- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Mauritanian pleads for his slave family

DAKAR — A free man in Mauritania pleaded for the liberation of a wife and children he said still were caught in slavery, saying they were being held by their owners in Mauritania’s remote east.

The account of Cheikhna Ould Beilil — a 44-year-old animal-feed seller and free-born man who said he is married to Kelizima Mint Bota, a slave — was the second case to emerge in recent weeks of traditional slavery that international human-rights groups say still binds hundreds of thousands of West Africans into servitude.

“It’s good fortune” to have had two cases of slavery come to light in such a short period, said Boubacar Ould Messaoud, president of SOS Esclave, Mauritania’s main antislavery organization. “It’s not from the same family. It’s not from the same region. That’s because slavery exists everywhere in Mauritania,” he said.


Sudanese conflict spills over border

NDJAMENA — Thirty persons were killed over the past week when a conflict between Sudanese government-backed Arab militia and rebels spilled over the border into neighboring Chad, a newspaper here reported yesterday.

The Janjaweed, as the militia is known, attacked an administrative building in Terbeze, near the border with western Sudan, on Sunday as well as two nearby villages, Le Progres reported.

As they were retreating, they were engaged in a four-hour firefight with Sudanese rebels that left 20 dead.


Fired minister held in murder

NIAMEY — Former Tourism Minister Rhissa Ag Boula, a key figure in the 1990s rebellion of Niger’s northern nomads, has been arrested for reported involvement in the assassination of a ruling party militant, court sources say.

Mr. Ag Boula was sacked last week without explanation. The sources said he was arrested on Sunday in connection with an investigation into the Jan. 26 murder of Adam Amangue, 26, a militant in President Mamadou Tandja’s ruling National Movement for Society and Development.

Mr. Amangue was shot three times at point-blank range as he left a party office at Tchirozerine in the homeland of the nomadic Tuaregs, which is the seat of Mr. Ag Boula’s power.

Weekly notes

The U.S. government has announced it will spend $100 million to eradicate human trafficking, which it described as a modern-day form of slavery. John Miller, director of the State Department’s office to combat human trafficking, said countries that qualify will get money for law-enforcement training, education and assistance to victims, most of whom are women and children forced to work as prostitutes, laborers and maids. … Nigeria announced this week that it is importing antiretroviral drugs worth nearly $4 million to end a four-month shortage threatening its ambitious plan to fight AIDS. Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo said the first batch already has arrived in Africa’s most populous country and is being distributed to Nigeria’s 25 HIV/AIDS treatment centers, many of which ran out of supplies in September because of “over-enrollment of patients” in the pilot program.

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