A migrant gazes through a porthole as the MV Aquarius, a rescue ship, arrives at the port of Messina, Italy. Two days before, the Aquarius rescued 73 migrants of various nationalities from the Mediterranean. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)
Approval given for use of new Ebola vaccine

Congo has agreed to allow the World Health Organization to use an experimental Ebola vaccine to combat an outbreak announced last week, the WHO director general said Monday.

The aim is for health officials to start using the vaccine, once it is shipped, by the end of the week — or next week if there are difficulties, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The outbreak was announced last week in Bikoro, in northwestern Congo. Health officials traveled there after the local health ministry in Equateur province alerted them on May 3 to 17 deaths from a hemorrhagic fever.

As of Sunday, Congo had 39 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of Ebola since April, including 19 deaths, the WHO reported. Two cases of Ebola have been confirmed.

Congo’s Health Ministry has requested that the WHO send 4,000 doses of the vaccine, said a spokeswoman for the ministry.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified. The last outbreak was a year ago. It was contained and declared over by July.

— Associated Press

Hezbollah: 'New phase' in conflict with Israel

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia said Monday that a barrage of rockets from Syria against Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights last week opens “a new phase” in the conflict, warning that Israel proper could be the next target for retaliation.

Hasan Nasrallah said Israel has been informed through an international body that retaliation inside Israel will take place if it crosses “a red line” in Syria, without providing specifics.

Israel on Thursday bombarded what it said were Iranian military installations in Syria, describing it as retaliation for an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two enemies to date.

In a speech to a rally in Beirut, Nasrallah did not say who fired rockets into the Golan Heights. He called it retaliation for “Israel’s continued aggression against Syria.” In past weeks, Israel is thought to have carried out strikes on military bases in Syria, killing Iranian and Syrian troops.

“You as an enemy will not be able to continue to target Syria and the axis of resistance without retaliation,” Nasrallah said, adding, “This qualitative rocket attack establishes a completely new phase” in the conflict with Israel. The “axis of resistance” refers to Iran and Syria, as well as Hezbollah and other allied armed groups in the region.

— Associated Press

Catalan legislators elect new separatist chief

Lawmakers in Catalonia elected a fervent separatist as the new chief of the restive region Monday, ending a leadership vacuum of more than six months and setting the scene for more confrontations with the Spanish government.

Quim Torra, a former corporate lawyer who went on to lead a prominent pro-secession group, vowed to build an independent Catalan republic by working under the leadership of his fugitive predecessor, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont is in Germany fighting extradition to Spain, where he is wanted for allegedly misusing public funds and orchestrating an “insurrection” to get the wealthy northeastern region to break away from Spain.

Separatist parties won a slim majority in a regional parliamentary election in December. They faced a hard deadline next week to either form a new government in Catalonia or have another election called.

Torra said one goal of his new government would be to reinstate Puigdemont as “the legitimate president” of Catalonia.

Central authorities have been ruling Catalonia directly from Madrid since the regional government, led by Puigdemont at the time, relied on the results of an outlawed Oct. 1 referendum to declare unilateral independence from Spain. The Spanish government removed Puigdemont and his cabinet from office after the declaration of independence.

The Spanish takeover is set to end when Torra is sworn in along with a new Catalan cabinet.

— Associated Press