African 'Child Slave Ship' Symptomatic of Much Deeper Economic Problems, Say American Jewish Congress Leaders Recently Returned From Site of Incident

Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Jewish Congress

    NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- An AJCongress delegation which recently
 returned from the African nation of Benin, where it served as official guests
 of the government for the inauguration of the nation's President, today called
 the search for a ship allegedly carrying children from Benin into slavery
 elsewhere in Africa, "the tip of an iceberg" regarding poverty on the
 continent.
     According to Dennis Klein, AJCongress' representative to the United
 Nations as well as the President of the organization's New Jersey Region,
 "Poverty is rampant in much of West Africa.  For example, per capita income in
 Benin is a mere $1,300 per year, and even far lower than that in rural areas.
 Poverty is no excuse for slavery; such an abhorrent practice cannot be
 countenanced for any reason.  However, poverty is the reason some parents are
 willing to sell their children into servitude on the plantations of
 neighboring countries.  Child slavery in Benin will only be eradicated when
 the world community faces up to its responsibility to assist Africa with its
 economic problems."
     Neil Goldstein, AJCongress Director of National Affairs, who traveled to
 Benin with Klein, added, "This purported case of child slavery, the AIDS
 pandemic which has recently received wide publicity, and the current epidemic
 of meningitis in Benin that has taken over 300 lives are only symptoms of the
 underlying problem of gnawing poverty.  Africa cannot merely be treated as a
 source of raw materials for the world, but must be given the technical
 assistance to develop sophisticated industry and jobs."
     The invitation from the government of Benin to AJCongress resulted from
 the initiative taken by the organization at the United Nations during the
 course of its Annual Meeting last spring, at which AJCongress pledged to
 "redouble its efforts to secure economic self-reliance for African countries
 committed to economic and political reforms by working to increase U.S. aid to
 Africa, promoting international debt relief and supporting efforts to secure
 free-trade benefits for African states."
 
 

SOURCE American Jewish Congress
    NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- An AJCongress delegation which recently
 returned from the African nation of Benin, where it served as official guests
 of the government for the inauguration of the nation's President, today called
 the search for a ship allegedly carrying children from Benin into slavery
 elsewhere in Africa, "the tip of an iceberg" regarding poverty on the
 continent.
     According to Dennis Klein, AJCongress' representative to the United
 Nations as well as the President of the organization's New Jersey Region,
 "Poverty is rampant in much of West Africa.  For example, per capita income in
 Benin is a mere $1,300 per year, and even far lower than that in rural areas.
 Poverty is no excuse for slavery; such an abhorrent practice cannot be
 countenanced for any reason.  However, poverty is the reason some parents are
 willing to sell their children into servitude on the plantations of
 neighboring countries.  Child slavery in Benin will only be eradicated when
 the world community faces up to its responsibility to assist Africa with its
 economic problems."
     Neil Goldstein, AJCongress Director of National Affairs, who traveled to
 Benin with Klein, added, "This purported case of child slavery, the AIDS
 pandemic which has recently received wide publicity, and the current epidemic
 of meningitis in Benin that has taken over 300 lives are only symptoms of the
 underlying problem of gnawing poverty.  Africa cannot merely be treated as a
 source of raw materials for the world, but must be given the technical
 assistance to develop sophisticated industry and jobs."
     The invitation from the government of Benin to AJCongress resulted from
 the initiative taken by the organization at the United Nations during the
 course of its Annual Meeting last spring, at which AJCongress pledged to
 "redouble its efforts to secure economic self-reliance for African countries
 committed to economic and political reforms by working to increase U.S. aid to
 Africa, promoting international debt relief and supporting efforts to secure
 free-trade benefits for African states."
 
 SOURCE  American Jewish Congress