Le Pen promises EU vote
An emergency polio vaccination campaign aimed at reaching 25 million children this year has begun in parts of Nigeria newly freed from Boko Haram Islamic extremists, with fears that many more cases of the crippling disease will likely be found. Two toddlers discovered last month were Nigeria’s first reported polio cases in more than two years, putting the world on alert just months after the African continent was declared free of the disease. One member of the Rotary Club’s End Polio Now drive said he almost cried when he got the news. It was a major blow to global efforts to stamp out polio, which persists in only two other countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Health workers using military helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and even tricycle taxis vaccinated about 1.5 million children in the past week alone, starting in the refugee camps where the new cases surfaced. The World Health Organisation has said the two new cases indicate the wild polio virus has been circulating for five years in northeastern Borno state, where Boko Haram began its uprising in 2009. More cases are expected to surface as Nigeria’s military forces Boko Haram out of more towns and villages, said Dr Tunji Funsho, head of Rotary’s polio eradication drive. Over the past week, hundreds of health workers from the government, the United Nations and aid organisations delivered the vaccinations through drops on the tongue. The leader of France’s antiimmigration National Front has promised to hold a nationwide referendum on whether the country should leave or remain in the European Union if she is elected president next spring. In a speech yesterday, Marine Le Pen denounced “mass immigration” and branded Islamism “the new totalitarianism of the 21st century”. Talking about a possible EU referendum, the far-right candidate for the April-May election said: “I will do it in France.” Polls suggest that Le Pen could qualify for the election’s second round.