- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004


$500 million sought to rebuild state

MONROVIA — International donors are to meet at U.N. headquarters in New York today and tomorrow to pledge a hoped-for $500 million to rebuild Liberia after 14 years of war that destabilized all of West Africa.

But analysts warn that without a long-term international commitment to disarm and re-integrate fighters in this country’s back-to-back civil wars into civilian life, no amount of financial aid will ensure a transition to a peaceful and democratic state. About $170 million in emergency humanitarian aid already has been requested for the country settled in the 19th century by freed American slaves.

“There is no quick solution here,” Comfort Ero, West Africa director of the International Crisis Group, said in a report this week. “Liberia is a collapsed state that has effectively become a U.N. protectorate, so the international community will have to be there for the long haul.”


Refugees asked to return from Chad

KHARTOUM — President Omar al-Bashir is trying to get tens of thousands of refugees in Chad to return to Sudan’s western Darfur region, now that government troops have won key victories over the rebels, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Gen. al-Bashir ordered officials to conclude a deal with the U.N. refugee agency and the Chadian government for the voluntary return of the refugees as soon as possible, the daily Akhbar Al-Youm reported.

It quoted Sherif Ahmed Badr, chairman of a government panel on Darfur, as saying Gen. al-Bashir has instructed Sudan’s refugee commission to go to Chad to inspect the condition of the refugees, estimated to number 100,000. Some 670,000 also have been displaced in southern Sudan by a long war pitting government troops and Arab militias against non-Arab rebels.


Government bans Asian bird imports

MAPUTO — The government yesterday banned the import of birds and poultry products, including eggs, from Asia in response to a bird-flu outbreak that has killed at least 15 persons.

In a joint communique, the national directorates of health and livestock said the ban covers both domesticated and wild birds and all avian products. “Everything must be done so that this disease does not enter Mozambique,” the statement said.

The ban comes amid efforts by health authorities in the southeastern African state to control a cholera outbreak that has infected more than 5,000 and killed about 30 since Christmas.

Weekly notes

The Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) has suspended its participation in the postwar transitional government in Kinshasa over remarks by a minister it deemed insulting, the party announced yesterday. The MLC, which seized the north of the vast country during a war that ended last year, accuses Transportation and Communications Minister Olenghankoy of insulting MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, now one of Congo’s vice presidents. … Carl Alberts, a highly decorated former South African air force officer and helicopter pilot, was to appear in court yesterday for his reputed involvement in Ivory Coast’s civil war. Mr. Alberts was awarded South Africa’s highest medal for bravery for his role in the Angolan war. He is charged with fighting as a mercenary in Ivory Coast.

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