Islamabad launches polio campaign for millions of children

Today's headlines: Myanmar junta has torched over 55,000 homes in two years; wind and solar power in China almost ready to cover all domestic energy needs; Damascus opens two more border crossings to facilitate aid entry; Caritas Philippines launches a fundraiser for Turkey and Syria; New governor for Japan's Central Bank.

Islamabad launched a door-to-door polio vaccination campaign after evidence of transmission from neighbouring Afghanistan was found. Cases were recorded in Lahore, of the same strain found in November 2022 in Nangarhar. The 5-day campaign (previously the target of Taliban attacks) aims to vaccinate 6 million children under the age of 5. 

In the two years since the February 2021 coup that overthrew the democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi, the military junta in Myanmar has burnt 55,484 homes in raids and attacks, 80% of them in the Sagaing region (43,292). Many are now forced to live in tents or flee. The Magway region has the second highest number of houses set on fire (over 8,000). 

Wind turbines and solar panels provide almost all the electricity needed to power homes in China. Production increased by 21% last year to 1,190 terawatt-hours. This figure is not far from the total demand of 1,340 terawatt-hours, which also increased last year due to the increase in consumption caused by the lockdown. 

Damascus has decided to open two more border crossings to allow aid to enter the country devastated by the 6 February earthquake, which hit Aleppo (government-controlled) as well as the rebel-held province of Idlib. Meanwhile, the official death toll stands at 40,000 and, despite the work of rescue teams, hopes of finding survivors are dwindling. 

Caritas Philippines has launched a fundraising campaign to help victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. The leadership of the Catholic institution has asked all dioceses in the archipelago - which is also subject to frequent earthquakes - to promote a second collection during Sunday masses. The money collected will be sent at the end of the month. 

The Japanese government has appointed the scholar Kazuo Ueda as Governor of the Central Bank. He succeeds Haruhiko Kuroda, whose second five-year term will expire on 8 April. A choice described as "surprising" by several experts, who had expected the choice of a banker with ties to the institution and long-standing experience, such as the current deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya.

Russians returning home after long periods abroad are stopped at the airport for interrogations lasting two to three hours, to clarify the reasons for their expatriation and ask about their acquaintances abroad. Those who express opinions against Moscow's military operations are targeted by the authorities, and their mobile phones and luggage contents are checked.