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Wednesday: April 2, 2014 

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Abidjan (2)

Saturday
Apr022011

Ivory Coast in Crisis (NEWS BRIEF)

MSF staff treat victims of the violence in Abidjan at Abobo Sud Hospital. CREDIT MSF(HN, April 2, 2011) - A see-saw battle rages on in Ivory Coast, with forces loyal to embattled Laurent Gbagbo retaking control of key installations including state-run television, RTI.

In an indication of the spreading violence the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had documented the massacre of at least 800 people in the western town of Duekoue. However the Roman Catholic charity, Caritas, pegs the death toll at around 1,000.

Yesterday president-elect Alassane Ouattara’s forces advanced into the crucial economic capital of Abidjan and the United Nations mission took control of the country's main airport. The UN mission has also disabled Gbagbo`s Mi-24 helicopter after they gained control of airport.

As recently as yesterday, Gbabgbo looked close to defeat after key members of the military resigned and sought refuge in the South African embassy compound. Abidjan has a population of about 5 million people and, according to one estimate, some 20 percent of residents have fled.

For ordinary civilians and aid workers the situation has been described as extremely dangerous.  Some of the worst fighting is taking place at the Presidential Palace and Presidential Residence in leafy Abidjan suburb of Cocody - where several embassies are also located.

Said Henry Gray, a field worker in Abidjan with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): "It’s quite a hairy situation here at the moment. We’re hearing constant gunfire along with the occasional heavy detonation, and that’s been going on for a few days now. We had been moving around, visiting clinics and helping patients up until a few days ago. But the situation on the streets has deteriorated to such an extent that it’s just become too dangerous to go outside."

"There’s a lot of pillaging and looting going on" Gray continued, "and if you’re out on the streets, you’re basically a target. Armed gangs are out on the street and there is a real atmosphere of fear out in the community, particularly in the poorer areas."

One former western diplomat based in Abidjan described the situation to HUMNEWS as dire. "One (Ivorian) friend said they have been at home for days now with a child.  Only water left in the house, nothing to eat."

Yesterday a Swedish UN employee was killed in the crossfire. According to a diplomatic source on teh ground who HUMNEWS has been speaking with, "there appears to be looting by thugs affiliated with both sides".

Meanwhile foreign governments, including Lebanon, are desperately trying to evacuate their nationals, according to the Daily Star of Beirut.

Lebanese businesswoman Line Fakih said Abidjan was unsafe for anyone not carrying arms. “The situation here is very dangerous, and we cannot leave our houses,” Fakih told The Daily Star in a telephone call Friday. “Looters and gangs are on the streets and they are breaking into houses to ask for money in return for [our] security.”

- HUMNEWS staff

Wednesday
Mar302011

Ivory Coast Inches Closer to All Out Civil War (UPATED 1845GMT)

(HN, March 30, 2011) - Ivory Coast stood on the brink of civil war today as forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the former prime minister, entered the political capital, Yamoussoukro.

According to Al Jazeera, witnesses say fighters supporting Ivory Coast's internationally recognised leader are parading through the streets of the capital after a dramatic advance on the city.

Ouattara's military spokesman confirmed his forces had entered the capital of Yamoussoukro.

Meanwhile, clashes have been reported in both centre-west and the east of the country, driving refugees into Ghana and Togo.

Despite some gains, Ouattara, who was recognized outside Ivory Coast as the legitimate president after defeating incumbent strong man, Laurent Gbagbo, in elections last year, appears unable to hold crucial ground in other areas of the country, including the commercial capital of Abidjan - despite backing by the international community and United Nations forces.

On Wednesday, an offer of a ceasefire by Gbagbo was ignored by Ouattara’s forces as they continued their advance from two sides of the country. Ouattara’s political party said in a statement that “all peaceful means to get Laurent Gbagbo to recognize his defeat have been exhausted.”

The country’s regular armed forces continue to take orders from Gbagbo despite his decisive defeat at the polls in November. Observers say Gbagbo has been using diplomacy as a staling tactic, and that only strong intervention will bring an end to the crisis.

The African Union has invited both sides to engage in talks in Addis Ababa April 4-6, however the major bloc of African countries has so far been unable to bring about peace. West Africa's regional superpower, Nigeria, has failed to make meaningful interventions.

Said one former diplomat who has been based in Abidjan: "The West has to stop being naive - Gbagbo has to be removed by surgical force."

As many as 500,000 people have been displaced within Ivory Coast, and more than 100,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. The United Nations estimates that close to 500 have been killed since the beginning of the electoral standoff in November.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has appealed for calm. "UNHCR continues to advocate with both forces for civilians to be protected from harm," said the UN refugee agency's chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, at a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI deployed a top official, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson of Ghana, to the predominantly Catholic nation “to encourage reconciliation and peace."

Pope Benedict said his thoughts were with all the people of Ivory Coast who have been "traumatized by the painful internal conflict and the serious social and political tensions," according to the Catholic News Service.

In total, some 116,000 Ivorians have fled to eight West African countries since the post-election crisis started. In addition to Liberia, Ghana and Togo, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria are also hosting Ivorian refugees.

- HUMNEWS staff, agencies, UN