Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report: 30-31 May 2000
Sankoh's fate not decided
ECOWAS Executive-Secretary Lansana Kouyate on Tuesday backtracked on an earlier announcement that RUF leader Foday Sankoh would be removed from Sierra Leone to a secure country, news reports said. "I think the consensus is that the government of Sierra Leone has to ensure the safety of Foday Sankoh," he told the BBC Focus on Africa programme. Demonstrators took to the streets of Freetown on Tuesday in protest over the possible removal of Sankoh to another country.
Sierra Leone News reported Information Minister Julius Spencer as saying that President Kabbah had not signed the communiqué issued following Sunday's ECOWAS summit in Abuja, which appeared to suggest Sankoh would be taken out of Sierra Leone, "nor has at least Guinea as far as I know."
RUF in Lome process
Kouyate said ECOWAS considered the Lomé Peace Accord as still valid. "The accord was negotiated and now it has been violated but we need to see whether the accord should be amended and improved," he said. "For the heads of state, the accord is still holding." He argued that the RUF had been transformed into a political party with the full cooperation of the Sierra Leone government, and that the actions of one person - "even though he is the leader of the RUF" - should not alter this fact.
Bockarie considering a return
Former RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie has suggested he is considering a return to Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone News reported. Bockarie and a number of his supporters were forced into exile in Liberia last December after he publicly broke from Sankoh and accused him of trying to have him killed. In an interview with the Washington Post last week, Bockarie said he was working as an unofficial security advisor to Liberian President Charles Taylor while retaining control over 2,000 RUF members, some of whom have been integrated into Anti-Terrorist Unit. He said other RUF fighters were training for a return to Sierra Leone.
WFP along with its implementing partners has started food distribution for 25,000 newly displaced IDPs in Loko Masama and Kafu Bullom in Port Loko District. Over 200 MT of food will be distributed to the IDPs who fled insecurity in Mange, Koya and Kambia Districts. By Wednesday, they had completed distribution to more than 12,000 in Kafu Bullom. WFP plans to assess further locations in Loko Massama and predicts that the numbers of displaced needing assistance will rise.
In the last week, displaced people from Makeni, Lunsar and Rogberi Junction started arriving in IDP camps in Freetown and Waterloo. "Many of them were telling horrific stories of abduction, rape and killings," WFP reported.
With the exception of the routes from Freetown to the southern province, most road networks in the country are either unsafe or impassable. Access to the needy population is a major concern, WFP warns. "We are entering the rainy season, fighting is still ongoing in some areas causing continuing displacements - people do not have food stocks, it is believed that the little food that they did have has been looted. They are not at home cultivating," and the hunger period is getting closer.
Africare visits Kailahun
Africare is continuing emergency programme activities in health and agriculture in Bo, Pujehun, Kenema, Kailahun and Tonkolili districts. Proposed emergency programme interventions in Kailahun and Tonkolili districts were suspended for a week "due to insecurity in other parts of the country", Africare reported. However in the interim, three extension workers travelled by commercial vehicle to parts of Tonkolili and Kailahun to assess the possibility of seed distribution, and returned safely with assurances from local authorities, civil militia and UNAMSIL to go ahead with distribution which has now been completed.
Africare reported that 11,938 farm families have received 447.67 MT of seed rice in the five districts covered by the agency.
UNICEF vaccination campaign
A UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign began on Wednesday in the western region. The 15-day campaign will involve five antigens and Vitamin A, and is expected to benefit 160,000 under fives and 225,000 women of child bearing age, UNICEF reported.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has continued to supply portable water to the IDP camps in Freetown. Oxfam and UNICEF are to provide additional sanitation facilities in the Lungi IDP camps. This includes the construction of 10 public and 10 semi-permanent latrines and the supply of 15,000 gallons of portable water. UNICEF is also to support construction of five new wells and the chlorination of all the wells in the Kafu Bullom and Loko Masama chiefdoms.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.