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Archive for Saturday, February 14, 2004

Briefly

February 14, 2004

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London

Tutu: Apartheid victims deserve compensation

Retired archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu said Friday that victims of South Africa's white-minority apartheid rule had waited too long for too little compensation from the black-led successor government.

For more than two years, Tutu's Truth and Reconciliation Commission listened as South Africans testified about atrocities committed by all sides under apartheid, which ended 10 years ago. While perpetrators who gave a full account of their crimes were granted amnesty immediately, their victims had to wait years for reparations.

On Nov. 17, the government began issuing $5,200 payments to 22,000 victims who testified before the panel -- less than a quarter of what the commission had recommended.

Tired of waiting, some victims have brought a series of multibillion-dollar lawsuits before American courts seeking compensation from international corporations who they allege propped up the apartheid regime.

South Korea

Parliament approves 3,000 troops to Iraq

South Korea's parliament on Friday approved the government's plan to send 3,000 troops to Iraq, responding to a call from the United States, its key ally, for military help in restoring stability to the nation.

The troop deployment will make South Korea the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the United States and Britain.

South Korea already has 465 medics and engineers operating in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

It hopes to send the new forces to the northern Iraqi oil town of Kirkuk before the end of April. The new deployment, likely to include special forces commandos and combat-ready marines, will be responsible for security and reconstruction around Kirkuk.

More than 52,000 soldiers have applied for the mission, which would pay $1,100 a month to a sergeant who would normally make only $15 at home. In South Korea, military service is mandatory.

Haiti

Medical, food crisis looms in rebel-held city

A food and medical crisis threatened the rebel-held city of Gonaives on Friday as gunmen sped through streets in looted trucks, reinforcing barricades against a feared police offensive to halt an uprising that has killed about 50 people in Haiti.

Roadblocks have halted most food shipments since the rebellion started last week.

"The problem is very grave," said Raoul Elysee, of the Haitian Red Cross, meeting with rebels and aid officials to discuss ways to deliver food, medicine and fuel.

Emergency supplies of flour, cooking oil and other basics will run out in four days, he said.

In Washington, Western Hemisphere nations called Friday on parties to the Haiti conflict to move quickly on implementing confidence-building measures to ensure a peaceful, democratic outcome.

Opposition politicians refuse to participate in elections to rectify flawed 2000 balloting, swept by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party, unless Haiti's leader steps down. He refuses.

United Nations

Negotiators to end 30-year Cyprus split

In a major breakthrough, Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed Friday to resume full negotiations next week to end the 30-year division of Cyprus before it joins the European Union on May 1.

The agreement caps a lengthy and often tortuous effort by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to end one of the world's longest and most intractable disputes. It came after three days of talks.

Under the deal brokered by Annan, negotiations will resume Thursday in Cyprus. If the Greek and Turkish sides fail to reach an agreement, Annan will decide any outstanding issues -- but Greek and Turkish Cypriots will have the final say on the agreement in referendums in April.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a coup and Turkish invasion into a Turkish-occupied north and a Greek-controlled south. If the island is still divided May 1, the EU laws and benefits will apply only to people in the Greek Cypriot south.

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