- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2004


French rush to aid 430 drifting refugees

DAKAR, Senegal — A French naval vessel rushed to help 430 Liberian refugees stranded without food or water on a drifting ferry off the West African coast, French and U.N. officials said yesterday.

A French military plane located the Dona Elvire, crowded with Liberians trying to return home from Nigeria and Ghana, off San Pedro, an Ivory Coast port. “We have had confirmation that the boat has been found, but 120 nautical miles from the coast,” said Geert Van de Casteele, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) field office at Tabou, near San Pedro.

The ferry first sent a distress signal late Tuesday after its engines failed 20 nautical miles from shore. Mr. Van de Casteele said the refugees would be shipped to Harper in eastern Liberia, their original destination. Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR deputy representative in Ivory Coast, told Reuters many of the passengers were sick and had run out of water after two weeks on board.


$1 billion traced to foreign accounts

NAIROBI — The government has traced $1 billion stashed away in foreign accounts by three prominent Kenyans as part of its anti-graft drive, Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi announced yesterday.

Mr. Murungi told Parliament that Britain-based investigators hired to investigate the matter may uncover a further $2 billion stored in foreign bank accounts by Kenyan businessmen. He declined to name the three individuals and banks involved, saying it would “jeopardize further investigations and compromise recovery of the money.”

The money was siphoned out of Kenya through corrupt deals under former President Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule, he added. President Mwai Kibaki won elections in December 2002, vowing to weed out a legacy of graft, but a scandal over a flawed government tender for a new passport-issuing system has highlighted the extent of the corruption.


Lagging donations threaten recovery

MONROVIA — The U.N. World Food Program said this week donations are lagging as this country created in the 19th century by freed American slaves tries to recover from 14 years of civil war.

Liberia’s war killed more than 200,000 people and wrecked the country’s infrastructure. About a million Liberians go without adequate food on a daily basis, WFP said. It added that unless immediate donations are received, WFP may have to cut back on food assistance to hundreds of thousands of Liberians as early as July.

The agency said that the WFP has received less than half the funding needed for its West Africa program, which covers Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Contributions amount to $32.4 million, less than half the $77.7 million needed, it said.

Weekly notes …

Japan will re-establish economic cooperation with Rwanda, still reeling from the massacre of more than 800,000 people a decade ago, according to Takuji Hanatani, deputy chief of the Japanese Embassy in Kenya. Mr. Hanatani said Tokyo has approved a project to fund Rwanda’s rural transportation sector and water supply. … The United States removed Sudan Tuesday from a list of governments that do not cooperate with U.S. efforts to fight terrorism. However, it remains on a second list that bars U.S. arms trade with it, as do Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Libya.

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