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Biya Sends Rice, Beans 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr
— President Paul Biya’s critics usually chide him for his rather hyperbolic aloofness regarding burning issues of national and international interest.  But the “Prince of Etoudi” has come out of his shell and joined international efforts aimed at cushioning the plight of victims of the recent arms depot explosion in next-door Congo.

Biya’s show of solidarity with the aggrieved neighbor amounts to a consignment of foodstuff and medical personnel sent to Brazzaville.  A C130 military aircraft belonging to the country’s air force left the Nsimalen Airport in the capital Yaoundé on Wednesday, March 7, with tons of rice, beans, potatoes, plantains, onions, cooking oil, mineral water, meat, chicken and fish.

Also included in the assistance package were 700 packs of antibiotics and bandages, plus a dozen military and civilian emergency medical specialists.  The state-run broadcaster CRTV reported that the ministers of public health; trade; as well as that of livestock, fisheries and animal industries were on hand to bid farewell to the Cameroonian delegation. The initiative came shortly after Biya addressed a message of sympathy to Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguessou.  

It adds to trickling international assistance in the wake of the disaster that killed over 200 people, injured close to 2,000 and rendered over 5,000 homeless.  A day after the incident, authorities in the DR Congo ferried in over 20 medics, alongside 500 hospital beds and other medical equipment. The Red Cross, the French government and other countries have also ensured relief efforts unfold hitch-free. 

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