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TOP NEWS RELATED TO U.S. AFRICA COMMAND AND AFRICA U.S. trying new approach in Somalia to fight insurgency (Stars and Stripes) (Somalia) In the coming months, the U.S. will begin direct engagement with leaders of two northern Somalia breakaway regions with the hope that those political ties can stem the radical insurgency that threatens to spread beyond the lawless parts of southern Somalia, according to State Department officials. Soldiers in seminar on IG (The Swazi Observer) (Swaziland) The American Embassy in conjunction with AFRICOM is hosting a twoday Inspector General seminar for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF). U.S. Military Aid Far Outpaces Democracy Assistance (IPS) (Pan Africa) The "oversized impact" of the Pentagon - as opposed to the State Department - on U.S. foreign policy has become a major concern of human rights and other critics who claim that Washington's relations with much of the developing world have become increasingly "militarised" since the end of the Cold War. US Activists Bring Attention to Congo's Plight (Voice of America) (Congo) Activists in the United States are organizing events this week to bring attention to the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The efforts are part of a wider movement to help victims and try to bring about change from a distance. U.S.A to Train 1,500 Doctors (New Vision) (Uganda) Over 1,500 Ugandan doctors are to be trained in Uganda in the next five years on a grant from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). UN Dismisses Reports of Troop Buildup in Contested Region of Sudan (Voice of America) (Sudan) A representative from the U.N. Mission in Sudan has dismissed reports that extra troops would be sent to the Abyei region in advance of the tense vote.
AU developing an Integrated Maritime Strategy for Africa (DefenceWeb) (Pan Africa) The African Union (AU) is developing an integrated maritime strategy to serve as a long-term multi-layered common vision to addressing seaborne challenges and sustain more wealth creation from the oceans and seas. Kenya to hand over 32 Somalis to UNHCR (Xinhua) (Kenya/Somalia) The Kenyan government will hand over 32 illegal Somali immigrants who were arrested in a forest in the coastal town of Mombasa to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices after three months. Pre-Election Clashes in Guinea Kill One (Associated Press) (Guinea) A political demonstrator was killed by police in Guinea's capital, a political party official said Tuesday, in one of several violent street clashes ahead of a planned presidential poll. Zambia accused of ignoring mine abuses (Financial Times) (Zambia) A Zambian opposition leader has accused the government of ´colludingµ with Beijing in the abuse of the country·s workers after two Chinese mine managers were arrested for allegedly shooting 11 of their employees. 'Hang them': Uganda paper publishes photos of gays (Associated Press) (Uganda) The front-page newspaper story featured a list of Uganda's 100 "top" homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: "Hang Them." Alongside their photos were the men's names and addresses. UN News Service Africa Briefs Full Articles on UN Website y Sudan: UN strengthens helicopter fleet for logistical work in referendum y Côte d·Ivoire: UN envoy reports peaceful start to election campaign y ICC confirms war crimes case against former DR Congo leader y UN resumes repatriation of Mauritanian refugees from Senegal ------------------------------------------------------------------------UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST: WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, October 27, 12:00 p.m.; Council on Foreign Relations WHAT: A Conversation with Senator Richard G. Lugar WHO: Senator Richard G. Lugar, Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate Info: http://www.cfr.org/ WHEN/WHERE: Friday, November 5, 9:30 a.m.; U.S. Institute of Peace WHAT: Women in War Conference: The Trouble with the Congo
WHO: Severine Autesserre, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University; Raymond Gilpin, Associate Vice President, Sustainable Economies, Centers of Innovation, U.S. Institute of Peace; Christine Karumba, Women for Women International; Howard Wolpe, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Diane Orentlicher, Deputy Director, Office of War Crimes, U.S. Department of State Info: http://www.usip.org/events/woman-and-war ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------FULL ARTICLE TEXT U.S. trying new approach in Somalia to fight insurgency (Stars and Stripes) STUTTGART, Germany ³ In the coming months, the U.S. will begin direct engagement with leaders of two northern Somalia breakaway regions with the hope that those political ties can stem the radical insurgency that threatens to spread beyond the lawless parts of southern Somalia, according to State Department officials. The effort marks a significant policy change toward Somalia, which has become a safe haven for the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked faction that has been battling the weak, U.S.-backed central government. In the last two years, the U.S. has spent more than $200 million trying to bolster Somalia·s Transitional Federal Government. And while that support will continue, the U.S. also will engage with leaders in Somaliland and Puntland as it looks to build on those regions· relative political and civil stability. The U.S. will provide assistance that strengthens the regions and prevents them from being ´pulled backwardµ by an al-Shabab incursion, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told Stars and Stripes during a visit to U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart last week. ´We want to encourage the TFG to be more than just a government in name only,µ Carson said. Working with groups in Somaliland and Puntland will help achieve ´poles of stability that will create the kind of environment that will bring about more progress in dealing with radical extremism of Shabab,µ Carson said. Carson said the U.S. would not establish formal diplomatic relations with the two entities nor recognize their independence, but would help their governments with agriculture, water, health and education projects. By doing so, the U.S. hopes to shield these regions from the influence of al-Shabab, which seeks to impose its own harsh form of Sharia law across Somalia.
However, some Africa experts believe that the new approach is unlikely to quell any of the violence in the contested southern part of the country. It also is unlikely to spur reform within the country·s weak government. ´I·m not sure if investing more in the north helps secure the south ... or furthers the goal of a united Somalia,µ said Richard Downie, an Africa policy analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ´But that goal is so far off right now as to be unobtainable, so the new focus I think is more on the short to medium term.µ The U.S.·s two-track approach is more a reflection of the incompetence of the TFG than a recipe for uniting Somalia, Downie said. ´It doesn·t make sense to have all the policy eggs in one basket,µ he said. Somaliland declared independence in 1991, and Puntland declared itself an autonomous state in 1998. While each has established its own political and law enforcement institutions, no other nation formally recognizes them. But these territories could serve as bulwark against al-Shabab, according to Carson. The decision to engage with other political elements in Somalia ³ other than the TFG ³ could signal a willingness for the Obama administration to adapt as the U.S. grapples for ways to contain the growing threat from groups like al-Shabab. ´I think it is a positive development, but like all policies, the devil is in the details,µ said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar from Davidson College in North Carolina. While U.S. development agencies and others in the international community have done work in Somaliland before, direct political engagement is something new. The challenge will be making sure that America·s involvement with Somali leaders outside the TFG doesn·t undermine efforts to build up a central government, according to Menkhaus. ´But if it·s done correctly, it reinforces the central government,µ he said, adding that the policy shift will be unlikely to include a U.S. military component. Support for the TFG remains the first priority, Carson said. The African Union·s contingent of more than 7,000 troops, mainly drawn from Uganda, which protects the fragile TFG from being overrun by insurgents, will continue to receive U.S. backing, he said. Meanwhile, U.S. Africa Command continues to provide training and logistical support to deploying AU forces.
However, the Somali government needs to do more to bring together different factions in the country, according to Carson. While there are no concrete initiatives yet, U.S. officials will begin to meet on a periodic basis with government officials from Somaliland and Puntland to discuss development issues, including health, education, agriculture, and water projects, to help ensure their capacity to govern and to deliver services to their people. In addition, Carson said the U.S. will look to engage with smaller groups ³ clans and sub-clans ³ which deliver services to the population and oppose the ideology of Shabab, but are not aligned with the TFG. For 20 years Somalia has been without a functioning government and during most of that time, the international community has been disengaged. Ever since the deadly Battle of Mogadishu in 1991, which left 18 U.S. soldiers dead, the U.S. has had a largely hands-off policy toward Somalia. By 1992, all western troops pulled out of the country and diplomatic and development work was limited. However, during the past couple of years, that has been slowly changed as new threats have emerged. ´We·ve seen this localized cancer become a regional cancer,µ said Carson. ´We also see outflows of small arms across the border, feeding criminality and lawlessness.µ And with the influx of foreign fighters who are taking up arms alongside al-Shabab, including some Americans of Somali descent, the cancer has ´metastasizedµ into a global malignancy, Carson said. The long-term goal of one Somalia operating under something that resembles a democracy is a long way off, Carson acknowledged. ´It is first stability,µ he said. ´Second, it is to help create the conditions and environment to end the recurring cycle of humanitarian disaster and create an environment where development can take root.µ But while Carson will not say it, the TFG is probably not the political entity to bring that about, Downie said. The decision to work with other political groups is a sign that the U.S. is getting more pragmatic in its approach, broadening what has so far been a narrow strategy, he said. ´It reflects the fact that the TFG is probably a doomed project,µ Downie said. --------------------
Soldiers in seminar on IG (The Swazi Observer) The American Embassy in conjunction with AFRICOM is hosting a two-day Inspector General seminar for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF). The soldiers are being taught about the role of the inspector general in the army, a newly established position in the USDF. American Embassy Charge de Affaires Craig Cloud said the seminar was aimed at sentising soldiers to the role of the inspector general in the army. The inspector general in the USDF is Brigadier General Lenford Dlamini. Cloud said the seminar was a follow up to the International Inspector General conference, which took place earlier this year in Ghana. He said the soldiers would be taught about the crucial role in the security sector reform programmes, particularly institutional and human capital development. ´You will learn the role of the inspector general also strengthens the rule of law as well as military accountability to and oversight by the civilian authority.µ Cloud said the local army would serve as a role model for other institutions by holding itself accountable to high standards of conduct and professionalism. He said the inspector general concept was being implemented across Africa and many countries around the world were using it to increase professionalism and discipline. USDF Commander Lieutenant General Sobantu Dlamini said he had no doubt that at the end of the two days his officers would have a better understanding of the important role the IG sought to play in the improvement of the overall effectiveness of both the command and staff functions within the force. -------------------U.S. Military Aid Far Outpaces Democracy Assistance (IPS) WASHINGTON - Desperate to secure supply routes to Afghanistan, the United States has been spending at least six times more on military aid for the mostly authoritarian states of Central Asia than on efforts to promote political liberalisation and human rights in the region, according to a new report released here by the Open Society Foundations (OSF). The 45-page report found that the full extent of military aid controlled by the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and channelled through a bewildering variety of programmes is uncertain, but that it is at least three times greater than the State Department's military aid programmes which are subject to human rights and other conditions. "Nobody really knows how much military aid the U.S. government is giving the Central Asian states," according to Lora Lumpe, the author of the report, 'U.S. Military Aid to Central Asia 1999-2009: Security Priorities Trump Human Rights and Diplomacy'.
"CENTCOM'S Directorate for Policy and Plans «is likely to have the fullest picture of U.S. military assistance to the region, but those plans are classified," she noted, adding that Congressional efforts to obtain comprehensive and timely reporting on Pentagon spending in the region have been largely unavailing. The report, which comes six months after the violent overthrow of the corrupt U.S.backed government of former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, is likely to spur new questions about whether the strategic benefits the military gains in securing access to bases in Central Asia outweigh the political and other costs in the long term. In 2007, the Pentagon provided some 30 million dollars in a variety of aid programmes to the Bakiyev regime ² mainly as compensation for access to the Manas Air Base, according to the report. That was roughly six times what it spent on democracy and civil society programmes. The Pentagon also reportedly awarded exclusive fuelling contracts - now under investigation both in Bishkek and in Congress - for U.S. operations at the base to companies in which Bakiyev's cronies and son had substantial interests, contributing to the perception in Kyrgyzstan that Washington was backing a corrupt and increasingly authoritarian regime. "Now that Bakiyev has collapsed, there are a lot of really angry voices in the new government," said Alexander Cooley, a Central Asia expert at Barnard College in New York. "The Pentagon's 'walking-around money' «may not actually guarantee access (to the bases) over the long term." The "oversized impact" of the Pentagon - as opposed to the State Department - on U.S. foreign policy has become a major concern of human rights and other critics who claim that Washington's relations with much of the developing world have become increasingly "militarised" since the end of the Cold War. Six months ago, for example, three Washington-based groups focused on human rights and Latin America policy published a report that found that nearly half of all U.S. aid was being channelled to the region through the Pentagon and that the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) had largely displaced the State Department as the de facto "lead actor and voice" for U.S. policy there. And, although U.S. development aid to Africa still dwarfs military assistance, similar fears have been voiced about the Pentagon's three-year-old African Command (AFRICOM), which is providing counter-terrorist and counter-narcotics assistance to dozens of countries, primarily in the Sahelian region and in East and West Africa.
Washington has provided military and police aid at various times to the Central Asian states - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan - virtually since their creation after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the early 1990s, military and police assistance focused mainly on preventing the proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons, counter-narcotics trafficking, and border control. By the end of the decade, aid had expanded in most of the five countries, as CENTCOM ² whose writ runs from Egypt to China's southwestern border ² sent Special Operations Forces (SOF) to train local troops in counterinsurgency in increasingly restive Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbek and Kazakh militaries were taking part in NATO exercises. Most of the aid during this period came through traditional military and security programmes overseen by the State Department. Such programmes are subject to Congressionally imposed restrictions that ban, for example, any assistance to militaries that commit gross abuses of human rights or that overthrow democratically elected leaders. The Pentagon and the combatant commands like CENTCOM, however, came to see State Department programmes as unreliable, driven more by politics than by what they regarded as the strategic needs of the U.S. military, according to the report. In a trend that accelerated sharply after 9/11, the Pentagon developed a parallel system of "security cooperation" programmes to provide various forms of assistance that would not be subject to Congressionally imposed conditions. "In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the DOD [Department of Defense] has sought, and Congress has granted, more than a dozen new legal authorities, increasing the ways that CENTCOM (and the other regional military commands) can spend funds from the Pentagon's general coffers to provide direct assistance to foreign militaries," according to the report. As a result, the Pentagon provided at least 103 million dollars in military-related aid to Central Asian countries in 2007 ² the last year for which the Pentagon provided relatively comprehensive figures, Lumpe said. That was nearly three times as much as was provided under the traditional military aid programmes under the State Department's control. Total U.S. military aid, including the State Department's programmes, came to nearly half of all assistance provided by Washington to Central Asia in 2007, the report concluded.
Since 9/11, most U.S. military assistance has been geared to securing rights of access to military bases used to ferry U.S. troops and material into Afghanistan. That function has become significantly more important over the past two years as the Pakistani Taliban has attacked convoys transporting supplies from Karachi to Afghanistan. Since the creation of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) in 2008, a land-based supply route for U.S. and allied forces that runs from Europe through Central Asia to Afghanistan, Washington has increased aid to the region's governments and militaries and, perhaps more importantly, awarded local companies ² most often with close ties to local regimes ² lucrative construction and supply contracts, including in Afghanistan itself. The Uzbek military and security forces ² some of them trained by the Pentagon massacred hundreds of protesters in 2005, Washington cut off new assistance, and Uzbekistan is the one country in the region where Washington has spent more on democratisation programmes than on military assistance. After the aid cut-off, however, the government of President Islam Karimov bought more than 12 million dollars in military equipment and training from aid credits that had already been approved. With Washington's approval, Tashkent subsequently bought more than 50 million dollars of weapons and training directly from U.S. companies, according to the report. Despite the lack of improvements in human rights conditions, the restrictions on military aid "are beginning to be relaxed", according to the report. -------------------US Activists Bring Attention to Congo's Plight (Voice of America) Activists in the United States are organizing events this week to bring attention to the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The efforts are part of a wider movement to help victims and try to bring about change from a distance. Kanda Bongo Man, a musician from the Democratic Republic of Congo, kicked off events this week in Harlem, New York, as part of what is being called "Breaking the Silence: Congo Week." The student coordinator of a group called Friends of the Congo, Kambale Musavuli, explains the importance of dozens of events across the United States and in other countries that will range from running races to conferences. 'Breaking the Silence'
"I think it is a responsibility for humanity to care for one another, that is one basic reason," said Musavuli. "A second is that it is the greatest conflict in the world since World War II, the deadliest conflict since World War II. It will take the support of ordinary people around the world, especially the United States, because it has a lot of leverage in bringing about peace in the Congo and we know that ordinary people can do that since they did it 100 years ago." Musavuli points to the historical role of Americans like author Mark Twain and former American slave Booker T. Washington as precedence. In the early 1900s, they helped lead a mass movement to end atrocities in the Congo. At the time, Belgium's King Leopold had made the Congo his private property and had built a fortune through rubber plantations. In 1908, the Belgian parliament compelled the king to cede Congo to Belgium, and the worst of the atrocities ended. Musavuli said today regular Americans can ask their local councils to write resolutions for peace in the Congo, while starting their own Internet campaigns. That way, he said, the issue will be on everyone's mind. 'Congo Week' The week-long activities come amid growing activism by U.S groups pointing out how the sale of cellphones and laptops, made with some of Congo's minerals, helps fuel Congo's conflict. They also have protested against the use of child soldiers and widespread rape. Between five and six million people are estimated to have been killed in Congo's war in the past 14 years, which also has involved neighboring countries. In eastern Congo, the region where war persists, different armies, militia groups, rebels and companies have been competing to profit from the region's mineral wealth, while local populations try to survive in dismal conditions. One U.S. group has been organizing a tour of campuses and coffee shops - called "Falling Whistles" - to advocate for peace. Advocacy coordinator Monique Beadle says the whistles are a double metaphor to bring attention to child soldiers too young to hold weapons who are sent to the frontlines wearing only whistles, and to so-called whistleblowers in Congo, who refuse to remain silent. "There are brave women and men on the ground who are risking their lives everyday and standing up for peace in their own communities so we blow this whistle in protest against the war and also in solidarity," said Beadle.
Shedding light on the conflict Beadle calls on participants who attend Congo protests to start their own protests, and use whatever skills they have to bring attention to the conflict. "Falling Whistles" sells replicas of the whistles child soldiers are forced to wear, and sends proceeds to rehabilitation programs in the Congo. Beadle said she believes activism from outside eventually can help those trying to make a difference from within the Congo prevail. "A lot of times we hear from people that it is an intractable problem and there is just no way that Congo can be at peace," said Beadle. "It is too big. But we simply don't believe that it is the case. We have met too many Congolese people, some visionaries, civil society leaders, reformers, who really have the potential and the vision and ideas to make for peace on the ground, and all that they really need is our awareness and our support and solidarity." Other suggestions that activists have been making are for the United States government to cut aid to neighboring countries found meddling in the Congo, as well as devoting more diplomatic energy to ending the conflict. They also want to see all companies selling electronic goods in the United States certify their products are free of conflict minerals. -------------------U.S.A to Train 1,500 Doctors (New Vision) Kampala ³ Over 1,500 Ugandan doctors are to be trained in Uganda in the next five years on a grant from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The head of the project, Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, said the American government's $130m (about sh293b) grant would go to Makerere University and other institutions in Uganda. Sewankambo, who heads Makerere's College of Health Sciences, said the university was among the 12 winners out of 100 African institutions which competed for the grant. Addressing journalists at his office yesterday, Sewankambo said only undergraduates will benefit from the fund. He said to qualify, students should have "good academic grades". Sewankambo explained that Makerere will receive sh22b each year. He said the fund will also be used to expand enrolment, improve teaching, carry out research and review the curriculum with a view to addressing community needs.
The beneficiaries will sign contracts with the Government to serve for a specific period of time in government health facilities before they can move to greener pastures," Sewankambo added. He, however, explained that they were also urging the health ministry to improve working conditions for health workers to retain them in government health units. "It is not low salary that is causing the brain drain of doctors; it is rather the kind of training and lack of enabling environment that can help to retain them. If a government health facility lacks facilities, doctors are forced to move to a better employment." Sewankambo said through the medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), grants are being awarded directly to African institutions in a dozen countries, working in partnership with US medical schools and universities and more than 20 US collaborators. He said the programme is designed to support PEPFAR's goals to train and retain 140,000 new healthcare workers and improve the capacity of partner countries to deliver primary healthcare. Makerere will work with the John Hopkins University as well as Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kampala International University, Case Western University and Yale University. Others are the Medical Research Council, Busitema University and Gulu University. The other countries that will benefit from the grant are Bostwana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria. Others are South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. A recent report on the Human Resources for Health Data Update released by the health ministry in June this year shows that only 30,922 (about 56%) health positions are filled countrywide in the 2,698 units. Mulago Hospital has only 1,963 filled positions, while 500 are vacant. The 12 regional hospitals have 3,437 positions filled, with 2,474 being vacant. The shortage is mainly among critical staff like midwives, doctors, nutritionists, anaesthesia staff, laboratory staff, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. The report shows that Uganda has a ratio of one nurse to 5,000 people compared to Tanzania with one per 1,000 people. Also, Uganda produces 200 doctors every year. The country has one midwife per 5,000 people compared to Tanzania with one per 2,000. The shortages are attributed to insufficient training, shortage of basic equipment in health facilities and low incentives for health workers.
A Ugandan doctor earns between sh500,000 to sh600,000 (about $300) compared to a South African doctor who earns $1,242 (about sh2.2m). The workload and staff shortage also contribute to burn-out, high absenteeism, stress, depression, low morale and de-motivation, forcing many health workers out of public sectors. The report indicates that there was a 7% increase of doctors (about 694) in 2008 compared to the 648 in 2004. Nurses increased to 5,702 in 2008 from 4,534 in 2004. -------------------UN Dismisses Reports of Troop Buildup in Contested Region of Sudan (Voice of America) A representative from the U.N. Mission in Sudan has dismissed reports that extra troops would be sent to the Abyei region in advance of the tense vote. Responding to recent reports the United Nations planned to deploy an additional 100 troops in the volatile Abyei region, the U.N. Mission in Sudan spokesman Ashraf Eissa told VOA there has been no decision made regarding deployment for the referendum. On Monday, after the top U.N. diplomat in Sudan Haile Menkerios said reserves had been sent to Abyei, it was reported 100 U.N. peacekeepers would be deployed to the region to diffuse tensions. But Eissa said there had been confusion regarding Menkerios' statement. "The fact of the matter is that we had, at the end of September, a routine exercise in the form of a long-range patrol called Operation Swift Shield which at that time we informed the media about. There has been some of these troops who are still there getting ready to move on to other parts of Sudan as part of our routine operations testing the U.N. peacekeeping force ability to respond to the requirements of the referenda," he said. Eissa said the reserve troops had not been deployed in response to any new developments, but as part of a test of the U.N. rapid deployment capabilities. A Sudan Researcher for the International Crisis Group, Zach Vertin, confirmed to VOA that no decision had been made on troop deployment, but said talks were ongoing and troops could possibly be deployed in Abyei in advance of the vote. Tensions are mounting as stalled negotiations have delayed preparations for the vote to decide whether the residents remain part of the north or possibly join a newly independent south.
Representatives from the north and south have yet to agree on Abyei's borders or eligibility requirements for the January 9 vote. Khartoum has drawn sharp criticism from southern officials after a ruling party official last week said a delay was inevitable. The Sudanese Defense Minister said the vote should be delayed due to the "reality on the ground." UNMIS spokesman Eissa would not confirm whether there were contingency plans to deal with unrest stemming from a delay. "As far as the United Nations Mission in Sudan is concerned, we are working towards the deadline of 9th of January 2011. We continue to work against this deadline. All our technical assistance and logistical support to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission are on that basis," Erissa states. Abyei's vote is scheduled to be held alongside a referendum in southern Sudan on secession from the north. In 2009, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on Abyei's borders, but the parties have yet to comply with the verdict. The region, which lies on the border of North and South Sudan, contains vast deposits of oil and was a major point of contention during the Sudanese civil war which ended in 2005. -------------------AU developing an Integrated Maritime Strategy for Africa (DefenceWeb) The African Union (AU) is developing an integrated maritime strategy to serve as a long-term multi-layered common vision to addressing seaborne challenges and sustain more wealth creation from the oceans and seas. AU Commission deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha told a US Africa Commandorganised maritime security conference last week Africa is essentially ´a big island, and needs to have a better situational awareness of all activities in its adjoining oceans and seas. Hosted by US AFRICOM, the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense, the two day conference aimed at assessing how maritime security and safety can contribute to Africa·s sustainable development. Nineteen African states, five European nations and a number of cross-sector agencies,inlcuding a large AU delegation attended the conference held in Stuttgart, Germany. In his keynote address, Mwencha listed the usual threats and vulnerabilities to stability and development in Africa such as illegal fishing; illegal dumping of hazardous waste; arms, drugs and human trafficking; illegal oil bunkering; piracy and armed robbery at sea. But he underscored that ´the leading threat to Africa·s maritime domain however remains the threat of ignorance. Until there is a true understanding of the geostrategic importance of Africa·s maritime domain for Africa·s socio-economic development growth, until there is a true understanding of how central it is for the wellbeing and prosperity of millions of Africans, the scope and magnitude of all the afore mentioned
threats and vulnerabilities will continue to grow and undermine Africa·s socioeconomic development growthµ. Mwencha said Africa·s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM-Strategy) will address these issues. Participants noted that Africa is the planet's second largest continent and the second most-populous continent after Asia. It is some 30 million square kilometres in size, covers one-fifth of the total surface of the earth and has a coastline of over 39 000 kilometers. In his remarks, US AFRICOM commander General William E. Ward said a phrase he routinely heard ´during earliest days of the US Africa Command was ¶African solutions to African challenges.· We agreed, still agree and we know that imposed strategies won·t work.µ He agreed with Mwencha that ´taking ownershipµ was important ´and I am happy to say that Africans (and) those nations and the institutions are taking ownership of these challenges. And I go back to a statement that I heard in 1996 from then President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, when he talked about the need for Africans to care for their own challenges, but with the help of our friends. And it is in that spirit that we do what we do. ´I know that a lot of work is being done in the African Union to achieve an Africa-Wide Maritime Security Strategy. That kind of combined, deliberate approach is the kind of thing that I am talking about. Addressing the issues from a regional, or in this case, a continental point of view will encompass and hear from voices and ideas that will bring a rounded approach to solving maritime issues,µ Ward said. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, US Deputy Secretary for Defence Ambassador Vicki Huddlestone warned about the relation between drug trafficking, organised crime, corruption, and potential links to violent extremism in countries where governance and the judicial law are weak. ´It is no coincidence that piracy thrives off the coast of Somalia because Somalia essentially has no central government. Likewise, it is also no coincidence that international drug traffickers have established themselves in West Africa, where small nations struggle to survive. Guinea-Bissau doesn·t even have a jailµ. US Assistant Secretary for Africa Ambassador Johnnie Carson added ´maritime safety and security is cross-cutting and encompasses functions like governance, civil and criminal authority, defence, safety, response and recovery, and economyµ. Maritime stakeholders are as interlinked as these functions. ´A State·s ability to guarantee safe and secure maritime conditions is important to the health of its overall economy as well as that of the regionµ.
He added that maritime security was an area where US and African interests converged. ´Those interests include fostering sustained economic growth and development, ensuring free movement of goods on the strategically important transportation corridors off the African coast, protecting the environment, supporting port security and infrastructure, bolstering extractive industry security, and addressing illicit transnational activities. ´An expansion in the level of international trade over the last few decades has highlighted the importance of the maritime sector to the global economy. Estimates suggest that more than 90 percent of global trade is transported by sea. Maritime economic activity extends beyond the international transport of goods to national revenue generating activities that include fishing and aquaculture, recreation and tourism, as well as extraction of non-renewable marine-based resources, and can be a critical source of income for populations at the community level.µ Carson noted that in an environment as complex and diverse as the maritime realm ´it is sometimes tempting for institutions and governments to view a particular problem as outside their jurisdiction. Often, many actors with an important stake in maritime matters do not consider themselves maritime institutions. The too-frequent and unfortunate result is a lack of coherence in an approach to the maritime sector and related reform efforts. It is critical to recognise that maritime safety and security is cross-cutting and encompasses functions like governance, civil and criminal authority, defence, safety, response and recovery, and economy. These functions are complementary and inter-dependent; gaps in one area may have a significant impact on outcomes in another.µ -------------------Kenya to hand over 32 Somalis to UNHCR (Xinhua) MOMBASA, Kenya - The Kenyan government will hand over 32 illegal Somali immigrants who were arrested in a forest in the coastal town of Mombasa to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices after three months. In a ruling delivered by Kwale Resident Magistrate Idah Obura on Tuesday, the suspects, who pleaded guilty to charges of being in the country illegally, will be jailed if they fail to pay a 125 US dollars fine each. They will have to spend the three months at the Kwale Prison, where 64 other immigrants are serving their term. The suspects were charged with the offence after Prosecutor Tom Sibuda argued that they were found in Kwale without any lawful documents to ascertain their origin.
Through an interpreter, the suspects who consisted of men and women asked the Kenyan court to be lenient on them since they were only trying to secure a good future far away from their war-torn country. The magistrate ruled that the suspects, after being taken to the UNHCR, may have to be repatriated back to their country or taken to the Daadab camp. Close to 100 aliens from Somalia are now being held at the Kwale Prison after their attempt to be trafficked to other nations through the porous Kenyan borders failed. The suspects were being detained at the Diani Police Station as an interpreter was sought to be able to read and explain the charges to them. Coast police boss, Leo Nyongesa confirmed that the police were almost zeroing in on the masterminds of the human trafficking trade that has led to the influx of illegal immigrants in the area. -------------------Pre-Election Clashes in Guinea Kill One (Associated Press) CONAKRY, Guinea ³ A political demonstrator was killed by police in Guinea's capital, a political party official said Tuesday, in one of several violent street clashes ahead of a planned presidential poll. Bah Oury, the vice president of the Union for the Democratic Forces of Guinea, said the young man who supported his party was killed during a clash between police, security forces and party supporters. He said they are still working to identify the man. A witness said Tuesday that police forces in Guinea's capital clashed with security forces and UFDG supporters. Tamba Millimono, a resident of the Cosa neighborhood in Conakry, said earlier Tuesday that police forces also shot live ammunition in various neighborhoods that support presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo. Mr. Millimono said police also were hitting Mr. Diallo's supporters with belts and fighting those who are throwing stones at them. Mr. Diallo is the main candidate for UFDG. Mr. Diallo said Monday that some of his supporters were also wounded during a march on Monday. Growing discord over the Oct. 24 presidential runoff is dividing the West African country and threatening to cause yet another delay of the poll, which could be the country's first free and fair vote since winning independence from France 52 years ago. -------------------Zambia accused of ignoring mine abuses (Financial Times)
A Zambian opposition leader has accused the government of ´colludingµ with Beijing in the abuse of the country·s workers after two Chinese mine managers were arrested for allegedly shooting 11 of their employees. The incident occurred on Friday after workers protested about their pay and working conditions at the Chinese-owned Collum coal mine, 200 miles south of the capital, Lusaka. Two Chinese managers allegedly responded by opening fire into the crowd of miners, 11 of whom were wounded. The managers have been charged with attempted murder. Nine of the workers have been discharged from hospital, while two await surgery. The mine had been closed by authorities in 2006, after reports that workers were being sent underground without proper protective clothing. It had since been allowed to reopen. Winter Kabimba, secretary-general of the opposition Patriotic Front, said the arrests did not atone for years of malpractice by Chinese companies. ´There is no doubt that the Chinese companies have been colluding with the Zambian government in the mistreatment of Zambian workers,µ he said. Many Chinese companies paid ´slave wagesµ, he said, and routinely ignored safety regulations and labour laws. ´The government has turned a blind eye to all these breaches,µ he said. ´It is a form of colonialism.µ China has built a strong presence in Zambia over the past decade, attracted by rich reserves of coal and copper. While China·s advances in other African countries have proved popular, its image in Zambia is mixed, due in part to incidents in which workers were killed or injured. In April 2005, a blast at an explosives factory, owned by the Chinese company NFC Mining Africa, killed 46 people. In July that year, six workers were shot and wounded after rioting at the Chambishi mine, also Chinese-owned. Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman for China·s foreign ministry, said the victims of the latest incident had been ´mistakenly hurtµ. ´We will proceed from the overall interests of our friendly relations with Zambia, continue our close co-operation and properly handle the aftermath according to law,µ he said.
Steven Friedman, head of the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Johannesburg, said he had ´no doubtµ that the government had turned a blind eye to breaches of regulations by Chinese companies. -------------------'Hang them': Uganda paper publishes photos of gays (Associated Press) KAMPALA, Uganda -- The front-page newspaper story featured a list of Uganda's 100 "top" homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: "Hang Them." Alongside their photos were the men's names and addresses. In the days since it was published, at least four gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to rights activist Julian Onziema. One person named in the story had stones thrown at his house by neighbors. A lawmaker in this conservative African country introduced a bill a year ago that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others. An international uproar ensued, and the bill was quietly shelved. But gays in Uganda say they have faced a year of harassment and attacks since the bill's introduction. The legislation was drawn up following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy they say allows gays to become heterosexual. "Before the introduction of the bill in parliament most people did not mind about our activities. But since then, we are harassed by many people who hate homosexuality," said Patrick Ndede, 27. "The publicity the bill got made many people come to know about us and they started mistreating us." More than 20 homosexuals have been attacked over the last year in Uganda, and an additional 17 have been arrested and are in prison, said Frank Mugisha, the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 homosexuals were attacked, he said. The bill became political poison after the international condemnation. Many Christian leaders have denounced it, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signaled to legislators that they should not take it up. Four members of parliament contacted by The Associated Press for this article declined to comment, and instead referred queries to David Bahati, the parliamentarian who introduced the bill. Bahati did not answer repeated calls Tuesday.
Homophobia is rife in many African countries. Homosexuality is punishable by death or imprisonment in Nigeria. In South Africa, the only African nation to recognize gay marriage, gangs carry out so-called "corrective" rapes on lesbians. Solomon Male, a pastor and the head of a group of clergy in Uganda, said he is glad the anti-homosexual bill has not yet passed, but said there needs to be an investigation to find out "why homosexuality is increasing in the country." The Oct. 9 article in a Ugandan newspaper called Rolling Stone - not the American magazine - came out five days before the one-year anniversary of the controversial legislation. The article claimed that an unknown but deadly disease was attacking homosexuals in Uganda, and said that gays were recruiting 1 million children by raiding schools, a common smear used in Uganda. After the newspaper hit the streets, the government Media Council ordered the newspaper to cease publishing - not because of the newspaper's content, but rather that the newspaper had not registered with the government. After it completes the paperwork, Rolling Stone will be free to publish again, said Paul Mukasa, secretary of the Media Council. That decision has angered the gay community further. Onziema said a lawsuit against Rolling Stone is in the works, and that she believes the publication has submitted its registration and plans to publish again. "Such kind of media should not be allowed in Uganda. It is creating violence and calling for genocide of sex minorities," said Mugisha. "The law enforcers and government should come out and protect sex minorities from such media." Rolling Stone does not have a large following in Uganda, a country of 32 million where about 85 percent of people are Christian and 12 percent are Muslim. The newspaper published its first edition on Aug. 23. It publishes about 2,000 copies, but a single newspaper in Uganda is often read by 10 more people. The paper's managing editor, Giles Muhame, said the article was "in the public interest." "We felt there was need for society to know that such characters exist amongst them. Some of them recruit young children into homosexuality, which is bad and need to be exposed," he said. "They take advantage of poverty to recruit Ugandans. In brief we did so because homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable and insults our traditional lifestyle.'
Members of the gay community named in the article faced harassment from friends and neighbors. Onziema said the proposed bill already has led to evictions from apartments, intimidation on the street, unlawful arrests and physical assault. "We are an endangered species within our country," said Nelly Kabali, 31. "We are looked at as if we are outcasts. One time I was in a night club with a friend when someone who knew me pointed at me shouting 'There is a gay!' People wanted to beat me up but I was saved by a bouncer who led me out." -------------------UN News Service Africa Briefs Full Articles on UN Website Sudan: UN strengthens helicopter fleet for logistical work in referendum 19 October ² The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan now has 24 helicopters, an increase of eight, to help move 120 tons of material for the January referendum that will decide whether southern Sudan declares independence from Africa·s largest country, a senior official said today. Côte d·Ivoire: UN envoy reports peaceful start to election campaign 19 October ² The campaign for Côte d·Ivoire·s much-delayed presidential elections has started calmly despite passions inherent in such a poll, which is intended to end the division of the West African country caused by civil war in 2002, the top United Nations official there reported. ICC confirms war crimes case against former DR Congo leader 19 October ² The International Criminal Court (ICC) today confirmed the case against a former senior official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) charged with war crimes allegedly committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), including rape, murder and pillaging. UN resumes repatriation of Mauritanian refugees from Senegal 19 October ² The first group of Mauritanian refugees have returned to their home country from Senegal, as the United Nations refugee agency·s repatriation scheme resumes following a 10-month break.
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