- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

South African boys rescued from camps

JOHANNESBURG The deaths of five teen-age boys at a brutal initiation camp have outraged South Africans and renewed debate about rites that often involve beatings and clumsy circumcisions.

More than 50 teen-agers were rushed to hospitals suffering from shock, dehydration and serious genital infections Tuesday after police removed them from three initiation schools in a rugged area of South Africa's Gauteng province, which is in winter's grip. Intervention came after five boys ages 13 to 18 died at the schools in a mountainous region.

Every year, thousands of young South African males mainly from the Xhosa, Venda and Sotho tribes attend schools across the country where they undergo weeks of trials intended to initiate them to manhood.

Traditional leaders yesterday deplored the deaths as survivors' accounts of beatings and exposure to subzero winter weather filled local newspapers.

Demobilization planned of Great Lakes troops

KAMPALA, Uganda The World Bank and international donors are to provide funds next year to demobilize and reintegrate soldiers in nine African countries of the Great Lakes region, officials said yesterday.

"The Ugandan government is working out the numbers of its soldiers to be demobilized, and this will be ready later this year," said Emilio Mondo, executive secretary-general of the Uganda Veterans Assistance Board.

But the independent Monitor newspaper reported yesterday that up to 20,000 Ugandan soldiers would be demobilized from Uganda's 45,000-strong force under the program.

Summit of poor convenes in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali As the world's richest countries began a two-day meeting in a secluded Canadian resort, hundreds of activists gathered yesterday at a small village in Mali for a "countersummit of the poor."

"We want to make our voices heard," said Mohamed Baba Tabouret, a spokesman here for debt-relief group Jubilee 2000. Mali is one of the world's poorest nations, with average per capita income of $240. "We want to tell the world that we do not agree with being left behind," Mr. Tabouret said.

He said about 600 campaigners from Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea, and maybe also Canada and Britain, were expected to converge on Siby, 30 miles from Bamako, to discuss reviving African economic growth.

WFP expects to feed 1.5 million Angolans

JOHANNESBURG The U.N. food aid agency said yesterday it expects to feed up to 1.5 million hungry Angolans this year as the country tries to rebuild itself after three decades of civil war.

"We are feeding about 1.1 million people now and see this peaking at 1.5 million people by the end of this year," Marcelo Spina of the World Food Program told Reuters here.

He said the number includes hundreds of thousands of Angolan refugees expected to return from Congo, Zambia and Namibia. "This is a direct consequence of the war," Mr. Spina said. "Angola has extremely fertile soil, and the weather has not been abnormal."

Weekly notes

Rebels of Ethiopia's Oromo Liberation Front said yesterday they had killed more than 300 government troops in the past week. The front has been waging a guerrilla struggle for independence for the country's southern Oromo region since 1993, saying the government in Addis Ababa has long discriminated against the Oromo people, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group. The U.N. refugee agency said in Geneva this week it is gravely concerned about the fate of thousands of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees after rebels attacked the town of Sinje and a refugee camp in Liberia last week. It said about 4,000 people had arrived in Sierra Leone.

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