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LIBERIA: Orthopaedic Centre opens for 1,000 disabled
An orthopaedic centre catering for 1,000 amputees has started producing artificial limbs in Nimba County in north central Liberia, Star Radio reported on Wednesday.
The centre is located at the Methodist hospital in Ganta, near the border with Guinea. Its chief medical officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, said the facility was also producing braces free of charge for polio victims.
He said 15 amputees had received limbs since the US $1-million centre, sponsored by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and funded by USAID, started operating in December 1999.
A UNICEF source in Monrovia, the capital, told IRIN last year that the centre would be available to any disabled person , "regardless of whether they are war amputees".
Kateh also called on the government to reopen the border with Guinea, Star reported. He explained that people in Guinea who needed treatment in Ganta were unable to cross the border, closed as a result of fighting in nearby Lofa County in 1999.
SIERRA LEONE: Kenyan peacekeepers reach Makeni
A battalion of Kenyan peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) travelled on Wednesday by road from Freetown to the northern town of Makeni, UNAMSIL reported on Thursday.
"We encountered a few problems along the way when local RUF (Revolutionary United Front) commanders objected to the movement of UNAMSIL troops," UNAMSIL said in a news release, "but the problems were not serious, and companies of the Kenyan battalion are now encamped at Makeni and are patrolling the area."
The arrival of the Kenyan troops marks the first step towards the setting up of a disarmament and demobilisation camp in Makeni, UNAMSIL said.
UNAMSIL now has Ghanaian troops stationed in Daru, in the eastern district of Kailahun, and Nigerian peacekeepers in Port Loko and Lungi, which are closer to Freetown. UNAMSIL said more Ghanaian troops were on their way from Freetown to Bo and Kenema, located some 150 km and 200 km east of the capital respectively.
UNAMSIL said UN military observers from nearly 30 countries were patrolling in Port Loko, Lunsar, Makeni, Magburaka, Bo, Kenema, Daru and other towns.
In a letter to the president of the Security Council on 23 December, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended that UNAMSIL be expanded from its current authorised 6,000 military personnel to some 10,000. He cited concern that the situation in Sierra Leone continued to "pose a threat to peace and security in the region".
NIGERIA: Deaths, arson reported in clashes in Lagos
About six people died when factions within the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), a militant Yoruba group, clashed in Lagos on Wednesday, 'The Guardian', a Nigerian daily, reported.
News reports cited the OPC as saying that it was trying to rid Mushin, the slum area in Lagos where the fighting took place, of armed robbers and criminals.
But 'The Guardian' quotes Lagos State Police Commissioner Mike Okiro as saying that the fighting was between two OPC factions and not against a group of hoodlums. Seven houses were burnt in the violence, according to Okiro.
OPC factions have been blamed for numerous clashes in and around Lagos in recent weeks. The OPC denies that it is encouraging the violence but is outspoken in its defence of the rights of the Yoruba people, who are the majority in southwest Nigeria.
NIGERIA: Ethnic groups clash in Ibadan
About 10 people were killed this week in clashes between Yorubas and Hausas in Ibadan, Nigeria's second largest city, which is some 120 km north of Lagos. The clashes erupted after some Yorubas were killed in a road accident, 'The Guardian' reported.
GUINEA: Many reported dead following land dispute
Government officials have travelled to the Macenta area in western Guinea to mediate in a land dispute between two communities there, BBC reported.
According to unconfirmed reports, clashes between the Toma and Magna communities on Sunday and Monday killed about 30 people while some 40 were reported to have been injured and about 70 houses were burnt, BBC reported.
BBC said a curfew has been imposed in the area, which is some 700 km from the capital, Conakry.
MALI: Food access prospects excellent, FEWS says
Food access for most households in rural and urban areas is "excellent" on account of an "abundant rain fed and irrigated harvest," USAID's Famine and Early Warning System (FEWS) said in a 29 December report.
Farmers are harvesting rain-fed millet and sorghum across Mali and irrigated rice in the key rice-growing areas of Segou and Mopti in the centre of the country. Other crops are being planted in the northern region of Kayes and in the agro-pastoral zones of Gao and Timbuktu, FEWS reported.
Only three of the 173 districts covered by the Mali's National Early Warning System are described as moderately food insecure. These are all in the Mopti region, where households lost most or all of their rice crop to flooding.
FEWS said millet prices in November were 10 to 40 percent below the 1995-98 average, which should boost the purchasing power of the local population.
BURKINA FASO: Food access good, but could deteriorate, FEWS says
While food availability and access are now good in Burkina Faso, below-average cereal production in some provinces could cause problems in the November 1999 - October 2000 period, according to USAID's Famine and Early Warning System (FEWS).
In its latest report, published on 29 December, FEWS cites preliminary production estimates released by Burkina's Ministry of Agriculture as saying that seven out of 30 provinces with production shortfalls of 15 to 55 percent of the average for the past five years will depend on large commercial inflows.
But good food availability at the national level and excellent harvests in neighbouring Niger and Mali will help to keep prices low for households needing to buy food in the market. Moreover, favourable conditions for off-season gardening will provide alternative sources of food and income, FEWS says.
NIGER: New cabinet sworn in
A new cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday in Niger by President Tandja Mamadou, who called for an emergency action programme to tackle his country's financial problems, news organisations reported.
Niger's economy has been affected by the collapse of world prices for its main export, uranium, and a prolonged political crisis marked by two military coups since 1996, according to Reuters.
Tandja won presidential elections in November last. Prime minister Hama Amadou heads a cabinet that includes 9 ministers from the Mouvement national pour la Societe de Developpement (MNSD) and 8 from the Convention democratique et sociale (CDS), BBC reported. These two parties are the two main ones that backed Tandja in the second round of the presidential polls.
Seven ministries have been alloted to other parties that contributed to Tandja's victory and to ministers in the previous military-led interim government deemed to have worked well, BBC reported.
Abidjan, 6 December 2000; 16:55 GMT
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