From the Worldwide Faith News archives

All Africa News BULLETIN No. 07/03 February 24, 2003 (A)

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 27 Feb 2003 18:03:04 -0800

All Africa News BULLETIN No. 07/03  February 24, 2003 (A)

P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-4442215, 4440224
Fax: 254-2-4445847, 4443241
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AANA Bulletin	  Acting  Editor -Elly Wamari				     
Bulletin APTA	Acting Editor - Silvie Alemba


Poor Humanitarian Response Leads Eritrea Into Deeper Crisis

ASMARA (AANA) February 24 - Delays in international humanitarian response 
to the drought situation in Eritrea could create an appalling cycle of 
hunger and desperation, the Lutheran World Federation-World Service 
(LWF-WS) in Eritrea, has warned.

Fikreyesus Kristos, deputy representative of LWF-WS Eritrea programme, has 
said that even though drought and malnutrition are not new to Eritrea, "the 
looming crisis is even more destructive than the previous ones, and neither 
the people nor government can cope on their own."

An estimated US$153 million is needed to cover Eritrea's food needs till 
the end of 2003. But, according to the Office for the Co-ordination of 
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Eritrea, the existing food reserves will run 
out within the next two months (March-April).

Musa Bungudu, who heads the OCHA office in Eritrea, cautioned that 
two-thirds of Eritrea's 12 million people face serious drought-induced food 
shortages, and that 10,000 children are severely malnourished.

In December last year, LWF-WS together with other members of Action by 
Churches Together (ACT-International) in Eritrea, namely Dan Interchurch 
Aid, and Norwegian Church Aid, issued an appeal for humanitarian assistance 
valued at over US$ 7 million.

In the appeal, the ACT-International members requested about 14,000 metric 
tonnes of food for 6 months to assist over 120,000 people in need of urgent 
food supplies, particularly in Anesba, Debub, Gash Barka and Maekel regions.

According to Kristos, the appeal has received very little response. "Only 
9.5 percent of the total target has been received so far."

However, with the money received, LWF-WS has arranged for a shipment of 
3,000 metric tonnes of wheat grain to be distributed in March and April. 
"We need more funding to cover transport, storage and handling costs, and 
also to bring in more food items," said Kristos.

Reported by Callie Long,
ACT Communications Officer

A New Rebel Camp Takes Shape In War-Torn Region

BUNIA/KAMPALA (AANA) February 24 - A senior official of a Congolese rebel 
faction, Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), has broken off to form a new 
camp backed by Uganda.

Chief Kawo Panga, former deputy to Thomas Lubanga (leader of UPC), said in 
Kampala on February 1 that he has formed Force for Integration of Peace, 
and has asked Ugandan troops to stay in Bunia (in DRC) to forestall 
massacre. He also gave Lubanga a three-month deadline to enter into 
dialogue with him, or prepare for war.

Chief Panga said that his group would uproot Lubanga from Bunia.  He 
accused Lubanga of engaging in human rights abuses.

The creation of the dissident UPC offshoot comes after Uganda fell out with 
UPC, its former ally, in mid January.

The political wing of UPC had signed a co-operation treaty with Rwanda, and 
thereafter voted for the withdrawal of 1,000 troops of Ugandan Peoples' 
Defence Forces (UPDF) from Bunia.

The development has sealed the fall-out between Uganda, UPC and Rally for 
Congolese Democracy - Liberation Movement (RCD-ML) led by Mbusa Nyamwisi. 
The three parties had made a commitment to the United Nations on November 
24 last year, to bring peace in Ituri in eastern DRC.

Nevertheless, pressure continues to mount on Uganda to withdraw its troops 
from eastern Congo. A two-day meeting (February 8-9) between Presidents 
Joseph Kabila of DRC and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Dar es Salaam agreed 
that Uganda withdraws its troops in March.

Reported by Crespo Sebunya

Deadly Ebola Re-emerges, Kills Many, Threaten More

BRAZZAVILLE (APTA) February 24 - An outbreak of Ebola (haemorrhagic fever) 
in north-west of the Republic of Congo has since January claimed 50 lives 
in Mbomo and Kelle districts, around 700 km north-west of Brazzaville.

Dr Alain Moka, the Minister for Health and Population announced this on 
February 13 at a press conference in Brazzaville.

But a press release from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on February 
19, said the number of those dead had risen to 64.

Due to the crisis, all learning institutions in the affected areas have 
been closed, and movement of populations in and out of the districts 
limited to holders of permits issued by authorities.

Dr Moka indicated that signs of the Ebola virus had been noticed also in 
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon and Sudan. The disease 
spreads through contact with body fluids of infected patients, and through 
consumption of contaminated food.

The incubation period lasts three weeks.  Its symptoms include, strong 
fever and haemorrhages, followed by vomiting, stomach aches and 
blood-spattered diarrhoea.

In Congo, an inter-ministerial team has  been set up to reinforce health 
activities in the two affected districts.

But strong cultural beliefs among the local population	is frustrating the 
team's mission.  Villagers associate the disease with witchcraft, and have 
been reluctant to allow health officials to take blood samples of dead 
relatives for tests.

The government has now installed two radio mobile stations in the affected 
zone to help educate the population about the disease. Leaders in the 
districts are also being involved to help fight the problem.

Reported by Raymond Bitemo

'Ghost Employees Deplete Govt Coffers In Malawi'

BLANTYRE (AANA) February 24 - Things have turned sour in several government 
departments in Malawi, where civil servants have not been paid salaries on 
time.  A situation of ghost workers created by senior government officials, 
is depleting the coffers.

Teachers in primary and secondary schools, being the most affected, have 
abandoned classes in a number of schools in several districts around the 
country, including Blantyre.

The issue of ghost workers came out strongly following an audit instituted 
by International Monetary Fund (IMF) late last year.  It was discovered 
that the government's inflated wage bill was a result of huge numbers of 
non-existent workers created by officials in six ministries.

Names of deceased staff, retired workers, and of fake individuals were 
noticed on payrolls. The education ministry was the most affected.

The Teachers Association of Malawi (TUM) has since taken the treasury to 
task, accusing it of being insensitive to the plight of teachers, who 
constitute the largest part of public workers. Out of a total 120,000 
workforce in the public sector, 60,000 are teachers.

TUM General Secretary, Lucien Chikadza, said morale was low in all 
education divisions around the country. He blamed the ministry of education 
headquarters for the mess.

Towards the end of last year, workers in education, agriculture and health 
ministries went for Christmas and New Year holidays without pay.  In the 
past two years, salaries have been paid irregularly.

Finance Minister, Friday Jumbe, has since apologised to teachers and 
promised speedy action, saying teachers were victims because the ministry's 
wage bill was plagued with a lot of problems.

"The situation is regrettable because issues of salaries are not 
negotiable. The wage bill in the ministry has been fluctuating when it is 
supposed to remain constant," said Jumbe.

Last month, an IMF team made its seventh visit to Malawi since 2002, and 
accused the government of spending beyond budget passed by parliament.

The Fund suspended a US$56 million aid until issues of financial 
mismanagement and poor governance were resolved, and presidential trips 
limited, among other conditions.

Subsequently, Malawi's bilateral donors - the United States of America, 
Britain and the European Union, have also closed their aid taps.

Angered by President Muluzi's reckless spending, the World Bank is pressing 
the government to refund US$1.5 million in aid of various uncompleted 
projects. The EU is also demanding that the administration gives back about 
US$7 million, for similar reasons.

Reported by Hobbs Gama

Anti-Iraq War Sentiments Cause USA To Change Stance On LRA

KAMPALA (AANA) February 24 - The groundswell of anti-Iraq war sentiments in 
Uganda is having ramifications on USA's perception of the Lords Resistance 
Army (LRA), a rebel group operating in northern Uganda.

US ambassador to Uganda, Jimmy Clocker, now says dialogue with LRA is 
necessary. He is doubtful that Uganda Peoples' Defence Force (UPDF) would 
be able to protect thousands of people displaced in LRA controlled areas.

The ambassador also wants a clear amnesty call that would leave no fears of 
revenge once rebels surrender.

The statements mark a turnaround in opinion. In 2001, US put LRA on a list 
of terrorist organisations, and granted Uganda US$ 3 million to fight 
Joseph Kony, the leader of LRA.

Ambassador Clocker, said that judging from the Iraq debate in Kampala, it 
appears Kampala was nearer to Baghdad than Gulu district in northern 
Uganda, where LRA has been launching its attacks. Majority of Ugandans, in 
opinion polls here, were against US invasion of Iraq.

A planned anti-Iraq war demonstrations organised by non-governmental 
organisations was put off at the eleventh hour on February 18, after police 
warned organisers that they would be held responsible for any utterances 
that would upset relations between Uganda and the US.

The demonstrations were to involve at least 20 organisations. Nevertheless, 
they still issued an unsigned statement condemning US government for being 
a security risk.  They said US pro-war attitude could spark an arms race 
among developing countries to guard against being bullied by the super power.

That no organisation pegged its name on the statement underlines fears of 
serious consequences to any civil group that would explicitly express 
anti-Iraq war opinion.

US's change of stance in Uganda coincides with that of the European Union 
(EU), whose officials said in Kampala that they were willing to sponsor 
dialogue between LRA and the government.

Reported by Crespo Sebunya

Christian Fellowship To Battle Arms Proliferation

NAIROBI (AANA) February 24 - The Fellowship of Christian Councils and 
Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) has unveiled 
plans to battle proliferation of arms in the regions.

In an exclusive interview with AANA on February 12, the director of 
FECCLAHA, Ms Karimi Kinoti, stressed the need for churches to engage in the 
fight against proliferation of small arms saying, "we have a biblical 
mandate to affirm the fundamental value and dignity of human life".

Ms Kinoti exposed that her organisation had developed a two-sided 
initiative to fight arms proliferation in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa.

She pointed out that the initiative was a major activity within the 
framework of a regional chapter of Decade to Overcome Violence launched in 
Kampala, Uganda, in March 2001.

Said she: "Under this initiative, we have a two-pronged approach - 
[supporting] our member councils in the border region of Kenya, Uganda and 
Sudan and their joint community-based projects, and regional advocacy to 
ensure that Nairobi Declaration (March 15, 2000) is implemented by 
signatory governments."

Details of FECCLAHA's programme on war against arms proliferation in the 
Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions are contained in two reports 
released early this year by the organisation.

The reports, Developing A Regional Strategy for Advocacy on Small Arms and 
Cross-border Consultation on Proliferation of Small Arms, contain 
resolutions of two regional consultations on small arms proliferation 
FECCLAHA had organised in Kenya last year, in March and May respectively.

Reported By Osman Njuguna

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