- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

Star of Namibia

The ambassador from Namibia is delighted with the sudden attention his southwest African nation is getting since superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt chose to give birth to their child there.

The couple arrived in Namibia last monthwith their two adopted children, seeking privacy from the hordes of paparazzi who hope to capture the first photos of the baby, due within weeks. The celebrity photographers think the first shot could be worth $1 million.

For Namibia, however, the publicity has been priceless, said Ambassador Hopelong Ipinge.

“Since the arrival of Angelina Jolie, her two adopted children and Brad Pitt in Namibia, the Namibian Embassy in Washington has been inundated with calls from the U.S. media and individuals,” he told the Agence France-Presse on a home visit to his country’s capital, Windhoek, last week.

“Some television stations in the U.S., including CNN, even requested our tourism marketing videos because their American viewers requested to know more about Namibia.”

Mr. Ipinge said his government has guaranteed privacy for the couple, secluded in a seaside resort.

“Her choice fell on Namibia because of privacy, and that is what we need to secure at all costs. It will be an honor for Namibia to become the birthplace of her child,” the ambassador said.

Miss Jolie first visited Namibia in 2002 to film the movie “Beyond Borders” and has traveled widely in Africa as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. She adopted her daughter, Zahara, from Ethiopia. Her son, Maddox, was adopted from Cambodia.

Namibia is often called a land of wonder and contrasts, with 800 miles of coast along its Atlantic seaboard, two vast deserts and national parks teeming with lions, elephants and other wildlife.

It also is a land of crushing poverty, where 56 percent of the population of 2 million lives on less than $2 a day and an estimated 21 percent of the population is infected with the AIDS virus.

‘Forgotten war’

The ambassador of Uganda says he is grateful to Congress for focusing new attention on an internal conflict in his country that is often referred to as “the forgotten war.”

Ambassador Perezi Kamunanwire praised Rep. Christopher H. Smith for holding a hearing on Uganda’s 20-year-old struggle against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), accused of killing 12,000 civilians, abducting 30,000 children and forcing at least 1.5 million into refugee camps.

He thanked the New Jersey Republican for “investigating this important but often overlooked issue.”

“Increased attention in the United States can only result in the channeling of greater resources to address the conflict and to deal with the rehabilitation of the region when the terrorist threat has been eliminated,” the ambassador said last week at a hearing of Mr. Smith’s International Relations subcommittee on Africa, global human rights and international operations.

The State Department designated the LRA as a terrorist group in 2001.

Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s defense minister, told the committee, “The Lord’s Resistance Army is one of the most brutal terrorist organizations the world has known in recent history.”

He said the atrocities committed by the rebels include “large-scale massacres, abductions, maiming, mutilation, looting of property [and] rape.”

Mr. Smith noted that children kidnapped by the LRA have been forced to fight for the rebels. They have been turned into “kill-or-be-killed mercenaries,” said Mr. Smith, who is also the vice chairman of the International Relations Committee.

However, he warned the Ugandan officials against their own use of child soldiers and said he soon will introduce legislation to deny U.S. military aid to Uganda’s government.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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