IRIN Update 779 of events in West Africa

Report
from IRIN
Published on 11 Aug 2000
UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 22-40-4440
Fax: +225 22-41-9339
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

SIERRA LEONE: Bumbuna receives more than 7,000 IDPs

More than 7,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly children, are reported to have arrived this month in Bumbuna, northern Sierra Leone, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

Following an assessment mission on Monday, MSF-Belgium reported that most of the IDPs in Bumbuna, which is northeast of Makeni, were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, especially food, OCHA said in its latest situation report.

Some children are suffering from malnutrition and there are some cases of diarrhoea, MSF said.

Aid deliveries can be made only by air and agencies are currently trying to respond to the IDPs' needs, OCHA said in its 25 July-7 August humanitarian situation report.

The IDPs interviewed by MSF said they fled from Makeni and Magburaka to escape forced recruitment by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and fighting between pro-government forces and the RUF.

SIERRA LEONE: New IDPs in Port Loko

There are some 25,000 IDPs in the northern township of Port Loko, including more than 5,000, who arrived between 18 July and 1 August, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. Around 10,000 have been absorbed into local communities, another 10,000 in Port Loko's IDP camp and the rest in the local primary school and barracks, OCHA reported.

Meanwhile there have been continuing reports of violence in the town of Port Loko between Community Defence Forces, a pro-government militia, and the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) with shooting after dark. Despite the insecurity, humanitarian activities are gradually resuming in the town.

SIERRA LEONE: Food security for women and children

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Sierra Leone Red Cross (SLRC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture plan to mount a community-based vegetable production programme in the Western Area of the Freetown peninsula and in Port Loko District to target over 11,000 women and children, OCHA reported.

SIERRA LEONE: Concern over food security in Kabala

Hundreds of new IDPs from the Makeni-Kono area have been reported in Kabala, northeast Sierra Leone, in the last two to three weeks, OCHA reported. Food security is a major concern as Christian Relief Services (CRS) have run out of stocks there and poor road access is hampering efforts to re-supply the area. Negotiations are ongoing with UNAMSIL to use one of its helicopters to airlift up to 25 mt of food at a time. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres-Belgium which is operational in the area, the IDPs are presently coping with host communities but their situation will deteriorate without swift intervention.

SIERRA LEONE: Six vehicles captured in east

A recent agreement between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and the Community Defence Forces (CDF) to allow commercial trucks to use the Kenema-Daru route in Sierra Leone's Eastern Province seems to have fallen through.

On Saturday six vehicles, three trucks - one carrying rice and palm oil - and three taxis, were captured at Segbwema, some 15 km west of Daru, and taken to an RUF base, OCHA reported Save the Children Fund (SCF) as saying.

There have been reports of small numbers of RUF fighters disarming at the Daru disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) camp, one of two camps still operational countrywide. The other is at Lungi, north of Freetown.

Aid agencies are gradually expanding activities in Daru following the recent arrival of some 5,000 new IDPs from nearby chiefdoms in Kailahun District. In the eastern town of Kenema, the humanitarian situation remains "under control" despite the recent influx of more than 7,000 IDPs who fled their homes after UNAMSIL's military operation to rescue encircled peacekeepers.

Camps are reported to be overcrowded and current facilities and services are under strain.

SIERRA LEONE: Mile 91 relatively calm

The security situation in Mile 91, east of Freetown, is "relatively calm but fluid," according to OCHA.

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has assured civilians that the situation is under control despite rebel activities across the nearby Mabang River in Mayibin village where 24 houses were reportedly burnt down and a few civilians killed during a recent incident that took place at the beginning of August, OCHA reported. The UN aims to deploy one full Indian battalion in Mile 91 before the end of the month, it added.

One priority is to relocate IDPs currently occupying school buildings in Mile 91 town as schools are due to resume in mid-September. Work to clear the site for the construction of a transit camp to accommodate some 4,000 IDPs is already underway, OCHA said.

The road connecting the southern town of Bo to Mile 91 is reportedly safe with a constant flow of traffic but road access via the Mabang Bridge continues to be hindered by the poor state of the bridge and harassment by Civil Defence Forces (CDF). Work is expected to start on the bridge soon and UNAMSIL has promised troops to guard it. Humanitarian agencies are concerned about access and security for aid workers and civilians in the area and are arranging meetings with UNAMSIL and the authorities to discuss this, OCHA reported.

SIERRA LEONE: South generally calm

Sierra Leone's Southern Province has been generally calm but aid agencies continue to report security incidents involving Kamajors which are affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the region. The humanitarian community has welcomed a recent decision by CDF authorities to hold a workshop in Freetown with the participation of all its members and urged them to discuss as a matter of urgency the continuing harassment of aid workers and civilians, OCHA reported.

NIGER: Refugees refuse to leave cathedral

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Niamey, Monsignor Guy Romano, has given a group of refugees until 17 August to leave the city's cathedral, which they have been occupying for the past two weeks, or face expulsion by government forces, a humanitarian source told IRIN on Wednesday.

Some 200 African refugees have refused to leave the cathedral until their requests for asylum are reviewed quickly, the Missionary News Agency, MISNA, reported on Tuesday.

The refugees, most of whom come from Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have refused offers by the UNHCR to move to a school where they would be fed and cared for.

COTE D'IVOIRE: West African leaders seek to calm the tension

Presidents Matthieu Kerekou and Gnassingbe Eyadema of Benin and Togo respectively arrived in Cote d'Ivoire this week in an attempt to defuse the tension surrounding upcoming elections in the West African nation.

State television reported that the two leaders started meeting on Thursday in Yamassoukro with General Robert Guei, who came to power after army mutineers deposed Henri Konan Bedie on 24 December 1999. Their agenda also includes meetings with the leaders of the main political parties here.

Much of the tension has to do with conditions governing eligibility for presidential elections whose date has been set for 17 September. A new constitution approved at a referendum on 2 July bars anyone who is not of Ivoirian parentage or who has had another nationality from running for president, provisions which reportedly rule out ex-prime minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara.

The tension increased last week when participants in a demonstration in support for French cooperation Minister Charles Josselin, who had called among other things for all eligible candidates to be allowed to run, were stripped and beaten in public by soldiers. Many of the demonstrators were reportedly supporters of Ouattara, who heads the opposition Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR).

The RDR is the only major party not represented in Cote d'Ivoire's transitional government, led by the military Conseil National de Salut Public (CNSP), which includes members of the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) and the former ruling Parti Democratique de Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI).

The PDCI is to meet on Saturday to decide on its candidate for the presidential elections. Local and international media have quoted party officials as saying that Guei is one of 10 people whose candidatures have been submitted to it.

On Wednesday, a group of traditional chiefs urged Guei to run for president and gave him a symbolic gift of 20 million CFA francs (about US $30,000), the fee for entering the presidential race.

They said they spoke on behalf of all the country's traditional rulers, but some chiefs from northern Cote d'Ivoire issued a communique, reproduced in the media, in which they disassociated themselves from the group's action.

AFRICA: Anti-HIV missions to six countries

Two teams of consultants have begun visits to six countries in Africa to undertake situation analysis and develop projects for joint advocacy against HIV/AIDS, the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa (IPAA)reported in its latest bulletin.

The missions, part of a UNFPA-led advocacy initiative within the the IPAA, began on 24 July and are scheduled to end on 28 August. The visits - to Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania - have been organised by UNFPA in consultation with the UNAIDS Secretariat.

The IPAA comprises the seven sponsors of UNAIDS (UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, the World Bank, WHO, UNESCO and UNDCP), the UNAIDS secretariat, bilateral development agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

GABON: Work begins on national anti-HIV plan

Gabon has started to develop a national strategic plan against HIV/AIDS and expects to have it ready by the end of the year, the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa (IPAA) reported in its latest bulletin.

The World Health Organisation, which is supporting the process to develop the plan, has contacted IPAA for assistance to complement funding and resources provided by the government and other partners, the IPAA said.

Abidjan, 10 August 2000; 17:32 GMT

[ENDS]

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