Guinea-Bissau

Humanitarian Situation Report: Guinea-Bissau - 4 - 14 December 1998

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS REPORT HAS BEEN COLLECTED IN-COUNTRY BY OCHA FROM THE UN, NGOS & ICRC NETWORK IN GUINEA BISSAU
POLITICO-MILITARY SITUATION

A meeting has been confirmed between President Vieira and Brigadier General Asoumane Mane for Monday, 14 December in Lome, Togo according to news reports of Friday 11 December.

ECOWAS Ministers met on Friday 11 December with the Secretary-General and agreed to the immediate deployment the first group of ECOMOG troops.

The Secretary General informed the Ministers that he would recommend the appointment of an SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General) and the establishment of a political office in Guinea Bissau to the Security Council.

Security Update: Reduction in UN Security Phase in Guinea Bissau:

Following the recommendations of the D.O., the UN Country team and supported by the UN Inter-Departmental Mission to Guinea Bissau, UNSECOORD announced the following change in Security Phases for Guinea Bissau, effective 8 December:

“AAA. BISSAU: PHASE FOUR (DOWNGRADED FROM PHASE FIVE); BBB. AREAS BORDERING SENEGAL, WEST OF THE TOWNS OF FARIM AND DUNGAL: PHASE FIVE.

CCC. REMAINING AREAS OF THE COUNTRY (INCLUDING BAFATA AND GABU): PHASE THREE (DOWNGRADED FROM PHASE FOUR) . . . ALL MISSIONS TO GUINEA-BISSAU REQUIRE SECURITY CLEARANCE FROM THE DESIGNATED OFFICIAL”

Two military incidents between the Military Junta and Government forces were reported on Saturday 12 December. Different sources say they occurred in the same area of town as two weeks ago. In each case, members of the Joint Executive Commission visited the area to calm the protagonists and both radio stations issued calm-enforcing messages. The situation was reported calm on Sunday.

SPECIAL SECTION: REPORT ON UN MISSION TO GUINEA BISSAU

Meetings Held/Conclusions:

During the United Nations Inter-Departmental Mission to Guinea Bissau, meetings were held in Bissau with:

President Vieira; The new Prime Minister; Brigadier General Asoumane Mane; The President of the Assembly; The Special Representative of ECOWAS, Ambassador Lambert Takassi (mission participant who joined the group in Bissau); the Joint Executive Commission.

A meeting was also held with the Ambassadors of France and Portugal, the Ambassador of Cuba, the Chargé d’Affaires of Sweden, the Honorary Council of Spain. According to the Head of Mission:

  • All interlocutors agreed that concerted international efforts are urgently needed to address the following priorities:
  • The intensification of efforts in support of the speedy formation of a Government of National Unity now that agreement has been reached on the Prime Minister;
  • The mobilisation of the necessary financial and logistical support of the early deployment of ECOMOG;
  • The speedy resumption of direct dialogue between President Vieira and Brigadier General Mane. Ambassador Takassi informed us that President Eyadema had already invited the two leaders to meet in Lome;
  • The reopening of the Bissau international airport and the Bissau seaport;
  • Humanitarian assistance for the orderly and sustainable reinstallation of IDPs in Bissau City. In this regard, it was emphasised that every effort should be made to ensure that the Guineans and not foreign NGOs are the primary beneficiaries of such assistance. The Cuban Ambassador stressed that this assistance should be accompanied by the reconciliation programme.
  • The setting-up of an incentive programme for the return from exile of Bissau Guinea professionals. Such a programme must be carefully designed and implemented so as not to create economic and social disparities between the returnees and those who remained in the country throughout the civil strife;
  • The rehabilitation of basic administrative, social and economic services;
  • The creation of minimum conditions for the return of the civilian police not only to perform the normal law and order duties but also to prevent robberies and pillage, and other unlawful acts which are expected to rise;
  • Efforts should be made to tone down the rhetoric over the airways.

UN Role in the Implementation of the Abuja Agreement: The UN was one of a number of witnesses to the signature of the Abuja Agreement signed in the context of the ECOWAS summit on 2 November 1998. One of the main objectives of the UN Inter-Departmental Mission to Guinea Bissau was to identify the specific role which should be fulfilled by the United Nations in the implementation of this agreement. In this regard, the mission has released the following statement:
  • In close collaboration with the Government of National Unity, and in partnership with key stakeholders, the overall, short-term objectives of United Nations action in Guinea Bissau are as follows:
  • To help create the enabling environment for restoring and consolidating peace, democracy and the rule of law, and for the organisation of free and transparent elections;
  • To support and promote the sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees, including support to families that hosted the IDPs;
  • To assist with the restoration of basic institutional capacity of the Government, with rehabilitation and reconstruction and to lay the foundation for the economic recovery of the country;
  • To strengthen the appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the above objectives are implemented in a coordinated and integrated manner.

HUMANITARIAN IMPACT

Bissau: Population Movements and Humanitarian Needs

OCHA is receiving somewhat divergent information from field-based sources concerning the return of internally displaced persons to Bissau. While a number of sources continue to report that there is little return of IDPs to Bissau, Bandim Health Project is maintaining an on-going census of the population and is drawing different conclusions. As reported by Bandim Health Project:

  • the censuses made by the Bandim Health Project in the bairros of Bandim and Belem shows that 40,000 of its population is back again, which corresponds to 80 percent of the population before the war. In Varela and Chão de Pepel, closer to the city centre, estimations are made of even a higher percentage. AGUIBEF (national NGO) has counted 56,000 in Contum and Pilon area, Antula area has a estimated population of 40,000 people now. In total, the overall the population should be over 200,000 in Bissau.

This situation, with a rapid increase of the resident population in Bissau is aggravating the already difficult task to supply the population with food. The last of the remaining food from WFP warehouse in Bissau, was distributed the 8th of December.

Note: Bandim Health Project is a Danish NGO which has been present in Bissau for 20 years with a current national staff of 150 persons including 30 academics.

According to the latest information from WFP, 1,000 MTs rice was purchased locally, but the owner has to fumigate the stock before it is released which may take up to one month. Alternatives are being considered including trucking stocks from Bafata. Such a move may be politically delicate if not done simultaneously with distribution to those in need in military junta controlled areas.

Continued Challenge of Obtaining Access into Guinea Bissau

Current Status:

  • 10 December 1998, OCHA and WFP representatives met with the Commissioner of the Ministry of the Interior to mutually formulate a procedure whereby humanitarian organisations will not be delayed at the border by military forces when in possession of authorisation to travel from the Minister of the Interior. (note recent blockage of WFP convoy as cited below). The Commissioner informed of measures taken by the Minister of the Interior with the Minister of Defense to avoid such delays. Should this arrangement not remedy the chronic delays, a meeting of the Mixed Commission established in Dakar in June 1998 will be called with the participation of the Minister of Defense. Participants of such a meeting would include UN Agencies as well as the diplomatic community in Senegal accredited to Guinea Bissau.

New Deliveries Scheduled
  • 14 December: Caritas has confirmation of authorisation to travel and is planning a new delivery of aid by land into Guinea Bissau (medicines and food stuffs) setting off for the Tambacounda/Wassadou/Pirada/Gabu route. As of 14 December, Caritas expected the trucks to arrive at Wassadou on Tuesday AM, 15 December.
  • 14 December: AFVP convoy – 70 kilos vegetable seeds, agricultural materials and pesticides and two motorcycles for Gabu. (This convoy arrived at 9 AM was still at the border at 15:30 – most recent information at time of writing).

Background:
  • 9 October - 19 November: humanitarian access into Guinea Bissau from Senegal by road was denied by Senegalese authorities;
  • 19 November – following a series of steps taken by the United Nations system for Guinea Bissau and other protests, the Ministry of the Interior announced that they would allow access to Guinea Bissau via the Tambacounda/Wassadou/Pirada/Gabu corridor;

Since the 19 November policy decision, humanitarian assistance has still been temporarily blocked/delayed in Senegal although all organisations concerned were in possession of the necessary clearances from the Ministry of the Interior:
  • 26 November – ECHO Flight delayed by three hours when all commodities were removed, opened and examined by Senegalese authorities;
  • 24 November until 27 November: 2 Caritas trucks carrying medicines and milk powder were detained at the border and staff were required to travel to Wassadou in order to facilitate clearance;
  • 8 December: ECHO regional flights previously flying direct Bamako – Guinea Bissau are now being obliged to re-route (stop in Dakar) before continuing to Guinea Bissau.
  • 4 December - 9 December: WFP convoy of 11 trucks was detained at Wassadou.

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Agriculture

From 1 - 10 December, agronomists from AFVP (Association Française des Volontaires du Progrès) and FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization), and representatives from FCIL (Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives) and OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) undertook joint site visits of Bafata/Gabu; Quinara/Tombali; Cacheu/Oio to review the agricultural situation. Their preliminary observations suggest that the harvest in Guinea Bissau may not be as favourable this year as previously anticipated. Contributing factors include (1) a dry spell in the midst of the rainy season (end September) in Gabu during a particularly vulnerable period in the harvest (cotton production appears to be ½ of the usual output); (2) an blight of insects in October which seriously affected the bean crop; (3) the collapse of a dam established to prevent salt water from reaching rice fields. A full mission report is under finalisation.

Health

Ministry of Health of Guinea Bissau

On Monday, 7 December in Bissau, the (former) Minister of Health convened a humanitarian coordination meeting in order to discuss the national health assistance programme which includes components addressing nutrition and food assistance. Meeting participants included 18 international NGOs and ICRC, and ECHO, OCHA and WFP representatives. During the meeting, the former Minister of Health emphasised the need for all NGOs to orient their humanitarian assistance programmes within the emergency plan written by the Minister of Health. Also, a special guideline on nutrition has been included as an annex to this plan.

WHO

WHO reports delivery of 547 kilos. malaria treatment and antibiotics addressing ARI (Acute Respiratory Infections) for Bafata and Gabu.

UNICEF

UNICEF reports on a recent activities in the health sector: (1) delivery of tuberculosis treatment for Quinara/Tombali regions, areas which were previously difficult to reach; (2) distribution of immunisation cards in Quinara, Tombali and Biombo regions to 6,000 children, 6,000 pregnant women and 10,000 women of childbearing age in preparation for the expansion of the immunisation campaign; (3) on-going immunisation campaign in Gabu; (4) incentives paid for health staff in Quinara; fuel delivered to Tombali.

Bandim Health Project

Throughout the conflict, Bandim Health Project distributed their existing stock and then began buying medicines and medical supplies locally. Since the establishment of regular UN and ECHO flights into Guinea Bissau, Bandim has been sending in essential medicines on a weekly basis.

Water/Sanitation

Safim

Since last week’s situation report, UNICEF reports (1) completion of an additional 5 public latrines, bringing the total number completed to 16 of the 20 planned for Safim; (2) protection of traditional wells and UNICEF health education; (3) maintenance of a generator providing power for a central pump by OXFAM and states that these activities have greatly improved the sanitary conditions in crowded Safim.

Gabu

The UNICEF contractor is drilling two 40 metre boreholes and rehabilitating the water supply in Sonaco town. Last weekend (5/6 December) the Governor of Gabu and Junta representatives opened the four perennial water points constructed in Gabu town. UNICEF further reports that three of the four water sources are also positioned near school areas and attract children to school. While traditional water sources dry up during the (upcoming) dry season, these sources will continue to provide water.

Bafata

UNICEF reports the rehabilitation of piped water supply to 19 public standpipes in Bairro 4 of Bafata serving an estimated 2,500 people.

Oio

UNICEF has made a contract for the construction of 10 dug wells in the international border region of Oio and hopes that this will alleviate the need for some people to cross the border for water in this difficult area.

Education

UNICEF reports on a meeting held in Bissau with the General Director of Education, a Psychologist from the Ministry of Education and the Regional Education Director from Biombo and regional UNICEF project officers. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss child protection and education and plan a meeting with all regional directors of Education.

Since 9 November, 12,000 children are now in school in Oio region with 440 teachers in 114 schools, but teaching/learning materials are urgently needed. Lists of schools and teachers in Bafata and Gabu have been prepared. The Netherlands have agreed to permit UNICEF to re-programme some emergency education funds to meet education needs previously unforeseen.

Food Distribution/Stocks/Pipeline:

Citation as provided by WFP-Guinea Bissau,

ref. Sitrep 20/98 - REPORTING PERIOD: From 29/11/98 to 13/12/98

WFP Citation begins:

WFP Warehouse in Bafata (as of 13.12.98) - (unit :MT)

N.B. In addition, WFP has still in ADPP warehouse in Gabu the following stock: 42 MTs of rice (SI9840212), 39,975 MTs of CSB (SI 9840132) and 105,1 MTs of wheat flour (SI 9840103/140). At the WFP warehouse in Bissau, 12 MTs of sugar are available. Some rice, from Portugal as bilateral donation are also available.

Pipeline including loans from other projects/countries

Commodity
SI/RISI
Q’ties(MTs)
Donors
ETA GUB
Remarks
Rice
9840070
379.442
WFP I.C.
Dec 98/Jan.99
9840211/212
88.30
Swed/Fin
Dec.98/Jan.99
9860395
1000.0
USA
Dec.98
Local purchase
9840211/212
1400
Swed/Fin
Dec.98/Jan.99
total
3,267.58
Green peas
9840092
300.00
WFP Ckry
Dec.98/Jan.99
Beans
980388
248.00
Germany
Dec.98/Jan.99
Int.purchase TBC
Veg.Oil
9840138
248.0
Germany
Jan/Feb.99
9840229
251.16
USA
Dec.98/Jan.99
9840228
257.60
USA
Dec.98/Jan.99
total
756.76
M.Meal
980388
4,402
Japan
Jan/Feb.99
Bulgar wheat
9840091
500.00
WFP Ckry
Dec98/Jan99
9840133/137
888.00
WFP Ckry
Dec98/Jan.99
9840231
8300.00
USA
Jan.99
total
9901.15
CSB
9840132
65.00
WFP Ckry
Dec.98/Jan.99
980388
1435.00
Germany
Jan.Feb.99
total
1500.00
End of WFP Citation

INFORMATION SHARING AND COORDINATION

Agriculture/Nutrition/Population Figures

In the OCHA/NGO weekly meeting of 14 December, NGOs, ICRC, ECHO, FCIL and OCHA all agreed on the need to formulate a consolidated picture of the current situation (especially with respect to agriculture, nutrition and populations) through information sharing at field level with all relevant partners. With regard to population statistics, an NGO such as Bandim Health Project is well positioned to make an accurate estimation of populations whom they regularly serve while in more remote parts of the country recent information may not be available. With respect to nutrition, ECHO has confirmed that the Ministry of Health has defined a policy to be addressed by all organisations involved in nutritional surveys. Finally, the group would like to schedule a briefing with the WFP nutritionist currently working in Guinea Bissau in order to learn of their findings.

DONOR MISSIONS/DONOR RESPONSE

Cooperation Française –authorisation has been received for a ship with humanitarian assistance cargo to deliver to Guinea Bissau. The ship is scheduled to be loaded today (14 December) for departure Tuesday, 15 December. Cooperation Française will provide an update in the next sitrep.

ECHO - The regional representative travelled throughout Guinea Bissau (26 November - 8 December) in order to: (1) undertake a final evaluation of activities financed by ECHO and measure their impact; (2) see current proposals for new funding; (3) review past and future initiatives with the local authorities; (4) analysis of state of health system together with a technical assistant from the Ministry of Health. The ECHO representative and health expert are currently finalising a joint report.

ECHO delegation - the visit of Ms. Bonnino has been confirmed for 4 – 7 January 1999. Ms. Bonnino will fly direct to Guinea Bissau on 4 January, with meetings planned with Bissau Guinean authorities, Bandim Health Project and other NGOs funded by ECHO. A meeting is planned with NGOs on 5 January. After travel to Freetown and Guinea Conakry, Ms. Bonnino will return to Dakar on 7 January for meetings with the President of Senegal and Senegalese authorities, a press conference and meetings with EU member states.

On 17 December, the 1999 UN Consolidated Appeal for Guinea Bissau will be launched in Geneva through a special meeting with the Donor Community.

This report is available on the internet through RELIEFWEB: http://www.reliefweb.int/

Complex Emergency Response Branch (CERB) - Geneva
Mr. Ernest Chipman - Chief
Mr. Thierry Delbreuve
Tel.: (41 22) 917.1638
Fax: (41 22) 917.03.68
Registry E-Mail: info@dha.unicc.org

Emergency Liaison Branch (ELB)-New York
Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham
Tel.: (1 212) 963.0308
Fax: (1 212) 963.3630
E-Mail : rajasingham@un.org

Information Service
Ms. Thérèse Gastaut - Director
Tel.: (41 22) 917.2300
Fax: (41 22) 917.0030
E-Mail: tgastaut@unog.ch

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.