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Group Urges Strategy for Africa

October 21, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An urgent high-level meeting involving governments and international organizations is needed to devise a recovery strategy for the war-scarred African nations of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, the aid organization Oxfam said today.

The strategy should support reconstruction and poverty reduction and foster respect for human rights.

Besides governments, the report said the meeting should involve the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the 15-nation European Union and the Organization for African Unity.

The report came as the Clinton administration planned to send a senior delegation to Congo to try to reactivate a U.N. investigation into massacres and other atrocities during a civil war that toppled President Mobotu Sese Seko in the former Zaire in July.

The delegation is to be led by Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He is expected to tell Congo’s new leader, Laurent Kabila, that his country will not get significant aid or international support until it cooperates with the investigation.

The director of Oxfam’s U.S. office, Justin Forsyth, said a meeting on the region’s future could happen ``only with active participation at the highest level. ... That is why we are making a direct appeal″ to governments and international organizations.

He said the international community risks losing credibility with a new breed of political leaders in the region if it fails to act.

Oxfam recommends a three-pronged approach:

_Substantial new aid that is fast, flexible, focused on reducing poverty, curbing military spending and encouraging respect for human rights.

_Significant ``deeper and quicker″ debt relief that goes beyond the present World Bank-IMF plan for the world’s poorer countries.

_Support for a central African regional conference to enable its governments to develop a settlement for political, economic and military problems.

Oxfam is a network of 10 aid agencies that work in 120 countries in the developing world.

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