Weekly anb06211.txt #8

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 21-06-2001      PART #1/8

* Africa. World Bank AIDS warning - The President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, has warned that African countries need billions of dollars of assistance to combat AIDS and poverty. In a speech in New York, Mr Wolfensohn said the world needed to wake up to the effects of HIV and AIDS, and he called on wealthy nations to convert half-a-billion dollars of interest-free loans into outright grants to fight the disease. Mr Wolfensohn, who has recently been on a major tour of the continent, said Africa's potential was without equal, but he warned that with no help from outside many African countries would be unable to tackle their own problems. He described HIV and AIDS as a global security issue, adding that for wealthy countries, giving aid was a matter of self-interest. (BBC News, UK, 15 June 2001)

* Africa. "Its a scandal to keep African priests in Europe" - A nuncio has just sent an urgent message for African priests who work abroad: "Come home, your country needs you. It is a scandal to keep African priests in Europe, when we have a vital need in the mission territories to nourish the churches that are growing," said Archbishop Alberto Bottari De Castello, referring to the numerous cases of African and Asian priests who work in the West. The fact of Third World priests staying in First World countries is addressed in a new document of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The "Instruction on the Sending Abroad and Sojurn of Diocesan Priests from Mission Territories" was published on 12 June. Archbishop Bottari said that whoever does not encourage priests to return to their native country is unaware of the critical reality of Christianity in Africa and Asia. (Zenit, Italy, 15 June 2001)

* Africa. Not much to celebrate on Children's Day - 16 June was Children's Day in Africa. There was little to celebrate. Here are some figures on the situation of children on this continent. Three African countries Sierra Leone, Angola and Niger have the highest infantile mortality rates: respectively 182, 170 and 166 of every 1000; compared to Finland with the lowest rate: 4 of every 1000. Ten African countries have the lowest life expectancy: Sierra Leone (average 38 years), Malawi (39), Uganda (40), Zambia (40) Rwanda (41), Burundi (43), Ethiopia (43), Mozambique (44), Zimbabwe (44) and Burkina Faso (45). Three African countries have the highest illiteracy rate:: Niger (only 14,3%), Burkina Faso (20,7%) Gambia (33,1%). Three African cities, Brazzaville, Pointe Noire and Khartoum, are top of the list for the worst living conditions. Children are victims of the following situations: -- There are more than 120,000 child soldiers in Africa (300,000 in the world). The countries with the highest number of child soldiers are: Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.- 80 African children aged 5 to 14 are forced to work according to the International Labour Organisation. There are 250 million child workers. Children in countries such as Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are widely used in plantations and in Ivory Coast for domestic work. -- 12 million African children are AIDS orphans. There are 22 million AIDS patients in Africa many are children infected by their mothers. -- 56% of the 3.6 million refugees in Africa are children mainly in Angola (69% of the refugees), Togo (64%), Guinea (63%), Burundi (62%), Rwanda (61%) Congo RDC (61%) and Sudan (60%). (Fides, Vatican City, 15 June 2001)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Congo RDC: On 10 June, the organisation Journalists in Danger protested against former minister of communications Dominique Sakombi Inongo's efforts through various media, to obstruct the work of the commission of inquiry examining the legality of the Sakombi cabinet's 22 September 2000 decision to seize two private radio and television stations. Eritrea: On 13 June, a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met with the Eritrean ambassador to the USA in Washington to express its deep concern about 15 journalists alleged to have been jailed or forcibly conscripted for military service. Ethiopia: On 14 June, the CPJ called on the Ethiopian authorities to halt the unjust prosecution of Tamirate Zuma, former publisher and editor-in-chief of the defunct Amharic weekly Atkurot, on incitement and other charges relating to his work. Guinea-Bissau: On 19 June it was reported that the police in Guinea-Bissau have arrested a newspaper owner, Jaoa de Barros, and a journalist after a story was published linking President Kumba Yala to corruption. The article by the journalist, Athizar Mendes, in the Diario of Bissau accused the president of spending exorbitant sums on visits to other African countries, which had brought no benefit to Guinea-Bissau. A spokesman for the president said the arrest order had not come from his office. Namibia: On 14 June, the Media Institute of Southern Africa said that Namibia's ruling party, SWAPO, has joined the government in a an advertising and purchasing ban on The Namibian newspaper, because of the newspaper's alleged "hostile attitude" towards the government. South Africa: On 13 June, the Freedom of Expression Institute said it was shocked by the Public Prosecutor's deliberate breach of the people's constitutional right to receive information, and that of the media to report freely and openly on public interest matters by refusing live broadcasting of the hearing into the R43 billion arms deal. Togo: The arrest of Lucien Messan, one of Togo's most senior journalists, has led to protests from the country's private press as well as the West African Journalists Association. On 5 June, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for "falsehood and the use of falsehood". Zimbabwe: On 15 June, RSF protested against the new restrictions placed on foreign journalists in Zimbabwe. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 19 June 2001)

* Africa. World Refugee Day -- 20 June 2001 - The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) says that the numbers of refugees is increasing. War is still the main cause of forced migration, with armed conflict, often within national borders, forcing ever-increasing numbers of people to flee their homes. In nine cases out of 10, the victims of today's wars are civilians, who are subjected to gross violations of human rights by warring parties. Large-scale killing, rape, widespread use of torture, "disappearances" and other abuses are typical of current conflicts, fuelling massive displacement. According to Human Rights Watch, an estimated 50 million people worldwide are uprooted from their homes. The JRS says it is increasingly worried about refugees who have been displaced from their homes for several years, and who often face intensified animosity in the country of asylum. In some places, refugees are threatened by forced repatriation. Where voluntary return is a feasible option, the JRS urges the international community to ensure that repatriation proceedings guarantee return in conditions of security and dignity. The number of internally displaced people now reaches around 25 million and is on the rise, given the internal nature of most of today's conflicts. There is no agency which has the mandate to support people displaced within their own country. This exacerbates their vulnerability. JRS draws attention to the difficulty of access to such populations and their frequently insecure surroundings, which remain prevalent obstacles faced by humanitarian agencies. Despite the vast numbers of forcibly displaced people who face diverse and pressing needs, international assistance has decreased and countries are closing their doors to those in need of asylum. (Jesuit Refugee Service, Italy, 19 June 2001)

* Afrique. Journée mondiale des réfugiés - Le 20 juin, la première Journée mondiale du réfugié a donné lieu à diverses célébrations dans le monde. Le 19 juin à Genève, Ruud Lubbers, Haut-Commissaire aux réfugiés de l'ONU (HCR) a souhaité que cette journée amène les gouvernements à réexaminer leur engagement en faveur du droit d'asile et à consacrer plus d'argent pour aider les personnes contraintes de quitter leurs maisons. "Le système de soutien aux réfugiés subit une pression sans précédent", a déclaré M. Lubbers, pour qui cette journée est destinée à encourager le "respect" envers les millions de personnes déplacées dans le monde. Le HCR, qui a vu ses fonds diminuer depuis le milieu des années 1990, a dû réduire ses opérations en Afrique, en Asie centrale et en Amérique latine. "J'espère seulement que tous les efforts destinés à attirer l'attention sur la Journée mondiale des réfugiés se traduisent par un soutien plus important au niveau politique et financier", a ajouté Ruud Lubbers. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 20 juin 2001)

* Africa. Air Afrique pleads for French help - The chief executive of the troubled airline Air Afrique, Jeffrey Erickson, has given a cautious welcome to a plan by the African shareholder governments to appeal to France to save the carrier. He said in an interview that even with fresh cash, the airline needed to halve its workforce. The French-speaking West African countries which own the airline agreed in Abidjan on 14 June to put in some more money and seek a partnership with France, which holds a minority stake in the airline. The Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo and the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, are expected to go to France next week for talks. Air Afrique has huge debts, several aeroplanes have already been repossessed and it has had to cancel many of its flights. (BBC News, UK, 15 June 2001)

* Afrique. Pour sauver Air Afrique... - Lors d'un sommet tenu le 13 juin à Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), les pays membres du groupe Air Afrique ont chargé le président ivoirien Laurent Gbagbo et son homologue sénégalais, Abdoulaye Wade, "de prendre les contacts politiques de haut niveau nécessaires à la résolution de la crise" que traverse la compagnie aérienne. Les pays membres -- Bénin, Burkina Faso, République centrafricaine, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Tchad, Mauritanie, Niger, Sénégal et Togo -- détiennent 68,44% du capital et Air France 11,8%. Avec six avions et 4.200 employés, la compagnie aurait besoin d'une recapitalisation de plus de 76 millions d'euros pour faire face à une dette "avion" énorme: 510 millions d'euros. L'hypothèse d'une liquidation pure et simple du groupe, évoquée par un cabinet américain mandaté par la Banque mondiale, a été rejetée par le sommet d'Abidjan. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 20 juin 2001)

* Africa. Denial and discrimination help to spread AIDS - If government censors get their way at next week's UN conference on HIV/AIDS, the denial and discrimination that have helped spread the disease will continue unabated, Human Rights Watch charged on 20 June. Several government delegations are attempting to delete from the draft declaration of the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS any mention of groups at particularly high risk of HIV infection -- men having sex with men, sex workers and their clients, and injecting drug users and their sex partners. "Moral squeamishness shouldn't stand in the way of finding solutions to this terrible crisis," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "At a conference devoted to fighting AIDS, governments must not replicate the silence and denial that have driven the spread of the disease." In language agreed to by Canada, Australia, and several Latin American and European countries, the draft declaration makes explicit the goal of reducing incidence among "men who have sex with men, sex workers, (and) injecting drug users and their sexual partners," as well as prisoners and refugees. The United States proposes striking this list and replacing it with the vague and anodyne phrase, "vulnerable individuals," including those engaging in "risky sexual behaviour." The Vatican prefers a similarly euphemistic reference to "people who have multiple sex partners." Egypt suggests substituting the judgmental phrase, "homosexuality among men, prostitution, and other forms of irresponsible sexual behaviour." (PANA, Senegal, 21 June 2001)

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