Top of the Morning: World Pneumonia Day; ECOWAS Leaders Agree to Send 3,000 Troops to Mali; Syrian Opposition Tentatively Coalesces

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

ECOWAS Leaders Agree to Send 3,000 Troops to Northern Mali

The steady march toward military intervention in Mali continues apace. “An official involved in the negotiations said by telephone shortly after the meeting that the nations in West Africa are now unanimous in their decision to go forward with the military operation. He said that they will attempt one more round of negotiations with representatives of the Islamists controlling northern Mali, before moving ahead with the intervention. ‘We have agreed that 3,300 troops will be sent from West Africa. In addition, around 5,000 Malian troops will also be involved. If there is no agreement in the talks, we will move in.’” (Yahoo

Agreement Reached on New Syrian Opposition Umbrella Groups

After weeks of negotiations among rebel factions in Doha an agreement was reached. The new entity to take over from the Syrian National Council is called the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. “Syrian opposition factions signed a tentative agreement on Sunday to create an umbrella organization, paving the way for international diplomatic recognition as well as more funding and improved military aid from foreign capitals. After three days of haggling at a luxury hotel here, opposition negotiators agreed to the new coalition and then elected as its president Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, a former imam of the historic Umayyad mosque in Damascus and a respected national figure within Syria.” (NYT )

UN Issues Call to Action on World Pneumonia Day

November 12 is World Pneumonia Day. “Pneumonia kills more children than any other disease in the world. The U.N. Children’s Fund reports every 25 seconds a child dies from pneumonia. It kills 3,400 children a day or 1.3 million a year. By this calculation, pneumonia accounts for 18 percent of the 6.9 million child deaths a year”…Health experts say a number of preventive measures other than vaccines and antibiotics are effective in staving off pneumonia. These include safe drinking water and improved sanitation, as well as the promotion of practices such as exclusive breastfeeding and use of clean cook stoves to reduce indoor air pollution. They say frequent hand washing with soap and water reduces the incidence of pneumonia by 23 percent.” (VOA