Weekly anb10241.txt #7

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 24-10-2002      PART #1/7

* Afrique. Lutte contre l'onchocercose - Le Fonds africain de développement (FAD) va débourser 2,64 millions de dollars destinés à financer la seconde phase du programme africain de lutte contre l'onchocercose (la cécité des rivières), a-t-on appris le 17 octobre. Le programme 2002-2007 vise à créer un système autonome, efficace et durable de traitement dans toutes les zones endémiques. Il aidera aussi à éliminer le vecteur de la maladie dans des zones particulières grâce à l'usage de pesticides qui n'ont pas de conséquences négatives sur les écosystèmes. Selon le FAD, la subvention doit couvrir les projets en Angola, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo, Ethiopie, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Ouganda, RD-Congo, Soudan, Tanzanie et Tchad. La cécité des rivières est un problème de santé publique et un obstacle au développement à cause du dépeuplement des zones fertiles. Plus de 71 millions d'Africains risquent de contracter la maladie. (PANA, Sénégal, 17 octobre 2002)

* Afrique. Sommet de la Francophonie - Le 9e sommet de la Francophonie s'est ouvert le 18 octobre à Beyrouth (Liban) en présence de chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement de 55 pays membres de cette organisation internationale. La plupart des chefs d'Etat africains des pays membres étaient présents. Les assises sont placées sous le thème du "dialogue des cultures". Le président canadien, Jean Chrétien, a cependant insisté pour que l'Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) agisse pour le renforcement de sa "vocation politique". Evoquant le dernier sommet du G8 au Canada, il a lancé un appel pour la création de synergies entre le NEPAD, le plan d'action du G8 pour l'Afrique et les programmes de développement de l'OIF. - Le sommet s'est achevé le 20 octobre. L'OIF s'est dotée d'un nouveau secrétaire général en la personne de l'ancien président sénégalais Abdou Diouf, qui succède à Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Par ailleurs, tous les observateurs soulignent la présence au sommet du président de l'Algérie, le seul grand pays francophone qui ne fait pas partie de l'organisation. Son intervention remarquée semble être le prélude à une adhésion formelle. D'autre part, le sommet s'est engagé notamment à défendre la "diversité culturelle" et le droit des Etats "à maintenir, établir et développer des politiques de soutien à la culture". La rencontre a cependant pris une tournure surtout politique et s'est clôturée sur une condamnation du terrorisme et un appel à l'Irak pour respecter ses obligations. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 21 octobre 2002)

* Africa. NEPAD and Africa's needs - 18 October: The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) is a development plan to promote good government and encourage investment and aid flows into Africa. It has received wide support as an African initiative to take greater responsibility for poverty alleviation and encourage higher standards of political accountability. The African Union and the Group of Eight leading industrialised countries have embraced the goals of the plan. But before committing additional assistance to Africa, donor countries and multilateral organisations are awaiting details of a peer review mechanism -- the principle at the heart of NEPAD whereby an African government will invite fellow African governments to assess its performance -- that has been expected to put pressure on poorly performing countries to do better. Ron Hope, a senior policy adviser at the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), says African countries will volunteer themselves for peer review rather than being independently judged for poor governance, human rights abuses and weak commitment to democracy. "The peer review mechanism will be conducted in a non-adversarial manner. This is about self-regulation. At the end of the process there will be no sanctions imposed," he says. "It's a voluntary process: nothing is going to be imposed." 19 October: About 60 government ministers from across the African continent are meeting in Johannesburg to look at ways of implementing NEPAD. The meeting hopes to move the much-vaunted initiative forward, with the focus changing from aspiration to implementation. It is being organised by the UN's Economic Commission For Africa (ECA), and will concentrate on economics rather than politics. Much of the talk will be about "peer review". In Johannesburg, ministers will be trying to agree on mechanisms and standards for assessing economic performance. The peer review system will be voluntary and it is not clear why some of Africa's worst-governed countries will ever agree to submit themselves to the process. Officials at the ECA say they do not expect many countries to embrace peer review in its early stages. However, they argue that countries which have passed through it will find it easier to attract foreign investment, and in the long run, this may convince others to follow suit. 21 October: African finance ministers criticise the World Bank's debt relief programme for failing to keep step with goals to reduce poverty in some of the poorest African countries. At the end of a three-day UN-hosted meeting, the finance ministers call for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative to be brought in line with the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which seek to halve poverty levels by 2015. African governments want the World Bank and donor countries to move beyond HIPC to offer greater debt relief and to extend relief to non-HIPC countries. "It is clear that the HIPC initiative is not working well enough. Only six African countries have reached their completion points and for some of them the debt remains unsustainable," the ministers say. "What is needed is to move faster to increase relief, to align it with the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals and to free up resources for development." (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 21 October 2002)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Africa: Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has called on the community of French-speaking nations (17 October), to take action against countries which violate press freedom, including 13 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Côte d'Ivoire: On 16 October, the offices of the newspapers Le Patriote, Tassouman, and Abidjan Magazine, were ransacked by a group of unidentified persons. -- On 17 October, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) warned that journalists are increasingly at risk, as the military crisis continues. Equatorial Guinea/Tunisia: On 18 October, the RSF appealed to members of the Francophonie, meeting in Beirut, to suspend Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia from the organisation for violating press freedom. Malawi: On 22 October, the Media Institute of Southern Africa said that police had stormed the newsroom of The Chronicle newspaper, in Lilongwe, demanding to see reporter Levison Mwase, who was not in the newsroom at the time. The journalist was ordered to report to the central region CID office. Uganda: On 16 October, the CPJ strongly condemned the Ugandan government's raid on the Monitor media group (10 October). On 17 October, workers at the Monitor returned to work. Zimbabwe: On 17 October, the Media Institute of Southern Africa issued an alert about amendments to be made to the Media Law, with more powers being accorded to the Mass Media Commission. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 22 October 2002)

* Africa. Humanitarian needs - Africa: On 21 October, the New York Times reported that the FAO has appealed for immediate help for southern Africa and Afghanistan, warning that failure to provide food and agricultural aid could lead to famine. The agency is asking for $20.1 million to buy the food that it says is necessary to curtail a disaster. Angola: IRIN (on 17 October) reports that desperately needed emergency food aid has been sitting in Angolan ports because the Customs and processing charges have not been paid. Congo RDC: On 21 October, the New York Times reported that international aid workers are warning of a growing humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo. The situation could deteriorate even more under the militias than it did under the foreign troops. Côte d'Ivoire: By 17 October, UNICEF in conjunction with Save the Children-Sweden and other partners, had concluded plans to assist vulnerable children affected by the country's crisis. -- On 22 October, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it had extended its operations in Côte d'Ivoire to assist tens of thousands victims of the current unrest, and has resumed food distribution to schools. Ethiopia: The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society have warned (on 17 October) that ethnic conflict is exacerbating the effects of drought in the country. Great Lakes: Burundi, the Central African Republic and the two Congos are among 14 African countries that will share a US $2.64 million grant from the African Development Fund for the second phase of the continent's programme to control river blindness. Uganda: On 19 October, MISNA reported that the situation is tense in the Acholi districts of northern Uganda where numerous civilians are living inside "protected villages", trying to find shelter from the frequent Lord's Resistance Army incursions. The living and health conditions of civilians are very poor due to the lack of basic necessities and humanitarian infrastructures. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 22 October 2002)

* Afrique. Premier classement mondial de la liberté de la presse - Reporters sans frontières vient de publier le premier classement mondial de la liberté de la presse. Il établit tout d'abord que la situation de la liberté de la presse est menacée aux quatre coins de la planète. Dans les vingt pays les plus mal classés, on trouve des Etats asiatiques, africains, américains et européens. Si l'on s'arrête sur les pays les mieux classés, on se rend compte que le respect de la liberté de la presse n'est pas le privilège des pays riches. Des Etats comme le Costa Rica ou le Bénin sont là pour nous rappeler que l'émergence d'une presse libre ne dépend pas seulement de la situation économique d'un pays. En Afrique, l'Erythrée (132e) et le Zimbabwe (122e) sont les Etats les plus répressifs d'Afrique subsaharienne. En Erythrée, toute la presse privée a été interdite par le gouvernement en septembre 2001 et dix-huit journalistes sont actuellement emprisonnés. De son côté, le président zimbabwéen, Robert Mugabe, s'illustre régulièrement par ses prises de position particulièrement virulentes envers la presse étrangère ou d'opposition. A l'opposé, le pays africain le mieux classé est le Bénin (21e), qui figure pourtant parmi les quinze pays les plus pauvres du monde selon le dernier rapport du Programme des Nations unies pour le développement (PNUD). Enfin, dans d'autres Etats africains comme l'Afrique du Sud (26e), le Mali (43e), la Namibie (31e) ou le Sénégal (47e), il existe une réelle liberté de la presse. (Résumé par ANB-BIA, 23 octobre 2002)

* Africa. Human rights - Congo RDC: On 16 October, The African Association for the Defence of Human Rights called for an immediate investigation to find those responsible for the recent abduction and torture of Sebastien Kayembe Nkokesha, chairman of the Congolese Human Rights Observatory. -- On 22 October, PANA reported that the Congolese authorities have asked the UN Security Council to set up an international inquiry to probe the massacre of more than 100 civilians in Uvira, South Kivu province by RCD-Goma rebels. -- In a press release on 22 October, Amnesty International said that the Congolese government should investigate human rights violations in the Mbuji-Mayi diamond fields. Dozens of suspected illegal diamond miners, including children are being shot dead every year. Côte d'Ivoire: On 22 October, a report from the BBC indicated that days after the signing of the ceasefire, there are reports of violent reprisals against civilians from the northern Dioula ethnic group. They are blamed for supporting rebels in Daloa, which government forces retook from rebel fighters last week. Residents say that showing support for rebels is seen as a sign of treachery. Egypt: On 18 October, Amnesty International said Egypt is holding three relatives of an exiled Muslim activist and warns that they are at risk of torture. Amnesty International says Egypt has detained an uncle and two brothers of Yasser el-Serri, who was sentenced to death in absentia by a military tribunal in 1994 for trying to assassinate then Egyptian prime minister Atef Sedki. Egypt detained Serri's uncle Abd al-Ghani, 50, at Cairo airport on October 1. His brothers Yahiya and Mohamed were arrested in the city of Suez on August 7. "Abd al-Ghani...is being held incommunicado at an unknown location. Amnesty International fears that he is at risk of torture or ill-treatment," the statement said. Guinea: On 22 October, the BBC reported that relatives of people killed by the administration of Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, say they have discovered mass graves where hundreds of people were buried. A spokeswoman for the group, Aminatta Barrie, said local people in the western town of Kindia had led them to the sites in the hills and forests around the town. Morocco/Western Sahara: On 23 October, Amnesty International called for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience Ali-Salem Tamek, a human rights activist imprisoned for his views in favour of Western Sahar's independence. Nigeria: In a report issued on 22 October, Human Rights Watch says the end of military rule in Nigeria has brought little benefit to the people living in the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta. There is still widespread deployment of army, navy and paramilitary Mobile Police at oil facilities across the delta. Much greater sums of money are flowing from the federal government to the delta region, but ordinary people living in the delta see little if any benefit from these funds. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 23 October 2002)

* Afrique. L'Afrique va s'auto-examiner - Comment convaincre les Occidentaux de donner une nouvelle chance à une Afrique de plus en plus marginalisée? C'est le pari lancé il y un an par les promoteurs du Nepad, le nouveau partenariat pour le développement de l'Afrique. La nouvelle génération de leaders africains (le Sud-Africain Mbeki, le Sénégalais Wade, le Nigérian Obasanjo et l'Algérien Bouteflika) qui a proposé ce plan, avalisé en juillet par les 54 pays de l'Union africaine, espère créer un nouveau type de relations avec les pays du Nord, basé sur la coresponsabilité. La principale nouveauté du Nepad est le mécanisme de "pair review" (examen par les pairs), qui doit être formellement avalisé le 3 novembre. Les pays africains évalueront eux-mêmes leur gestion politique et économique, au lieu d'être obligés de passer par des institutions internationales qui posent des conditions à la poursuite de leur aide, explique Hakim Ben Hammouda, directeur à la commission économique de l'ONU pour l'Afrique. Au départ, les promoteurs du Nepad avaient prévu que chaque pays soit jugé par ses pairs tous les trois ans. Mais ils ont dû faire marche arrière: la majorité des dirigeants africains craignait un mauvais bulletin. Finalement, l'examen se fera sur une base volontaire: le Ghana s'est déjà porté candidat et il devrait être rejoint par le Rwanda, l'Ouganda, le Sénégal, le Mali, le Maroc et l'Afrique du Sud notamment. Les premières évaluations par des experts "indépendants" commenceront début 2003. (Valérie Hirsch, Le Soir, Belgique, 23 octobre 2002)

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