State media reports in Angola said this week that Angolan authorities had discovered 17 mass graves in the central highlands province of Bie.
According to the Luanda daily 'Journal de Angola' the graves could contain the remains of an estimated 1,700 people believed to have been killed when the areas were under the control of the UNITA rebel movement. The newspaper said that local residents led the authorities to the graves located around the airfield of Camacupa and the villages of Chivango, Pesso and Capiti.
Meanwhile, the newspaper also quoted residents in the area as saying that UNITA also executed 37 traditional chiefs by hanging.
ANGOLA: Polio campaign gets underway
Three polio immunisation campaigns began in Luanda this week and are scheduled to last until August, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Luanda said in its latest update.
It said that the campaign is being organised by the Angolan ministry of health with support from WHO and UNICEF.
"Approximately 3.8 million children under five in 164 districts will be targeted during the campaign. USAID, DFID, De Beers and Rotary International have donated US $4.2 million to support polio eradication in Angola during 2000," OCHA said.
SOUTH AFRICA-ANGOLA: Pretoria says negotiations essential
A senior South African official this week urged the government and the UNITA rebel movement in Angola to negotiate an end to the country's devastating 25-year civil war.
In an address to the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), Sipho Pityana, Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said everybody agreed that there could be no military solution to the crisis.
"However, war persists because UNITA has made it hard for anyone to believe that it is a trustworthy negotiating partner," he said. "Nonetheless, it remains doubtful that a true solution to that conflict can be found without their participation as well as (UNITA leader) Jonas Savimbi. It is for this reason that we believe that the search for a peaceful settlement as a lasting solution is unavoidable."
NAMIBIA-ANGOLA: Angolan refugees rounded up
A group of about 55 Angolan refugees were rounded up in the Kavango area in northern Namibia at the weekend and transported to the Casava transit camp by immigration officials, 'The Namibian' said on Thursday.
The newspaper said that the group was found in the Mpungu and Kahenge constituencies near the Angolan border.
Meanwhile, the Namibian Press Association (NAMPA) quoted Mascar Kashembe, principle immigration officer for Kavango as saying that the group were among those who had fled Angola last year. He said that they had been hiding in villages with some of their Namibian relatives.
Meanwhile, President Sam Nujoma recently appealed to residents in Kavango to help Angolans who were genuinely seeking refuge in Namibia.
COMORO ISLANDS: Cholera epidemic subsides
The cholera epidemic that hit the islands of Grand Comoro and Anjouan a few months ago has now subsided, media reports said on Thursday.
The Indian Ocean archipelago's director of health, Dr. Mbaye Toyb, was quoted as saying that four new cases were diagnosed on Grand Comoro last week while the weekly total on Anjouan had dropped from 370 to 12. He warned, however, that a possible resurgence of the disease could not be ruled out." We need to be more vigilant and enhance the awareness campaign to sensitise the population," he said.
Meanwhile, an official from the Comorian ministry of health expressed concern that all cholera patients on Grand Comoro were being sent to El-Maarouf hospital. "We need to open specialised cholera wards in all districts affected by the disease so as to reduce the risk of infection during the transfer of patients," the Moroni district health officer, Dr. Karima, said.
SWAZILAND: Industrial laws reformed to avert US sanctions
Swaziland's parliament has rushed through a bill to bring its industrial relations laws into line with international norms in an attempt to avert threatened US trade sanctions, news reports said on Wednesday.
The bill was passed by parliament late on Tuesday night and signed into law by King Mswati III early Wednesday.
Washington said last month it would strike Swaziland off its Generalised System of Trade Preferences (GSP) list and from another, more recent, preferential trade deal for developing countries if it did not reform its industrial relations laws.
GSP status allows developing countries to export a range of products to the United States at reduced tariffs.
SOUTHERN AFRICA: US and SADC sign agreements
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed several agreements on Wednesday to fund work in regional market integration, agriculture, natural resources management and democracy-building, a USAID statement said.
These agreements will total US $18.4 million. The statement said that Prega Ramsamy, the Acting Executive Secretary of SADC, and Edward J. Spriggs, Director of USAID's Regional Centre for Southern Africa, signed the agreements at the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone.
"The US government granted US $8.85 million for regional market integration activities that will promote free trade within the region and with global trading partners, remove trade barriers, and improve the movement of goods and services throughout the SADC region. The US will also fund US $3.6 million worth of agricultural projects to provide improved seeds for sorghum, millet, cassava and sweet potato and to develop cattle disease control technologies for farmers in the region," USAID said.
USAID will also contribute US $5.8 million as part of its on-going support for regional wildlife management programs, including assistance to the recent initiatives for the creation of transboundary wildlife protection areas such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana and South Africa. The balance of the US $18 million will support democracy-related endeavours carried out by civil society associations in the SADC region.
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