Angola + 2 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 27 March

ZAMBIA: Refugee influx expected
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said at the weekend that continuing clashes on the Angolan side of the Cuando Cubango river between the rebel UNITA movement and the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) may trigger a new influx of Angolan refugees into Zambian territory.

IOM said since the beginning of March until Sunday it had transported up to 4,597 refugees from the border area of Sinjembela to a new camp located inland at Nangweshi. It said before March the UNHCR had transported about 2,100 Angolan refugees away from the border area, bringing the total of refugees transported inland away from the border to about 6,697.

IOM added that there are still about 3,000 Angolan refugees camped at the border area, and it hoped to increase the numbers it transports as the rains subside.

ZAMBIA: Stalemate over doctors

The Zambian government last week offered to unconditionally reinstate 135 junior doctors fired in December for going strike over working conditions, news reports said. The government had earlier told the doctors to reapply for their jobs, rejecting their demand for unconditional reinstatement as setting a bad precedent.

The minister of health, David Mpamba, said: "We had a meeting with the representatives of the striking doctors and I expect them to come back within a week." However, the doctors, from the capital, Lusaka, the Copperbelt district, rejected Mpamba's offer, saying only the provision of enough drugs and an improvement in the health workers working conditions will end their strike.

The doctors, on embarking on the strike, cited a bad working environment, the poor state of hospitals and a lack of drugs, medical and surgical supplies and equipment. They said that to continue working in the run-down hospitals was a danger to patients and themselves.

ZAMBIA: Kaunda quits politics

Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda has stepped down as leader of his United National Independence Party, ending a political era that spanned more than four decades, Reuters reported on Monday.

"My father's retirement is final. We expect UNIP supporters to respect that decision," Kaunda's eldest son, Waza, said in the capital, Lusaka. "We have a new generation of leaders in Africa and it is only fair that they be allowed to rule," he said.

Kaunda, 75, is expected to seek the role of African peacemaker, following in the steps of his peer, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, who died last year, and former South African president Nelson Mandela who took over from Nyerere as mediator in the Burundi conflict.

MALAWI: Donors pledge to fight AIDS

Western donors have pledged to contribute US $109 million to Malawi's five-year plan to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS that is believed to affect 14 percent of the country's 11 million people.

News reports said the pledge was made at the weekend at the end of a two-day international donor conference on HIV/AIDS that was held in the capital, Lilongwe. Malawi had made an appeal for US $130 million. The pledges have come from the US, which promised US $30 million, while the European Union, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and the United Nations have also promised funds.


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