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Niger food crisis under control: UN

Senegal to send contaminated sand to China
Mont-Rolland, Senegal (AFP) Sept 13, 2010 - Senegalese authorities are planning to send lead waste in sand to China for treatment after the waste killed 20 children in Dakar in 2008, a senior official said Monday. "The ministry is trying to come up with 200 million CFA francs (305,000 euros, 395,000 dollars) to transport the sand to China where it will be treated," said the head of the Senegalese environment and protected sites office, Cheikh Ndiaye Sylla. The office brought journalists on Monday to a site near the village of Mont-Rolland, 85 kilometres (50 miles) from Dakar where they could see about 15 young men in masks and gloves putting the contaminated sand into sacs.

Villagers have demanded the removal of the waste which was dumped at the end of June and early in July near their land after killing 20 children in the capital Dakar in 2008. The sand dumped at an unfinished disposal plant in Mont-Rolland came from the Thiaroye suburb of Dakar, where a score of children died of lead poisoning in 2008, while many adults were sick. The pollution came from attempts to recover the lead while recycling motor batteries on the black market. The illicit depot was eventually sold to an Indian firm.
by Staff Writers
Niamey (AFP) Sept 13, 2010
A food shortage that has gripped Niger for months has been "largely stamped out", the United Nations special representative for West Africa Said Djinnit said Monday.

"The authorities' response has been quick and the support of the international community has been quick and therefore we can consider that the food crisis has been largely stamped out," he said on public television.

Djinnit spoke after meeting with the head of the military junta in power since February, General Salou Djibo.

Earlier this month Niger's interim prime minister Mahamadou Danda credited foreign aid and local solidarity for reducing the impact of a months-long food crisis, which he described as "under control".

More than seven million people in Niger have suffered from food shortages in a serious crisis brought on by a major shortfall in the crop harvest for 2009-2010, according to the United Nations.

earlier related report
Mozambique pays war vets, 18 years after civil war
Maputo (AFP) Sept 13, 2010 - Mozambique has started to pay war veterans' associations for the first time since a civil war ended 18 years ago, a government spokesman said Monday.

War veterans ministry spokesman Lourenco Chapo told AFP that the state will pay four million meticals (about 108,000 dollars, 85,000 euros) every year to the 14 associations who represent around 188,000 veterans.

"The money is given to associations to inspire and create wealth," he said.

"The associations have projects so that the war veterans become self-sustainable" and earn their own incomes, he added.

Government made a first payment of 296,000 meticals on Saturday, according to the official Noticias newspaper.

The funds are were destined for projects such as skills training and small businesses like chicken farms and construction companies, rather than serving as traditional pensions, Chapo said.

A 1992 peace accord ended the 16-year-civil war between the Frelimo government and Renamo rebel forces which killed 100,000 people and displaced four million others.

At the time only soldiers who had fought for at least 10 years qualified for benefits, but a new law will give veteran status to combatants from both groups who fought for two years and more, said Chapo.

They will then also qualify for pensions, he said.

"We are working so that officials know we are all equal, we are all Mozambicans," he said.

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Russia limits vodka sales in fire-ravaged region
Moscow (AFP) Sept 13, 2010
Authorities in southern Russia said Monday they are limiting the sale of vodka in a region ravaged by forest fires in September, eager to keep people from drowning their sorrows in drink. Officials in the Volgograd region banned the sale of beverages containing more than 15 percent alcohol except for between 8:00 am and 9:00 am in five districts until a state of emergency is lifted, accordin ... read more

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