Voluntary repatriation is among the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) s preferred options when dealing with a refugee crisis. Seven hundred Namibian refugees currently living in Botswana will undergo such an experience this month. Following a fact-finding tour by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and five refugee representatives, the group is keen and determined to head back home to volatile Caprivi. But, as correspondent Rodrick Mukumbira reports, while the agreement to repatriate the refugees guarantees that no returnee may face any legal proceedings, persecution, punishment, or discrimination for having left the country, it does not guarantee that returning refugees will not face prosecution in Namibia for any crimes that they might have committed before their departure from the country, sparking fears that the Namibian government could subject the group to the same reception that 50 voluntary returnees experienced when they returned home from Dukwe in 1999.
Teachers in Ghana are literally dying of alcoholism and other causes brought on by the extreme stresses of coping with: delayed paycheques and benefits; low pay; few or no teaching resources; substandard or non-existent accommodations; and the loss of status that the teaching profession used to have in the West African country. Correspondent Sam Sarpong gives a moving account of the teachers suffering and how it contributes to, and is affected by, illiteracy, poor school performance, and other educational and social ills.
It s that time of year when boys in Bukusuland, Western Kenya, are preparing to get the cut, a circumcision ceremony that involves much singing and dancing as well as snipping. But the times, they are a changing, as the popular song goes. Kenyan correspondent Eric Maino reports that, in this era of HIV/AIDS, using the same knife to snip as many as 10 boys is simply not a good idea. He shows how many families are opting to have the procedure done in a hospital, a recent development the boys think is trendy.
Non-government organisations in the West have tended to use "poornography" images to try to attract funding for their projects in Africa. A coalition of Canadian non-government organisations, church groups, unions, and others with an interest in sub-Saharan Africa says that, far from helping Africans, the strategy has backfired and is harming the dignity and perception of Africans, writes correspondent Amos Safo, on assignment in Kananaskis, Western Canada. In the end, some donors, rather than sympathising with Africa, become reluctant to release funds for humanitarian activities because they only see helpless, hopeless Africa, he writes.
Just to show how helpless Africans are, the Zambian government and public took the bold step of rejecting genetically modified food donations from the United States on the ground that the safety of such food has never been tested or proved. In his report, correspondent Gershom Ndhlovu provides fascinating views from government on why Zambians should not be taken advantage of just because they are starving.
We want to take this opportunity to thank you, the readers, for answering a recent questionnaire about our Kenya Election Watch service. As a result of your responses, we will continue to offer a monthly package of analysis and summaries of the major events of the past month. We have decided to discontinue the weekly updates in their present form, and may instead offer a very scaled-down version of a weekly summary. Stay tuned for details of this and other changes.
We also want to take this opportunity to wish the family of the late James Brew our sincerest condolences. We have recently been informed that James passed away earlier this year while on assignment. James has been an AFRICANEWS correspondent since 1997 and has produced much fruit for us. Please remember James and his family in your thoughts and prayers.