- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SUDAN

U.N. official seeks safety for aid workers

KHARTOUM — U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland urged the Sudanese government yesterday to improve security conditions for aid workers in the war-torn western region of Darfur after a spate of deaths in recent months.

“The situation is very difficult, and the security has deteriorated. There are courageous humanitarian workers who feel the need for more help to enable work for the civilian population,” Mr. Egeland told reporters after a meeting with Humanitarian Affairs Minister Costi Manibe.

“We brought up a series of concerns we had” about conditions for aid workers in Darfur, Mr. Egeland said, adding that he received “some very positive responses from the minister. I highlighted the need to see everything done to avoid more attacks on the civilian population and further attacks on humanitarian workers.”

ANGOLA

Overhaul of press laws urged before elections

LUANDA — Angola must revamp its repressive press laws before the southern African country’s first postwar elections next year, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

“The Angolan government’s dismal record of protecting freedom of expression makes providing press freedom critical … in the run-up to national elections expected in 2007,” HRW said. Civil war raged in oil-rich Angola for nearly 30 years until 2002, claiming about 500,000 lives and displacing as many.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, has promised to hold elections before the end of next year, but has not set a date. New York-based HRW said press laws passed this year in Angola are an improvement over previous legislation but still contain “elements that undermine press freedom.”

Weekly notes …

South African police are battling armed gangs of gold pirates in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game through dark mine shafts a mile or more underground to stop an illicit gold trade worth more than $700 million a year. Assistant Police Commissioner Mike Fryer said: “Our biggest problem is that they were utilizing explosives and hand-made grenades to threaten the people underground. If one of those goes off in the wrong place, the whole thing could come tumbling down.” … Uganda’s army said yesterday that it had withdrawn from three positions in southern Sudan to enable Lord’s Resistance Army rebels to assemble at designated sites under a peace plan. The announcement followed an order by President Yoweri Museveni aimed at shoring up fitful peace talks being held in southern Sudan, which agreed on a historic temporary truce in August.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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