Debating aid and Haiti – ISN

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Much of Haiti’s capital lies in ruins after the devastating January 12 earthquake. Up to 200,000 people are thought to have died, many now buried in mass graves outside the city. Hundreds of thousands more are homeless, sleeping in the open or in makeshift camps cobbled together with whatever blankets or sheeting people could get hold of. Delivering sufficient quantities of emergency assistance to so many people is proving a logistical nightmare, with the already limited Haitian infrastructure pulverized by the disaster.

Northern Ireland still troubled – ISN

DUBLIN — Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson’s affair with Kirk McCambley, now 21, prompted her to announce last month that she would be stepping down from politics as she seeks treatment for depression. Robinson, 60, is the wife of Peter Robinson, first minister in Northern Ireland’s regional government and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest pro-British political party in Northern Ireland. The couple are to be investigated by Northern Ireland’s committee on standards and privileges after Iris Robinson admitted she secured £50,000 ($81,400) from two developers to help McCambley set up a restaurant business in Belfast. The fallout from the scandal has led to Peter Robinson temporarily stepping down as First Minister, but remaining as DUP leader.

Peace lasting, for now, in Sierra Leone – ISN

Lungi beach, running along the third-biggest natural harbour in the world at Freetown (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

FREETOWN — The civil war in Sierra Leone was one of the most violent anywhere in the late 20th century. A death toll of around 50,000 did not tell the full story of a conflict where much of the fighting was carried out at close quarters. Machetes were used to lop off hands and arms as a deterrent against voting; child soldiers were forced to kill family members; women were abducted and raped; cannibalism was a war ritual among some combatants; and foreign mercenaries roamed the land. Rebels were funded by diamond exports and supported by Liberian warlord-later-president Charles Taylor – who is now standing trial in The Hague at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.