War and Peace
AngolaUnited Nations officials in Angola on December 15 said the reintegration of former child soldiers into civil society was underway despite the scale of the problem confronting the humanitarian community.
Abubakar Sultan, the child protection officer for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Angola said that although progress was slow, UN agencies, the welfare ministry and children's rights groups had implemented several programmes aimed at rehabilitating ex-child soldiers since the end of the war last year.
Conservative estimates put the number of ex-child soldiers at some 8,000. However, this figure was based on a UN survey conducted in 1995. Neither the government nor former rebel group UNITA has revealed how many underage soldiers were recruited to fight during the 27-year civil war. Recruitment of soldiers aged under 15 is forbidden by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the government in 1990. (Source: IRIN)
BurundiA peace agreement signed by all the warring parties in Burundi would need to be in place before a proposed peacekeeping force could be sent, a South African security analyst said on January 15. South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday that Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa had agreed to supply troops to support the ceasefire in Burundi until a UN peacekeeping force could be deployed, but the operation required urgent funding from the African Union (AU). "The challenge is with us, we should act fast," Zuma was quoted as telling the AU's Central Organ of the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Meanwhile Burundian army has arrested two of its soldiers in connection with an ambush last week in the capital, Bujumbura, in which 12 people were killed, according to a report by the human rights group Iteka on January 14.
An inquiry into the killings and the looting of property in Taba, Gihosha zone, was to follow, which might lead to further arrests, Iteka said. The army was pursuing armed elements which had hidden in the area. Mattresses, suitcases, television sets, radios, clothes and shoes were stolen from local houses in the process, Iteka added. Meanwhile, the army had returned goods looted last week by its soldiers during an operation in a suburb in the northeast of Bujumbura, the BBC reported. Ten civilians died in the operation. Local people welcomed the return of the looted property, saying that the move was proof that the suburb's residents "had good reasons to distrust the army". (Source: IRIN) Central African Republic The French government has announced it would allocate Euro 120,000 in medical aid to the Central African Republic (CAR), which has been shaken by violence since the eruption of fighting on 25 October 2002.
In a statement issued in Paris on January 14, France's Department of Foreign Affairs said the decision had been taken after consultations with CAR government authorities, local NGOs and UN agencies in the country.
CAR government forces have been trying to recapture positions seized by exiled former army chief of staff Francois Bozize's supporters since their unsuccessful invasion of Bangui in October. Government troops, backed by Libyan soldiers and rebels of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, flushed out the rebels.
Cote d ivoire-LiberiaCote d'Ivoire's consul general to Liberia Prosper Kotchi has called on the Ivorian and Liberian governments to work collaboratively for the extradition of Liberian mercenaries involved in the conflict in his country.
Kotchi told a news conference on January 14 in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, that Liberian mercenaries were actively fighting alongside rebel groups, but denied the involvement of the Liberian government in fueling the war in his country "as it is being rumoured" (Source: IRIN).
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