IRIN Update 1008 of events in West Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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LIBERIA: WFP food update
The World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with its French partner, Action contre la faim, started its latest round of food distribution to internally displaced people in Liberia's Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties on 22 June. In total 5,535 IDPs were expected to receive food rations, WFP said in its latest emergency report. In Bong County where the distribution started on 25 June, 8,875 IDPs had received food aid by the end of the month.
Bong County continued to receive people displaced by fighting in the northern county of Lofa, including 200 new arrivals recorded between 25-29 June, the agency said. As of 29 June, 19,610 Sierra Leoneans were officially registered in various shelters in the capital Monrovia, WFP said.
SIERRA LEONE: Food distributed to vulnerable populations
The World Food Programme (WFP) concluded last week the distribution of 66 mt of food to 5,729 internally displaced people in camps in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, and an additional 21 mt to 1,856 IDPs around the towns of Bo and Mandu, WFP said in its last report, covering 25-29 June. WFP also provided 148 mt as resettlement packages to 5,114 IDPs who are expecting to resettle in Masiaka, 50 km west of Freetown. Another 235 IDPs who had been residing in Port Loko were given two-month food rations and helped to return to their areas of origin.
Some 24,057 people in Port Loko and the Western Area were provided with food aid totalling 303 mt, WFP said, while 117 mt went to some 2,698 farming families who also received tools and seeds from NGOs, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. The agency also delivered food to school canteens in Lungi, Kenema, Pujehun and surrounding areas.
WFP however reported that it urgently needed 628 mt of cereal and corn soy blend to meet the projected requirements of therapeutic and school feeding centres up to December. WFP has appealed to donors for funds to cover an expected shortfall in food aid for refugees and IDPs in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
SIERRA LEONE: IDB to build 138 schools
The Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to finance the construction of 138 schools in Sierra Leone, including 42 which were totally destroyed during the county's civil war, AFP reported. The agreement was signed on Thursday between Bank president Mohamed Ali and Sierra Leone's Finance Minister Peter Kuyembeh, the French news agency reported.
The IDB has also agreed to provide 30 buses for the state Road Transport Corporation and to provide assistance for social sectors, including rural water, electricity and roads, so as to help Sierra Leone's post-war reconstruction effort, AFP said.
GUINEA-BISSAU: PM denies that conflict is likely
Guinea Bissau's prime minister, Faustino Imbali, denied on Friday that a new conflict was likely to happen in his country but warned that it needed financial help to avoid such a situation.
"A country such as ours, in the aftermath of a conflict, needs resources. Peace and stability are not achieved only with words," LUSA reported Imbali as saying. He added that anything was possible in a situation where the government was unable to pay salaries or provide food, light and water to the people over a long period of time.
In his 22 June report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that although significant financial contributions had already been made to help consolidate Guinea-Bissau's peace-building agenda, much more remained to be done.
MALI: Ex-prime minister forms political party
Former Malian prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has created a new political party after severing his connection with the ruling 'Alliance pour la democratie au Mali,' Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Sunday. Ex-education minister Issa Ndiaye, the political secretary of the new ' Rassemblement pour le Mali,' (RPLM) told RFI "we are not sworn enemies of the ruling party but we are proposing a new alternative, a new way of playing politics and governing". The RPLM is Mali's 74th political party, RFI said.
NIGERIA: Government orders arms for police
The Nigerian government has ordered a new range of sophisticated arms, ammunition and equipment for the police force to help it tackle increasing cases of armed robbery and violent crime, 'The Guardian' daily reported on Monday.
The paper quoted police spokesman Haz Iwendi as saying that the new weapons and equipment would strengthen the police, whose efforts against crime had been hampered by a lack of modern equipment. "With good transport and communication, when you make a distress call, the police will arrive there on time," he was quoted as saying.
In the past 10 months a total of 84 policemen have been killed by armed robbers nationwide, Iwendi was reported as saying.
NIGERIA: Red Cross seeks help for IDPs
The Nigerian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross have called for urgent assistance for thousands of people displaced by more than two weeks of communal violence in Nasarawa State, central Nigeria, the Panafrican News Agency reported on Saturday.
"The challenges on the ground call for the co-operation and support of everyone in the country," PANA quoted the groups as saying in a joint statement.
It is estimated that more than 200 people have been killed and over 50,000 displaced since communal clashes broke out on 12 June between Tivs and their Hausa-speaking Azara neighbours. The fighting followed the killing by unknown gunmen of a prominent Hausa traditional ruler and members of his entourage. His people blamed Tivs and carried out revenge killings, forcing many to flee to nearby Benue State, where Tivs are in the majority.
NIGERIA: Former Sudanese leader urges caution on Sharia
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq el-Mahdi has called for caution in the application of Sharia (Islamic law) in Nigeria, arguing that it may not always be in the interest of the people, 'The Guardian', a Lagos daily, reported on Monday.
Delivering a lecture in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna on 'The Challenges of Islamisation - The Experience of Sudan', el-Mahdi urged Nigerians of all religious persuasions to ensure that the country's unity and democratic strengths prevailed, the report said.
"As much as possible, avoid repeating the mistake of others," he said. "In many countries, the (Islamisation) programmes have been associated with dictatorships which, to shore up legitimacy, embrace Islam. Islamisation programmes have failed to deliver on promises and even given the enemies of Islam ammunition to fight the system," he added.
Over the past one year and a half about 11 states in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north have either adopted Sharia or made plans to do so. Differences between Muslims and Christians over plans to introduce the law in Kaduna State last year led to religious and ethnic riots in which up to 2,000 people died.
GHANA: Army worm invasion
Thousands of hectares of farmland in Ghana's Upper East Region are threatened by an army worm invasion, the private Joy FM radio reported on Saturday. Joy FM reported Ministry of Food and Agriculture officials as saying that 44,000 out of about 66,000 ha in the Bawku East and West districts were under attack by the pests, which destroy crops. The ministry said that although it was tackling the problem, controlling the worms was virtually impossible because they were reportedly coming in from neighbouring Burkina Faso.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Authorities ban street vendors from selling drugs
Health authorities in Equatorial Guinea have banned the sale of drugs by street vendors in the town of Bata, AFP reported state radio as saying on Sunday. The government warned the public of the dangers of buying pharmaceutical products on the street and said it would take measures to deal with anyone contravening the ban. Local health officials in Bata, Equatorial Guinea's economic capital, said street drugs that had expired or which were of unknown origin had been causing unidentifiable illnesses, AFP reported.
WESTERN SAHARA: UN extends mandate by five months
The United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of the Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) by five months to 30 November.
According to the text of the resolution, passed on Friday, the decision was based on the UN Secretary-General's report on the situation in the disputed territory. The report includes a draft framework agreement prepared by James Baker III, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Western Sahara.
Under the terms of the resolution, the parties to the dispute - Morocco and the POLISARIO Front - are required to discuss and negotiate any changes they desire in the proposals. It stressed that by engaging in the negotiations, "the parties would not prejudice their final positions".
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the former colonial power, Spain, pulled out in 1975. The POLISARIO Front subsequently took up arms to seek independence for the territory. Under UN mediation both sides had agreed to a referendum on independence or Moroccan rule, but differences over eligibility of voters have stalled the process for 10 years.
New proposals being tabled by the UN envisage limited autonomy for Western Sahara leading to a final referendum on independence within five years.
Abidjan, 1 July 2001; 18:48 GMT
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