IRIN Update 740 of events in West Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
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WORLD: Greed for loot fuels civil wars, World Bank says
Civil wars are fuelled more often by rebel groups competing with governments for control of valuable commodities like diamonds and coffee rather than by political, ethnic or religious differences, according to a new World Bank report.
The report, 'Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and their Implications for Policy' looked at 47 civil wars from 1960-1999, the World Bank said in a news release on Thursday.
It shows that countries which earn around a quarter of their yearly GDP from the export of unprocessed commodities are much more likely to experience civil war than countries with more diversified economies.
"Rebel groups need to meet a payroll without producing anything, so they prey on an economic activity that won't collapse under the weight of their predatory activities," says Paul Collier, the author of the study and director of research for the World Bank's Development Economics Department.
"Primary commodities are the most 'lootable' of national assets because they're tied to a single spot like a diamond mine or a coffee plantation," he said. "Once a mine shaft has been sunk, it's worth exploiting even if much of the anticipated profits are lost to the rebels. Once coffee trees have been planted, it's still worth harvesting their crop even if much of the coffee has to be surrendered. Thus, rebels don't kill off the activity or force it to shift elsewhere as would happen if manufacturing were the target."
Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone have been accused of plundering diamond mines.
SIERRA LEONE: Port Loko vows to defend country
Residents of Port Loko have vowed to contribute mind and money to defend the country against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, SLENA reported on Thursday.
During a meeting held in the northern town, residents expressed their determination to rid the north of the country of the RUF, and said they would help pro-government troops achieve this goal.
Their promise came as rebels attacking the town, almost 60 km northeast of Freetown, were beaten back by Nigerian UN troops in a 45-minute battle on Thursday.
At the meeting, the regional commander of the pro-government Civil Defence Forces (CDF), Sheik Sesay, appealed to government and the people of Port Loko for logistical help and supplies for the CDF.
SIERRA LEONE: Civilians need security guarantees to return home
Civilians displaced by fighting in northern Sierra Leone will return home and restart their lives if they receive the necessary security guarantees, Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi of the Makeni Diocese told IRIN on Thursday in New York.
"They are eager to go back home," he said. "This is a pre-industrial society and they don't need much but they do need security to build their huts, farm fields, send their children to school and go to the market."
Biguzzi added that although Sierra Leoneans were very resilient, they were likely to be more cautious than before when deciding on returning home because they had suffered greatly in recent years:
- Some 40,000 were displaced by fighting in Makeni during the past week, aid workers reported; - In October 1999, former rebels of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) clashed in the town, driving civilians away; - In October 1998, Makeni residents were uprooted ahead of a rebel advance on Freetown; - Ten months earlier, they fled when the rebels wreaked havoc during their withdrawal from Freetown as the ECOWAS Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) seized control.
SIERRA LEONE: ICRC reaching out to the displaced
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been caring for thousands of Sierra Leoneans displaced by the fighting that has followed the detention of some 500 UN troops in May by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
The first major movements of IDPs were in the Lungi peninsula, just north of Freetown, where the ICRC said it and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society carried out two needs assessment surveys. As a result tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, buckets and soap are now being distributed to some 42,000 people "according to need", it said on Thursday in a bulletin.
In addition, the ICRC says it has registered 1,376 families fleeing the northern towns of Masiaka and Magburaka, along the road between Masiaka and the town of Mile 91.
Added to the families it registered in Mile 91, the ICRC said there were now 3,309 families (or some 21,000 people) receiving urgently needed shelter and non-food help in the sector. Other aid agencies have also been distributing food in the Lungi and Mile 91 areas, it added.
SIERRA LEONE: Inter-Religious Council on world sensitisation tour
Representatives of the Inter Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) have embarked on a sensitisation tour of Europe and North America to promote a shaky peace and reconciliation process.
The Sierra Leone News Agency, SLENA, reported on Thursday that the first delegation left Freetown on Wednesday for Britain and Norway where it will meet with international partners on the status of the Lome Peace accord between the government and RUF rebels.
Another delegation is due to leave for Canada, the United States, and Southern Africa next week, SLENA said.
SIERRA LEONE: General Assembly approves 1.67 for peacekeeping worldwide
The UN General Assembly approved on Thursday some US $1.67 billion for UN peacekeeping and peace-building activities around the world, the world body announced.
Acting on the recommendations of its administrative and budgetary body, known as the "Fifth Committee", the Assembly voted some $504 million for UNAMSIL's operations in Sierra Leone, its largest peacekeeping effort worldwide. The United Nations peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone has now reached just over 12,000 troops.
LIBERIA: Defense Minister denies reinforcing border
Liberian Minister Daniel Chea has said his government does not need to reinforce security on any of its borders because all necessary precautions had been taken to deal decisively with any "ugly armed situation", LINA, the national news agency, reported.
Chea was reacting to reports that the Liberian government was contemplating a "massive troop deployment" along its border with Sierra Leone, LINA said. Both countries have been trading mutual accusations of harbouring rebels trying or planning to overthrow each other's elected government. Each has denied the charge.
Chea named some Liberian dissidents in Freetown as Charles Dent and Abdullai Keita of former ULIMO-J and ULIMO-K, LINA said. Chea identified co-conspirators as Prince Sio and Joe Gbala living at the Five Sisters Guest House, Freetown.
"We will go after the attackers wherever they go," Chea said, according to LINA.
LIBERIA: France offers aid
France has offered scholarships to six instructors of the University of Liberia in July, demonstrating its commitment to help the country largely destroyed by six years of war, LINA reported quoting French Ambassador Francis Lott.
The ambassador, resident in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, told reporters in Monrovia on Monday that France had sponsored 20 Liberian teachers who completed a two-month training programme in Abidjan. He said France would also train Liberian journalists.
France, he added, had given US $500,000 worth of humanitarian aid to Liberia, through the World Food Programme, for the purchase of maize meal which is due for delivery to the Liberian government. Lott said France had also identified health projects in Liberia's Sinoe and Grand Gedeh counties, for funding. Much of Liberia's infrastructure was destroyed in a war started by its present leader, President Charles Taylor.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA: US agency in largest loan to Africa
Equatorial Guinea will benefit from from a US $173 million loan for the construction and operation of a methanol plant in the West African country, the United States Information Service of the State Department reported on Thursday.
The loan, approved on Tuesday by the board of the Overseas Private Corporation (OPIC), is the largest this agency devoted to spurring U.S. exports to emerging markets has made to Africa. The board also approved up to US $200 million in political risk insurance for the project.
The project, which will cost a total of US $450 million, will generate 2,500 mt of fuel a day from natural gas. The factory will be on the island of Bioko - site of the capital - and will be managed by the Atlantic Methanol Production Company, USIS said. The facility is owned by several US companies and the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Commenting on the Bioko project, OPIC President and chief executive officer George Munoz said it would contribute "simultaneously to private sector development in Equatorial Guinea and the improvement of local air quality, by processing gas that would otherwise be flared".
Equatorial Guinea held parliamentary elections on 28 May and were generally rated free and fair by foreign observers although boycotted by major opposition parties. USIS said, "Its political stability has been matched by an economic boom fueled by the discovery of large offshore pockets of oil and gas."
NIGERIA: Community threatens to halt gas plant expansion
The Bonny Chiefs Council, representing residents in the oil-rich Rivers State, have threatened to stop the completion of a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), reneges on a deal reached with the community two weeks ago, 'The Guardian' of Lagos reported on Friday.
Under the agreement, NLNG is to draw 30 percent of its required 8,000 workforce for the expansion of the project from among the state's residents, the newspaper said.
The gas firm had directed its major contractors and sub-contractors to enforce the policy, backed legally by the State Employment Law, that requires firms in the state to recruit certain categories of workers in the areas where they operate.
In a letter to the consortium, the Bonny Chiefs Council secretary, Chief A. A. Ibiama, ordered the companies to stop operating on the cleared site until they complied with all the terms of the agreement.
Abidjan, 16 June 2000; 16:00 GMT
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