Wednesday, December 31, 2003

BURNDIAN ARCHBISHOP TOLD TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY -- YOUNG BENINOIS BOYS JOIN MIGRANT LABOR CYCLE
Burundian rebels have ordered the country's most senior Catholic leader to leave the country. The threat occured days after the assassination of the Vatican's envoy to the country, which the archbishop of Bujumbura blamed on the rebel FNL group. The FNL denied involvement in the assassination but "asked" Rome reassign the archbishop to another country.

The New York Times reported on a sad reality for many West Africans. The article reported on several young Beninois boys who joined the hard cycle of migrant labor. The boys, some as young as 8, were sent to break stones in the quarries of neighboring Nigeria. At home, the proceeds of their labor buy sacks of grain, pay a father's crippling debts, put tin roofs on mud huts and bring bicycles and radios to families who have nothing. Sometimes, after years of a boy's poorly paid work, his patron — in French, "master" — builds a house for his family. Sometimes, the boys grow up to be masters themselves: they come home dressed in smart new clothes, with cash in their pockets, and ferry a new batch of small boys to break stones across the border.

The UN's IRIN service reports that a drought emergency is hitting food security in Swaziland. "The current serious drought, which seems to be the worst in recorded history, threatens severely diminished harvests and serious water shortages in large parts of the kingdom," Ben Nsibandze, chairman of the National Disaster Relief Task Force, said in a statement.

After some problems earlier in the week, UN troops were finally allowed to enter territory controlled by the Liberian rebel group LURD.

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