Chad + 3 more

IRIN Update 652 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 20 21 73 54
Fax: +225 20 21 63 35
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

CHAD: French grants 17.6 million euro for drainage systems

Residents of two southern Chadian towns and the capital, Ndjamena, who often must wade through their rain-flooded neighbourhoods may soon get some relief.

Chad and the French aid agency, Agence francaise de developpement (AFP), signed a 17.6-million-euro (US $17.48 million) deal on Wednesday to build drains in the southern towns of Moundou and Sarah, and in Ndjamena.

The official French news agency, AFP, reported that Moundou and Sarah will get 3.9 million euro ($3.87 million) of this grant and Ndjamena 8.3 million euro ($8.25 million). It said 5.4 million euros ($5.36 million) would go to improving sanitation in the western provinces of Lac and Kanem.

This is the first time the AFD has given money for the health sector, in line with its new duties following the reorganisation of French development aid, AFP said.

SIERRA LEONE: Land mines pose limited problem, UN says

A United Nations investigation team in Sierra Leone has found that land mines pose a "limited problem" in the country which can be dealt with by the UN mission there, UNAMSIL, a spokeswoman for the Secretary-General said on Wednesday.

The UN Mine Action Service completed a week-long technical assessment mission on Sunday to determine the scope of the problem of land mines and unexploded ordnance in Sierra Leone, Maria Okabe told reporters in New York.

The team held discussions with the government, the warring factions, the UN mission and other parties. Access has not yet been secured to all areas of the country and the team travelled to Kabala in the north of Sierra Leone and to Kenema and Daru in the east to investigate mines and unexploded ordnance.

Okabe said the team recommended that a mine action information and coordination centre be established as part of the peacekeeping operation.

According to Save Heritage and Rehabilitate the Environment (SHARE), a local NGO, a 12-year-old lost an eye last week after picking up a land mine at Yams Farm on the outskirts of Freetown. SHARE has repeatedly expressed concern over the lack of information on the whereabouts of mines laid during the conflict in Sierra Leone.

SIERRA LEONE: Limb-fitting equipment give to Handicap International

Handicap International (HI) has been given equipment to enable it to provide artificial limbs for ex-combatants who have gone through the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, according to an information bulletin published on 10 February by the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR).

Valued at US $48,000 the equipment, which was donated by the British Department for International Development (DFID), was handed over to HI on Tuesday by Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on behalf of his government.

NCDDR cites a representative of the amputees, Muctarr Jalloh, as saying they needed help that would enable them to reduce their dependence on others.

SIERRA LEONE: DDR sensitisation efforts continue

Members of NCDDR's information unit travelled to Bo and Kenema last week in their latest attempt to spread the word on the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, according to NCDDR's latest information bulletin.

"The decision to venture into the provinces, which is considered long overdue, was taken in response to the uncomfortable realisation that many people including ex-combatants and their commanders do not know much about the DDR programme," NCDDR said.

During meetings with KISS 104 FM and SLBS 93.5, provincial radio stations in Bo and Kenema respectively, the team provided broadcast material on the DDR programme, including the newly recorded DDR song.

For the past five months NCDDR has been running a DDR radio programme on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service which has only been heard in the Freetown peninsula as it was not broadcast on shortwave.

SIERRA LEONE: Food aid to Freetown camps to phase down

Plans to phase out the provision of food aid to some displaced people living in camps and around the Freetown peninsula are underway, the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (HACU) said in its most recent situation report, 17-30 January.

HACU said that only displaced people from safe areas or those wishing to return to their homes would not receive food.

"Resettlement rations, food for work, food for training and related projects will be provided for those who wish to resettle," HACU said. "Those who live in areas that are still not safe will remain in camps and continue to receive support."

NIGERIA: Suspect arrested over oil fire

A boy has been arrested by police in connection with a petroleum fire which began on Monday and killed 17 people in Abia State, 'The Guardian' newspaper of Lagos reported.

The fire, which firefighters have put out, started in a pit dug by villagers to collect petrol leaking from a burst oil pipe belonging to the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), the paper said on Thursday. The fire was believed to have been ignited by a boy lighting a match in the air saturated with petrol fumes. PPMC sources said that pipelines in the area had been vandalised.

Villagers in Ogwe, Ukwa-West Council Area had been fetching the product from the pit for two months and selling 60 litres of petrol for about 1,000 naira (US $1), the daily said. In October 1998, at least 700 people died in a pipeline fire near Warri, in the Niger Delta, while trying to siphon off petrol from a burst pipeline.

NIGERIA: Judicial inquiry into corruption at state carrier

In its continuing battle against corruption the government has set up a juridical commission of enquiry into the running of Nigeria Airways between 1983 to 1999, AFP reported the justice minister as saying on Wednesday.

Kanu Agabi, who inaugurated the seven-member commission on Tuesday, told reporters it was under orders to "bring to book perpetrators of corruption and economic crimes", according to AFP. A report by a government panel of inquiry released in January said corruption and mismanagement at the airline, during the period under review, cost Nigeria some US $180 million. The phenomenon also left the carrier with $7.7 million in local debts and $71.4 million owed to foreign creditors, AFP quoted the report as saying.

The government has pledged to privatise the airline and last week an official said the government an had reserved rights to 10 top destinations for up to five years from privatisation. This fact, AFP reported the head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises as saying, would hopefully increase bidding for the airline.

NIGERIA: Government probes use of cocoa funds

The federal government has set up a seven-member panel to investigate alleged mismanagement of the cocoa levy and butter stock funds over the years, 'The Guardian' reported on Thursday.

Commerce Minister Mustapha Bello said a "critical appraisal" of the situation was needed. He spoke of "erratic demands" ranging from the decision to grant a US $8-million loan to the federal ministry of transport in 1995 and another $15 million loan to cocoa operators.

President Olusegun Obasanjo pledged at his inauguration on 29 May to fight corruption at levels of government. "I will give the forthright, purposeful, committed, honest, and transparent leadership that the situation demands," Obasanjo said as he was being sworn in. He added that there would be "no sacred cows".

NIGERIA: Jackson leads trade delegation

The US special envoy to Africa Jesse Jackson is in Lagos at the head of a trade delegation to Nigeria, news organisations reported on Wednesday.

On arrival Jackson told reporters that the climate was ripe for business and foreign investment. He described Nigeria as being blessed with markets, money, location and talents, ingredients which made it attractive to a US investor.

The mission is made up of business representatives and experts in the fields of energy, telecommunications, agriculture, transport and insurance.

NIGERIA: UNESCO highlights education in its cooperation

President Olusegun Obasanjo and UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura signed a memorandum on Tuesday expressing their commitment to reinforced cooperation between Nigeria and the organisation, the UN agency said.

Obasanjo spoke of education as a national priority for Nigeria and of the importance the country attached to ongoing reform in this area. Matsuura assured him of UNESCO's full support.

Nigeria is a member of the E-9 group. This is a group of nine highly populated countries that account for half the world's people and 70 percent of global illiteracy, UNESCO said on Wednesday.

LIBERIA: Human rights group wants bail for detainees

A human rights group has filed a motion for bail for five people arrested in 1998 and accused of treason, Star radio reported on Thursday,

The Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights said the accused, who are being detained at Monrovia Central Prison, have not yet been indicted and maintain that their prolonged detention violates their rights to due processes of the law. The rights group said the detainees should be given bail until the government proves a capital offence against them, Star reported.

LIBERIA: Telecommunications partly restored

The Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) has partly restored services to Monrovia following a fire at the company's main facility on Sunday, Star reported.

An LTC spokesman said that some lines on the national exchange are now working and efforts were ongoing to return the situation to normal. Investigations into the cause of the fire are being carried out by agents from the Ministry of Justice, the National Security Agency, police and LTC management, Star reported.

Abidjan, 10 February 2000; 19:27 GMT

IRIN-WA

[ENDS]

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