Zambia + 3 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 17 February

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ZAMBIA: Angolan refugee update
UNHCR has assessed the total number of Angolan refugees at Kalabo, in Zambia's Western Province, at 2,711 following a re-registration exercise. UNCHR said in its latest situation report that the figure included refugees that arrived between the end of January and 7 February in the remote settlement on the western banks of the Zambezi river.

UNHCR said food stocks at Kalabo were "adequate" for both the current caseload and a potential new influx. It said a Zambian ministry of health team, sponsored by UNICEF, had embarked on an immunisation campaign against polio, measles and meningitis among children in the camp. At the end of January, 2,292 refugees were flown out of Kalabo in a combined UN agency operation to Mongu, and then trucked to a long-established Angolan refugee settlement at Mayukwayukwa. With their departure, "the humanitarian situation in Kalabo has improved significantly," the report said.

There are now some 10,500 refugees at Mayukwayukwa, with more than 6,500 new arrivals since October last year. UNHCR said that the malnutrition rate for the under-five age group among new arrivals to Mayukwayukwa "was reported at an alarming rate of 65 percent" and therapeutic feeding programmes have been initiated. UNHCR added that "logistical difficulties" continued to make access to the camp difficult with the last 7 km of the road being "barely passable and the bridge across the Luena river considered unsafe for heavy trucks."

ZIMBABWE: Detained activists freed

A Zimbabwe magistrate on Wednesday acquitted eight opposition activists who were arrested in a Harare suburb at the weekend while campaigning for a "No" vote during the country's referendum on a draft constitution.

The eight activists, who included human rights lawyer Tendai Biti and a women's rights activist Priscilla Misihairabwi, were charged with violating electoral laws. But the magistrate reportedly said they had no case to answer.

The opposition under the banner of the Movement for Democratic Change and National Constitutional Assembly, who opposed the draft constitution, won the referendum with a 55 percent "No" vote while the "Yes" vote polled 45 percent.

ANGOLA: Ten killed in landmine blast

Ten people were killed on Wednesday in Bie province, about 700 km southeast of the capital Luanda, when an anti-tank landmine exploded under the vehicle in which they were travelling, news reports said. State television said that the lorry, which was carrying passengers and merchandise, was travelling along the road between Catabola and Camacupa when it detonated the landmine.

NAMIBIA: Suspected UNITA rebels attack village

At least three people were killed on Wednesday night when suspected Angolan UNITA rebels attacked a village in northeastern Namibia, Namibian state radio reported on Thursday.

The radio said the attack took place in a village 160 km east of the Namibian border town of Rundu. The police said they were investigating the incident and had sent officers to the scene.

[ENDS]

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