'Abuses worsening in Africa'

WASHINGTON - Human rights worsened in countries across Africa despite some bright spots, the US state department said yesterday, citing conflicts in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as political unrest in Zimbabwe.

WASHINGTON - Human rights worsened in countries across Africa despite some bright spots, the US state department said yesterday, citing conflicts in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as political unrest in Zimbabwe.

The department's yearly report to Congress on human rights around the globe noted important gains, including the first elections in Angola since 1992, as well as peaceful and democratic polls in Ghana and Zambia.

The report also noted that Nigerian opposition parties had shown respect for court rulings on the 2007 presidential elections, while the UN's war crimes tribunal for Rwanda had convicted a colonel for the 1994 genocide.

In the DRC, fighting among the military and rebels led to rapes and arbitrary killings and the use of child soldiers.

"The conflict continued to fuel the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa, resulting in as many as 45000 Congolese deaths a month, more than one million displaced persons, and dozens of attacks on humanitarian workers by armed groups," the report said.

In Sudan, the report deplored ongoing attacks by government forces, militias and inter-tribal killings, particularly in Darfur.

"The government impeded and obstructed humanitarian efforts, and rebels and bandits killed humanitarian workers."

In Zimbabwe, the report criticised the systematic abuse of human rights, which it said had increased dramatically during the year. A three-month ban on work by aid agencies had compounded the crisis, it said. - Sapa-AFP

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