- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

2 Nigeria dams burst; villages swept away

GARIN DAU, Nigeria — Flash floods swept away dozens of villages in northern Nigeria after two dams burst, killing at least 40 people and displacing 10,000, local officials said yesterday.

Local leaders told Reuters news agency that about 60 villages southeast of Kano had been swept away by rising waters after the Tiga and Challawa Gorge dams burst and the Kano River overflowed Tuesday night.

The chairman of Kumobotso's local government, Mannir Baba Danagundi, said the torrential rain and floods had destroyed the mud and thatch homes of some 10,000 people.

At one makeshift refugee camp in Garin Dau, a town on the boundary of the Wudil and Warawa areas, village elders said at least 40 of their people were missing and feared dead.

South African workers protest privatization

JOHANNESBURG — Thousands of workers rallied here yesterday to protest the government's privatization plans as a nationwide strike gripped the country, South Africa's largest labor federation said.

At least 15,000 workers, some perched on trees, others waving banners and chanting, assembled for the rally in Library Gardens, where union leaders railed against a privatization program, they say, will cost thousands of jobs.

But while crowds thronged to the city center, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions said some cities, including Pretoria and Durban, were deserted as 65 percent of workers observed a two-day strike. It said schools were largely empty and taxi and rail services were disrupted.

U.N. sends home 3,500 child soldiers

NAIROBI, Kenya — The United Nations has returned almost 3,500 former child soldiers fighting in Sudan's civil war to their families, the organization said yesterday.

The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, said all but 70 of 3,551 child soldiers released by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army in February had been returned to their communities, while 4,000 more were awaiting demobilization.

"This is not the end," said Sharad Sapra, head of UNICEF operations in Southern Sudan.

"We need to focus on supporting the communities these children have gone home to, both to ease the general suffering and to make it less likely children will ever be recruited again," he said.

Weekly notes

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo left the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen yesterday, ending a four-day official visit to China. Last year the city imported (U.S.) $1.7 million worth of Nigerian goods, and the figure is expected to reach $4 million this year, Xinhua News Agency said. Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group says it will stop disarming if President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah refuses to form an interim government before legislative elections. RUF spokesman Gibril Massaquoi said over U.N. radio late Tuesday the RUF rebels want "an 18-month interim transitional government to be in place" when the present administration ends Sept. 26.

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