Humanitarian Situation Report: Guinea-Bissau, 22 October 1998

Situation Report
Originally published
REG. NO. 98/0303
Period covered: 22 October 1998


President Vieira declared, yesterday, on the State radio, a unilateral cease-fire.

President Diouf of Senegal stated, in Paris, that the Senegalese army will stay in Bissau to protect President Vieira.

Vieira s unilateral declaration did not stop the fighting until late today. The shooting that continued overnight and this morning was the heaviest since the hostilities started on 7 June 1998. The military junta is said to control 70 to 80 percent of the city. They are operating on three fronts: (1) the north zone near Bra military base, which was the centre of hostilities until 20 October 1998; (2) a north east front near marshland, and ; (3) a west front where the junta cut the only free road available to leave Bissau. Government and Senegalese armies are around the Presidential Palace to protect the President.

The Military junta took control of Gabu late afternoon today (22 October). The Guinea Conakry troops retreated to their country.

ECOWAS Secretary General announced the deployment of an Envoy to Bissau, to negotiate a cease-fire.


In Bissau, 30 UN local staff and dependants were stranded in the middle of the shooting in a position that makes their evacuation rather risky. Communications have been made with the Portuguese embassy in Dakar to evaluate the possibility of taking them to Bubaque, in case they proceed with the evacuation of Portuguese citizens.

In Bafata, the situation is calm and the WFP warehouse is under the military junta s protection. The UN Agencies are closely monitoring the security situation in Gabu, to evaluate the time and conditions of return of the WFP team, that is on stand-by in Tambacunda (Senegal), to Bafata. Four UNICEF local staff (three drivers and one national officer) returned to Bafata from Gabu this afternoon. Humanitarian assistance in health and water supply will resume immediately. Three MSF staff also returned to Bafata after they spent the night in Gabu.

A meeting is planned with the UNDP Resident Representative for Senegal to prepare a meeting with the Minister of Interior and General Brigadier of the Senegalese arm forces to review the policy on access to Guinea Bissau in the light of the latest development.

The Deployment of UN staff is being considered for Cacheu. This option will be shared with the military junta high command as well as with the Minister of Health in Bissau and the Senegalese authorities in Dakar (especially concerning the possibility to use the airstrip in Cacheu).


A contract was signed with a shipping company to deliver food to Cacheu, Bubaque and Bulama (see previous report no. 13 on details of quantity).

Measures are being considered to access the 300 MTs of food recently purchased by WFP in Bissau in order to get ready for food distribution as soon as security conditions permit.

The 1999 CAP preparation is affected by the current crisis in Guinea-Bissau. The timetable will need further review tomorrow.

A 1-day WFP led UN/NGO mission was completed this afternoon in Bubaque (Bijagos Archipelagos). The primary objectives of the mission were to (1) consider logistical details on-the-ground for prepositioning of food in Bubaque (see last two reports), (2) follow-up with Government concerning previous WFP food distributions undertaken July-Sept 98. The status of healthcare capacity in Bubaque was also reviewed. Initial findings suggest that the IDP problem is not severe, and that no malnutrition was reported. Tomorrow, WFP and Caritas will finalise an in-house technical plan for food prepositioning. By COB tomorrow, UNOCHA hopes to transmit a brief mission report summarising overall findings.

This report is available on the internet through RELIEFWEB:

Complex Emergency Response /
Consolidated Appeal Process
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Mr. Ernest Chipman - Chief
Mr. Thierry Delbreuve
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Mr. Yvon Madore
Tel.: (1 212) 963.1627
Fax: (1 212) 963.1388
E-Mail :

Information Service
Ms. Thérèse Gastaut - Director
Tel.: (41 22) 917.2300
Fax: (41 22) 917.0030

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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