Guinea + 4 more

IRIN Update 615 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35

GUINEA: Health strike ends

Guinea's Federation syndicale professionelle de la sante (FSPS) has ended its week-long strike for better working conditions and career advancement for all health workers, a media source in the capital, Conakry, told IRIN on Monday.

The strike, which began on 6 December, ended on Monday following negotiations over the weekend between the union and government representatives, which resulted in a compromise agreement, the source said.

The government has agreed to look at one of the union's demands - retirement at age 65 for senior managers and at 60 for middle managers. It has also said it would not penalise any of the strikers as had been threatened in an announcement on state radio on Friday, and that it would continue to negotiate with the union over other key demands.

For its part, the union has instructed its members to return to work immediately.

During the strike some patients discharged themselves and went home to be treated by family and friends rather than stay in under-staffed hospitals, the source told IRIN.

LIBERIA: Rights group advocates truth commission

A child rights advocacy group, FOCUS, says it disagrees with President Charles Taylor's opposition to the establishment of a truth commission, Star radio reported on Tuesday.

FOCUS said on Monday that a truth commission would serve as a forum for dialogue between victims and perpetrators of atrocities during the civil war, according to Star, which reported that the organization believes such a dialogue would foster democracy and sustain peace and respect for the rule of law.

FOCUS argues that if the truth were told about atrocities in the war, it would weaken those bent on revenge.

On Sunday, Taylor said he opposed the setting up of a truth commission because it would lead to civil violence and reversal of the reconciliation process. He was reacting to a proposal last week by a city councillor, Marcus Jones, who said the setting up of a truth commission would help complement the work of the National Human Rights Commission.

GHANA: Drinking water a priority for flood victims

The priority needs for people in regions affected by recent floods in Ghana include immediate access to drinking water, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its situation report on for 5-10 December.

A supply of clean water needs to be provided by distributing water tanks and chlorinating contaminated wells, the report said. About ten 50-kg drums of chlorine need to be bought in addition to five drums pledged by UNICEF.

Contaminated water sources include some 65 hand-dug wells and 101 dams in Northern Region, while 200 out of 1,500 boreholes there are not functioning. Some 835 wells and 89 boreholes in Upper East Region and about 190 water points in Upper West Region are also affected, OCHA said.

Some 18 dams in Northern Region, nine in Upper East Region and 24 in Upper West Region need to be rehabilitated.

In addition to providing clean water, an in-depth survey of additional shelter, reconstruction and rehabilitation requirements has been finalised and one month's supply of food will be distributed shortly by the World Food Programme to some 50,000 people in the three affected regions, the report said.

MAURITANIA: EU provides US $374,444 in aid for flood victims

Two months after Mauritania's government appealed for help, the EU has given the equivalent of some US $374,444 in humanitarian aid to flood victims in the Mauritanian regions of Trarza, Brakna and Gorgol, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) said.

It said the Spanish Red Cross and Mauritanian Red Crescent had distributed 500 family-size tents to the worst affected areas of these three regions.

Meanwhile, the Italian Red Cross has contracted women's cooperatives in the southern areas of R'Kiz and Ouadane to manufacture 460 tents. In the capital, Nouakchott, 3,000 mosquito nets have been produced and 10,000 litres of bleach bought.

In addition, ECHO said, at least 3,500 blankets, 3,500 mats and eight mt of seeds have been provided. Wells are being dug, while the Mauritanian Red Crescent has conducted public sensitisation campaigns on preventing and treating diarrhoeal diseases.

Medicines requested by the Ministry of Health were delivered on 4 December.

BURKINA FASO: Tens of thousands remember journalist

Tens of thousands of people marched silently through the streets of Ouagadougou on Monday in commemoration of the death of the journalist Norbert Zongo on 13 December 1998.

AFP estimated the procession at 30,000 but the country's human rights body, the Mouvement Burkinabe des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples, told IRIN at least 50,000 participated.

"There were lots of women, some thirty percent," Chrysogone Zougmore, the movement's secretary-general, said.

They marched the six kilometres to the cemetery where Zongo was buried, carrying his photo and a black banner as a sign of mourning. "There were no slogans, no chanting," Zougmore said.

Zongo and three other people were found burned to death in an abandoned car outside the capital on 13 December 1998. He had been investigating the murder of David Ouedraogo, driver of President Blaise Compaore's younger brother, Francois. An independent inquiry has identified six presidential guardsmen as being involved in the Ouedraogo's death but they have not been brought to trial.

The march was organised by the Collectif des organisations democratiques de masse et de partis politiques, made up of political parties, trade unions and other civil society bodies who have been demanding political and legal changes in the country.

Zougmore said the coalition wanted the guardsmen prosecuted, Francois Compaore arrested and guarantees from the state for the respect of human rights. Its many demands also include guarantees of the public's right to free speech and association, respect for the rules of democracy and an end to impunity.

Abidjan, 14 December 1999; 17:55 GMT


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