IRIN Update 700 of events in West Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
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SIERRA LEONE: Lowest life expectancy in the world
Sierra Leoneans had the lowest life expectancy in the world in 1999, statistics released on Friday by the German Federal Demographic Research Institute revealed. The institute noted that the average life span for a Sierra Leonean was only 37 years, compared to a world wide average expectancy of 65. At the other end of the scale was Japan with a life expectancy of 80, followed by Canada and Iceland (79).
SIERRA LEONE: Disarmament tally
The total number of ex-combatants who have disarmed in Sierra Leone has topped the 22,000 mark.
As at 12 April, it had reached 22,558, Sierra Leone's National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) said. These included 4,227 Revolutionary United Front (RUF) soldiers, 7,474 from the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), 5,590 from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council/Ex-Sierra Leone Army(AFRC/Ex-SLA) 3,804 SLA and 1,463 others.
[The RUF was a rebel group. The ex-SLA are soldiers who were loyal to the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) junta that ruled Sierra Leone from May 1997 to February 1998. The CDF were pro-government militias while the SLA are soldiers who remained loyal to the state throughout the conflict]
Informed sources stated that by Monday, the number of disarmed ex-fighters had reached 22,613, including child combatants who gave themselves in without weapons.
The total number of weapons and ammunition collected up to 12 April was 227,820 although the statement pointed out that the figures did not include arms or ammunition handed in by members of the current SLA.
LIBERIA: Acute water shortage
A severe water shortage has hit sections of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, forcing people to go to other parts of the town to obtain water, according to local media and residents.
The areas worst hit include Clara Town and Doe Community on Bushrod Island, according to 'The Enquirer' newspaper.
The newspaper quoted local officials as saying that the week-long shortage occurred after a diesel pump used to pump water to storage tanks in Bushrod Island and other affected areas broke down and that it was being repaired.
Monrovia has been without a pipe-borne water service for about a decade. Most of its residents depend on EU-provided central storage areas and trucks that take water to some neighbourhoods, a capital resident told IRIN.
The resident also confirmed that the water shortage has led to an accumulation of sewage in Monrovia's open-air drains and that some of it has seeped onto the streets, as reported by 'The Enquirer', which said there was a significant risk of diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Water vendors have increased their prices from 5 Liberian dollars per five-litre container to $50 Liberian in Bushrod Island and $25 Liberian elsewhere in the town, 'The Enquirer' said.
MANO RIVER UNION: Ministers discuss security
Security ministers from Sierra Leone,Liberia and Guinea on Monday discussed security matters and other issues of "mutual interest", Sierra Leone Presidential Spokesman Septimus Kaikai told IRIN on Tuesday.
[See separate item titled 'WEST AFRICA: Mano River ministers discuss security']
NIGER: Food aid from Japan
Japan is to provide Niger with food aid, in the form of rice, worth 360 million yen (about US $3.4 million) under an agreement signed in Niamey on Monday by representatives of the two governments.
The grant brings total Japanese donations to Niger since 1976 to 40,783 million yen (about US $390 million at today's exchange rate), according to a communique from the Japanese Embassy in Abidjan, which also covers Niger.
NIGERIA: Foreign Minister off to Zimbabwe
Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido flew to Zimbabwe on Tuesday to deliver a message to President Robert Mugabe from his counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, a Nigerian Embassy official in Abidjan told IRIN.
He said he did know the contents of the message. "But," he added, "I don't doubt our role in the Zimbabwe-Britain issue." Relations between the two countries have been clouded by the occupation by landless blacks of plantations owned by Zimbabwean whites of mainly British origin.
[See separate item titled 'NIGERIA: Foreign Minister visits Zimbabwe']
EDUCATION: Reinforcing a 10-year-old commitment
The world's failure to achieve education for all can no longer be tolerated, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in New York on Tuesday, ahead of the World Education Forum to be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 26-28 April.
"As we enter the third millenium, more than 110 million children -almost two-thirds of them girls- are excluded from schooling," Bellamy said.
Bellamy said she hoped the Dakar meeting - the biggest global conference on education in a decade - would re-ignite commitment and action for education that was severely challenged during the 1990s by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the expansion of armed conflict and unprecedented natural disasters.
[See separate item titled 'AFRICA: Dakar meeting to reinforce commitment to education, says UNICEF']
Abidjan, 18 April 2000; 18:35 GMT
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