Guinea-Bissau Humanitarian Situation Report, 04 Feb 1999

1. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense of Togo negotiated a cease-fire yesterday. According to the Charge d'Affaires of Sweden, it was due to start at 15.00h, but was not respected. Shooting was heavy between 19.00 and 20.00h on Wednesday night. The situation was reported calm overnight. According to the BBC this morning, the cease-fire was due to start at 24.00h. However, information, received from the UNICEF local staff this morning, indicated that shooting continues in town although not as heavy as the previous night.

2. At 12.00h today the situation improved substantially. Different sources reported that the situation was totally calm and the 300 ECOMOG troops disembarked at the port of Bissau this afternoon.


3. Assessment of the population movement as a result of the resumption of hostilities remain very sketchy. There are indications that the number of people who stayed in Bissau is higher than originally said. It appears that many people did not have time to leave town and are hiding in houses, buildings made of concrete in different spot of town. This report provided from inside Bissau seems to be corroborated by initial assessment of population movement in the immediate surroundings of Bissau, particularly in the Biumbo region. It is estimated that about 60,000 people moved in four small towns around Bissau (Cumura, Takir, Cumere and Safim). No information is available about Prabis.

4. Bafata and Bubaque are two centres to plan humanitarian operations in Guinea Bissau. From Bafata, evaluation missions took place yesterday and today to Safim and Cacheu respectively. Tomorrow a stock of medical supplies for the treatment of war wounded will leave Bafata for delivery to the main hospital of Bissau. Arrangements were made with ECOMOG, the junta, the loyalists and the Prime Minister to assure the delivery of the stock. Fernando Larrauri (OCHA) and Hiro Matsumura (WFP) will accompany the stock to the airport of Bissau. But as they did not have time to make a request for security clearance, they will not enter Bissau.

5. Two humanitarian flights should take place tomorrow. A UN flight will leave at eight and take two people and air freight to Bafata, while the ECHO flight will go to Bafata and Bubaque with three passengers and air freight. The freight include medical supplies - including the vaccines against meningitis provided by WHO, other supplies and equipment for immediate humanitarian response.

6. The proposed plan to develop with the junta, the Loyalists and ECOMOG is to agree to a humanitarian window every day for the coming three or four days, until greater guarantee of calm and security is reached. During a period of four to five hours, a team of humanitarian staff would go to Bissau to deliver humanitarian assistance (food and medical) meet with local staff involved in the provision of assistance and identify any new needs to be addressed.

OCHA - Guinea Bissau
February 4, 1999


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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