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Global Updates: Sub-Saharan Africa

Written By David D'Angelo on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 | 6/17/2008

Burundi

Burundi's last active armed opposition group, the Forces nationales de libération (FNL), has continued to recruit children into its ranks despite recent moves to end rebellion, a senior official said. "Children who have just sat for their national test [primary school examinations] are being recruited by the FNL," Pascal Nyabenda, governor of Bubanza province said. "Recruitment is going on in Musigati, Rugazi and Gihanga communes." FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana denied that his group was recruiting and using child soldiers. But he admitted, without giving numbers, that the FNL had some children in its camps. (IRIN)

Ethiopia

Ethiopia said on June 9 it planned to produce biofuels to cut high oil import bills, but dismissed fears the strategy could hit food production in a country suffering a severe drought. Some 4.5 million Ethiopians need emergency food aid due to failed rains and high food prices, reviving grim memories of the country's 1984-1985 famine, which killed more than 1 million. But the government also faces an annual fuel bill of up to USD 900 million, and aims to reduce that over time using biofuels. (Reuters)

Gambia

Human Rights Watch has appealed to President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia to disavow threatening comments he made towards homosexuals. In an open letter to Jammeh, HRW expressed its concerns at the arrest of at least four people following his remarks. At a political rally last month, Jammeh said he would "cut off the heads" of any homosexuals in Gambia, and gave them 24 hours to leave the country. In The Gambia, sex between people of the same sex is punishable by a 14-year prison sentence. According to HWR, at least four people have been detained on charges of sodomy since the president made his remarks. (Radio Netherlands)

Kenya

Kenya is holding by-elections in five constituencies, less then six months after the country was gripped by violence following disputed polls. Two of the seats in question were held by MPs killed after December's polls. But the voting will be overshadowed by the deaths of two government ministers in a plane crash on June 10. Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones and Assistant Home Affairs Minister Lorna Laboso were on their way to assist with the by-elections. (BBC)
Liberia

Liberian police are investigating the killing of at least 12 farm workers in a land dispute over the weekend in a remote southern part of the country. They had been thrown into a river after being shot and hacked to death, Police Director Beatrice Munah Sieh said. The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Liberia says nearly 50 people are feared to have been killed. He said the farmland on which the attack took place is claimed by a prominent ex-rebel and a senator. (BBC)

Madagascar

A mission is under way to rescue more than 100 whales trapped in a bay in the north of Madagascar. About 30 whales have already died and experts are being flown in from across the world. The site is near an area where ExxonMobil is carrying out seismic surveys but the oil company has denied any link. The first whale became stranded at the end of May and the first fatality was reported three days later. (BBC)

Malawi

Malawi will kick-off its fifth post-independence census from June 8 at a cost of USD18.4 million, Commissioner for the state-funded national statistical office Charles Machinjiri said in a statement Saturday. The three-week census will help in allowing planners and decision makers to plan effectively and efficiently for development activities he said. (AFP)

Rwanda

A former Rwandan official who is alleged to have planned the killing of up to 25,000 Tutsis during the country's 1994 genocide pleaded not guilty on June 10 to the charges brought against him at the UN war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the mass killings. Dominique Ntawukuriryayo is facing charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) - which is based in Arusha, Tanzania - of genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide for acts committed during the period from April 6 to July 17 1994. (UN News Service)

Somalia

An estimated 100 people were killed and thousands fled their homes in Mogadishu over the weekend following renewed fighting between Ethiopian troops and insurgents, local sources told IRIN. Another 200 people were reportedly wounded in the clashes, which started on April 19. "Sunday [June 8] was the most intense, with the three main hospitals recording over 100 injured," a medical source reported. The numbers, he said, reflect only those who made it to city hospitals in Madina in the south, Keysaney in the north and northwest Dayniile. (IRIN)

South Africa
Residents of Soetwater Camp, a shelter on the outskirts of Cape Town, have threatened to commit suicide in an attempt to draw attention to dire conditions in the camp and a growing feeling of neglect and inaction at the hands of authorities and aid agencies. Soetwater, 30 km south of Cape Town, has become home to over 4,000 foreign nationals displaced by South Africa's recent wave of xenophobic violence. Local media reported that about 100 people, mainly Somali nationals unhappy with their treatment at Soetwater Camp, had threatened to walk into the sea to drown themselves and said four people were already feared dead. (IRIN)

Sudan

The UN World Food Program is cutting air services to Darfur, reducing the ability of 14,000 aid workers to travel to the Sudanese region. The agency said it was cutting one of six helicopters with immediate effect, and two airplanes on June 19. The WFP said it needed USD 20 million by June 15 to avoid some of the cuts and maintain a full service. Meanwhile, Sudan's government has said it wants global police agency Interpol to arrest 20 Darfuri rebel leaders. The men are wanted for their alleged role in an attack near the capital, Khartoum, last month. (BBC)

Zambia

Zambia has granted political asylum to 12 Zimbabwean opposition activists who have fled escalating violence ahead of Zimbabwe's run-off vote later in June. They feared persecution by the Zimbabwean security forces, Zambia's state-run Daily Mail paper reported. Zimbabwe's government has denied it is behind a campaign of intimidation. A BBC correspondent in Zambia says the government rarely grants asylum to Zimbabweans, and it must have been convinced their lives were in danger. (BBC)

Zimbabwe

The UN humanitarian chief has called on the Government of Zimbabwe to rescind its decision to suspend all field operations by non-governmental aid groups. Pointing out that much of the UN's humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe is channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that aid for two million of the most poor and vulnerable among Zimbabwe's people would be severely restricted. (UN News Service)

Source: Global Development Briefing, the Largest Circulation Publication Serving the International Development Community.

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