The Humanitarian Times

January 17, 2001

 

- 7.6 QUAKE OFF EL SALVADOR COAST KILLED ~1,000, DAMAGED 50,000 HOMES ($1B in property damage) Saturday morning, killing as far away as Guatemala & followed by several aftershocks in the last few days, including 5.0 quake this morning in Nicaragua.  In Salvador, most of the still-missing are homeless in Las Colinas.  No infectious disease outbreaks have occurred or will occur.  Unfounded rumors of tidal waves have scared Salvadorans.  Because of identification problems, many dead were buried in mass graves.  PAHO's logistic system, SUMA, helps coordinate information about shipments of goods, now via the Internet, see: www.disaster.info.desastres.net/SUMA.  Critics blame the landslides (which buried many homes) on cumulative deforestation allowed by the govt.  Usulutan (city in SE) was the hardest hit.  The quake destroyed the town of San Agustin (Wash Post).  US helicopters helped move tents & other supplies.  Spain & US sent Search & Rescue Teams (e.g. the Miami-Dade team, deployed by the Off. of US Foreign Disaster Assist) with German Shepherds who can sniff to find where people are buried.  Some non-profitschanneling aid are listed in http://www.interaction.org/elsalvador/index.html.
- 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF ZAIRE COUP REVISITED:  L KABILA WAS ASSASSINATED yesterday, Jan 16, in the Dem. Rep. of Congo (formerly Zaire), shot by his security guard.  40 years ago today, Jan 17, Zaire's Prime Minister Lumumba was murdered (in custody of Belgian mercenaries); soon thereafter, Army commander Mobutu took power in 1965 & ruled for 32 years until Kabila overthrew him in 1997.  Kabila's death was announced today by his Minister of Defense; Kabila's son, John, was announced as new acting head of State.  Kabila took power as unelected dictator 3.5 years ago.  During his rule, up to 2M excess deaths may have occurred in eastern parts of the country & 100,000 fled to refugee camps in Tanzania.  Kabila blocked UN monitors, peacekeepers and human rights investigators.
- LEGISLATION FOR WAR CRIMES TRIAL OF KHMER ROUGE APPROVED by Cambodia's parliament, & requires final signature/approval by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk, who represented the Khmer Rouge during the late 1970s & much of the 1980s, working closely with the same Khmer Rouge leaders now indicted for the deaths of 1.7M Cambodians during mid 1970s (prior to Sihanouk's employ by the Khmer Rouge).
- HELICOPTER CRASH KILLED 3 UN RELIEF WORKERS IN MONGOLIA SUNDAY during assessment mission to gauge human impact of recent blizzards. The Chinese Govt held a charity concert yesterday for Inner Mongolia.
- RUSSIANS DETAIN DOZENS OF CHECHENS IN SEARCH FOR RELIEF WORKER, Kenneth Gluck, program director for Medicins Sans Frontieres, who was kidnapped last week south of Grozny (near Starye Atagi), leading the World Food Programme & oth relief agencies to suspend Chechen aid. Kidnapping for ransom & killing of aid workers have become common since rebellion began in 1994.  Gluck's abduction might have been orchestrated by the Russian Govt, which also arranged the killing in Chechnya in 1995 of disaster expert Fred Cuny, who was posthumously awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights award by the White House last month. This week's fighting killed 33 Russians & 30 civilians in southern mountains of Chechnya (including Argun gorge).
- AID WORKERS IN GUINEA UNABLE TO REACH REFUGEES, DUE TO NEW FIGHTING, in S. Guinea, stranding 250,000 people near Sierra Leone border -- the Bec de Perroquet (Parrot's Beak) area.
- SECOND PEACEFUL HAND-OVER OF POWER BY PRES. JERRY RAWLINGS OF GHANA occurred last week as newly-elected John Kufuor was sworn in to office having won election on anti-corruption platform, representing the party opposing Rawlings.  Rawlings has allowed turnover of power twice during his 19 years of rule in Ghana.
- THOUSANDS OF ETHIOPIAN REFUGEES RETURN HOME UNDER UNHCR voluntary program, closing E SUDAN rural camps that existed 20 years.
- 30,000+ CIVILIANS DISPLACED FROM NUBA MT AREA OF SUDAN
- 60,000 MINORITY AFGHANS FLED TO PAKISTAN IN RECENT MONTHS
- NEW "ADVOCACY PROJECT" WEBSITE LAUNCHED:
 
HTTP://WWW.ADVOCACYNET.ORG supporting human rights & NGO initiatives:  e.g., Kosovo, Guatemala, Nigeria, landmines ban, & war crimes prosecution; & supported by ICVA (intl. NGO consortium), Dutch Ministry of Devt. Cooperation, the MacArthur Fdnt, & the Winston Fdnt., among others.
- ABOLISH U.S. AGENCY FOR INTL. DEVT (USAID), SAID US SEN. JESSIE HELMS, who proposed again last week to replace USAID with a system of large block grants to private non-profits & religious groups.  Helms also gave pivotal Hill support for the US to pay its arrears to the U.N. (alongside a critical donation from Ted Turner).
- TRAINING:  INTL DIPLOMA IN HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE (IDHA 7) Feb. 4 - March 3, 2001, in Geneva Switzerland, co-sponsored by the Univ. of Geneva, Fordham Univ., ICRC, UN, Intl. Center Health, the Royal College of Surgeons/Ireland.  Residential, intensive (200 hours of lectures); curriculum includes causes of crises, coordination, rehabilitation, military & media relations.  Many lecturers from UN, Red Cross & NGOs.  Contact: 
mveutheyathotmail.com
- "
STATE OF THE WORLD, 2001", NEW BOOK BY WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE (2001  WW Norton ISBN 393 32082-0; see: www.worldwatch.org):  L Brown's chapter on global hunger cautions that without improved use of water supplies, food production cannot match population growth, & warns that rising ocean levels (as global climate warms) will render important Asian near-coast lands unproductive.  The chapter on "Averting Unnatural Disasters", observing that disasters have killed 10M mostly poor in the 1900s, calls for hazard mapping in poor communities:  "identifying & delineating natural resources (like watersheds & floodplains), hazards (such as flood zones), vulnerable infrastructure (such as buildings, power lines & bridges) as well as vulnerable communities & resources."  The author urges govts take responsibility to enforce building codes & land-use, & argues that "contrary to popular belief, containing a river in embankments, dams, channels, reservoirs  does not reduce flooding; instead it dramatically increases the rate of flow & causes worse flooding downstream."  Chapters on pollution examine pesticides & nitrogen seepage into decreasing ground water supplies. "Ending the Debt Crisis" explains how poor countries spend more resources paying down intl. debts than for basic services for their population.  It reviews the history of debt re-financing, & critiques the current World Bank (HIPC) initiative as "seriously biased toward placing costs of past mistakes & risks of future ones on poor countries.  Most of the money will go toward reimbursing lenders, not to the struggling debtors" Insulating lenders from the costs of past failures invites repetition of the lending patterns .. a renewal of debt crisis." 

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Jan 17, 2001 The Humanitarian Times

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