- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

FAO predicts need for speedy food aid

ROME — Twenty-two countries in sub-Saharan African will need food aid quickly in the coming months to head off shortfalls that have hit alarming levels in several areas, said a report yesterday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Droughts, locusts and armed conflict have caused food shortages in Angola, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Chad and Zimbabwe.

In East Africa, the food situation in Sudan remains “very alarming” in a number of zones, including Darfur and parts of the south, which have suffered from armed conflict, population displacements and drought, the FAO report said. Food aid will also be necessary in Eritrea, because of several years of poor rains, and in Ethiopia.

WEST AFRICA

Guinea, Ivory Coast draw boy soldiers

NEW YORK — Human Rights Watch says thousands of young men and boys, many guilty of atrocities while fighting in West Africa’s civil wars, remain available to warlords.

The fighters are being drawn to Guinea and Ivory Coast, it said yesterday.

“Breaking the cycle of atrocities in West Africa depends on disarming these fighters, demobilizing them, and providing them with alternatives to war,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Half-measures ensure that the international community will face new calls for intervention in the region’s conflicts, long after it’s too late to prevent new atrocities,” he added. The New York City-based group’s report is based on interviews with some 60 former fighters.

MALAWI

January dry spell harms corn crop

BLANTYRE — A dry spell in this southern African nation will badly affect the output of the national staple, corn, weather experts said yesterday. The government meteorological department said 20 of 28 districts experienced monthlong dry spells starting in January and “maize production is expected to significantly drop.”

It said the corn-planting season in December started well with normal rains, but the “situation drastically turned around” at the end of January, with dry spells that resulted in corn crops wilting.

It said that although there were heavy rains in February, it was “too late for crops to recover,” but the department did not indicate what the shortfall would be.

Weekly notes

Kenya risks internal strife unless it rapidly addresses inequalities that are pushing ethnic minorities into poverty and destitution, a human-rights group warned yesterday. “Urgent action to address inequality is required in Kenya if a future major internal conflict is to be avoided,” London-based Minority Rights Group said in the new report titled “Kenya: Minorities, Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Diversity.” … South Africa endorsed yesterday last month’s elections in Zimbabwe as a “credible reflection of the will of the people,” but said opposition complaints should be addressed. President Thabo Mbeki’s Cabinet said after a meeting in Cape Town that the March 31 elections were free of the violence that marred the 2000 and 2002 balloting, where scores of people were killed. “However, while welcoming these improvements, government has noted discrepancies in counted votes and number of people … turned away from polling stations,” said spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe.

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