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AIDS a growing security threat for African nations: US official

By Adriana Stuijt     Dec 21, 2008 in Politics
US strengthens military ties from Djibouti to Mozambique, and American children are helping by donating school supplies for Ethiopian youths attending the school at their refugee camp in the strategic Horn of Africa enclave of Djibouti.
And US ambassador Mary Yates this month also opened an all-important military clinic in Mozambique to help combat the devastating AIDS epidemic which is increasingly destabilising the military of the entire southern African region. US official Todd Chapman says this aid is increasingly important, with 67 percent of worldwide HIV infections and 75 percent of all AIDS deaths now occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, the growing epidemic is posing a serious security threat to all African nations. Also see and here
US Army captain Corinna Jones writes from Ali-Adde in Ethiopia that US soldiers from the AFRICOM command handed out boxes-full of much-needed school supplies - which were donated by American children -- to the 1,250 youths who attend school at the Ali-Adde Ethiopian refugee camp in Djibouti.
This strategic enclave on the Horn of Africa's east coast has lately become a haven of peace with a heavy military presence from France and the USA. The US maintains a military base there, as does France.
Things weren't always this peaceful here, and the bone-dry enclave needs a constant stream of food-supplies to keep its 506,000 residents alive. View its independence day celebrations video on 27 June 2006 here
Djibouti, with an indigenous population of only 506,000 residents, is increasingly becoming a refuge for surrounding nations due to the djihadist warfare increasingly enveloping the Horn of Africa and endangering Western shipping lanes between the northern and southern hemisphere.
The propaganda video above shows the exact nature of this Jihadist-warfare which is increasingly destabilising and embroiling neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia -- and forcing hundreds of thousands of families to flee into Djibouti from the combination of criminal and extremist terrorism.
Mainly launched from the lawless Somalian region in the south at the moment, this Jihadist warfare includes the great many acts of piracy targetting the merchant vessels traversing the Suez canal.
Djibouti now also harbours many Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees all fleeing from a seemingly endless string of 'civil wars' which are fuelled by the Jihadists.Two-thirds of Djibouti's inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly border-crossing nomadic tribes. The presence of the refugees is putting a considerable strain on the scarce food resources of Djibouti. One of its weak points is the fact that it is so dry that they can only produce some fruits and vegetables - and the residents mainly have to be kept alive with a steady supply of food from abroad.
Djibouti lies at the entrance of the narrow straight leading to the all-important Suez Canal and wasn't always as peaceful: in 1977, the former French colony became an authoritarian one-party state which continued in 1999 under the military rule of Hassan Gouled Aptidon. Due to his suppression of the Afars ethnic-minority, civil war erupted and only ended in 2001 with a peace accord between the Afar minority and the Issa-dominated government.
Due to Djibouti 's strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea, it also serves as the lifeline for the interior: it ships goods destined for the east African highlands, including Ethiopia.
The former French colonial government maintains a significant military presence in the country and also is very important to the USA, which hosts the only US military base in sub-Saharan Africa there. The US government views Djibouti as its front-line state in the global war on terrorism. And taking care of the streeam of refugees from neighbouring countries forms part of this effort.
"Eleven boxes of school supplies were donated to the camp's Wadajir Primary School by American school children and their families,' said Captain Jones of the US AFRICOM forces this week.
Added the military chaplain captain Owen Vasquez: "Every chaplain here receives donations from back home. We have a storage closet where all the donations are stored and later distributed."
He's assigned to the 18th field artillery regiment's second battallion. Some 1,250 pupils attend the refugee camp's Wadajir Primary school just outside Ali'Sabieh on the (vaguely-drawn) border of Ethiopia, he said. The school teaches first to seventh grade with 17 official teachers and three volunteers.
American families believe in your education:
Captain Vasquez said he told them that American families donated the supplies because 'they believe in your education." And while you study all the different disclipines, may you learn the most important lesson of all, to never stop learning."
Vazquez says the American military is there to build partnerships and promote regional security so that the children can return home to Ethiopia eventually. "Poverty and substandard living are breeding grounds for discontent and extremism," he said. "By helping the many refugees in Djibouti we'll be doing a great work of service, helping our fellow men and also improving our security and influence in Africa."
Local headmaster professor Farah Osman Gouled said they were grateful for these supplies from American children. "The students are eager to learn, but they don't have much." For more details see here
US opens medical clinic in Maputo, Mozambique
Meanwhile further south along the African coastline with the Indian ocean, AFRICOM commander Denise Shorey reports from Maputo in Mozambique that US ambassador Mary Carlin Yates has just opened an all-important new clinic at the Military Hospital in Maputo on Dec 3. The ceremony was also attended by 250 local residents,
Commander Shorey, who also took the picture, said the clinic provides free medical care for all the local residents, with a special focus on the increasingly devastating AIDS-epidemic. Also see
AIDS is a growing security threat to African nations:
The clinic was funded by the US Dept of Defence, the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta and Columbia University's medical research facilities. Todd Chapman said the centre formed part of Pres. George W Bush's emergency relief plan for Aids-relief in Africa (PEPFAR).
He noted that with 67 percent of worldwide HIV infections and 75 percent of AIDS deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, the scale of this disease presents a security threat to African nations.
"The epidemic 'weakens governments and militaries and hinders peace-keeping efforts', he said. " The new facility will not only work closely with HIV/AIDS patients, but with persons afflicted with numerous other debilitating diseases.'
Ambassador Yates said the new Mozambiquan facility was 'an excellent example of military and civilian cooperation."
Mozambique is not alone in this battle:
It was the first time Mrs Yates had visited Mozambique -- and she said that to be part of the inauguration ceremony 'speaks volumes about the close cooperation between the United States and this country.'
"This center is a tangible representation of our partnership, one that is helping Mozambique achieve its goals. Cutting the ribbon and opening this clinic is just one more visible act which underscores that Mozambique is not alone in this battle."
Defence minister Nhussi said the centre 'will have a significant impact on the lives of Mozambicans, and specifically, in the Mozambican armed forces.' He agreed with Mr Chapman's warnings that the epidemic was having a seriously destabilising effect on the entire region -- and added that there was 'a direct correlation between national security and the prevention of infectious diseases." Read here
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