From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
All Africa News BULLETIN No. 07/03 February 24, 2003 (A)
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Thu, 27 Feb 2003 18:03:04 -0800
All Africa News BULLETIN No. 07/03 February 24, 2003 (A)
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY
P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-4442215, 4440224
Fax: 254-2-4445847, 4443241
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
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
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
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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