Weekly anb11281.txt #5

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 28-11-2002      PART #1/5

* Africa. Message for the end of Ramadan - In his message for the end of Ramadan, entitled: "Christians and Muslims and the Ways to Peace", Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue, said: "You are well aware, dear friends how acute has become the question of peace in our world today. Situations where war prevails are like an open wound in the heart of humanity, above all, those conflicts which have been going on for many years, whether in the Middle East, in Africa or in Asia. (...)The origin of the causes of conflicts is often to be located in hearts which refuse to be open to God. (...)As believers in the One God, we see it as our duty to strive to bring about peace. Christians and Muslims, we believe that peace is above all a gift from God. That is why our two communities pray for peace. (...)In bringing about peace, and maintaining it, religions have an important role to play, one which in these days more than ever is being recognised by civil society and by Governments. In this respect, education is a domain in which religions can make a particular contribution. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 22 November 2002)

* Afrique. Message pour la fin du ramadan - Dans un message (rendu public le 22 novembre) en vue de la fin du mois du ramadan, Mgr Michael Fitzgerald, président du Conseil pontifical pour le dialogue religieux, a lancé un appel aux musulmans pour intensifier la collaboration en faveur de la paix. "La question de la paix se pose aujourd'hui avec une urgence toute particulière", souligne le texte, qui appelle à la prière, mais aussi à l'éducation à la paix. "Les voies de la paix passent par l'éducation". Celle-ci comporte "l'acceptation des diversités" et d'"apprendre à gérer les crises". (Le mois du ramadan a commencé le 6 novembre, et devrait se terminer au début du mois de décembre). (ANB-BIA, Bruxelles, 22 novembre 2002)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Algeria: On 26 November, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said that while killings and disappearances of journalists in Algeria have decreased in recent years, journalists continue to be the target of threats by local officials, business people and guerrilla movements. Niger: On 21 November, the World Association of Newspapers expressed its serious concern to the prime minister, at an appeal concern decision to uphold an eight-month jail sentence against journalist Abdoulay Tiémogo. -- On 27 November, MISNA reported that two journalists, Ibrahim Manzo and Cissé omar Amadou, both working for the satirical Canard Déchainé weekly, were freed on 24 November. The journalists had been detained for the publication of an article regarding an alleged warrant against a senior opposition figure. Nigeria: On 21 November, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned rioters who attacked the daily newspaper ThisDay in Kaduna. The IFJ also condemned a bomb attack on the weekly newspaper National Pilot in a separate incident. On 26 November, RSF said it was extremely alarmed at today's proclamation of a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill a journalist, Isioma Daniel, who wrote an article considered insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. Sierra Leone: On 20 November, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists launched a campaign to free editor Paul Kamara, who was jailed for libel on 12 November. Zimbabwe: On 18 November, the Minister of Information and Publicity verbally attacked the private media for what he called "its anti-nation and anti-government" reporting. On 19 November, a High Court Judge dismissed a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists urgent application, intended to allow its members to fill in accreditation forms without supplying certain information about their lives. -- The Supreme Court has started hearing (on 21 November) a legal challenge to a tough new media law. Journalists want the law to be declared unconstitutional, arguing that is intended to stop public criticism of President Robert Mugabe's government. The media law sets out punishments of up to two years for journalists convicted of publishing false information or "abuse of journalistic privilege". On 25 November, the Supreme Court "reserved judgement" on the legal challenge, as it will need time to read the lawyers' submissions. The court did not confirm when the judgement will be delivered. -- On 27 November, the government expelled Stephane Barbier, Harare bureau chief of Agence France Presse. He has been given until 30 November to leave the country after the government refused to renew his work permit. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 27 November 2002)

* Afrique. Rapport de l'Onusida - Le rapport annuel de l'Onusida a été rendu public le 26 novembre. "En 2002, l'épidémie de sida a causé plus de 3 millions de décès, et on estime que 5 millions de personnes ont contracté le virus cette même année, ce qui porte à 42 millions le nombre de personnes vivant avec le virus dans le monde". Selon le directeur de l'Onusida, "cette année, il y a deux faits marquants. Pour la première fois, il y a autant de femmes touchées que d'hommes. Et il y a confirmation des graves conséquences économiques de la maladie, avec le retour de la famine". Un désastre qui se confirme en particulier en Afrique subsaharienne qui regroupe plus des deux tiers des morts du sida de la planète. "L'ampleur de l'épidémie qui touche le continent africain est telle que même si des programmes de prévention, de traitement et de prise en charge exceptionnellement efficaces devaient prendre effet immédiatement, les conséquences humaines et économiques se feraient sentir pendant des générations". En Afrique australe, la proportion d'adultes infectés dépasse des niveaux "inimaginables". Dans quatre pays, plus de 30% des adultes sont touchés: au Botswana (38,8%), au Lesotho (31%), au Swaziland (33,4%) et au Zimbabwe (33,7%). Deux petites notes optimistes toutefois: en Afrique du Sud et en Ethiopie, le taux de prévalence baisse chez les plus jeunes. (D'après Libération, France, 27 novembre 2002)

* Africa. AIDS epidemic bringing social collapse - The AIDS epidemic is causing the spiralling disintegration of some of the poorest countries in Africa, precipitating famine and social, political and economic collapse, says the latest official United Nations update. The UNAIDS report takes a more sombre tone than ever before as it lays out the increasing scale of the global epidemic which last year killed 3.1 million people, of whom 610,000 were children. A further 5 million people were infected with the deadly virus in 2002, bringing the world total living with HIV to 42 million. Most of the 29.4 million with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to die --only about 300,000 currently receive life-saving drugs. But the report also warns that what is happening now in Africa may prefigure a similar pandemic in the populous countries of Asia. India already has the second highest number of people -- nearly 4 million -- living with HIV and the largest number of AIDS orphans. A recent US intelligence report estimated the number could surge to 25 million by 2010. World leaders have been warned of an "explosive" spread of the disease into new areas unless more resources are freed up to fight AIDS. Launching the report ahead of World Aids Day on Sunday, the executive director of UNAIDS, Peter Piot, said there was a direct relationship between HIV/AIDS and the famine in southern Africa -- in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. "AIDS is fuelling the food crisis in sub-Saharan Africa," he said. "This is the first large-scale sign of what the impact of AIDS can and will be for society as a whole." (The Guardian, UK, 27 November 2002)

* Africa. AIDS orphans expected to double by 2010 - On 26 November, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that the number of children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic was expected to double to 25m by the end of the decade. At a meeting of 22 African countries in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, UNICEF said sub-Saharan Africa faced an explosion of parentless children as a result of the spread of the disease. It fears that lack of parental care will lead to severe poverty among children and a wave of new HIV/AIDS infections."Given that the global AIDS pandemic is still in its early stages, there can be no doubt that the growing number of children orphaned by AIDS means the world will see an explosion in the number of child prostitutes, children living on the streets and child domestic workers," said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF's executive director. She accused the international community of a "grossly inadequate" response to the threat children in the region face. But equally, few African countries have developed national strategies to provide support for orphans. The UN agency estimates the disease has orphaned 11m children in sub-Saharan Africa. About a quarter of them are HIV positive. (Financial Times, UK, 27 November 2002)

* Afrique de l'Ouest. La transformation du coton - Un atelier régional sur la production du coton dans l'espace de l'Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine, qui s'est tenu les 25 et 26 novembre à Lomé, a adopté un train de mesures devant promouvoir la transformation du coton fibre dans les pays de l'Union. Concernant les subventions de la production cotonnière dans les pays développés, l'atelier a proposé de porter l'affaire au niveau de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC) et d'exiger soit la compensation des pertes subies par les pays en développement, soit la suspension de ces subsides. La rencontre a par ailleurs adopté plusieurs recommandations de nature à favoriser l'implication des industriels locaux, régionaux et internationaux dans la transformation du coton ouest-africain et l'industrie textile à l'horizon 2002-2010. (PANA, Sénégal, 26 novembre 2002)

* Algérie. Attentats à la bombe - Le jeudi 21 novembre, six personnes ont été tuées et deux blessées dans l'explosion d'une bombe dans la région de M'sila (250 km au sud-est d'Alger). La bombe a explosé au passage d'un taxi sur une route reliant la localité de Aïn Rich à M'sila. Il s'agit de l'attentat le plus meurtrier en Algérie depuis le début du ramadan, le 6 novembre, pendant lequel les groupes armés islamistes intensifient généralement leurs actions. La nuit précédente, trois personnes d'une même famille, le père et ses deux filles, ont été assassinées à leur domicile dans la région d'El-Ancer, wilaya de Jijel; la mère a été sérieusement blessée. Depuis le 6 novembre, près de 30 personnes ont été tuées en Algérie. - Par ailleurs, six militaires ont été blessés jeudi dans un attentat à la bombe artisanale près de Lakhdaria dans la région de Bouira (Kabylie). L'attentat a visé un convoi de l'armée sur une route située dans les maquis du Djebel Lalla Oum Saad, qui abritent des éléments du groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat d'Hassan Hattab. Cette faction de la rébellion islamiste, liée au réseau Al-Qaïda, a ensuite multiplié ses actions. Le même jeudi, dans la nuit, quatre policiers ont été tués à Boumerdés (50 km à l'est d'Alger). Et le samedi 23 novembre, à la tombée de la nuit, 9 militaires ont été tués et 12 autres blessés dans une embuscade à Zekri, à la frontière des départements de Tizi-Ouzou et de Béjaia (Kabylie). (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 25 novembre 2002)

* Algeria. Soldiers killed in ambush - 23 November: The Algerian authorities say suspected Islamic rebels have killed nine soldiers in a gun and bomb attack in the troubled Kabylia area. Twelve other soldiers were injured in the ambush on Saturday in the forest of Tigrine, about 80 kilometres north-east of the Berber city of Tizi Ouzou. It was the bloodiest attack on troops in Algeria since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on 6 November. Earlier, nine civilians were killed in two separate attacks blamed on Islamic rebels. The latest attack happened as the soldiers were heading towards their base in the forest. Rebels set off a roadside bomb then sprayed the troops with gunfire, before fleeing into Bounaama forest. 25 November: Reports from Algeria say security forces have killed a Yemeni man who is thought to be a senior member of al-Qaeda. The Algerian news agency APS quotes security sources as saying that the man, Emad Abdelwahid Ahmed Alwan, was al-Qaeda's top official in North Africa. He was killed in September when he was ambushed by troops in Batna province, but his body was only recently identified. Correspondents says it is the first time Algeria has admitted that al-Qaeda has a presence in the country. The reports say the al-Qaeda official was sent to Algeria to assess the hardline Islamic Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. It is one of the two armed groups fighting the Algerian Government and it is on the United States' list of terrorist organisations. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 25 November 2002)

* Algérie. Un responsable d'Al-Qaïda tué - Selon l'agence algérienne de presse officielle APS, un membre de l'organisation terroriste Al-Qaïda, Emad Abdelwahid Ahmed Alwan, alias Abou Mohamed, a été tué le 12 septembre par les forces de sécurité algériennes près de Mérouana, dans la région de Batna (430 km au sud-est d'Alger). Ce Yéménite avait en charge la zone sahélo-maghrébine au sein de l'organisation et avait été envoyé en Algérie par Al-Qaïda pour "normaliser" le Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat (GSPC) de Hassan Hattab. Cependant, selon un responsable de l'administration américaine, s'il était une figure importante, il n'était pas l'un des dirigeants du réseau. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 26 novembre 2002)

* Angola. Call to lift Unita sanctions - 22 November: A joint commission established to monitor the peace process in Angola has called for the immediate lifting of international sanctions against the former rebel movement, Unita. - The commission -- bringing together Unita, Angolan Government officials, the United Nations and mediating countries Portugal, Russia and the United States -- said the nine-year-old sanctions were no longer justified following the implementation of a peace agreement. The commission made the appeal as it dissolved itself, saying it had completed its mission. The UN Security Council has lifted a travel ban on Unita leaders. But, other sanctions, including an embargo on diamond exports, arms and fuel imports and the freezing of Unita assets abroad, are still in place. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 22 November 2002)

* Bénin/Togo. Nonce apostolique - Le 25 novembre, le pape Jean-Paul II a nommé Mgr Pierre Nguyên Van Tot, chargé d'affaires de la nonciature au Bénin, comme nonce apostolique au Bénin et au Togo. Né au Vietnam en 1949, il est entré au service diplomatique du Saint-Siège en 1985. Il a exercé différentes charges auprès des représentations pontificales au Panama, au Brésil, au Congo-Kinshasa, au Rwanda et en France. (Zenit, Vatican, 25 novembre 2002)

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