Côte d'Ivoire + 3 more

IRIN Update 603 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

NIGERIA: Police assert control after Yoruba, Hausa clash in Lagos

Under orders to shoot criminals on sight, police in Lagos reasserted control in troubled parts of the city on Friday at the end of a second day of violence between Yoruba and Hausa traders and halted a looting spree by city hoodlums, according to news reports.

"We cannot allow this country to be taken over by hoodlums and criminals," President Olusegun Obasanjo said on nationwide television on Thursday.

He said 27 bodies had been counted but the BBC reported on Friday the death toll could reach 50.

The Hausa and the Yoruba are the two largest and most politically powerful groups in Nigeria. At least 100 people died when they last clashed in July, in the southwest and in Kano, the biggest city in Muslim northern Nigeria.

SIERRA LEONE: Two shot at Cape Sierra Hotel

An armed man attacked Minister of Trade and Industry Mike Lamin on Wednesday in the Cape Sierra Hotel but wounded two others, according to news reports on Friday.

The shooting occurred shortly after Gabriel Foday entered Lamin's room for a family meeting, ECOMOG said on Thursday. Foday is described as a relative and former aide to Lamin, an ex-RUF rebel.

An ECOMOG soldier assigned to protect Lamin, Abubakar Ahmed, was wounded in the attack as was one of the minister's aides, Chippi Ansumana. They are receiving treatment at the ECOMOG field hospital. Foday has been handed over to the police for questioning, ECOMOG said.

Observers told IRIN on Friday that tension has heightened in Freetown during the past week, mainly due to the recent arrival of hundreds of RUF members. These RUF supporters came to witness the first stage in the transformation of the RUF into a political party on Monday.

ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Olukolade told IRIN that these supporters were civilians and were thoroughly searched by ECOMOG before being allowed to enter the city. He added that of the 600 who had arrived, an unspecified number had returned to the countryside.

The Cape Sierra, unlike its neighbour the Hotel Mamy Yoko which was shelled and looted during the rebel incursion in May 1997, is the only international hotel in Freetown that functioned throughout the war and was considered as relatively safe.

SIERRA LEONE: AFRC disassociates itself from RUF

The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) said on Thursday it had disassociated itself from the newly formed Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), AFP reported.

The agency did not say why the AFRC had taken this measure against their erstwhile ally. The RUF registered as a political party in Freetown on Monday in line with the Lome Peace Accord signed in July. The AFRC seized power from President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in May 1997 and set up a military regime with the RUF before being ousted in February 1998 by pro government ECOMOG forces.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Red Cross helps displaced

At least 9,000 displaced persons have received emergency aid from the international and Ivorian Red Cross societies in recent weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva said on Thursday.

The displaced passed through four sites set up in the Bas-Cavally region in the south-west of the country since 6 November, the deputy head of the Regional Delegation of the ICRC in Abidjan, Pierre Townsend, told IRIN on Friday. Three are in Tabou and one in Grabo, the main cities in the region.

Last week some 6,500 people were still receiving help at the four locations, the ICRC said. However, according to news reports on Friday most of the Burkinabe labourers had fled the country. AFP reported that 100 Burkinabes remained at a Roman Catholic Mission in Tabou, some 400km west of Abidjan.

At the beginning of November a land dispute triggered clashes between communities of the indigenous Kru people, who are in the majority in this region, and ethnic Lobe and Dangare immigrants. Some 15,000 farmers and agricultural workers, mainly from Burkina Faso, were driven from their homes, ICRC said.

The health condition of the displaced people who arrived at the four locations was not serious, the ICRC said. "Nutritionally they were OK, some showed signs of dehydration and were tired but no severe conditions were noted," Townsend said. Food, including rice and milk, were provided and a measles vaccination campaign for the some 6,000 children, was conducted by the local Red Cross and health authorities.

The majority of the Burkinabe immigrants arrived in Cote d'Ivoire more than 10 years ago and had been working on the cocoa plantations.

LIBERIA: Environment agency set up

President Charles Taylor inaugurated the country's first specialised body on the environment on Thursday.

"Unless we take care of our environment, there will be nothing left for our children. The setting up of this commission is long overdue," Reuters quotes Taylor as saying.

UNDP has signed an agreement with the government to help fund the environment agency.

"UNDP's intention is to assist the Government to develop and establish a viable institution and legal regime for managing natural resources and the environment," a UNDP source in Monrovia told IRIN.

//CORRECTION//: The item "LIBERIA: Finance Ministry investigating loss of US $200,000" of the IRIN Update 601, 24 November, 1999 refers. Please read 200,000 Liberian dollars (US $4,700) and not (IRPT not) US $200,000 as moved.
Abidjan, 26 November 1999; 20:20 GMT

[ENDS]

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Item: irin-english-2056

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