Côte d'Ivoire + 3 more

Guinea: Humanitarian briefing pack Mar 2003

Format
Analysis
Source
Posted
Originally published

Attachments

Background on the West African Conflict(s)
The civil conflicts of the 1990s in the Sierra Leone and Liberia transformed Guinea into one of the largest refugee hosting countries in the world, with refugees at times comprising seven percent of the population. Years of hosting a significant number of refugees and intensified armed attacks along its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, dealt a severe blow to Guinea's capacity to ensure the safety of its population andto focus on economic development and political stability.

Chronology

The conflicts of the Mano River basin countries, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, erupted in late1989, when a group of rebels named National Patriotic Front (NPF) led by Charles Taylor inserted from Cote d'Ivoire into Liberia. The rebels soon controlled relevant portions of the country. In the early 1990s the war expanded into neighbouring Sierra Leone where the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) supported by Taylor tried to capture the capital Freetown. In July 1997, after numerous failed negotiations, elections were held in Liberia and surprisingly won by Taylor. Two months before, parts of the Sierra Leone Army sympathizing with the RUF rebels had toppled the government of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. In February 1998 Kabbah was re-installed but at the beginning of 1999, Freetown was again close to fall to the RUF rebels. The city was secured in last minute by the Nigerian led intervention force from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Following a peace agreement in the summer of 1999, this ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) withdrew and the UN peace-keeping mission UNAMSIL moved in instead.

Tensions peaked towards the end of the year 2000 when fighting broke out in the Parrot's Beak area, bordering on both Sierra Leone and Liberia. For the first time, Guinea had to deal with the emergence of internally displaced persons, as well as rising grievances of citizens who attribute their plight to insecurity related to the presence of refugees. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone had launched attacks and counter attacks along the border villages in the region, displacing large numbers of Sierra Leonean refugees and their hosts. Of particular note, was the destruction of the town of Pamelap in the southwest of Guinea, which, prior to the conflict, had served as a major trade area for populations in the region. As the Parrot's Beak increasingly became a war zone, UNHCR advocated for the immediate relocation of refugees in the area, with the full support of the international community. Residents of the communities that had hosted the refugees also decided to seek refuge in areas further away from the border, to avoid looting and abuses perpetuated by the diverse armed groups involved in the fighting. In June 2001, an estimated 250,000 refugees and IDPs had been evacuated from the Parrot's Beak area.

During 2001, the situation in the sub-region improved gradually. The year brought consolidation of a safer living environment for refugees relocated away from the borders, absence of cross border fighting between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as the return of around 60,000 refugees to Sierra Leone. The release from prison of a prominent politician, Alpha Conde, on 20 May 2001, was also seen as a positive step towards political stability. Progress in the peace process in Sierra Leone, including the re-activation of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Programme, markedly improved the security situation within the country and along its borders with Guinea, thus expanding the humanitarian space and enabling agencies to operate in areas that were previously off limit.

Year 2002 has also brought encouraging signs for the Mano River basin countries such as the formally declared end of the conflict in Sierra Leone on 18 January 2002. UNHCR has been able to facilitate voluntary repatriation of large amounts of Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea and prospects for stability and economic recovery in the sub-region received a boost following the intervention of civil society. The Mano River Women Peace Network who had met with the Heads of State of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea convinced President Lansana Conte of Guinea to agree to with President Charles Taylor of Liberia, as part of efforts to normalise relations in the Mano River Union. These initiatives culminated in a Summit of the three Heads of State, which took place in Morocco on 27 February 2002.

But the situation deteriorated with the outbreak of armed conflict in Cote d'Ivoire on 19th September 2002.

Current Situation

The countries are now taking major strides towards finding ways of addressing the issue of rebel incursions within the Mano River Union and the safety of citizens living in border areas.

Currently, a frail calm prevails in the border areas and the situation remains volatile with the resumption of fighting in Liberia and the fluid situation in Cote d'Ivoire. Both borders remain officially closed, except for humanitarian purposes, in which case access is subject to the decisions of local authorities. As such, the Guinea - Liberia border has been entirely closed several times in 2003 due to the increased load of stranded civilians at volatile border points presenting security and humanitarian concerns, as well as the uncontrolled movement of civilians back and forth across the border. However, as party to various international humanitarian conventions, Guinea is obliged to facilitate access to persons seeking shelter from persecution and war. The border with Cote d'Ivoire has been closed since October 2002, although the Guinean authorities allow movement for humanitarian purposes.

Liberia / Cote d'Ivoire crisis

Notwithstanding these initiatives, the situation has changed drastically in recent months with intensified fighting in Liberia between LURD rebels and Government forces. Adding to the pressure on the Liberian Government, armed incursions from Cote d'Ivoire due to the alleged involvement of Liberian mercenaries in the rebel forces fighting against the Ivorian Government have occurred in the last month, culminating in the attack in Toe Town in early March by Ivorian Government forces.

By the end of February 2003, the Liberian Government submitted a letter to the UN Security Council, accusing Guinea for aiding the LURD rebel movement, stating that, "the government of Guinea facilitated the establishment of LURD by permitting the recruitment, training and arming of Liberian refugees living in refugee camps in the territory of Guinea." As such, Liberia requested "the Security Council to take necessary urgent measures to end this destabilization and destruction of Liberia in keeping with its responsibility for international peace and security."

By March 2002, some 82,000 Guinean IDPs remain displaced around the country as a consequence of armed incursions from Liberia into Guinea in 2000-01. Approximately 44% are currently residing in Prefectures within Forest Guinea alone.

The conflict in Cote d'Ivoire has placed great peril on the humanitarian situation in Guinea, particularly in the prefectures in the Forest region. Already suffering great instability from the large presence of refugees, IDPs, illicit LURD presence and border instability with Liberia, the outbreak of violence in Cote d'Ivoire has prompted a multifaceted influx of people into Guinea, divided between Guinean evacuees, refugees and foreign nationals in transit. The majority of persons have arrived at entry points mainly in the Prefectures of Lola, Beyla and Youmou in the Guinea Forestiere region, although arrivals have also been registered in the Prefecture of Mandiana, as well as in Conakry.

Between end-September 2002 and March 1, 2003 some 86,000 persons had entered Guinea as a direct consequence of the war in Cote d'Ivoire: At least 56,000 Guinean evacuees, some 18,000 prima facie refugees (Ivorian and Liberian), and more than 12,000 foreign nationals in transit.

CHALLENGES AND CONSTRAINTS

In Guinea, current challenges for the humanitarian community include:

  • Facilitate access and basic assistance to all vulnerable groups arriving due to conflicts in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. Primarily, this entails raising donors' awareness of the critical funding situation related to the sudden need for accommodation, protection and transport of tens of thousands Guinean evacuees, refugees and third country nationals in transit.

  • Address the unmet needs of IDPs and Guinean nationals evacuated from Cote d'Ivoire to ensure broad protection and facilitate return to areas of origin.

  • Provide necessary protection and assistance to refugees particularly for Liberians and Ivorians, who recently arrived in the country.

  • Assess the impact of under-funding on protection and mobilize more resources to cover unmet protection needs.

  • Identify new accommodation space for refugees arriving from Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire.

  • Facilitate the smooth implementation of the relocation of Liberian refugees from the Kouankan camp to the Albadaria camps.

  • Lay the foundation for a sustainable peace at the national and possibly sub-regional level, notably by using civil-society organizations (CSA).

  • Ensure a timely and effective transition from relief to recovery and rehabilitation.

  • Prevent and mitigate natural disasters that led to population displacements in 2001.

  • Facilitate coordination and information exchange with a view to strengthen emergency humanitarian assistance, enhance preparedness and where possible establish linkages to all of the UN efforts in Guinea.

  • Solve critical problems with infrastructure impeding the urgent provision of humanitarian aid to vital parts of the country.

  • Maintain the proper staffing resources.

  • Complete the voluntary repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees.

  • Find sustainable solutions to the transport of Third Country Nationals in transit.

  • Enhancing the humanitarian coordination mechanisms.
I POLITICAL AND SECURITY DEVELOPMENTS

1. 1 National

Political

The presence of large groups of stranded foreign nationals in transit at entry-points in Diecke and Thuo along the Guinea - Liberia border caused local authorities to close again these entry-points, citing security concerns. Although the Guinea - Liberia border has been officially closed for the past two years, certain entry-points have been kept de facto open for humanitarian purposes. A recent increased of influx at these entry-points coincided with an acute funding crisis for IOM Guinea, thus leaving no option for the UN to facilitate the transport of foreign nationals in transit and Guinean evacuees. This situation has caused the accumulation of civilians at volatile border locations compounded by the fact that these people where left without means and in urgent need of basic assistance. The UNS is consulting with Guinean authorities and donors to find a sustainable solution to this obstacle, as it is expected that many more people will need to enter Guinea from Liberia.

The Guinean Electricity Company is currently facing severe difficulties in supplying electricity and water to the population of Conakry as well as to populations in the rural areas. Despite promises by the Minister of Energy and Hydraulique to correct this situation, the power service is still alternatively provided 6 hours per zone every 3 to 4 days, generally between midnight and 06.00. The tension is growing among the population, particularly as informal sources predict that nothing can be done until the onset of the rainy season in June.

Security updates

Conakry: Generally calm. Several demonstrations have occurred in the outskirts of the capital due to the drastic decline in provision of water and electricity over the past six weeks. The authorities allegedly forestalled a general strike scheduled for 10 February.

Forest Guinea: The situation remains calm. However, due to the fluid security situation in both Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, humanitarian staff operating in the border areas are asked to exert prudence in their interventions.

Upper - Guinea: Students in Kankan launched street-protests against the authorities.
( see page 18 for UNSECOORD Security Phases)

Culture of Peace

During her visit, the Humanitarian Envoy, Ms. Carolyn McAskie, met with the Mano River Union Women's Network to discuss aspects of the Culture of Peace programs being promoted by this group. OCHA Guinea is in the process of developing a community-based program to replicate the non-aggression pact that prevailed in Nzerekore during the September 2000 attacks. This program will use traditional leaders (both men and women) whose cross-border extended networks could help in deterring possible violence in border areas between Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. The draft project document is being reviewed prior to submission to the donors-community.

1.2 Sub-regional

Political

Recent developments in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia are being watched closely, while the preparations for an increased humanitarian influx continue between the UNS, NGO partners and the Government of Guinea.

II HUMANITARIAN HIGHLIGHTS

1 Refugees

Influx

From the 19th of September 2002 until February 1, 2003, the Croix Rouge Guineenne registered some 82,000 persons arriving in Guinea due to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. Of these, 53,500 were Guinean evacuees, 16,953 were Ivorian and Liberian prima facie refugees, and 12,193 were foreign nationals in transit. The UNS and NGO partners are offering basic assistance in reception centres at the main entry-points, as well as at transit centres located further inland. UNHCR has transferred some 3,500 Liberian and 3,148 Ivorian refugees to the camps of Laine and Nonah. It should be noted that the discrepancy between the number of Ivorians registered at entry points and those transferred to the Nonah camp is caused by the large number of Ivorians either merely transiting via Guinea to return to Abidjan from Conakry or residing with host-families along the border.

Refugee Repatriation

Refugee repatriation per 19 February 2003 - Data provided by UNHCR Guinea

Period
CAMP OF ORIGIN
TOTAL
Sembakounya
Kountaya
Boreah
Telikoro
Others
Report Dec 02
1,600
10,199
4,077
4,855
933
21,664
January 03
383
901
644
358
23
2,309
Until 19 February 03
153
346
454
425
38
1,416
Total
2,136
11,446
5,175
5,638
994
25,389

The UNHCR Guinea is aiming at repatriating some 34,000 Sierra Leonean refugees by the end of June 2003. The opening in March 2003 of a new route in the Languette, connecting Guinea and Sierra Leone with a footbridge is expected to expedite the repatriation process.

The Malian Government has arranged the transport of some 1,000 Malian nationals stranded by the entry-point of Diecke at the Guinean - Liberian border. An acute funding crisis in IOM Guinea has seriously affected the movement of Guinean evacuees and foreign nationals in transit who have arrived in Guinea due to the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire.

Refugee Care and maintenance

Relocation of Liberian refugees from the Kuankan camp to Albadaria

The Guinean Government has authorized the relocation of Liberian refugees from the Kounkan refugee-camp to camps in the Albadaria area.

Since August 2002 the UNS Guinea has been working with the Government examining the options for relocating Liberian refugees currently residing in the camp. The decision for this action was based on informal reports of increased strain placed on the refugees, mainly caused by the deterioration of the security and safety conditions of this camp as well as general overcrowding. Presently, the camp is hosting some 33,000 refugees while originally built for 9,000, and being extended to hold 13,500 in 2001.

The UNHCR reports that the budget and operational plans are in place, and that a starting date will be agreed upon shortly. To help facilitating a smooth implementation of the relocation process, UNHCR has also launched a sensitization campaign in the Kouankan camp. UNHCR foresees to complete the relocation operation by the end of June 2003.

Laine refugee camp

Discussions between the UNS and the Guinean Government concerning the extension of the Laine refugee camp, holding Liberian refugees are ongoing. While initially built to house 6,000 persons, the Laine camp is now holding 11,000 - 12,000 persons, according to humanitarian partners operating in the field. Additionally, there is a concern that certain areas of the camp located between the hills will be flooded with the onset of the rainy season next months, placing further stress on the refugees residing there.

2 Host communities

The UNS Emergency Response Plan to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire is planning for some 88,000 persons to be affected as host-communities by the influx of refugees and Guinean nationals from the ongoing crisis. Multi-sector interventions by several UN agencies have been proposed under the 2003 CAP to alleviate the already heavy burden placed upon these communities for so many years. They include emergency school feeding, food for seeds protection programs, emergency supplies of seeds, immunization campaigns, child mortality reduction programs, programs to prevent child malnutrition and the promotion of culture-of-peace programs.

III COORDINATION AND CAPACITY BUILDING

1 Strategic level

Emergency response plan

Following the inception of the CDI crisis, OCHA established an inter-agency working group to assess the situation and prepare a response that specifically addresses new needs emerging from this situation. As a result of the proceedings of the working group, an Inter-Agency Emergency Response Plan for the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire was finalized, and later approved by the Government of Guinea prior to submission to the donor-community on January 23. The plan consolidates agency agreements on planning figures, target populations, nature and type of interventions, existing resources and capacities as well as outlining complementarities among involved actors. The main projected beneficiaries are Guinean evacuees, host-communities, refugees and foreign nationals in transit. To foster the implementation of the plan, OCHA is now heading a UN/NGO working group to provide practical and operational responses deriving from the Emergency Response Plan and meetings were held accordingly.

The OCHA Field office in N'Zerekore has continued its coordination efforts with humanitarian partners and local Government authorities in the area. This includes the coordination of the establishment of ad-hoc reception facilities at the Baala and Dieke entry points along the Guinea - Liberia border, where there were sudden surges in influxes of mainly foreign nationals in transit and Guinean evacuees. These operations involved UNICEF, WFP, MSF-CH, Premiere Urgence and ACF. Furthermore, the field-office has participated in various joint missions to border-points and reception facilities along both the Guinea - Liberia and the Guinea - Cote d'Ivoire borders to evaluate the situations there.

The OCHA Field-office has established an information-sharing mechanism outlining recent activities of humanitarian partners operating in the Guinea Forestière region. The newsletter is distributed monthly among the involved organizations.

To raise urgent fund for the transport of Guinean nationals and foreign nationals in transit, the UNS and IOM approached bi-laterally with donors concerning the need for finding a sustainable solution to the swift transportation of these groups upon arriving at entry-points.

2 Sectoral level

In consultation with OCHA and the UN agencies, the Humanitarian Coordinator is proposing to redesign the strategic framework for humanitarian coordination in Guinea. This approach, currently at the draft level, will seek to reinforce the work of the existing five sectoral groups through recommendations emanating from the Comité National de Suivi de l'Action Humanitaire (CNSAH) composed of the Government, the UNS, donors and technical Ministries.

3 Capacity building

OCHA continues to provide support to the Service National d'Action Humanitaire (SENAH) at both national and regional levels. The OCHA Field-office has conducted field-missions with the Bureau Regional d'Action Humanitaire in N'Zerekore.

4 Information management

The Information Manager has been permanently transferred to the OCHA Regional Support Office for West Africa in Abidjan.

5 Transition from relief to development

The influx of Guinean nationals from CDI requires that further attention and resources be developed to ensure proper integration of these civilians into host communities. OCHA will reactivate consultations held with UNDP, the World Bank, the EU and the IMF that spanned from October to December 2001 on the subject of transition and will revisit a concept paper prepared for this purpose in November 2001.

IV FUNDING UPDATE

As of 20th March 2003, the Guinea Consolidated Appeals 2003 (US$ 54,083,515) has received funding of US$ 214'920 according to Relief Web. The amount is equivalent to 0,66% of the total requirements and was received by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), OCHA and UNICEF.

Guinea is involved in developing the CAP for Cote d'Ivoire and the sub-region due to the impact of the crisis in Guinea.

For further reporting, agencies and donors may use the financial tracking system found on www.reliefweb.int. The latest Financial Tables can at any time be viewed on-line at www.reliefweb.int/fts

The CAP 2003 was budgeted to support the management and coordination of the refugee situation, to address the needs of persons forced to flee their homes after cross-border rebel attacks in 2000 and 2001, and to support host communities in order to maintain a conducive asylum environment by improving living conditions in these areas. The CAP 2003 also covers support to Culture of Peace projects, which, via inter-state mechanisms, seek to support efforts by civil society actors operating in various organizations within the Mano River Union at improving conditions for development in the region.

The CAP 2003 did not take into consideration the outbreak of violence in Cote d'Ivoire, hence the increased humanitarian strain this event would place upon Guinea. Since September 27 2002, more than 86,000 persons have entered Guinea as a cause of the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. As the global CAP 2003 deadline coincided with the outbreak of conflict in Cote d'Ivoire, none of the neighboring countries now directly affected planned such costs into their appeals. Consequently, UN country teams in this group of countries comprising Guinea, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire are currently preparing a sub-regional emergency CAP to appeal for funding to cover extraordinary costs resulting for the crisis.

One of the challenges is the declining interest in Guinea from the Donor-community, reflected in the narrow response to cumulative consolidated appeals of 2001, 2002 and 2003. According to the web-based Financial Tracking System (FTS), only 32% of the West Africa CAP 2001 and 47,4% of the Guinea CAP 2002 have been funded, while so far 0.66% of the CAP 2003 has received funding. Yet, in January 2003 European Commission announced the provision of a combined humanitarian assistance package to the Mano River Union countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea worth US$ 2,1 million earmarked for the continuing relief efforts targeting refugees, IDPs and host-communities in areas within the region affected by conflict.

(pdf* format - 578 KB)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.