War Will Hurt Aid Efforts in Africa : Security: Some U.S. embassy staffs have been cut, hampering development and famine relief programs.
In moves that will seriously hamper development and famine relief programs in sub-Saharan Africa, the staffs of at least five U.S. embassies in the region have been wholly or partially cut back because of security concerns related to the Persian Gulf War.
In at least one case, Tanzania, the State Department has ordered an evacuation of all non-essential embassy personnel and dependents because authorities received “specific and hard information about Iraqi-sponsored terrorism” threats to U.S. officials in the capital, Dar es Salaam, according to Jerry Brennig, an embassy spokesman. The 71-person embassy staff is to be reduced to fewer than 20, he said.
The other affected embassies are those in Djibouti, a former French colony on the Red Sea, which has been a staging area for materiel and troops of the anti-Iraq coalition; the West African nation of Mauritania, which is overtly allied with Iraq; and Sudan, whose Islamic fundamentalist junta is nominally allied with Iraq. Additionally, the staff of the U.S. Consulate in Kaduna, Nigeria, a Muslim region where anti-American demonstrations have taken place, has been given permission to evacuate to Lagos, the Nigerian capital.
A voluntary or ordered evacuation may soon affect the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, where over the weekend a bomb exploded on a tennis court at the American Recreation Club, a U.S.-financed club open to diplomatic personnel of all nations. The bomb injured no one and did minimal damage to the court, but it exploded not long after the American ambassador had finished a game.
These actions make sub-Saharan Africa the one region, outside the Muslim world itself, most affected by American concerns over Gulf War-related diplomatic security.
The concerns have touched nations throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia. Since Iraq’s Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, according to the State Department, all U.S. government personnel have been withdrawn from Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan; non-essential personnel and dependents have been ordered out of Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Mauritania, and Tanzania; and non-essential personnel have been given permission to voluntarily leave Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Syria, Tunisia, Djibouti, and the Kaduna consulate.
As the neediest region in the world, Africa stands to lose the most from the staff reductions at U.S. missions, which generally are the headquarters for American development and relief programs in each country.
The more than 50 Peace Corps volunteers in Tanzania are being withdrawn, for example, because the program’s administrative officer in the country is among the “non-essential” embassy officers being withdrawn.
By far the most severe impact will be felt in Sudan, where all but two of the 71 American officials at the post have been evacuated--the last 49 of them the day the fighting began. The remaining two officials, a charge d’affaires and an embassy administration officer, are under orders not to enter the embassy building but rather to keep in touch with the outside world through the British Embassy in Khartoum.
Diplomatic sources say the evacuation was undertaken less because of any overt anti-American manifestations--since the fighting started there have been only two anti-U.S. marches in Khartoum, both of them modest and nonviolent--but because of American fears that once the war got under way, any necessary emergency evacuation would be almost impossible.
A full-scale evacuation of the American Embassy in nearby Mogadishu, Somalia, on Jan. 5-6, when the Somali civil war reached that capital, was undertaken with military aircraft drawn from the forces assigned to the Gulf. But U.S. officials judged that the same aircraft would be unavailable to use in Khartoum once hostilities began.
The Khartoum evacuation is likely to undermine relief efforts to combat an increasingly serious drought and famine in the country. With crop failures having struck farm districts in Kurdofan and Darfur provinces in the center and west of the country, an estimated 8 million to 9 million Sudanese are threatened this year by famine-related illness, shortened life expectancies and death.
Relief experts say the famine could be Africa’s worst since the Ethiopian famines of the 1980s and the Sudanese famine of 1983-85, which took an estimated 250,000 lives.
The Sudanese government has been hostile to relief organizations, Sudanese and otherwise, trying to assess the situation and even resisted declaring a famine emergency--a necessary precondition to aid donations from many Western governments--until November, when it requested emergency donations of 300,000 metric tons of wheat.
Since then, the Sudanese leadership has been a difficult partner, to say the least. Authorities now say they will accept food donations only if they can distribute the supplies in the countryside without allowing donors or independent agencies to monitor the process.
American officials say they might be able to overcome the government’s position--but not unless they can operate again from Khartoum rather than their “temporary” quarters in Nairobi.
“Being here, it’s far more difficult to reach accords and agreements with the Sudanese government,” said Frederick Machmer, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development office in Sudan.
U.S. SECURITY STEPS IN AFRICA
The staffs of at least five U.S. embassies in sub-Saharan Africa have been wholly or partially cut back because of security concerns related to the Gulf War.
1--TANZANIA: The United States has ordered evacuation of all non-essential embassy personnel and dependents because authorities received “specific and hard information about Iraqi-sponsored terrorism” threats to U.S. officials in the capital, Dar es Salaam. The 71-person embassy staff is to be reduced to fewer than 20.
2--DJIBOUTI: The American Embassy in the former French colony on the Red Sea has been evacuated. The nation has been a staging area for materiel and troops of the anti-Iraq coalition
3--MAURITANIA: American officials have cut staffs in this West African nation, which is overtly allied with Iraq and with Sudan, whose Islamic fundamentalist junta is nominally allied with Iraq.
4--NIGERIA: The staff of the U.S. Consulate in Kaduna, a Muslim region where anti-American demonstrations have taken place, has been given permission to evacuate to Lagos, the Nigerian capital.
5--UGANDA: Evacuation may soon take place at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, where over the weekend a bomb exploded on a tennis court at the American Recreation Club. There were no injuries.
6--SUDAN: All but two of the 71 American officials at the U.S. Embassy have been evacuated--the last 49 of them on the day that marked the start of Operation Desert Storm. The remaining two officials are under orders not to enter the embassy building, but rather to work through the British Embassy in Khartoum.
7--SOMALIA: A full-scale evacuation of the U.S. Embassy near Mogadishu, took place on Jan. 5 and 6, when the Somali civil war reached that capital. It was undertaken with military aircraft assigned to Operation Desert Shield.
Since Iraq’s Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, according to the State Department, all U.S. government personnel also have been withdrawn from Kuwait, Iraq and Lebanon; non-essential personnel and dependents have been ordered out of Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan; and non-essential personnel have permission to leave Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Syria, Tunisia, and the consulate in Kaduna.