|Africa News Digest
Leading Edge of Avian Flu Is in Africa and Asia
The leading edge of the avian flu poultry pandemic is in Africa and Asia, where economic conditions are more conducive to spread of the disease. Recent outbreaks include these:
* Fourteen out of 26 Egyptian provinces have had avian flu outbreaks among poultry, and panicky people in Cairo are hoarding water because of the dumping of dead birds into the Nile.
* The epidemic among poultry in Nigeria continues to spread, and now Niger, its northern neighbor, has been stricken with outbreaks among poultry.
* After a few days of denial, Pakistan has admitted that there is an avian flu outbreak among poultry in the North West Frontier Province.
Nigerian Oil Production Cut by 20% by Gangster Violence
Nigerian oil production has been cut by 20% over recent weeks by the violent activities of a gangster organization in the Niger Delta. Nigeria produces 8% of the world's oil. The gangsters have, since Jan. 11, been operating without visible leaders under the name of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
It is armed by large, well-organized crude-oil theft operations (which already take 10% or more of Nigerian oil). The oil thieves operate from the Gulf of Guinea down the west coast of Africa.
The violence in the Niger Delta for which MEND takes credit, has so far included the blowing up of oil platforms, kidnapping two batches of foreign oil workers, and a bank robberyand it credibly promises much worse. Its program is the same as that of Dokubo Asari, who was arrested for treason on Sept. 20, 2005, for promoting separatism. MEND claims not to be Asari's organization, but demands his release. A front group for MEND is the Ijaw Institute of Strategic Studies, whose website is hosted on a Yahoo server in Britain.
The Nigerian government's ability to respond militarily is hindered, because military, local government, and police in the region are woven into the theft operation by corruption. There is no development going on anywhere in Africa, so the government does not have economic incentives to offer as leverage to mobilize the desperately poor population and the institutions against the gangsters.