Friday, January 02, 2004

TOP 5 CONCERNS FOR WORLD'S CHILDREN -- MBEKI'S EVENTFUL TRIP TO HAITI
UNICEF has named its top five concerns for the world's children. The UN organization lists: child survival (children living past age 5), HIV-AIDS, children caught in war, exploitation and insufficient investment in children as the leading issues relating to young people for 2004.

South African president Thabo Mbeki's trip to Haiti was quite eventful. First, a domestic Haitian group declared that President Mbeki and his entourage were not welcome to Haiti's bicentennial celebrations. Groupe 184 opined that his visit is viewed as an insult to most of us and to the memory of our forefathers who fought for our independence and our liberty during 12 long years. Then, there were reports that the South African leader's motorcade was involved in a shooting incident in the Haitian capital, a report denied by Mbeki's spokesperson. The aide did later confirm that Mbeki's official helicopter has been shot at but that the president was not present at the time.

Despite demands from Burundi's main rebel group, a spokesman for the country's Bishops' Conference said thatthe archbishop of Bujumbura will not leave the country because that would be tantamount to giving in to terrorism.

The government of Mali has agreed to take firm but low profile action to counter the widespread practise of female circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation. IRIN reports Nine out of 10 girls in this poor West African country suffer the total or partial removal of their clitoris before or shortly after they reach puberty in a ceremony that has formed part of social life for centuries.

The UN information site notes good news for another West African country. Grain production nearly doubled in Senegal in 2003 after good rains. According to documents made available by the Ministry of Agriculture, overall grain production rose 91 percent to 1.5 million tonnes in 2003.


The United Nations has appointed Lloyd Axworthy to mediate the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute. The former Canadian foreign minister and man who was most deserving to succeed Jean Chrétien as Canada's prime minister will be the intermediary between the two Horn of Africa countries who've fought a devastating 2 1/2 year border year.

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