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Sierra Leone: Humanitarian Situation Report, Feb 2003

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HIGHLIGHTS
Refugees

Concerns and constraints

The recent upsurge of fighting in Liberia is having a tremendous impact on the normal lives of Sierra Leoneans, especially those living along the border areas. A continuing large refugee presence along the Zimmi axis and border areas is likely to cause food shortages among the already over burdened host population. WFP reports that food supplies remain low at the border areas, with refugees living off the supplies of the host community. Although the host communities have offered farm land to refugees in almost all the camps, the refugees however, lack tools and seeds to undertake farming activities. Also, the lack of appropriate water and sanitation facilities in these areas may cause outbreaks of disease and possibly epidemics if the refugees are not relocated soon.

Refugee influx

Since 12 February, UNHCR has registered over 7,000 new refugees. As at 28 February, the seven refugee camps in the south and eastern parts of the country are now home to 46,317 Liberians. It is estimated that an additional 17,000 refugees could cross into Sierra Leone over the next few weeks. The refugees are reported to be in poor health, especially the lactating mothers, pregnant women, and children. UNHCR reports that the accelerated rate of return will have a series of ramifications for reintegration programming and will place a potential strain on resources if the Liberian situation further declines and influxes continue. Due to the security situation in Liberia the child protection agencies have suspended the repatriation of Liberia children from Sierra Leone to Liberia.

Repatriation plans

Recently, UNHCR staff met at a regional level and have agreed upon an accelerated repatriation plan for Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea. The convoys through Kambia will increase from 750 people per week to 1,500 a week. As of mid March UNHCR hopes to have completed the building of a bridge and road improvements, to repatriate refugees through the Languette region directly into the Kailahun District. Convoys of up to 350 will operate through this route every other day. UNHCR in collaboration with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) has started airlifting Sierra Leonean refugees in Ivory Coast and Liberia back home to Sierra Leone. In this phase, 648 Sierra Leonean refugees have registered to be airlifted to Sierra Leone to escape the horrors of civil war in Liberia. An average of 30 refugees will be airlifted to Lungi International Airport, twice, weekly and the operation would last approximately two months.

Ghanaians seek refuge in Sierra Leone

Over 400 Ghanaian citizens, who fled the recent fighting in Robertsport, Liberia, have arrived in the Sierra Leonean seaside village of Sulima. The Ghanaians are not however willing to be relocated for economic reasons as most of them are fishermen. Some 14 Ghanaian who solicited UNHCR protection and assistance have been relocated to the Zimmi Way Station, which is almost full to capacity, while a policy decision on them is being awaited. Meanwhile, UNANMSIL has provided assistance to the Ghanaian High Commission, NaCSA, UNHCR and OCHA to reach their people in Sulima to assess their situation.

Kambia hosts the first National Recovery Committee meeting at the district level.

The National Recovery Committee (NRC) hosted the first NRC meeting to be held outside Freetown on 18 February. A delegation of Government Ministers, Donors and Heads of Agencies led by the Vice President - Chairman of the NRC attended the meeting, which was the first of a series that will be organised at district level throughout the country. The meeting, which discussed progress, achievements and problems facing the district recovery, provided a unique opportunity for the local people to dialogue with Government Ministers, many for the first time.

In order to achieve the goal of effective coordination of humanitarian activities and allow peoples participation and empowerment, the Government through NRC, will support the various DRCs and further encourage dialogue with the people. This process will ensure political commitment and people's participation. The NRC will focus on; supporting infrastructure of local government for effective functioning of central government; continued assistance to the District Offices, Paramount Chiefs and management of Chiefdom Recovery Committees; maintenance of law and order by ensuring police presence, existence of courthouses and prisons. The committee will also be supporting the various sectors such as education, health, agriculture, economy, gender and also improve road networks. The Vice President, his team of Ministers and other stakeholders will make similar visit to Port Loko on 04 March.

SECURITY HIGHLIGHTS

Liberian soldiers disarm in Sierra Leone

An estimated 240 Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers have so far surrendered with their arms and ammunition to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) at major crossing points such as Jendema, Sulima, Gbaa, Dar-Es-Salaam, Mano Kpende and Bombohun. Most of soldiers have been transferred to the Mapeh Internment camp, Lungi. The spouse/families of the AFL soldiers are currently at the Zimmi Way Station and are being encouraged to register so that they can be grouped together in a camp close to Mapeh.

RSLAF take precautionary measures

Since 19 February, GoSL officially closed the Jendema Bridge, stopping all Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) combatants and traders, from coming over to Sierra Leone. The RSLAF are only allowing refugees, who are mostly reported to be in poor health, to enter into the country. LURD latterly have only allowed refugees to pass in exchange for food. Due to the occupation of the main Mano River Bridge by the LURD combatants, there have been no reports of movement across the bridge, resulting in an increase in refugees crossing over at other crossing points such as Gbaa and Dar Es Salaam.

As a result of the unfolding security situation across the border in Liberia, there has been a daily co-ordination meeting that started on 16 February at the UNAMSIL Base; participants comprise PAKBAT, MILOBS, UNHCR, NGOs, RSLAF and SLP. The RSLAF and UNAMSIL have reinforced their troops with heavy weapons along the major border areas in a bid to forestall cross border raids by the LURD dissidents, who have been pressing to cross and buy food and other basic needs from Jendema town.

UNAMSIL and the RSLAF conducted a joint three-day patrol, the first significant operation of its kind, in Kambia District along the border with Guinea. The operation was conducted by a platoon of troops from UNAMSIL's Kenyan battalion at Masiaka and a platoon from the RSLAF's Force-Reconnaissance Unit. UNAMSIL PAKBAT in Daru reports that some unexploded ordinance have been discovered in Guma, Tobu and Baiima, Jawi Chiefdom, Kailahun District.

Ensuring stability in Sierra Leone

In a continuing effort to demonstrate the United Kingdom's military commitment to supporting the peace process in Sierra Leone, Britain has sent to Sierra Leone part of its 'Over the Horizon' Force, including the staff of an operational headquarters, HMS IRON DUKE (a Type 23 Frigate), RFA BLACK ROVER (an auxiliary support ship) and as a token land force, the company of the Spearhead Battalion, currently its 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles. The deployment, which is expected to last until mid-March, includes support personnel and consists of about 300 soldiers. The Gurkhas have been sent to Sierra Leone to demonstrate the UK's standing commitment to the preservation of security within Sierra Leone beyond the likely mandate of UNAMSIL. While in Sierra Leone, the Gurkhas will work alongside the UK-led International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT) to conduct military training with the RSLAF, and will also link up with UNAMSIL in whose support it would deploy if so requested.

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Mr. Olara Otunnu visits Sierra Leone

Under-Secretary-General Olara A. Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, arrived in Sierra Leone on February 23, to assess the status of war-affected children in the post-conflict peace-building phase. During his week-long visit, the Special Representative officially launched two initiatives he proposed in 1999 in his "Agenda for Action for the Children of Sierra Leone" -- the National Commission for War-Affected Children (which was launched together with President Kabbah), and the Voice of Children, a radio programme run by and for children. Mr. Otunnu warned that without the prospect of jobs or education, Sierra Leone's youth could be a source of instability in the country. He urged for the setting up of micro-credit schemes and other aid programmes to support the children, especially those who were involved in mining, to prevent them from joining wars in neighbouring countries. Mr. Otunnu met with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and government ministers and officials, UNAMSIL staff, the UN Country Team, child protection agencies, children and civil society representatives. He also made field visits to Koidu, Bo, Makeni, Daru and Magburaka.

DONOR UPDATE

World Bank approves $40 million grant

The World Bank has recently approved a $40 million grant to Sierra Leone, aimed at rehabilitating the country's war-ravaged health and educational sectors. The first of the two $20 million grants will be used to help restore "the most essential functions of the health delivery system of Sierra Leone." The money will be used to rebuild primary and first referral health services in four districts, to improve programmes responsible for addressing the country's major health problems, to strengthen health sector management to improve efficiency and to decentralize decision-making to the districts, and to support the development of the private health care sector. The second $20 million grant will seek to provide basic education for the majority of Sierra Leone's children through the rebuilding or refurbishing of damaged primary and junior secondary schools.
(Sierra Leone Web)

NORAD mission

From 24 February - 03 March, UNHCR and the UN Country Team hosted a mission from the Norwegian Development Organisation (NORAD) to Sierra Leone. The mission looked at the need for transitional assistance. They met with UNAMSIL, the UN County Team and NGO's to explore funding possibilities while looking at enhancing interagency cooperation. The delegation visited Kono and Kailahun Districts to see UN reintegration programmes. Participants included Mr. Per Asmund Gulden, Country Coordinator, Assistant Director, Department for Eastern and Central Africa for NORAD, Mr. Einar Rystad, Advisor Department. for Eastern and Central Africa NORAD, Ms Marianne Opheim, First Secretary Norwegian Embassy in Abidjan and Ms. Cathrine Skonhoft, Associate External Affairs Officer, UNHCR Geneva.

Saudi Arabia support to the Health Sector

President Kabbah, after his return from an official visit and pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 16 February, announced an aid package from the Saudi Government to Sierra Leone. He said he had signed a financial agreement in which the Government of Saudi Arabia will construct three referral hospitals in the country and will write off Sierra Leonean debt to the kingdom, clearing the way for further Saudi aid to Sierra Leone's health sector.

UN COORDINATION

UNDAF

To support the national efforts in peace building, recovery, and the transition to sustainable development, the UN Country Team, in close consultation with the GoSL and, its partners, has prepared the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The UNDAF translates the key dimensions of the Peace-building and Recovery Strategy into a common UN programme framework for the period 2004-2007. It is aimed at assisting government in four inter-related areas of cooperation where the UN system utilises its accumulated experience, technical expertise, and financial resources: Poverty reduction and reintegration; Human rights and reconciliation; Good governance, peace and security, and economic recovery. Based on national development goals, the UN Country Team has in each of the four areas of cooperation, identified expected outcomes to be achieved during 2004-2007, major lines of action, cooperation strategies, as well as the contributing agencies and their programme modalities.

SECTORAL HIGHLIGHTS

AGRICULTURE

Food security survey

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and their partners undertook a post distribution monitoring survey in nine districts, targeting 66 chiefdoms where agencies had distributed emergency rice and groundnut. The primary objective of the exercise was to determine the level of emergency support given by FAO and its partners to the most vulnerable farm families affected by the war and the corresponding impact in terms of food production and household food security on beneficiaries.

The survey findings indicated that at the start of the 2002 cropping season, an estimated 211,677 vulnerable farm families, not supported in 2001, urgently needed assistance. Out of this figure, agencies registered about 170,909 vulnerable farm families for assistance. With an estimated seed rice requirement of 8,467Mt. for 2002, 6,011Mt. was provided by agencies under the emergency programme, representing 71 percent of total requirements. The shortfall was further heightened with the increase in the vulnerable farm families after the May general elections when farm families returned to their farming communities. The influx resulted in a corresponding increase in the demand for seed rice and this caused the overall gap in the seed rice requirements to be about 4,920 Mt. for 2002.

The survey also found that in addition to the emergency seed distribution carried out in the nine districts, seeds saved (as seed banks) in the communities, were also distributed to vulnerable farm families. This practice was observed particularly in the Port Loko and Tonkolili Districts were agencies operated seed bank systems. A total of about 502Mt.of seed rice was distributed from the reported seed banks. Prior to the distribution exercise the Technical Committee of the National Agriculture Committee stipulated a minimum input package of 40kg seed rice and 20 kg groundnut was to be given to each farmer. This was to serve as an emergency response to augment the food security of the beneficiaries. It was estimated that the packages supplied could plant 0.6ha and 0.3 ha of rice and groundnut respectively. The survey results also indicated that 90 percent of the seed distributed by agencies were planted and this could cultivate an estimated 80,147 ha, with an expected total paddy production of 96,176Mt. of paddy rice. This implies that the emergency programme contributed 53 percent of the normal seed rice requirement of the 150,280 farm families supported.

Challenges for the agricultural sector

The survey identified constraints affecting agricultural production. This includes farmers in some areas having to walk long distances to collect inputs due to bad roads not accessible to vehicles; lack of knowledge of updated agronomic practice and limited access to extension services and lack of seeds to plant or insufficient labour. Finally, the survey team noted that though all the inputs provided by the agencies reached the intended beneficiaries, they were still insufficient to cover the total vulnerable caseload.

Promoting local food products

During 2002, FAO distributed a total of 33 cassava graters through implementing partners to women's groups throughout the country. Besides providing the 5hp grater machine, a full set of necessary equipment like cooking pans, sieves, spoons, and engine maintenance tool kits were supplied. To ensure sustainability, members of the women's groups received basic training in machine operation and maintenance, and various methods of processing and preserving cassava. The organization of the training was jointly facilitated by the Training Unit of MAFS and the Work Oxen Programme. Management and the Emergency Coordination Unit facilitated the coordination of the training.

AMPUTEES & WAR-WOUNDED

NRC continues to resettle amputees

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) resettled four amputee beneficiaries with their families at Fadugu on 20 February. They resettled 17 families in Motema, 7 families in Bumpeh and 6 in Yormandu, all in the Kono District. Construction of the ten houses at the fourth site in Makeni and six houses in Koeyor (Kono) will soon be completed. This will bring the total number of houses constructed by NRC over the past two years to 239. This years construction activities has begun at Makeni - Masongbo Town (8 houses); Fadugu (3 houses) and Motema (5 houses). Plans are also underway for the construction on 8 plots in Kabala, Koinadugu District, 6 in Koeyor Gbanse Chiefdom, and 6 in Motema Nimikoro Chiefdom, Kono District. NRC is considering a land offer in Newton/Kissy Town to build houses on a 20-plot land for the amputees and war wounded.

CHILD PROTECTION

TRC working with children

The TRC and child protection agencies, including UNICEF, have finalised a framework of collaboration, which will culminate in a vulnerability assessment procedure and a safety plan for children. Social workers in every district are expected to work closely with the TRC statement takers to implement this framework. Recently the TRC and the child protection agencies - in Makeni, Kenema, Bo and Freetown - organised training workshop for social workers and the statement takers. The package included, child development, detailed review of strategy concerning children, vulnerability assessment of child and safety plan for children. UNICEF has also jointly developed a curriculum in collaboration with SC-UK, IRC and Caritas.

EDUCATION

UN agencies support to education

UNICEF recently hosted the first UN Theme Group on Education, attended by UNHCR, WFP, and the World Bank. They resolved that the Theme Group should meet at least once a month to ensure a coordinated approach in supporting the education sector and that NGOs should be invited to meetings on a case by case basis. The focus of the meeting is to support the Ministry's co-ordination of the education sector at the district level, as well as facilitating district-regional-HQ vertical co-ordination. The Theme Group will participate in a proposed survey of current and planned, pre- and in-service teacher training programmes.

Reintegrating child ex-combatants into schools

As part of its continued support to the reintegration of children formerly associated with the fighting forces, UNICEF has distributed school materials and core textbooks to 4,268 children benefiting under the Community Education Investment Programme (CEIP). UNICEF conducted community reintegration workshops for teachers on the strategies for the reintegration of child ex-combatants in schools and communities in three centres in the Kailahun District: Daru, Buedu and Kailahun. UNICEF is supporting some 2,300 children demobilised ex-combatants who are enrolled in formal schools. There remains a caseload of 14,700 ex-combatant children who are yet to be serviced for reintegration

Building the capacity of MEST at district level

In an effort to support capacity building of the Ministry especially at district level, UNICEF supplied six District Inspectorates - Kono, Kenema, Pujehun, Bonthe Island and mainland, and Tonkolili II - with stationery materials and some basic equipment, including typewriters. The Director, Inspectorate (MEST), also received similar items plus one photocopier and three toners. UNICEF also supplied NRC with 175 Complementary Rapid Education Programme for Schools (CREPS) kits and RREP manuals for 7,000 children in the CREPS programme in Kailahun, Kono and Kambia Districts.

Training for teachers on nutrition, HIV/AIDS and First Aid

UNICEF in collaboration with WFP, the MOHS (Ministry of Health and Sanitation) and MEST supported a training of trainers' workshop for teachers from Kenema, Bo, Pujehun, and Tonkolili Districts in Kenema town, on nutrition, HIV and AIDS and First Aid. The training was geared towards empowering and capacitating teachers to train other teachers in their various districts. The workshop was attended by 32 participants comprising teachers, inspectors of education and District Medical Officers. Facilitators were drawn from MOHS, Red Cross and UNICEF. An important output of the workshop was the development of a strategic plan that would help district teams to design and implement teacher-training programmes in their respective districts. First Aid kits were issued to 24 teachers for use during emergency at their various schools.

NRC education review

NRC conducted a one-day education review workshop for 2002 in Freetown. The workshop reflected on the status of education programmes in 2003, identified gaps and planned the way forward for 2003. Major highlights were on improving the quality of teaching of the CREPS teachers, monitoring enrolment /attendance of CREPS pupils/teachers and CREPS classes, data collection and management, strengthening the relationship between the Primary School heads and CREPS teachers, continued partnership with MEST and UNICEF, teamwork and information sharing. NRC reports that in spite of all the ongoing sensitisations the attendance of the CREPS pupils continues to decrease in Kambia and recently in Kailahun. This decrease is mainly attributed to lack of school feeding programme in CREPS centres in Kambia and Head teachers withdrawing children from the CREPS schools, coupled with labour needs for reconstruction of houses in Kailahun. Meanwhile, in-service monthly workshops continue in the three districts of Kono, Kailahun and Kambia on various issues and topics aimed at improving the teaching skills of the CREPS teachers. In related news, NRC provided nine schools (two secondary and seven primary) in Kambia and Kono with 240 double and single sitter desks, and 45 benches.

FOOD AID

Interagency Food Security Assessment

On 26 February, WFP coordinated the launching of an Interagency Food Security Assessment by the Minister of Development and Economic Planning. Representatives from the various participating agencies, including UN agencies, NGOs and government line ministries attended the ceremony. The survey of rural livelihood, food security, and health and nutrition, is designed to improve geographical targeting of food aid interventions, which will assist the recovery of the national food economy that was devastated during the war. So far the project has received funding from the Canadian Impact Grant and the OFDA (US), with participating agencies also providing logistical, technical and personnel support. WFP is in the process of seeking additional funds for the project. A training programme for the survey is being planned from 26 February - 08 March, after which the assessment will be conducted from 10 - 24 March.

Ongoing Food distributions

Countrywide, WFP supported a total of 120,359 beneficiaries with 733Mt. of food during the reporting period. Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programmes (refugees, resettlement, returnees and institutions) supported 22,476 beneficiaries with 171Mt. of food. The Therapeutic Feeding Centres/ Supplementary Feeding/ and Mother and Child Health Programmes (TFC/SFP/MCH) provided 132Mt. of food to 14,307 beneficiaries comprising under-fives, pregnant women, lactating mothers and TFC caretakers. The Emergency School Feeding (ESF) Programme supported 79,491 school children with 271Mt. of food. In the Food for Work (FFW) programme, a total of 2,461 beneficiaries received 146Mt. of food. The Food for Training (FFT) Programme assisted 1,378 beneficiaries with 9Mt. of food. Safety nets (Institutional Feeding) provided 246 beneficiaries with 4Mt. of food aid.

WFP is working closely with is partners in preparation to assume responsibility for food provision to all refugee camps throughout the country, by March 01.

HEALTH

Strengthening routine EPI programmes

UNICEF supplied the following medical equipment to six District Health Management Teams (DHMT); Bombali one generator, one ice lining freezer and one air conditioner, Western Area three ice lining freezers, two chest freezers and 10 fron R 134A, Koinadugu, Bo and Kambia, one ice lining freezer each and Kenema one ice lining freezer, five vaccine carriers, four thermometers and four regulators.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has recorded the stories of more than 3,500 war victims and perpetrators since its statement taking began across the country last December. The Commission's statement taking will last through the end of March and public hearings are to begin on 07 April. The Commission reports that one third of its respondents were women and about ten percent were children. Depending on availability resources, the Commission is ready to take statements from Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea, Liberia, the Gambia and Ghana. The TRC reports to be receiving good cooperation, so far from the RUF. In other news the Chief prosecutor of the Special Court, David Crane, has assured members of the military that the war crimes tribunal's investigations would focus only on "those bearing the greatest responsibility" for violations of international humanitarian law, and not on the rank and file in the military.

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Sierra Leone Information System

SLIS is now headed by William Bell, a former Professor in Geography and expert on Information Systems. Under his leadership, SLIS will strengthen its efforts on working with capacity-building in government institutions and enhance the role of SLIS in the sub-region. Since January, a new Recovery Advisor position was staffed in the OCHA Field Coordination unit, in order to ensure a strengthened relation between SLIS and the coordination mechanism throughout the country.

The OCHA-based SLIS organised the first Geographic Information System (GIS) user group meeting of 2003 on 18 February, comprising UNAMSIL, Sierra Leone Central Statistics and UNHCR. The User Group consists of organizations currently engaged in using GIS or intending to begin GIS projects and it aims to serve as a geographical data coordination unit. Meanwhile the SLIS has compiled statistical information, collected by the District Recovery Committee, in August 2002 into District and Sectoral data packs. These will be available on the SLIS website http://ochadata.un.org/SLIS, from the HIC and on the CD-Rom Encyclopedia of Sierra Leone.

NRS Monitoring System

Another major task for the OCHA SLIS ahead is the development of the monitoring system of the National Recovery Strategy (NRS). The NRS Monitoring System is developed under the Technical Committee of the National Recovery Committee (NRC). It bases itself on the District Recovery Committees (DRCs) who report on a wide range of data collection forms every 6 months. The data from these forms are processed by the SLIS and entered into the Recovery Database, which produces Data Packs for each district and sector. Every third months, data from these data packs will contribute to the compilation of the Monitoring and Evaluation Analysis, which measures progress according to the benchmarks set in the National Recovery Strategy.

REFUGEE RESPONSE

Inter-agency mission to the border region

On 20 February, a joint mission between OCHA, NaCSA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF was conducted in Kenema to monitor the situation in the border area between Cape Mount County in Liberia and the Zimmi axis in Sierra Leone. The overall objective was to get a better picture of the situation on the ground in order to enable the agencies to plan for appropriate actions. The delegation met with local authorities and refugees. Based on the delegation's findings, the UN agencies will, at this point, focus on the issues with security screening, standardised-reporting mechanisms (i.e. regarding influx numbers), mass information and sensitisation campaigns and monitoring of the host community conditions.

UNHCR moves refugees away from the border to camp locations

From 23 February to 01 March, UNHCR, with the help of UNAMSIL shuttled a total of 730 individuals (440 families) from various crossing points on the Zimmi axis, including Jendema, Bombohun, Gbaa, and Dar-Es-Salaam. Out of this figure, 670 individuals (318 families) were refugees and the remaining were returnees. UNHCR and its partners have intensified their mass information campaign along the border areas, which has resulted in the willingness of some of the refugees to relocate into camps.

UNHCR anticipates that the 2,000-absorption capacity of the Zimmi Way Station will shortly reach full capacity, as more refugees are showing a desire to be relocated to camps. As at 28 February, the Way Station had a caseload of 1,596 persons, including 1,420 refugees and 176 returnees. The Yengema Way Station in Kono District has currently 25, 954 individuals, 7,169 families.

Within 24 hours following increased refugee movements from Liberia into Sierra Leone via the Pujehun- Zimmi axis, WFP provided 12.8Mt. of food for wet feeding for up to 3,000 refugees en route to the Zimmi Way Station. Additionally, they provided high-energy biscuits to UNHCR for refugees who would eventually be on convoy movements from the border towns, through the way stations and on to the camps in the Kenema District. The humanitarian community monitored the influxes, which at times were clocked at 300 people an hour, with particular concern for child combatants and separated civilian family members.

Child protection agencies continue with family tracing and reunification of separated children in Guinea. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children-UK (SC-UK), the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs (MSWGCA) and UNICEF undertook sensitisation exercises in camps hosting Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea. UNHCR has identified 72-separated children at the Zimmi Way Station and border entering points. Of this number, 32 (17 males and 15 females) have been transported to Dauda Way Station for relocation to camps.

UNHCR reports two cases of rape at the Taiama and Gondama Camps. These two cases involved a 13 and 15 year-old-girl respectively with 47 and 38 years old men as perpetrators. They both have received medical examinations and treatment. The Taiama case is now in court while the Gondama one is still under police investigations. Ongoing counselling is being provided for both parents and survivors. They provided assistance such as soap and sanitary kits for the survivors. UNHCR has allocated a booth to IRC for SGBV purposes at the Zimmi Way Station. IRC organised a two-day GBV workshop at the Largo Camp. MSF/B has presented certificates to 40 participants from Gerihun, Gondama and Jimmi Bagbo camps on successfully completing a four-day workshop on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

IRC supplied the Bandajuma refugee camp school with books for the library. They also distributed stationeries to 38 refugee teachers to run the Taiama Camp School and supplied mathematical sets to pupils in the examination classes of both the primary and secondary schools in Taiama Camp.

NRC is constructing a food warehouse and distribution centre for the Jembe Refugee Camp, with funds provided by WFP.

Camp
Population
Bandajuma
5,979
Gerihun
6,640
Gondama
7,362
Jembe
6,703
Jimmi Bagbo
6,467
Largo
5,632
Taiama
7,534
Total
46, 317
Camp population, as of February 28

REPATRIATION & RESETTLEMENT

Resettlement packages for returnees

WFP provided resettlement packages to 365 returning Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea at the Kailahun Way Station. They provided food assistance for two days wet feeding of 1,110 Sierra Leonean returnees repatriated from Guinea, in transit at the Port Loko Way Station. Additionally, WFP provided 0.04Mt. of biscuits for convoy movement out of Kailahun. WFP also provided 3.18Mt. of resettlement rations for 100 returnees in the Port Loko and Kambia Districts.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION & ABUSE PREVENTION

Working towards the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse

The various working groups of the OCHA led Coordination Committee to prevent Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CCSEA) are making progress in their work. The training-working group has assembled a core group of trainers from various agencies to create a training schedule that will provide a monthly, centralised GBV orientation in Freetown and periodically in the provinces for the humanitarian agencies. The procedural working group continues with Manual II of the HR manual. Current discussions include the use of contracts, and different types of contracts, as a preventive measure. The empowerment-working group is yet to commence work in the camps. The overview of the UNCT response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse has been completed which includes a review of the community reporting mechansims.

SGBV training

The UNOCHA based Coordinator for Abuse and Exploitation Prevention organized a SGBV workshop for all OCHA staff in the Southern and Eastern regions. A total of 18 OCHA and NaCSA representatives participated in the days exercise. Employees had basic training on International Human Rights Instruments, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and the Code of Conduct and the Standards of Accountability.

REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

EASTERN PROVINCE

Coordination

In a bid to strengthen the Inter Agency Forum in Kenema, NaCSA and OCHA assessed the regional coordination structure and are now seeking ways in which they could develop schedules and reporting routines. They came up with several recommendations, which they are now working on.

Education

NRC's reconstruction of the UMC Primary School in Tombodu village, Kamara Chiefdom, Kono District is ongoing. NRC is reconstructing two KLDEC Primary Schools at Gbalahun and Mendekeima Village in the Kailahun District. Reconstruction of the District Education Office in Kailahun town continues, with funds provided by UNICEF and UNHCR.

NRC has established 15 new CREPS classes in Kono in consultation with the Inspector of Schools. They are looking into possible ways of expanding the CREPS programme in the Kissy Chiefdom, Kono District due to the large influx of refugees and returnees in the district. IRC is to conduct an SGBV workshop for the CREPS teachers in Kono, next month.

WFP, in collaboration with the MEST has completed a baseline survey of 20 selected schools in the Kailahun District.

Health

IMC continues with the medical screening of refugees at the Kailahun way station, giving vaccination for children ranging from 9 months to 12 years for measles, Vitamin A and Yellow fever. MSF/B confirmed four Lassa Fever cases among refugees at the Jimmi Bagbo camp. Refugees have expressed concern over the identification of the disease in their camp and are being sensitised on its prevention.

UNICEF supported a five-day refresher training for 40 MCH Aides in Kono District. The focus was on early referral of high-risk pregnancies as well as inclusion of yellow fever vaccine as part of routine EPI, multi dose vial policy and injection safety. Facilitators were drawn from members of the District Health Management Team and other partners operating in the district.

Families affected by heavy storm

On 06 February a heavy storm affected some 125 families in the villages of Yibeima and Woyama villages. As a response, a joint NaCSA, OCHA and WFP delegation, undertook a mission to the Langrama Chiefdom to assess the damage. The delegation found that 70 out of 150 houses in Yibeima and 55 out of 120 houses in Woyama were affected but only a few houses were totally destroyed in the storm. The most serious damage was found on the seed storage building in Yibeima, which also serve as the storage for planting seeds for both Yibeima and Woyama. All the planting seeds for both villages have been totally damaged and many families had lost most of their household equipment in the storm. WFP is monitoring the food security situation in the area while considering a seed distribution in the area. NaCSA has requested assistance from ICRC to distribute NFI to the most vulnerable families that were affected.

NORTHERN PROVINCE

Agriculture

WFP conducted a Food Processing Workshop for 165 female farmers in the Mambolo, Samu, Gbele Dixon, Madina and Tonko Limba Chiefdoms, Kambia District. The workshop covered improved indigenous food processing and preservation techniques, including diversified recipes of WFP food aid commodities.

Concern Worldwide carried out a training programme of farmers on food preservation in Tane Chiefdom in Tonkolili District. The organization is presently supervising the construction of a grain store and drying floor in Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom. With funding from FAO, a local NGO, ABC Development, is constructing two-grain stores in Kukuna, Bramaia Chiefdom, and Kalainkay, Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District. ABC Development is reconstructing a Farm Service Centre in Kukuna, Brimaia Chiefdom.

A local NGO, Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organisation has set up an environmental awareness campaign to minimize the problem of indiscriminate bush burning. The SLYEO conducted refresher training on grasshopper and bush fire control and prevention in Mile 91 area, Mara Malal, Kholifa Mabang and parts of Yoni Chiefdoms, Tonkolili District, and in all 60 participants drawn from NGOs and CBOs attended the training

CRS is providing agricultural support, including FFAg, to 700 farm families in Biriwa Chiefdom; 351 Safroko Limba Chiefdom and 500 in Lebeisaygahun Cheifdom, Bombali District. CRS is supporting the rehabilitation of the Kamakwie-Makeni road with tools and Food For Work.

An agricultural show was held in Makeni town from 20 - 23 February for the first time in 21 years.

Education

The MEST and UNICEF jointly organised two workshops on CREPS in Lungi. The first workshop, which focused on strengthening, monitoring and supervision of the CREPS programme, was attended by 30 participants. They reported that from the second workshop, attended by 50 participants, that Level III teachers needed urgent, additional training to enable them to adequately prepare their classes for the National Primary School Examination (NPSE) scheduled in May. The MEST has established 17 Adult Literacy Centres within Port Loko District and has completed the distribution of learning and teaching materials in the area.

DFID supported 491 primary school-going children in Port Loko town with uniforms. DFID donated five sets of computers with accessories to the Port Loko Teachers College. DFID/CRP donated five sets of computers to the Education Office in Port Loko. The Yugoslav Consul donated assorted stationary items to selected primary schools in Port Loko town. UNICEF donated a four-wheel drive vehicle to the Inspectorate Office of the MEST for monitoring and supervision. UNAMSIL NIBATT 12 handed over a newly constructed three-classroom block fitted with blackboards to the Port Loko Teachers College.

NRC's reconstruction of the KDEC Primary Schools, at Menicurve, Magbema Chiefdom and Bayande, Tonko Limba chiefdom is ongoing. NRC plans to rehabilitate the Church of God Prophecy Primary School at Rokel village, Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District. This project will involve the rehabilitation of an existing three-classroom block, reconstruction of a new three-classroom block with office and store, construction of two- three-compartment VIP toilets, construction of a water well fitted with hand pump and the provision of school furniture and a maintenance package. They are also planning to rehabilitate 15 Primary Schools and 2 Junior Secondary Schools in the Kambia District. ABC Development with funding from DFID is rehabilitating the DEC Primary School in Kambia Township.

NRC has completed distribution of educational materials and used clothing to CREPS centres in the Kambia District. NRC in collaboration with Action Aid Sierra Leone will implement the skills component of the Youth Pack in the Kambia District. Teacher training is scheduled for March after which classes are to commence.

Health

UNAMSIL is supporting the MOHS with the provision of essential drugs to the Government hospital in Magburaka. UNICEF supported the MOHS to conduct a ten-day refresher-training programme for 100 TBAs in the Kambia District. Most of the TBAs are returnees from Guinea who had not received basic refresher training since 1995. The training centres were Kawula, Sella Kafta, Numea, Kamassassah, Kukuna, Kamagbeu, Mathuraneh, Senthai, Bamoi and Masseleh.

WFP provided the newly approved Public Health Units (PHUs) for supplementary feeding in Port Loko with their first shot of food assistance, along with the existing PHUs in the district.For the exercise, a combined total of 1,460 beneficiaries were supported with over 13Mt. of food items. WFP is planning to conduct trainings for the staff of some of the newly supported PHUs in Port Loko and Kambia District.

Watsan

Action Aid, has completed test drilling of 15 wells in various communities in the Magbema, Gbinleh Dixion, Bramaia and Tonko Limba Chiefdoms. Plans are underway for the digging of 471 household latrines in these same communities. ABC Development is constructing 100 household latrines in the Braimai Chiefdom.

With support from UNICEF, Rural Aid Sierra Leone is implementing watsan projects in Magbaima Ndorwahun and Gbendembu Ngowahun Chiefdoms in the Bombali District. Activities include construction of pit latrines and, training of community health workers, latrine technicians and 20 health clubs. Rural Aid, with support from DFID/CRD, will also begin the rehabilitation of the Fitonia gravity-fed water system for ten communities in Sella Limba Chiefdom, Bombali District. They hope to carry out similar interventions in the Koinadugu District.

MSF-H continues to supply the Makeni Government Hospital with water through water trucking as water scarcity continues to hit the township. Meanwhile, with only two kilometres left to cover the SALWACO water connection project from Matotoka gravity-fed water system, the project is nearing completion. The project will serve the Matotoka, Magburaka, Makeni and all villages en-route Matotoka-Makeni.

SOUTHERN PROVINCE

OCHA continues to monitor the refugee situation along the Zimmi-axis in collaboration with UNHCR and their partners. OCHA is also working closely with UNAMSIL civil affairs to address the DRC in the region, in preparation for the forthcoming NRC meeting. OCHA continues to work with NaCSA to strengthen the Inter-Agency Forums, advocating for the need of improved camp management to provide better facilities in the various refugee camps.

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