Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Retired Canadian Gen. Roméo Dallaire recently testified before the International War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda. The head of UN peacekeeping operations during that country's genocide told the court that he was threatened with death for trying to evacuate orphaned children during the genocide by then Rwandan Col. Theoneste Bagosora, widely belived to be the genocide's main architect. "I had a very tense meeting with him and he threatened me with a pistol, saying that next time we met he would shoot me," Gen. Dallaire told the court. He has frequently accused the UN security council and western powers of ignoring his warnings of the impending genocide.

Chinese soldiers have joined the peacekeeping force in Liberia. The Asian giant has begun deploying 500 troops in the West African state of Liberia, in its biggest ever contribution to a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Though it's seen by many less as a statement of concern for Liberia than the result of the new Liberian government's recent decision to open diplomatic relations with Beijing at the expense of its rival Taiwan. The two Chinas have engaged in a fierce bidding war in Africa for diplomatic recognition with foreign aid and other goodies being the prize for the right choice. Nevertheless, I'm sure Liberians are grateful, regardless of the motives.

The Daily Mail and Guardian reports that landmines, rains paralyse aid efforts in Angola. Landmines are a constant problem in Angola, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, but the danger is worsened during periods of heavy rain, which can uncover and shift mines onto the roads. Major roads across the country have been closed to traffic because of the presence of landmines, holding up aid shipments from December 16 to January 12, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).

The same paper also reports the accusation that the World Health Organization (WHO) is ill-serving malaria patients. As noted here earlier, an article in the British journal The Lancet accused the agency of approving cheap drugs that are ineffective rather than newer, more effective treatments. “Why is there so much euphoria about this new drug? It is not a magic bullet. Even with this drug, some deaths are bound to happen,” noted the WHO's representative in Ethiopia. He also denied that the approved drugs are less effective. “Let’s be very clear: no resistance has been proven scientifically. [There are] just anecdotal reports from the field suggesting that something might be happening... I would challenge anybody who has scientifically backed data that can stand WHO criteria to show that there is resistance”


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