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African press review 9 August 2011

The UN is watching the cleanup after Shell's oil spill in Ogoniland. SA police are told to treat rape victims with more respect and deaths during childbirth soar. Malawi's president has to give his award back. And what Kenyan rats have in common with human beings.


According to The Guardian Nigeria, the United Nations will be closely monitoring the biggest oil spill cleanup ever in the Niger Delta. Last week, the UN Environmental Program recommended the intervention in Ogini, which has experienced a series of oil spills because of the number of pipelines in the area.

Oil giant Shell has now owned up to at least two of them. The reason the UN says it will keep an eye on the effort – which also includes the UK, the Netherlands, the Nigerian government and oil companies operating in the region – is because it fears that otherwise “the cleanup may easily become a mirage”. The effort will cost around 702 million euros for just five years. The whole cleanup could take as long as 25 years.

In South Africa, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu urged police to treat rape victims with more respect. This is an article in South Africa’s Star. She spoke at the opening of the Victim Empowerment Center in Vumawi, which she says is necessary because there is still a lot of gender-related violence in the region.

She called on police to get more involved, saying that, along with social workers and health services, law enforcement should “provide victim assistance, support and counseling”.

Along the same lines, The Namibian reports that maternal deaths during childbirth have quadrupled in South Africa. A Human Rights Watch report says that some women had their legs pinched together while in labour, others were told they were lying about giving birth.

At least three hospitals in Johannesburg are under investigation after some 29 babies died there within a few weeks at the beginning of the year. In total, maternal deaths are up from 150 to 625 for every 100,000 live births, according to the paper.

About one month ago, the Hunger Project handed Malawi’s President  Bingu wa Mutharika an award for “his past accomplishments for the sustainable end of hunger”, as well as “ongoing leadership and the prospects for future progress to end hunger”. But according to the Daily Monitor in Uganda, the Hunger Project now took his award away after the 20 July protest, which left 19 people dead.

In Kenya, the Daily Nation reports that rats in the region behave like humans: they deliberately poison their enemies. The discovery was made by the Kenyan Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Oxford.

What the rat does is, it collects poison from the Msungu Tree (poison arrow tree) and puts it all over its fur. A trick that has worked so well, until now people thought the rodent itself was poisonous.

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