Benin

Health officials say air pollution in Benin’s economic capital, Cotonou, is an often-overlooked, undiagnosed killer that is as much of a health threat as the country’s leading cause of death, malaria. “People banalise pollution because no one ever made the link…between pollution, illness and death,” said UN Development Programme coordinator Mathieu Houinato.

Rising sea levels have destroyed hundreds of homes, hotels, roads and harvests, and threaten to engulf large areas of Cotonou, Benin’s capital. A government-commissioned study about a year ago recommended urgent action to hold back the rising tides, and save the city’s ports, airport, and coastal communities, but political infighting has blocked funding.

Prison conditions in Benin are so deplorable that they were, alongside police brutality, one of two reasons that compelled the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International to list the country in its annual State of the World's Human Rights report for the first time in 2008. Prisons suffer from overcrowding, cases of unjustified detention, a lack of trained prison staff and lack of adequate food, according to the report.

Local and municipal elections in Benin passed off without evidence of fraud but with some functional problems, the head of a regional observer team said on Wednesday. Moussa Tapsoba, leader of the monitors from the Economic Community of West African States, singled out in particular the lack of ballot papers and other materials.

Benin has decided to renew for period of five years, the moratorium on the import, marketing and use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and GMO by-products on its territory, official sources told the PANA. The renewal of the moratorium, introduced in 2002, was based on the lack of a legal, technical and scientific framework on the threat of transgenic products from some member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) invading the sub-regional market.

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