Friday, October 26, 2007

Chad Peace Deal Signed to End Rebellion

Peace Deal Signed to End Rebellion

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
26 October 2007

The Chadian government and four of the main rebel groups that had vowed to overthrow the government have signed a peace accord in Libya.

Mahamat Nouri (UFDD), Timane Erdiimi (RFC), Hassane El Djinedi (DNT) and Abdelwahid Aboud (UFDD-F) signed up to the deal in the presence of Chadian President Idriss Deby and President Omar El Bachir of neighbouring Sudan who have each accused each other of backing rebel groups operating in their countries.

The accord calls for an "immediate" ceasefire, the integration of rebel fighters into the national army, and the start of a process to integrate all the parties to the deal into the government.

"This is the last accord that the Chadian government will sign with the armed opposition," President Deby said.

The deal comes weeks ahead of the expected deployment of UN-mandated European Union peacekeepers in eastern Chad where they are supposed to protect civilians from attacks.

150,000 Chadians have already fled their homes in the region in the last 18 months.

Analysts have said the anti-government rebellion has distracted the national army from protecting the country's border with Chad and Sudanese-based militias have crossed into Chad where they have attacked villages.

This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire

Transnational Pipeline - COTCO Hands Over Three Bridges to Gov't
Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

26 October 2007
By Lukong Pius Nyuylime

Three of the four bridges constructed along the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline by the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO) have been found to be of great socio-economic importance to the surrounding populations.

A study carried out by the SOFT BUSINESS MANAGEMENT CONSULTING GROUP (SBMCG) has stated inter lia the environmentally friendly nature of the three bridges and consequently the need to allow them at the service of the population.

It was against this backdrop that the Minister of Public Works, Bernard Messengue Avom and the President of the Pipeline Steering and Monitoring Committee, Adolphe Moudiki, on behalf of Cameroon, signed a protocol agreement with the General Manager of COTCO, Jacky Lesage to formalise the official handing over of the bridges on rivers Mougue and Lokoundje in the Ocean Division and Mba in the Lom and Djerem Division to the State of Cameroon.

Constructed within the framework of the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline to temporarily facilitate the transportation of pipeline material and COTCO personnel, the bridges were initially feared to have disastrous effect on the environment. Thanks to the result of the study of the SBMCG, three of the bridges were found to be veritable instruments of development for the local population.

And as the President of the Pipeline Steering and Monitoring Committee, Adolphe Moudiki underscored, the population living around the bridges had found them extremely useful and were demanding with increasing insistence that the bridges be completely rehabilitated for their use. "This request was transmitted to COTCO by government through the Pipeline Steering and Monitoring Committee", Mr Moudiki said.

According to him, the World Bank which ensured the scrupulous respect of the environmental management plan of the pipeline project equally gave its kudos for the maintaining of the bridges based on the Cameroon government's commitment to rehabilitate and manage them.

It is against this backdrop that a study on reinforcing the bridge has been launched. According to the Permanent Secretary of the Steering and Monitoring Committee, Augustine Ndum, the results of the study are expected in November this year as the Ministry of public works takes over the management of the three bridges. The bridges are considered to henceforth play an important economic role for the regions concerned and enhance national integration.

The bridge over the Lokoundje links the Mvengue and the Lolodorf sub divisions together while the one on river Mba connects the town of Betare Oya to Meiganga in the East and Adamawa provinces respectively.

The three bridges according to the General Manager of COTCO, are built with metallic material and vary between 40 and 70 metres long. They have the capacity of withstanding maximum weight of 50 tons each.

UN Refugee Agency Says Witchcraft Allegations Plague Camps in South

UN News Service (New York)
26 October 2007

Allegations of witchcraft are swirling around camps for internally displaced persons in Chad are causing further confusion and violence in the already chaotic atmosphere, according to the United Nations refugee agency, which has organized initiatives to combat accusations and confusion on the matter.

When 11 refugees fell ill and died within a single week earlier this year at the Dosseye camp, host to over 5,500 of the 45,000 Central African Republic refugees in Chad, suspicions of witchcraft led to cases of assault and arson, the Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a news release.

The problem stems from the fact that two-thirds of the refugees are ethnic Fulbé/Peul, "who recognize both the existence of witches and the role of the traditional healer and exorcist," UNHCR said.

In one incident, after three siblings died within an hour, a widowed mother of eight in the camp who is an ethnic Peul was attacked by 15 others who accused her of cursing the children.

Josiane Nguerebaye, from UNHCR's community services team, said after the 11 deaths - mostly from diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition - "other refugees really lost faith in their ability to recover from illnesses and lost faith in modern medicines." Many went exclusively to the traditional healers in the camps for treatment, and if they succumbed to their illnesses it was often explained as witchcraft.

"People had stopped drinking the well water and started getting their water from the swamps and rivers around the camp. Others were either not going to the health clinic or were going there too late," said the UNHCR official. "It caused huge [health] problems.�

In response, the agency and its partners organized seven awareness sessions to try to end this vicious circle that had refugees turning away from modern medicine.

"The sessions weren't about the existence of witches or witchcraft, but instead focused on health, sanitation, community cohesion and the danger of accusing people without evidence," explained Dosseye's camp manager, Gatsia Tounakissia, who works for UNHCR's partner, CARE International.

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