- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

ETHIOPIA

Healthy AIDS orphans growing export item

ADDIS ABABA — Four-month-old Thomas Bekele lies in a crib at Kidane Meheret Children’s Home awaiting an HIV test that will decide his chances of being adopted and growing up in a rich country.

His mother died a month ago of tuberculosis, a telltale sign of HIV/AIDS. He is one of 150 children at the home, most of whom lost their parents to AIDS. The healthy ones in the orphanage run by Franciscan nuns may become part of Ethiopia’s newest export: adoptable children.

The country of 70 million has more than 5 million orphans. Caring for them costs $115 million per month, in a country whose annual health budget is $140 million. So Ethiopia has gone out of its way to ease adoption.

“We want people to invest in Ethiopia rather than take our children,” said Dr. Bulti Gutema, who leads the government adoption authority in the world’s third-poorest country. “Adoption is the last resort because it doesn’t help alleviate poverty in Ethiopia,” he said.

NIGERIA

Abuja to be summit venue

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The African Union will hold a meeting of heads of state in Abuja, Nigeria, on Jan. 30 and 31, AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako said yesterday in the Ethiopian capital.

The last AU summit, held here in July, agreed to hold biannual meetings instead of one per year, as had been the case under the union’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. Mr. Orjiako told Agence France-Presse that health and food security on the continent will top the summit agenda.

A source told AFP that Sudan had been scheduled to host the second AU summit of next year, but the decision is pending as conflict continues in the country’s Darfur region in the west. Fighting also rages in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Ivory Coast is tries to implement a fragile peace deal.

Weekly notes

Sudanese government troops attacking a town in its Darfur region in the west fatally shot a local aid worker with international medical-aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, MSF said yesterday. The victim is the second Sudanese MSF worker killed in the region in three months, the group said. About 29 Sudanese MSF workers are missing after a Dec. 17 raid on the town of Labado in Darfur. … Human Rights Watch said yesterday that Angolan troops were raping and torturing civilians with impunity in the oil-rich Cabinda region and called on Luanda to immediately stop the violations. “In the past year, the Angolan army has subjected civilians to extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other mistreatment, as well as sexual violence,” the New York-based rights watchdog said.

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