Humanitarian Situation Report: Guinea Bissau: 26 Oct. 1998

Situation Report
Originally published
REG. NO. 98/0306

(This situation update follows Sitrep No. 16 of Friday, 23 October,incorporating October 24-25 weekend developments)
26 October 1998



The 48-hour cease fire announced on Friday evening, 23 October, by Ansoumane Mane held throughout the weekend and is extended for an additional 48-hours (until Tuesday evening 27 October). As a result, the situation countrywide remains calm at time of writing (Monday, 19:10 p.m.).

Over the weekend, the Minister of the Interior of Senegal and the Foreign Minister of Portugal came to Bissau to speak to Brigadier Ansoumane Mane and President Vieira. The Minister of the Interior brought a message for both parties from President Diouf of Senegal. The principle of a meeting between Brigadier Made and President Vieira was agreed, but the place to meet is still being negotiated.

As a result of increased MFDC activities in Casamance, Senegalese troops were increased by 1,000 along the border with Guinea Bissau.

On Saturday, the President of Guinea Conakry expressed a desire to return troops to Guinea Bissau and take back control of Bafata and Gabu. However, the Diplomatic corps in Bissau is confident that this will not happen especially in light of Senegalese concurrence with Mane s call for peace in Guinea Bissau. In addition, the permanent Commission of the National Assembly of Guinea Bissau made a declaration asking for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops, and called upon Guinea Bissau s neighbouring countries to refrain from any detrimental action and instead contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict. The Opposition parties delivered a similar message.


Prabis is now experiencing the greatest humanitarian needs anywhere in Guinea Bissau. It is estimated that 70,000 people remain stranded without sufficient food stocks available. As reported Friday, WFP is standing by to return staff to Bafata and immediately commence food delivery to Bafata, Gabu and position food to Safim for distribution to Prabis and northern regions of Cacheu/Oio. Pending the requisite security clearance, all UN humanitarian assistance missions are brought to a standstill. As an immediate measure to secure food to Prabis, conditions were created to access 300 MTs purchased by WFP and deliver them to Prabis. The Swedish Chargé d Affaires and the Bandim Health Project staff played a key role in organising the operation. As soon as the Government provides the agreement, food will be delivered.

In Bafata and Gabu, food distribution must be initiated from the stocks currently protected by soldiers of the military junta in order to be properly distributed. Again, WFP has made all of the necessary arrangements and is taking steps to operate through NGOs until security clearance is granted to deploy its staff.

Concerns over UN staff in Bissau have temporarily abated (ref. Sitrep 16) as the cease-fire held and has been extended.


As NGOs are not under the UNSECOORD and dependent on security clearance, staff are returning to their activities in Guinea Bissau. ICRC, ADPP and MSF are in Bafata and have resumed activities. ADPP is particularly involved in preparing a first food distribution plan for the region of Gabu and Bafata, as well as Oio and Cacheu. INOFOR, the water company contracted by UNICEF is resuming their activities today. OXFAM is planning to return later this week.

Friday morning, a meeting was held with the UNDP Resident Representative for Senegal to share the information on the current situation and to prepare a meeting to be held with the Minister of Interior of Senegal to review the policy regarding access to Guinea Bissau after the recent events.

As planned, Inter-Agency Meetings will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in order to develop the sector-based response for Guinea Bissau s humanitarian needs in 1999.

This report is available on the internet through RELIEFWEB:

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