Chad + 4 more

IRIN Update 645 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 20 21 73 54
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SIERRA LEONE: Substance abuse hampers ex-fighters' health

Marijuana and alcohol abuse is creating health problems for former combatants in Sierra Leone, according to Rabih Torbay, country director for International Medical Corps (IMC).

"Ex-combatants often come to us with chest pains," Torbay told IRIN on Tuesday. He added that the former fighters often freely admitted that they smoke marijuana, he added. IMC provides primary health care for ex-combatants, civilians and displaced persons through clinics set up outside some demobilisation camps.

"There is a need for more activities in the demobilisation camps," Torbay said. "These would distract the inmates and help to prevent substance abuse," he added.

Other frequently diagnosed health complaints among ex-combatants include malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and acute respiratory infections, Torbay said.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Accord on establishment of first university

Representatives of Lisbon's Lusofona university and the Guinea-Bissau Ministry of Education signed an agreement on Monday in Bissau to establish the country's first university, Lusa reported.

The chairman of the commission set up to establish the Amilcar Cabral University said the accord was a "decisive step" in the project. The university will be a public institution, to be administered by a private group that may be set up with capital from Portugal and Guinea-Bissau, Lusa quoted Tcherno Djalo as saying.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Kenyan investigators await access to crash site

Kenya Airways officials said that by mid-afternoon on Tuesday they had still not been granted access to the site where their A-310 jetliner plunged into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Cote d'Ivoire, killing 169 passengers.

"At this point we don't know why we can't go," Fred Kiige, the spokesman for the Kenya Airways recovery team, told reporters in Abidjan. He said a team of Ivorian civil aviation and Kenya Airways officials were supposed to begin joint investigations into the crash on Tuesday morning but had been delayed by their failure to hold a series of meetings on the issue.

The meeting was supposed to discuss the logistics of moving reporters and aviation experts to the crash site some 12 km off the coast. Kenyan Airways Managing Director Richard Nyaga was later able to meet with Ivorian officials, though there was no official word on the details of these discussions.

So far, 100 bodies have been recovered from the fuselage which was found on Sunday. Kiige said wreckage was now being washed ashore but that the flight data and voice recorders, commonly known as the black box, had not been located as at 0900 gmt. These instruments are essential in establishing the cause of any crash and record airspeed, altitude, vertical acceleration, radio communication and cockpit conversation.

Kiige said divers in Senegal and those of the Kenya Navy were standing by to help salvage the wreckage if asked by the Ivorians. Police and civil aviation officials are guarding debris that has been washed ashore until investigators gain access to these sites.

The team of investigators could comprise Ivorian civil aviation officials, their Kenyan counterparts, aviation consultants from the UK, insurance officials, Airbus Industrie (the aircraft manufacturer) and General Electric, makers of the engines.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways says it will fly relatives of the deceased to Abidjan for identification purposes. Identification of some of the corpses has already started. Kenya Airways says it has also flown support teams to counsel grieving relatives in Lagos.

Most of the dead are Nigerian. Others were from Belgium, Congo, Chad, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, the United States and other countries. There were 10 survivors while 18 passengers got off the plane in Abidjan to connect to Accra.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Constitutional Commission to set election dates

The dates for presidential, legislative and municipal elections in Cote d'Ivoire will be set by a new Consultative Constitutional and Electoral Commission (CCCE) sworn in on Monday, the country's leader, Brigadier General Robert Guei, said at the inauguration.

The commission's tasks include drawing up a new constitution, drafting an electoral code and proposing measures to facilitate the organisation of free and fair elections, according to Guei. These measures include a census of electors, the establishment of voters' lists and the drawing of new electoral boundaries.

Guei said the Commission "shall have to indicate the exact date and sequence of the upcoming general elections".

The Ivoirian head had announced last week that presidential, legislative and municipal elections would be held by 31 October. On Monday he explained that this date was just a deadline and that if the CCCE found that the polls could be held earlier, he would be willing to ratify a proposal to this effect "as long as there is no confusion".

SENEGAL: Testimonies of victims from Habre's regime end

The testimonies of victims of the regime of Chad's former president, Hissene Habre, ended on Monday three days after the official hearing opened in Senegal, AFP reported.

Habre, who lives in exile in the capital, Dakar, is accused of crimes against humanity and acts of torture. Six witnesses gave evidence since Friday, AFP reported one of the lawyers representing the victims as saying. Habre, who has not yet appointed a lawyer for his defence, could be indicted by the judge at the end of the hearing, AFP reported.

In a criminal complaint filed on 25 January, a coalition of human rights groups provided details of 97 political killings, 142 cases of torture and 100 "disappearances" committed by Habre's forces during his eight-year rule from 1982-1990.

SENEGAL: World Bank approves credit

The World Bank on Thursday approved a credit of some US $28.5 million to support an ongoing decentralisation effort by the Senegalese government, according to a World Bank news release.

The National Rural Infrastructure Project (NRIP) will "reinforce the capacity of rural local governments to deliver public services to their populations on a sustainable basis," it said. "The central objective of this project is to contribute to revitalising the rural economy, reducing rural poverty and improving the living conditions of rural populations in Senegal," according to Mahmood Ayub, country director for Senegal.

The programme will support the ongoing administrative and fiscal decentralisation process, strengthen the capacity of communities and their governments to prioritise, plan, implement and maintain community-based infrastructures and provide funding to local governments for rural infrastructure and services.

Funds are to be distributed directly to local communities who will be responsible for their "proper use," the news release said.

CHAD: US $17.5 million for capacity building

The World Bank has approved some US $17.5 million for supporting ongoing efforts to build economic and financial management capacity in Chad, the Bank said in a news release on Friday.

The project would help Chad develop sustainable capacity in five inter-related areas: public financial management, production of a comprehensive poverty database, development of human resources, improvement of financial oversight and control, and monitoring of economic reform and the coordination of capacity building, the World Bank said.

"This project would build on two previous capacity building operations which made an important contribution to Chad's post-conflict reconstruction effort and the implementation of a fiscal and economic reform programme over the past four years," Eugene Scanteie, the bank's project manager, said.

Abidjan, 1 February 2000; 17:35 GMT


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