Burkina Faso + 5 more

IRIN Update 610 of events in West Africa

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U N I T E D N A T I O N S
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

SIERRA LEONE: WFP to provide food assistance for former combatants

A new emergency operation is being launched to provide food aid as an incentive for 45,000 combatants to disarm and prepare for reintegration into civilian communities, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP said in a 3 December update on its activities that it would be delivering 3,000 mt of food, including rice, oil, pulses, canned fish/meat, salt and sugar to camps holding former combatants at a cost of some US $2.7 million. The food will be distributed by the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR).

Various international and national agencies will support programmes to reintegrate former combatants following their departure from the sites, WFP said.

SIERRA LEONE: Road rehabilitation in the east

WFP and World Vision Sierra Leone (WVSL) have started to rehabilitate the Kenema-Kailahun road - in the Eastern Province - which runs through areas controlled by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and connects government and ECOMOG-controlled areas.

WSVL will implement the programme through food-for-work supplies provided by WFP.

The road is expected to be an important supply route for humanitarian operations while farmers can use it to take their produce for sale in nearby towns.

SIERRA LEONE: Food for vulnerable groups needed in Segbwema

A WFP mission to the eastern district of Kailahun has found that vulnerable-group feeding rations need to be provided to elderly people and children in Segbwema, some 260 km east of Freetown.

In contrast, the mission found that the nutritional situation in Daru, also in the east, was satisfactory compared to earlier findings in September. It said ongoing harvests and access to areas held previously by the RUF contributed to the improvement.

GUINEA: Mission assesses refugees' impact on the environment

A mission sent by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to Guinea to assess the impact of refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia on the environment ended on Monday, according to a UNEP news release.

The Guinea Environment Mission (GEM) spent two weeks in Guinea examining the problems of deforestation, erosion and unsustainable land use and, particularly in urban areas, water and sanitation issues.

The mission came about after discussions earlier this year between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and government officials during which concern was expressed about the influx of refugees, now numbering some 450,000, in the forest areas close to Guinea's borders, UNEP said.

Preliminary findings from the GEM will be sent to Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, who in turn will make recommendations to Annan on action needed to protect the environment.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Preliminary election results

Kumba Yala of the Partido da Renovacao Social (PRS) won 38.46 percent of the valid votes in Guinea-Bissau's presidential polls, followed by interim president Malam Bacai Sanha, according to preliminary results from the Comissao Nacional de Eleccioes (CNE).

Sanha, candidate of the Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), received 23.42 percent.

As none of the 12 candidates obtained an absolute majority of the 363,319 valid votes cast in the 28 November elections, the two front runners will contest a second round expected in January.

In the legislative polls, held along with the presidentials, the PRS obtained 37 of the 102 seats (100 for Guinea-Bissau and 2 for the overseas vote) in parliament, followed by the Resistencia da Guinea (RGB) with 27 and the PAIGC - the party that ruled since independence from Portugal in 1975 - with 25.

The 13 remaining seats went to five of the 10 other parties which fielded candidates in the legislatives.

The CNE expects to have the final election results on Thursday. This will be followed by a 10-day period in which people can contest the results, while the second round of the presidentials is to be held 21 days after that, a humanitarian source told IRIN.

The candidate who placed third in the presidentials, independent Faustino Imbali (8.17 percent of the votes), has already thrown his weight behind Yala. In a radio advertisement on Monday, he called on his supporters to vote for the PRS leader in the second round.

Yala narrowly lost the 1994 presidentials to then incumbent Joao Bernardo Vieira.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Fadul accuses attorney general of rights abuses

Interim Prime Minister Francisco Fadul has accused Attorney General Amine Saad of neglecting legal deadlines in the cases of soldiers loyal to deposed president Joao Bernardo Vieira, who have been detained without trial since Vieira's overthrow in May, Lusa reported on Tuesday.

At a human rights seminar held on Monday, Fadul said over 300 soldiers detained for suspected human rights abuses had not been charged within the stipulated legal time frame, Lusa said.

It quoted Fadul as saying that Saad had also failed to seek a court order to continue holding the soldiers beyond this period and that his appeal to Saad for redress had gone unanswered, Lusa reported.

Before the general elections of 28 November, Saad announced that he was ready to free at least 100 detained soldiers.

BURKINA FASO: Seeking funds for displaced migrants

The government of Burkina Faso has asked the international community for 2.6 billion CFA (US$ 4 million) to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of 12,000 Burkinabes who returned to the country in the wake of disturbances in southwest Cote d'Ivoire, according to a UNHCR official.

Violence between locals from the Kru ethnic group and Burkinabe immigrant farmers, many of whom had been in Cote d'Ivoire for more than a decade, erupted on 5 November following a dispute over land rights.

"UNHCR has not made a census of the Burkinabes returning to the country from south-west Cote d'Ivoire," Emile Belem, UNHCR's programme officer in Burkina Faso, told IRIN. "The figures we have are provided by the government."

He added that a recent assessment in Banfora and Gaoua, the area in southeast Burkina Faso from where most of the returnees from Tabou originated, had revealed that later arrivals were in better shape than the early ones.

"The first wave arriving in Gaoua around 8 November had virtually nothing," Belem told IRIN. "Those that arrived later had more of their personal effects with them," he added.

The assessment also revealed that about 80 percent of the new arrivals were women and children, Belem said.

The assessment, which took place from 1 December to 3 December, included UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR and the government body responsible for relief interventions.

The returnees in Gaoua are currently receiving limited assistance from Plan International, a non-governmental organisation, Belem said.

NIGERIA: Odi to be rebuilt

The governor of the southeast Nigerian state of Bayelsa told journalists on Monday that the town of Odi would be rebuilt following the violence wreaked upon it last month, news organisations reported.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, speaking in the state capital Yenagoa, said he also wanted compensation for residents of the town.

Dozens of people were killed and many buildings destroyed when President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the army into Odi some three weeks ago following the murder of 12 policemen in early November. The troops had sealed off the town after moving in to arrest the killers. However, it is unclear whether the army or rampaging youths were responsible for the widespread destruction there.

The governor said measures would be taken to assess the extent of the damage, design a new Odi and start the construction process, Reuters said.

Abidjan, 7 December 1999; 17:20 GMT

[ENDS]

[IRIN-WA: Tel: +225 217366 Fax: +225 216335 e-mail: irin-wa@ocha.unon.org ]

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