Angola + 3 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News briefs, 25 January

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News and Press Release
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ZAMBIA: Ogata winds up refugee visit
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata wound up a visit to Zambia on Tuesday saying she found that refugees who have fled recent fighting between government forces and UNITA rebels were in a "desperate, depressed situation".

She made the remarks after visiting refugees in Kalabo on the western banks of the upper Zambezi. A UNHCR spokesman told IRIN the plight of the estimated 5,000 Kalabo refugees would be alleviated by an airlift which has been ferrying people out to Mongu and then taking them by road onward to the established Mayukwayukwa refugee camp. Zambia is home to some 160,000 Angolan refugees, of whom some 21,000 have fled since October.

Meanwhile, Zambian Vice President Christon Tembo told Ogata the country lacked the resources to support the refugees: "We are appealing to the international community to help us. The problem is a drain on our revenue. It is giving us stress on our economy," Tembo told reporters.

ZIMBABWE: Fuel shortage worsens

Zimbabwe's fuel shortages were expected to worsen after it was announced by industry sources that the 350 km pipeline carrying fuel from the Mozambique coast had been shut because of non-payment.

Media reports on Tuesday quoted industry sources as saying the pipeline had been turned off on Monday night. The fuel crisis started last month after the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe said it could not pay fuel bills estimated at some US $47-million.

In a bid to pre-empt the crisis which has already manifested itself in the form of long queues at petrol stations, news reports said Transport Minister Enos Chikowore would join Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's in Dubai on Thursday to meet Omani and Kuwaiti suppliers.

ANGOLA: Offshore oil spill

The Angolan government has said it is checking reports that large quantities of dead fish are washing ashore following an oil spill last month off the coast of the northwest enclave of Cabinda.

State radio said about 40 barrels of crude oil had been discharged from a treatment tank owned by Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, a subsidiary of U.S. oil giant Chevron.

BOTSWANA: New AIDS funding

The Botswana Christian Aids Intervention Program (BOCAIP) is to receive a five-year grant of US$400,000 to support HIV/AIDS counselling and assistance programmes for women and children, from the US-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

A foundation statement on Tuesday said it had also provided a one-year grant of US $32,000 to the Reetsanang Association of Community Drama Groups for ongoing HIV/AIDS awareness projects using theatre as a grassroots communication tool. Botswana's health minister, Joy Phumaphi, welcomed the grants: "They provide education, care and support in line with our pledge to provide more assistance to people suffering from HIV/AIDS," she said.

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