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15,000 refugees in Gabon to be repatriated to Congo Brazzaville

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  • bobutne
    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks June 24, 2003 Brazzaville Sixty Republic of Congo refugees arrived in Point-Noire on Friday at the start of a
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 2, 2003
      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks June 24, 2003 Brazzaville

      Sixty Republic of Congo refugees arrived in Point-Noire on Friday at
      the start of a repatriation programme for some 15,000 of them in
      neighbouring Gabon, city officials reported in a communiqué.

      The Prefecture of Kouilou in Point-Noire, the highest civil authority
      in the city and its surroundings, reported that the first 60 refugees
      were flown into the city because roads were impassable.

      However, it said that other refugees would be bused home during the
      dry season from July to October. They will make the 700 km journey
      from Tchimanga, in the Haut-Ogooue area of southeast Gabon, to Point-
      Noire, from where they will be taken to their villages.

      The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it would
      provide each returning refugee with 50,000 francs CFA (US $91.50).
      The agency, ROC, and Gabon are due to meet on Monday to organise the
      repatriation by the least expensive method. Thousands of Congolese
      fled their country during the 1997-2001 civil war.
    • bobutne
      and already has a pact with Gabon to use its airports for refueling. By ERIC SCHMITT The New York Times WASHINGTON, July 4 The United States military is
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 5, 2003
        and already has a pact with Gabon to use its airports for refueling.

        By ERIC SCHMITT The New York Times WASHINGTON, July 4
        The United States military is seeking to expand its presence in the
        Arab countries of northern Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa through
        new basing agreements and training exercises intended to combat a
        growing terrorist threat in the region. Even as military planners
        prepare options for American troops to join an international
        peacekeeping force to oversee a cease-fire in Liberia, the Pentagon
        wants to enhance military ties with allies like Morocco and Tunisia.

        It is also seeking to gain long-term access to bases in countries
        like Mali and Algeria, which American forces could use for periodic
        training or to strike terrorists. And it aims to build on aircraft
        refueling agreements in places like Senegal and Uganda, two
        countries that President Bush is to visit on his five-nation swing
        through Africa that begins on Tuesday.

        There are no plans to build permanent American bases in Africa,
        Defense Department officials say. Instead, the United States
        European Command, which oversees military operations in most of
        Africa, wants troops now in Europe to rotate more frequently into
        bare-bones camps or airfields in Africa. Marines may spend more time
        sailing off the West African coast.

        This fall the command will send trainers to work with soldiers from
        four North African nations on patrolling and gathering intelligence.
        Some plans are still on the drawing board and will need the approval
        of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or his top aides. But other
        military initiatives in Africa are already under way or will soon
        begin. Since late last year, for example, more than 1,800 members of
        the American military have been placed in Djibouti to conduct
        counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa.

        The military's commitment and costs in Africa would still be low
        compared with missions in the Persian Gulf or Korean Peninsula, but
        commanders say emerging threats require the Pentagon to pay more
        attention to the continent. "Africa, as can be seen by recent
        events, is certainly a growing problem," Gen. James L. Jones of the
        Marine Corps, the head of the European Command, said in an interview
        this week. "As we pursue the global war on terrorism," the general
        said, "we're going to have to go where the terrorists are. And we're
        seeing some evidence, at least preliminary, that more and more of
        these large uncontrolled, ungoverned areas are going to be potential
        havens for that kind of activity."

        United States military and intelligence officials say vast swaths of
        the Sahara, from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east, which
        have been smuggling routes for centuries, are becoming areas of
        choice for terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. General Jones said
        an allied maritime armada in the Mediterranean had forced
        international drug smugglers, weapons traffickers, Islamic
        extremists and other terrorists south to overland routes through
        Africa.

        The countries in the area are some of the poorest in the world and
        have scant resources to monitor their borders or patrol the large
        remote areas of their interiors. "What we don't want to see in
        Africa is another Afghanistan a cancer growing in the middle of
        nowhere," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler of the Air Force, the
        European Command's director of plans and policy, who is to visit
        Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria this month. "That's what we're trying
        to prevent."

        Since the end of major combat in Iraq the United States has diverted
        reconnaissance aircraft and satellites to watch the region more
        closely and share that information with governments there, a senior
        military official said. The signs of Al Qaeda's presence are still
        emerging and, in some cases, under debate. Intelligence analysts are
        examining potential Al Qaeda links to suicide bombers who attacked
        five targets in Casablanca, Morocco, in May. Al Qaeda has already
        been tied to an attack on a synagogue in Tunisia in April 2002 that
        killed 21 people, and the car bombings of the United States
        Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which 224 people died.

        There are also home-grown terrorist organizations, which some
        officials say have connections to Al Qaeda, like the Salafist Group
        in Algeria, which abducted more than 30 European tourists earlier
        this year. The group has about 750 hard-core members, but its
        affiliates and sympathizers number in the thousands, intelligence
        officials say. "These are groups that are similar to Al Qaeda, but
        not as sophisticated or with the same reach, but the same
        objectives," said Gen. Charles F. Wald of the Air Force, the
        European Command's second-in-charge. "They're bad people, and we
        need to keep an eye on that." In a sign of Africa's growing
        prominence, General Wald, who led American air forces in the Afghan
        war, now spends about half of his time on African-related issues.

        The European Command is preparing to hold a conference of the
        defense attachés from United States embassies on the continent
        and,
        increasingly, ambassadors as well, General Jones said. The
        military's entreaties to expand and deepen ties to Africa are
        receiving largely positive responses from many of those
        countries. "We are very much interested in expanding our cooperation
        with the U.S. in civilian and military fields," said Idriss Jazairy,
        Algeria's ambassador to the United States. "We would be ready to
        cooperate in training African antiterrorist teams to address this
        common challenge."

        But some Africa experts warn that the Pentagon, which promotes the
        idea of democratization in other Arab states, ought not compromise
        those values by dealing with governments with heavy military
        influence, like Algeria. "The downside of this is that you can take
        on the agenda of local leaders," said Herman J. Cohen, who was
        assistant secretary of state for Africa in the administration of the
        first President Bush.

        The military's renewed focus on Africa pre-dates Mr. Bush's trip,
        and is part of an effort by the European Command to reshape where
        and how many American troops are based in a 93-country area of
        responsibility that arches from South Africa to Russia. That review
        is a portion of a global effort by the Defense Department to
        determine where to position United States forces.

        General Jones said he envisioned what he called a family of bases.
        In Africa this would include forward-operating bases, perhaps with
        an airfield nearby, that could house up to a brigade, or 3,000 to
        5,000 troops. "It's something that could be robustly used for a
        significant military presence," General Jones said. A second type of
        base would be a forward-operating location, which would be a lightly
        equipped base where Special Forces, marines or possibly an infantry
        rifle platoon or company could land and build up as the mission
        required. "Over all, we're trying to come up with a more flexible
        basing option that allows more engagement through our area of
        responsibility," General Jones said.

        The Pentagon made early strides a few years ago, when it negotiated
        agreements with Ghana, Senegal, Gabon, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia to
        allow American aircraft flying through the region to refuel at local
        air bases.

        In the fall, the Defense and State Departments will begin a $6.25
        million program to provide training, as well as radios and Toyota
        pickup trucks, to company-size army units in Mauritania, Mali, Niger
        and Chad. "If we do this we can make friends who, when they get
        information out on patrol, can share with us," said one senior
        military officer.

        American Special Forces and the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade have
        conducted joint exercises with Moroccan troops in the last three
        years, and military officials say they would like to expand and
        increase those contacts.
      • bobutne
        A lifelong collection of rare Gabon history from the l9th and 20th centuries has been donated to Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) by an alumn, the Rev. Dr.
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 13, 2003
          A lifelong collection of rare Gabon history from the l9th and 20th
          centuries has been donated to Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS)
          by an alumn, the Rev. Dr. Henry Hale Bucher, Jr., a Texas educator.

          Bucher said he intentionally spent many decades collecting West
          African books, especially about Gabon. Many of the books are written
          in African languages, including Mpongwe, Benga, Kele and Fang, and a
          large quantity are in their original wrappers, some cloth-bound or
          leather-bound.

          Bucher's quest to intentionally compile an intact and representative
          collection required decades of traveling across Europe, Africa and
          the USA. "History is usually written by the colonizers or occupiers,
          so I concentrated on collecting and recording the history and
          perspectives of the indigenous people of Gabon, especially the
          Mpongwe up to l860," he said.

          The difficulty of finding written records about Gabon in the l960s
          increased Bucher's commitment to create an intact collection of
          scholarly information, including the earliest grammars, dictionaries
          and Bible translations. They were gathered from across Africa,
          Europe and the USA over more than four decades.

          The collection also includes items with no fair market value, but
          great scholarship value, such as copies of unpublished manuscripts.
          Future additions to the collection will include photographs and
          audio recordings of oral histories,and records of slave ships and
          trade.

          "The real value of this donation is about creating a foundation for
          future research about Gabon," said Bucher, whose dissertation was
          written about "The Mpongwe of the Gabon Estuary: A History to l860".

          PTS already has one of the more outstanding U.S. collections of
          material about Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who also worked in Gabon.
          Bucher's unpublished dissertation about the Mpongwe up through l860
          details clan lineages of many individuals with whom Nassau and
          Schweitzer worked. It also draws and contrasts information from
          traders, ship captains, explorers and diplomats.

          After graduating from the American University of Beirut (BA) and
          PTS , Bucher Jr. completed a MA and Ph.D. in Comparative World
          History (Africa and the Middle East) at University of Wisconsin -
          Madison. During this time he spent several years living in Gabon,
          first as a Frontier Intern in Mission working under the newly
          independent Gabon Evangelical church, co-sponsored by the
          Presbyterian Church, the Paris Mission Society, and the World
          Student Christian Federation, and later under a Fulbright-Hays grant
          for research in Gabon. Bucher's work put him in frequent touch with
          Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who was working out of the hospital founded
          by Presbyterian missionary Dr. Robert Hamill Nassau.

          Bucher's students often hear him say: "We make a living by what we
          get. We make a life by what we give." Through his donated archives
          Bucher says he hopes future Gabonese and Gabonologists will increase
          their knowledge of and respect for African lives, culture and
          contributions to the world.

          Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200307110845.html
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