggle together.
Student nurse Ken Sazuze was heartbroken and grieved after his wife, who works in a nursing home, died of the corona virus.

“He hates it on the NHS. I know he is not happy,” said Sazuze. “Not just because he is black. Because you are black and you are trying to change the system, because the system is designed [so that] Black will be the last. “

After four years, Elsie left the NHS-Sazuze saying her decision was, in large part, due to racism. He found work at a local nursing home and he said life was better. And then it becomes far, far worse.

In April, when coronavirus spread, most were not examined, through British nursing home, there are limited government guidelines on PPE.

“Elsie was wearing basic gloves, a basic mask and an apron and that’s all,” said Sazuze.

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The couple began showing symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, severe headache, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell) on the same day, Sazuze said.

The couple followed the British government’s advice to call 111, the NHS non-emergency number; Sazuze said they were advised to isolate themselves at home – away from their children – drink plenty of fluids, and call back in five days if symptoms worsen.

Four days later, Sazuze said that his 44-year-old wife woke up at 2 am, unable to breathe. He asked for help and filmed it on the phone.

“I was like, ‘Honey … you will be fine. When you are better I will show this to show how strong you are,'” recalls Sazuze.

When the paramedics took Elsie to the hospital, her husband said that he told her: “Don’t worry.”

But the mother of two children never recovered. When her condition worsened, she was placed on a ventilator. He died, a few days later, on April 8.

Most black Britons think the Conservative Party is institutionally racist, according to a CNN poll

Sazuze was heartbroken, and grieved, but not afraid. He said he planned to complete his nursing degree.

“I want to continue his legacy,” he told CNN. “He likes helping people.

“I don’t let bad people change me,” he insisted. “No, I will always help people regardless of where they come from, what color they are, what they say to me.”

When called upon to do their part to help save the country from the deadly virus, each of the 12 CNN nurses spoke by saying they had acted without hesitation, driven by an obligation to care for the sick.

Now they are begging to be treated equally at work and in life.

Back at Hyde Park in London, Obiakor said he felt he had fought two battles at the same time: Racism and coronavirus. He said he was more determined to emerge victorious – on both sides.

“If I knew when I spoke that there would be a change, I would speak every day,” he said. “I will bring the facts. I will bring the numbers. I will bring a witness.

“We want the NHS to be a place where everyone comes and they feel at home. They don’t care about how my manager talks to me, or what will happen tomorrow, no,” he added.

“That would be a beautiful place to work.”

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu – Renaissance



Eternal Portuguese deja vu - Renaissance

At the end of the summer of 1972, exactly half a century ago, SEDES – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Económico e Social (the most famous reformist think tank during Marseilles) issued a document for the country entitled “Portugal: The country we are, the country we want to be “. The Marseille spring had already turned into autumn: Américo Thomas had just been re-elected, the colonial war had dragged on, repression had intensified, and an economic crisis was already brewing. Seeing the general frustration, and at the same time willing to go against it, the signatories of CEDES began by asking “Where will we be and how will we be in 1980?” to criticize the obstacles that overshadowed Portugal in the early 1970s.

Among the “problems that are getting worse without a solution”, emigration stood out, indicating the country’s inability to offer better living and working conditions to those who left; the growing inflationary process, reflected in the cost of living; the inevitability of economic integration in Europe when the country is not ready for international commercial competition; “disaggregation of regional economies” with “continuous depopulation of municipalities and regions” within the country; or “deterioration of public administration” when the government fails to promote a “prestigious, moralized, revitalized and efficient public sector”. “No one will have any difficulty,” continued the text, “to add to a new list of urgent questions that seriously endanger national life, about which much has been said and which, year after year, continue to wait for a sufficient solution.” Therefore, “the prevailing feeling in the country” in contemplation of the recent past and present could not but be “annoyance at urgent battles, the need for which was endlessly discussed, at decisions that were changed or postponed, and at rejected goals” or which were not clearly formulated ” .

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Between “untapped resources” and/or “lack of organizational and decision-making capacity” there was “widespread anxiety” stemming from the inevitable observation that “we are very far from the results that we could achieve thanks to the progress of the Portuguese and Portugal”. This was the macro goal of the reformist, humanist and liberalizing technocrats that SEDES brought together. “Ultimately,” they reminded Marcelo Cayetano, “the real obstacle can only be associated with the low political priority of economic and social development in our country.” So, in short, there was an urgent need to “radically change our economic, social and political way of life”, since “a national balance based on general anemia, repression and weakening of various participants” is unsustainable and pernicious.

SEDES did not know that the Estado Novo would fall in April 1974, that democracy would come in 1976, and Europe from the EEC (after EFTA) in 1986 of repression, finally gained the freedom that was discussed between the lines of the 1972 manifesto ., there would be conditions for solving (almost) all economic and social problems of development and cohesion.

Fifty years have passed since this manifesto, and almost the same number has already been in democracy. However, if we compare the above quotes with the Portuguese present, the feeling of deja vu is indescribable. SEDES wondered what the country would be like in 1980 and is wondering today (in its recent study “Ambition: Doubling GDP in 20 Years”) where we will be in 2040. It may be a replay of a sad fate: knowing (some) where to go, but never getting there!

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy – Observer



Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy - Observer

Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho met this Wednesday with his Algerian counterpart Ramtan Lamamra, who expressed interest in Portuguese companies investing in Algeria’s solar and wind energy.

Speaking with Lusa, João Cravinho also said that for 2023 it was decided to hold a “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the state visit of the President of Algeria. Algeria to Portugal.

The Portuguese foreign minister said today’s visit to Algeria, where he was with Ramtan Lamamra, whom he has known since 2005 when he was ambassador to Lisbon, is “based on old knowledge”, but also a visit to a country that “does not to be a neighbor”, shares “a lot of fears”. “Not being a neighboring country, it almost shares many concerns about the region, the Mediterranean, the European Union’s relationship with Africa and the Arab world. It was important for us to talk about what we can do together as part of the geopolitical and geo-economic transformation,” he explained.

João Cravinho stressed that the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a factor “which could not but be the subject of dialogue”, and also added that “geo-economic issues related to energy, renewable energy sources and the opportunities that come with the digital transition” also were on the table.


“While Algeria is a major exporter of fossil fuels, it is also a country with huge potential in terms of solar and wind energy. We have very qualified companies in these areas, and the Algerian side has expressed interest in [ter] Portuguese investors in these areas,” the minister said.

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The official said that it would be a matter of working with the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), with the Secretary of State for Internationalization, as well as with a sectoral ministry, namely the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. A “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries is scheduled for 2023, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the Algerian President’s state visit to Portugal.

“We have a very busy calendar between the two countries. Now we will try to organize a mixed commission, where technical specialists from both countries will gather,” he said, stressing that there are “14 legal documents that are practically finalized and will be signed” in 2023.

João Gomes Cravinho was on a visit to Algiers today to assess bilateral relations in the economic sphere, as well as in terms of cooperation, language and culture, and to discuss international issues.

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Members of the Airborne Operational Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the Portuguese Army during the annual Falcon Jump exercise on September 17, 2022 over the Ede launch zone, 18 km west of Arnhem, in the province of Gelderland, the Netherlands. A Portuguese skydiver is equipped with a SPEKON RS 2000 parachute from the German manufacturer SPEKON Sächsische Spezialkonfekion GmbH. Above him are US paratroopers with T-11 parachutes.

Photo by M. Bienik | 6 barrels per day

The annual Falcon Leap 2022 exercise, based in Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands, took place from 5 to 16 September 2022 in the Netherlands and Belgium. During the first week, the exercise focused on cargo drop operations, and the second week focused on drop operations. It was attended by more than 1 thousand soldiers representing 13 countries, including Portugal, with the participation of the Operational Detachment of 22 soldiers from the Airborne Operational Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the Ground Forces.

The exercise officially ended on September 17, 2022, commemorating the 78th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, which began on the same day in 1944, during World War II, as part of the largest airborne operation in which more than 40,000 troops serving in the 1st Airborne Division of Great Britain, the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade of Poland, the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions of the United States of America. These commemorations were marked by the launch of paratroopers over the original drop zones of the Operation.

The photo was taken by the Polish soldier M. Benek, seconded to the 6th Airborne Brigade (BPD) – Brigadier General Stanisław Sosabowski, a unit that is the result of the historical legacy of the 1st Separate Polish Airborne Brigade, which jumped during the operation ” Bazaar Garden “, in 1944 under the command of General. Stanislav Sosabovsky – whose name is a suffix (as patron) of the current unit.

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Article published in partnership with “Espada & Escudo”



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