Sierra Leone + 3 more

IRIN Update 655 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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for West Africa
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SIERRA LEONE: UN warns of "forceful response"

The UN will react strongly if any more weapons are seized from its peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, a UN news release quotes the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in that country as saying on Saturday in a meeting with the leader of the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP).

Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji told Foday Sankoh that contraventions of the Lome Peace accord such as the seizure of weapons from the Guinean and Kenyan peacekeepers, mounting road blocks and blocking the free movement of UN troops in the discharge of their mandate, must stop immediately or would "invite forceful response".

Sankoh and Adeniji agreed that the RUFP leader would immediately repeat his instructions to all RUFP members to return the weapons they seized from the peacekeeping forces, stop mounting road blocks and allow free movement of UN troops. Adeniji said he wanted to see evidence of "compliance with those instructions within 24 hours."

Military sources at the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) told IRIN on Tuesday that two armoured personnel carriers taken from Guinean troops on 11 January as they crossed into Sierra Leone to join UNAMSIL were returned to the UN over the weekend but some 565 rifles remained with the rebels.

Five or six rifles taken from Kenyan peacekeeping troops on 14 January and 1 February have also been returned, the source said.

SIERRA LEONE: WFP distributes food to IDPs in Port Loko

The World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food on Friday to some 4,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Port Loko, north of Freetown, the WFP representative in Sierra Leone told IRIN on Tuesday. "There were no problems, for the moment it's quiet," WFP's Patrick Buckley said. Security concerns had forced WFP to postpone twice the delivery of food to IDPs in the area, according to an emergency report issued on 10 February.

SIERRA LEONE: Inter-agency mission to Makeni

An inter-agency mission went to Makeni, Magburaka and Matotoka in northern Sierra Leone on 9-11 February to assess food, health, education, water and sanitation needs, WFP representative Patrick Buckley told IRIN.

The mission included various NGOs, WFP and the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (HACU). Its findings and action to be taken are now being discussed.

The needs assessment mission had been scheduled for 1 February, but was delayed after members of the former rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) detained 20 UNAMSIL personnel based in Makeni for several hours and took weapons from them, according to a WFP emergency report issued on 10 February.

SIERRA LEONE: CARE, WFP register villages

WFP, in collaboration with CARE, has completed registration of more than 34,000 people in 110 villages in Lower Yoni, a chiefdom in the northern Sierra Leonean district of Tonkolili, the WFP said in an emergency report issued on 10 February.

WFP is now establishing how many people who have returned to the area need food assistance intended to support vulnerable families and encourage people to resume farming, the report said.

Lower Yoni was affected by fighting last year and agricultural activities were not possible there. The International Committee of the Red Cross recently distributed farming materials in the area, WFP said.

LIBERIA: Presidential guards evict civilians

Hundreds of residents of Capitol Hill district in Monrovia have been evicted from their homes by Liberia's elite presidential guard following President Charles Taylor's decision to live permanently at the executive mansion, news organisations reported.

The space occupied by their homes will reportedly be used to accommodate Taylor's security personnel.

Residents have appealed for compensation and some have threatened legal action. "It is not right to just kick us out," one resident told the BBC. "We deserve better treatment," she added.

A source from the United Nations Peace-Building Support Office in Liberia (UNOL) told IRIN the reports were being looked into.

GUINEA: UNHCR seeks clarification on border

Lack of clarity as to whether Guinea's border with Liberia is open or not could delay the resumption of a programme to repatriate Liberian refugees, according to a senior UNHCR official.

The repatriation of Liberian refugees from Guinea was to have been completed by 31 December 1999 but was suspended in August 1999 when border posts were closed following security incidents in northern Liberia.

Liberia's government reopened its border with Guinea on 10 February. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the decision resulted from "improved security conditions," a UN source in Monrovia told IRIN.

UNHCR's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Abou Moussa told IRIN: "We need to talk to the Guinean government and obtain clarification on whether they will open the border so we can restart the Liberian repatriation programme."

"Out of the 133,000 Liberian refugees currently in Guinea, 33,000 have registered to return home immediately," he said. "Once the repatriation process starts it will encourage others to register."

GUINEA: Parliament seeks clemency for jailed opposition leader

Guinea's parliament has asked President Lansana Conte to release Alpha Conde, a jailed opposition leader accused of trying to leave the country illegally and seeking to recruit troops to destabilise it.

The appeal was contained in a letter addressed to the President and read out in parliament on Monday, AFP reported.

Conde, leader of the Rassemblement du peuple de Guinee, lost presidential elections on 14 December 1998, which were won by Conte. He was arrested on the day after the polls in a village near Guinea's border with Cote d'Ivoire and has been kept in detention since then.

GUINEA: New army chief of staff named

President Lansana Conte has named Colonel Kerfala Camara as the new army chief of staff, AFP reports a source close to the minister of the armed forces as saying. Camara replaces Colonel Ibrahima Sory Diallo who has been nominated as governor of Kankan region in the east.

MALI: Prime Minister resigns

Mali's Prime Minister, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, has resigned, news organisations reported on Monday. BBC quoted Radio Mali as saying that President Alpha Oumar Konare had accepted the resignation. The Malian media had been calling for Keita's resignation for several months on the grounds that he had not done enough to revitalise the economy, BBC said.

Abidjan, 15 February 2000; 17:45 GMT


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