- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

Kabul's online 'flag'
KABUL, Afghanistan War-battered Afghanistan will take a step today toward rejoining the modern world when the country formally takes control of its own internet domain, .af, the United Nations said.
The online equivalent of an international telephone code, the .af suffix will be reserved for the sole use of Afghanistan-based e-mail and Web surfers, whose numbers are slowly increasing as the country catches up with technology.
"For Afghanistan, this is like reclaiming part of our sovereignty," the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) press release quoted Communications Minister Masoom Estanakzai as saying. "It's the country's flag on the Internet."
The first two sites to claim the suffix belong to the Afghan ministry of communication (www.moc.gov.af) and the UNDP (www.undp.org.af), which provided legal and technical support for the domain acquisition.
Judges for ICC
THE HAGUE The world's first permanent war crimes court will take a big step forward tomorrow with the inauguration of 18 judges seven women and 11 men from all over the world.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first global court to appoint such a large percentage of women as judges. They are:
Maureen Clark (Ireland)
Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica)
Fatoumata Diarra (Mali)
Akua Kuenyehia (Ghana)
Navanethem Pillay (South Africa)
Sylvia Steiner (Brazil)
Anita Usacka (Latvia)
The male magistrates are:
Rene Blattman (Bolivia)
Adrian Fulford (Britain)
Karl T. Hudson-Phillips (Trinidad and Tobago)
Claude Jorda (France)
Hans-Peter Kaul (Germany)
Philippe Kirsch (Canada)
Erkki Kourula (Finland)
Georghios Pikis (Cyprus)
Mauro Politi (Italy)
Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Samoa)
Sang-Hyun Song (South Korea)
Land reshuffle faulted
HARARE, Zimbabwe The government admits irregularities in the country's disputed land-reform program in which white-owned land was seized and given to black farmers. But in an interview published yesterday by the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper, Land Reform Minister Flora Buka played down recent media reports of high-level cronyism.
"It has to be appreciated that the land-reform program was a massive exercise carried out in a short space of time and inevitably there are some irregularities," Miss Buka told the paper. She did not detail the irregularities.
Most of the country's white-owned commercial farm land has been seized by the government for redistribution to black farmers. An audit of the program, begun in 2000 before general elections, is to be released soon and will include such details as the number of farms allocated and the names of beneficiaries, Miss Buka said.
Media reports have said senior officials in President Robert Mugabe's government and party were unfairly allocated prime farms under the scheme intended to economically empower the black majority.
The United Nations food agency has said Mr. Mugabe's land program, which has left idle thousands of otherwise productive farms, is largely responsible for the humanitarian crisis in the southern African state. An estimated 8 million people there over half the population are threatened by food shortages.
Iraq scarcity spurs concern
BAGHDAD Millions of Iraqis who rely on food handouts face a "catastrophic" situation in the event of war, a U.N. official here warned yesterday.
Veronique Taveau, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, said most Iraqis relying on food distributed by the government under international supervision have only a few weeks of reserves. "You could estimate they have enough to last between four and six weeks," she told Agence France-Presse.
The Iraqi government began to distribute on Feb. 10 rations for June and July to about 12 million people in the center and south of the country. Rations in the Kurdish region of the north are distributed solely by the United Nations.
U.N. officials are increasingly concerned at a lack of "essential nutritional elements," such as protein-rich beans and powdered milk. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, Mrs. Taveau said. "Fifty percent of pregnant women are anaemic. Babies are below normal weight. And there is a high risk of increasing infant mortality."

Betsy Pisik is on assignment. Her column will resume when she returns.

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