Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report 21 Nov - 5 Dec 1999

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1. SUMMARY
The Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme (DDR) appeared to gain momentum during this reporting period, with nearly 1,000 RUF fighters turning in their weapons at disarmament sites. The RUF formally launched its political party called the RUF Party (RUFP). Humanitarian operations in most of the Northern province continued to be hampered by insecurity.

2. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

The political situation continues to unfold and steady progress made towards the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord. Chairman Foday Sankoh continues his sensitisation visits to his troops, urging them to disarm. As a result, the disarmament process gained momentum in the last two weeks with larger numbers of RUF fighters turning in their weapons. However, on 30 November Sam Bockarie (Maskita), speaking to the BBC, said that his forces would not hand in their weapons to ECOMOG and that if the UN troops tried to force them they would fight. He further called for the withdrawal of ECOMOG and raised questions about the legality of the 6,000-man UN Force, noting that the agreement called only for a couple of hundred observers. Maskita confirmed that his troops were mobilizing in the east in order to resist any acts of force used to disarm his men. While Chairman Sankoh has publicly disowned the statement maintaining that Sam Bockarie’s position does not reflect his views or the position of the RUFP, the latest development has deepened concerns about the DDR process.

UN Troops arrive from Kenya

The advance team of the Kenyan contingent of 134 men, part of the UN peace keeping force for Sierra Leone, arrived at Lungi International airport on 30 November. Their arrival had been delayed due to logistical problems. The Kenyan contingent is the first batch of the 6,000-strong peace-keeping force to arrive. They are to be stationed in Makeni and Magburaka.

Revolutionary United Front (RUF) launches a Political Party

On 22 November the RUF registered with the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a political party known as the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP). According to RUF spokesman Eldred Collins, the Party’s lion symbol represents a ‘peaceful lion’. Some 12 truckloads of RUF supporters arrived in Freetown from the countryside to mark the occasion. Chairman Foday Sankoh promised that if the RUFP came to power, its first priority would be to provide free education at all levels.

General Vijay Kumar Jetley to lead the UNAMSIL forces

General Vijay Kumar Jetley of the Indian Army has been selected to lead the UN Peace Keeping Force. General, who arrived in Freetown this week, formerly served in the UN Iran/Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG). The General arrived in Freetown this week to take up his new position.

Landmines in Sierra Leone

The issue of landmines has been raised a number of times in the last few weeks. There are now three areas of the country where reliable reports indicate that landmines have been laid. Among others, SHARE (a local NGO), in a press release on 19 November, voiced its concern regarding the national and international silence over the issue of landmines in Sierra Leone. It also appealed to the international community to investigate and address the situation. Just three days after this press release, the first humanitarian case related to landmines occurred. A 15-year-old girl from Mathibo, 8 miles from Mile 91, was blasted by a land mine on her way from the farm. Her leg has been amputated from the knee down.

DDR Sensitization continues with visit to Port Loko

Chairman Foday Sankoh, accompanied by Major-General Gabriel Kpamber and U.S Ambassador Joseph Melrose, paid a second visit Port Loko on 25 November to further explain the DDR programme to RUF fighters deployed in the area. Chairman Sankoh urged his men to comply with the DDR programme and to turn in their weapons.

3. SECURITY

There was no significant change in the security situation across the country since the last situation report, with the exception of an incident in Kailahun at the time of release.

A doctor and a logistician of MSF, who had been opening a health project in the district of Kailahun, have been held for four days by RUF authorities controlling the region. The two volunteers, with whom there has been some contact in the last two days, are Belgian and German nationals. They are reported to be in good health. During a telephone contact, a member of RUF expressed the dissatisfaction of Mr Sam Bockarie (Maskita), one of the rebel movement's leaders, with the process of disarmament and demobilisation of fighters in Sierra Leone. His complaints are directed towards the international community. According to his spokesman, he considers that the implementation of this process is not appropriate.

This comes at a time when there has been increasing activity in the Kailahun district, which some analysts have suggested points to relationship difficulties between Bockarie and Foday Sankoh. New commanders and troops have been appointed to Segbwema, and tension has been reported by other RUF commanders in the area.

In Port Loko town, the situation has been volatile since the beginning of the DDR process. There have been numerous reports of harassment of the local population, petty theft, and direct threats to camp staff and UNAMSIL. Much worse are the activities of armed bandits and rebels outside Port Loko town. However, steps have been taken to stabilise the situation. A strong ECOMOG presence remains in town, and new checkpoints / detachments have been placed next to the DDR camp. A curfew has now been implemented, starting at 8pm. UNAMSIL does not believe there to be a direct threat to security in the town from the outside, but remains wary of further problems from ex-combatants inside the town.

A dispute between RUF and Ghanaian ECOMOG in Pepel led to a firefight in which one Ghanaian was injured and one RUF killed on November 30th. This was then followed by an artillery bombardment later that evening. Armed men attacked a public vehicle south of Port Loko on 28 November. Two of the passengers were wounded as a grenade exploded. Another passenger died from gunshot wounds. Also, a PAE truck has been hijacked by armed men North of the town of Mange, from Guinean Ecomog troops.

In contrast to most areas in the North, Kabala is reported as being calm with no danger to national or international staff. The loyal Sierra Leone Army (SLA) battalion has been deployed to protect the town, and appears to be well supported. There is no apparent threat to Kabala from RUF, however ex-SLA in the town is a potential threat with reports of harassment of civilians in surrounding villages as they forage for food. In the last few days, there has been a number of visits to the area, by prominent politicians and officials. Action has been taken to allow registration of combatants, although procedures for their encampment have not been finalized. In a trip to Kabala and Fadugu on 8th December, Foday Sankoh addressed his soldiers and ordered some of them to demobilize. However, only nine RUF were demobilized in the end, as Sankoh claimed to have received ‘new’ information that AFRC soldiers in the area had not demobilized.

Unconfirmed reports from Makeni indicate that many RUF have ceased to carry their weapons in town, and are awaiting potential demobilization. This will be helped by the forthcoming deployment of UN Peacekeepers in the area, which is expected in the near future. Comprehensive reconnaissance will be carried out prior to the deployment of the main force.

4. HUMANITARIAN HIGHLIGHTS

A. Access

There has been no significant improvement in access to RUF-held areas for humanitarian agencies. The Yele - Matotoka road, which is key for aid workers to reach the many needy people in the southeastern town of Konta, remains closed. Some reports indicate that the Makeni - Kabala highway has been reopened. The ongoing trouble in Kailahun is likely to further delay aid for some time in that area.

B. Sectoral Analysis

Agriculture

As of the end of this cropping season, agricultural agencies reported that they had served a total of 159,590 farm families with a wide range of agricultural inputs including seeds and tools. The bulk of the beneficiaries come from the southern and western parts of the country while most of the northern region did not receive assistance due to insecure conditions.

FAO continues its programme of revitalizing the production capacities and marketing infrastructure of women’s agricultural co-operatives in Port Loko and Koinadugu districts. The project targets 8,000 farm families, covering Maraguire women’s farmers (some 17 groups/co-operatives - 200 farm families); Kabala women’s groups, intensive vegetable producers (30 Co-operatives - 200 farm families; and Koinadugu farmers groups, traditional farmers (100 groups of 4,000-farm families).

In Port Loko District, Children’s Aid Direct (CAD) remains engaged in agricultural intervention targeting various displaced farmers in the accessible chiefdoms of Lokomassama, Kaffu Bullom and Masimera. The inputs provided include vegetable seeds, groundnuts, fertilizer, hand tools, and watering cans. They have also supplied construction materials for building stores and drying floors.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), has recently completed its Agro Assistance programme for 1999 focused primarily on the distribution of agricultural materials for the second cropping season. A total of 40,000 IDPs/ resident families from Tonkolili, Kenema, Eastern Pujehun and the Western Area, who had not received assistance from other agencies benefited from the distribution of 44,486 kgs of groundnut seeds, 36,435 kits of vegetable seeds, 27,218 bundles of cassava cuttings, 27,218 vines of sweet potato and 36,435 imported hoes.

Child Protection

The release of children continues to occur through the various child protection network groups. On 22 November, 19 demobilised ex-child Kamajors were received by Children Associated with War (CAW) and have been reunited with their families.

UNICEF Child Protection Officers visited the DDR sites in Port Loko to assess the special needs of former child soldiers (see Humanitarian Profiles - Port Loko). Child soldiers taken to the sites are transferred to interim care centres, which are managed by NGOs in Port Loko, Makeni (CARITAS), Freetown (ADRA, COOPI, FHM) Bo (Christian bros.), Kenema (KDDO, IRC) and Daru (STC, UK). UNICEF is requesting that the CFA provide food to the Emergency Interim Care Centres. Details of child protection activities countrywide will be provided in the next report.

Food Aid

The Committee on Food Aid (CFA) has expressed concern over the recent rebel assault on aid workers in Port Loko, which has delayed assistance to nearly 7,000 IDPs in need of urgent food assistance. Agencies are in the process of resuming relief activities in the area, including the provision of a one-off VGF distribution to camp inhabitants.

CARE has pre-positioned food for Kuimayei and Kori Chiefdoms in Moyamba district for 2,117 bush camp dwellers. They have undertaken a humanitarian needs assessment in 51 flood-affected villages in the district, and plan to carry out an assessment of the lower Yoni chiefdom where nearly 30,000 people are said to be in need of resettlement assistance.

World Vision Sierra Leone (WVSL) began institutional feeding for 854 beneficiaries in 7 schools in their operational areas last week.

CRS, the operational food agency in Kabala plans to carry out food distribution to vulnerable groups in the area.

Health and Nutrition

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and MSF-Holland have temporarily withdrawn from Makeni as the RUF in the area placed unacceptable conditions on their work. Discussions are necessary to allow MSF and other agencies to return to Makeni. These problems mean that no emergency health support is available in Makeni.

The MOHS reported the risk of a disease outbreak at an unofficial camp in Newton (Western Area), which has a population of 10,000 people. OXFAM has agreed to provide WATSAN facilities there. Meanwhile, the disease control unit of the MOHS has reported that cholera is now under control.

Agencies have reported the lack of free medical provisions for adult IDPs in Kenema. The IDPs are currently being referred to the Kenema hospital where they are unable to pay for the drugs.

GOAL is planning to start vaccination for measles within the Kenema Township. They have also registered 1,800 beneficiaries for their supplementary feeding programme at 11 centres in their operational areas in Kenema.

AFRICARE/MERLIN have provided emergency medical services to 537 adults including 435 under-5 children in both Lebanese and Nyandeyama camps in Kenema. Some 20 booths have also been identified by AFRICARE to serve as emergency clinics in the event of any cholera attacks. As a preventive measure, they have taught families at the various centers how to make oral sugar salt solution locally.

Refugees

The last group of Liberian refugees registered with UNHCR in Sierra Leone will be airlifted by the end of the year. UNHCR in close collaboration with the Government will have to work out the status of the remaining Liberian Refugees after the last group has been repatriated.

On 17 November, UNHCR organised a four-day field mission to the Kenema/Zimmi axis to assess the roads for voluntary repatriation of refugees as well as the return of Sierra Leoneans from the border region. According to their report, Zimmi, the transit town for organised repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees from Liberia, has poor medical facilities, with only a small health centre run by MSF-B with three local staff. They provide medical facilities for residents of Zimmi and nearby chiefdoms. Basic infrastructure is minimal in the area, and the condition of the road between Zimmi and the Liberian border is bad. Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) would have to work on the road to facilitate the movement of refugees across the border.

Water and Sanitation

Action Contra La Faim (ACF) has back-filled all latrines at the National Stadium as the camp has now been officially closed. The WATSAN committee is against the relocation of IDPs to Grafton from National Workshop as there is a limit of WATSAN facilities at the camp. The problem will be aggravated with the onset of the dry season as the rocky grounds in the area make it difficult to dig more wells and latrines. The committee recommends that NCRRR try moving IDPs to Waterloo camp.

Kabala has no safe water supply at present. OXFAM and MSF-B are discussing ways to remedy the situation. Additional support may be required. Also, no latrines/water facilities exist in the IDP camp.

OXFAM is currently digging wells and latrines in Kaffu Bullom chiefdom in Port Loko and is carrying out hygiene training. They are also collaborating with the Water and Sanitation Division (WSD) to rehabilitate six wells with hand-pumps in the Koya Rural district near Waterloo. Their aim is to rehabilitate 100 wells in the district.

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Water and Sanitation Division (WSD), has constructed 16 new wells in Masiaka. As part of their effort to support WATSAN programmes countrywide, UNICEF is supporting the provision of a laboratory facility for sanitation programmes which will contribute towards the development of a national WATSAN data bank. They are also assisting with the review of a national WATSAN policy.

In order to ensure sustainability, the Water and Sanitation Committee has recommended that all hand-pumps coming into the country be standardized and limited to five different types.

C. Internally Displaced persons (IDP) Update

There have been no significant changes in IDP trends since the last report. However, the number of IDPs in Kenema district declined from 63,319 at the end of October to 47,199 as at the time of reporting. The decrease can be explained by the fact that some IDPs, taking advantage of the dry season are beginning to return to their villages to harvest their plantations. Furthermore, a re-verification exercise in the Blama camp led to a revision of the numbers of IDPs there from 14,295 to 9,182. In contrast, the northern district of Port Loko saw an increase in the number of IDPs following the recent rebel attacks in the area. There are now over 6,000 IDPs at the IDP camp in Port Loko town.

The recent UN assessment mission to Kabala (see Humanitarian Profiles), confirmed that up to 1,500 IDPs have now been registered in Kabala town. Most of the IDPs fled the fighting in Makeni in October. An unclear number is said to be awaiting registration.

Following allegations by IDPs living with host families in Bo that food aid agencies were not addressing their needs, the National Technical Commitee are in the process of determining the caseload involved and their level of vulnerability. An initial nutritional survey by ACF, and other indicators, suggest that the situation of the IDPs is not alarming and therefore does not warrant additional food assistance. If this is the case, other methods of assistance will be explored.

ICRC distributed non-food items (NFIs) to 876 Families in the Waterloo Township on 26 November. In Konta, ACF is conducting a detailed assessment of Watsan, nutrition and agricultural needs. CDF forces are reported to be in firm control of the Konta Area. Access to Konta is from Masingbi via Mondema.

Booths have been identified at Kendeyella site2 camp for the relocation of 4,236 IDPs from Splendid camp. The clinic structure and the distribution centre are complete and ready for use at the site.

Also in Bo, the Archdiocese Development Organisation (ADDO) distributed blankets and a utility bag to 32 family heads from OCHA’s contributions of NFIs. A similar distribution was made of 55 blankets to the destitute children who are assisted by the Islamic Action Group (ISLAG).

ICRC has completed NFI distribution to 876 family heads at Waterloo. They also plan to distribute NFIs in three chiefdoms in Tonkolili District to 5,014 families and vulnerable residents during the week of 6 December. Meanwhile, the Organization has put together a package of relief materials for IDPs who wish to return to the Koya District near Waterloo.

The Ministry of Education in Kenema has supplied the IDP school at Blama with some school materials - 24 rulers, 54 pencil sharpeners, 8 erasers, 52 pencils, 106 slate pencils, 10 packets of exercise books, 4 packets of chalk, 106 slates for 2,431 children. IRC provided 64 pieces of boards to make desks, as well as binding wire, padlocks and nails to complete the construction of the school.

Freetown

  • Amputee camp: FORUT, a Norwegian-based international NGO donated 93 bags of rice to residents of the camp. The Fula community of Freetown donated Le 5,000 to each of the 373 family heads at the camp.
  • Parade Grounds: Christian Health Association Sierra Leone (CHASL) organised a 5-day workshop on community health.
  • Approved School: OXFAM has completed three latrines and three new taps in section E of the camp. Concern World-Wide (CWW) is taking care of the drainage.
  • National Stadium: All IDPs (including the 240) unregistered at the National Stadium have been successfully moved to Grafton by GOAL. There are still 55 Polio victims at the Stadium who need to be moved. NCRRR and HACU are working out an alternative site for them with the Ministry of Social Welfare.
  • Mandela Camp: The Campaign against Violent Events held a workshop sensitizing IDPs about the dangers of violence. CHASL healed a 6-day workshop on basic community health for the sub-committee on health at the camp.
  • Trade Centre: The shelters at the camp are not completely disinfected. CHASL has identified 30 people to start a micro-credit programme. IDPs have also received their monthly food supply. Distribution of lanterns donated by the European Union took place on 29 November.
  • Grafton: Verification at the camp is complete and WFP will start food distribution shortly. GOAL is concerned about the relocation of polio victims to Grafton, as the terrain is not meant for wheel chair users.
  • Waterloo: CWW has started construction of 200 booths. ADRA is taking care of drainage at the camp. VGF for 12,167 has been completed.

5. HUMAN RIGHTS

Continuing human rights abuses have led to a press release by Ambassador Francis Okelo on 22 November which pointed out the continued reports of abductions and other abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law being committed by former rebel elements, especially on civilians along the Lungi Port Loko road and other parts of the Northern Province. He appealed to all parties in the peace accord to respect human rights and release all remaining abductees in the country. The pattern of abuses as the Ambassador points out would undermine the Accord if left unchecked. A large number of prisoners of war, non-combatants and children remain unaccounted for and are believed to be detained in parts of the country. In its November 1999 Human Rights Report, UNAMSIL observed that the number of new abductions now exceed that of released abductees.

Similarly, Human Rights Watch issued a strong condemnation of recent events, and stated that they have documented rebel attacks on some twenty villages and took testimony from scores of civilian victims. Several civilians were killed and many more were tortured and stabbed as rebel soldiers terrorized the civilians into telling them where their valuables and food were hidden. During most attacks civilians, usually women, were abducted and forced to carry looted goods and harvest rice. They were very often raped.

Meanwhile, UNAMSIL, through its Human Rights Office continues to conduct human rights training activities. During November, they trained 120 officers of the Sierra Leone Police Force. Preparations are currently underway to organize an intensive training-of-trainers programme for the entire Police Force.

Amnesty International has urged former rebel leaders who are now in political office to use their influence to stop the rebel fighters from attacking civilians. While acknowledging the decline of human rights abuses since the signing of the Peace Accord in July, the organization noted the deliberate terrorization and intimidation of civilians that has re-emerged in the Northern Province. They have cautioned the rebels to be aware that the blanket amnesty in the Peace Accord does not apply to atrocities committed after the signing of the agreement.

6. DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION

The number of RUF combatants reporting for disarmament has increased since the last report. In Port Loko, some 1,000 RUF combatants turned in their weapons during the review period, among them, child combatants. The RUF forces also returned some military materiel and weapons that had been confiscated from to the Guinean army earlier in the conflict, including a rocket launcher.

DDR Status Report as of 3 December

Site
RUF
AFRC
CDF
TOTAL
Hastings
-
158
-
158
Port Loko
43
16
-
59
Lungi
-
-
-
-
Kenema
-
-
-
-
Daru
-
-
-
-
Daily Total
43
174
-
217
Running Total
1,539
857
518
2,898
(Grand Total of all factions to date = 2,898)
Weapons
Current
Total
AK-47
9
398
Ak-58
1
48
FN Rifle
1
38
SAR
-
9
G-III
2
29
LMG
-
23
RPG-7
1
13
Mortar
-
15
Others
-
258
Pistols
1
35
These figures do not reflect significant numbers of RUF weapons turned in this week, as they have not yet been counted.
Ammunition
Current
Total
Grenades
1
133
Assorted
333
18,891
Source: UNAMSIL

Humanitarian Profiles

1. KABALA

An inter-agency United Nations assessment mission traveled to Kabala on 23 November to investigate the DDR, human rights, civil affairs and humanitarian situation. The team visited the army headquarters, the town hall (where discussions were held with different civilian groups), the hospital, police station and the ex-SLA camp at Yataya.

Security

During the fighting in Makeni in October, RUF forces pushed ex-SLA forces towards Kabala. However, the RUF has limited its advance northwards to Fadugu, on the Makeni-Kabala highway. There had not been any direct threat on Kabala or its surroundings by the forces. At the time of the mission, there appeared to be at least 2,000 combatants in the Kabala area. About 400 are in the town of Yataya, three miles southwest of Kabala, while the majority are in the town of Bafodia, 18 miles northwest of Kabala. While the Yattaya contingent has expressed willingness to demobilize, the group at Bafodia under the command of Col. Savage (a.k.a. Mr. Die), has been hesitant. This group is said to have a large number of abductees. According to the mission’s assessment, there was no danger to international or national staff in the town. The loyal SLA battalion appeared to be in good shape, and had deployed to protect the town. However, ex-SLA forces located around the town have been harassing civilians in surrounding villages in search of food items.

Food Situation

The events of the last few weeks led to a substantial deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Kabala. This was primarily caused by an influx of IDPs into the town. Up to 1,500 had been registered in a camp, and an unclear number were awaiting registration. These were supplemented by ex-abductees who were either in the town or in surrounding villages. The IDPs consist of people who have left their villages on the Kabala-Makeni highway and civilians from Makeni. Some of the latter are believed to be family members of combatants. Due to the recent harvest of upland rice and the forthcoming harvest of swamp rice, the food situation is well under control. At the time of the mission, rice was selling for Le150 per cup. However, there were a number of vulnerable groups in and around town who did not have enough resources to purchase food, among them, IDPs and their host families, ex-abductees and combatants and their dependants.

Nutrition

MSF-Belgium observed cases of borderline malnutrition, and agency reports indicate that coping mechanisms are very poor for at least some of the vulnerable groups. Furthermore, some farmers report that it is unsafe for them to harvest in the villages around Kabala.

WATSAN

There was no supply of safe drinking water in the town at the time of the mission. MSF and OXFAM are exploring ways to remedy the situation.

Health

MSF is covering basic health care needs, but work will be needed to upgrade government health operations in the area.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Immediate and urgent action required to resolve the DDR situation in the area, through the establishment of a local DDR site or relocation of combatants to existing sites;
  • Humanitarian access should be expanded in the area to allow for targeted intervention and provide a base for relief activities in other areas of Koinadugu district which have been inaccessible for over a year. Rural Koinadugu must be given priority in negotiating access;
  • A limited food distribution should be carried out for vulnerable groups. CRS, the operational food agency in town, has the capacity to lead the process. At the same time, a parallel distribution should be undertaken for ex-combatants awaiting further progress in the DDR programme. Limited food distributions are logistically possible, using either helicopter operations or the road from Mamou to Kabala.
  • A more detailed survey should be done to establish the needs in the areas of education, shelter and WATSAN.
  • Rebel commanders should be encouraged to open the Makeni/Kabala highway for relief and commercial access.
  • IDPs should also be targeted for emergency agriculture support, which may help them if they are forced to stay in Kabala into the medium term. IDP representatives requested short duration swamp rice for December planting and regular upland/swamp rice distributions next year.

2. PORT LOKO

Security

The situation in town has been volatile since the beginning of the DDR process. There have been numerous reports of harassment of the local population, petty theft, and a direct threat to camp staff and UNAMSIL. However, security officials have taken steps to stabilize the situation. A strong ECOMOG presence remains in town, and new checkpoints/detachments have been placed next to the DDR camp. According to UMAMSIL, there was no immediate threat to security in the town. However, they remain concerned about further problems from ex-combatants inside the town. According to the mission’s assessment, humanitarian programming is possible in Port Loko although agencies are advised to take basic precautions.

IDPs

There are approximately 6,560 displaced people registered in the IDP camp registered in the IDP camp which was established in September 1999 by the Port Loko community to help resettle IDPs from nearby villages. They had been forced to flee from their homes due to rebel attacks. While the numbers have to be verified, systematic records were kept and have been made available to WFP. There has been a constant stream of people arriving in the camp due to the ongoing attacks in the District. The IDP camp is about 1 km from the DDR camp, and its occupants have suffered some harassment by ex-combatants.

Child Protection

The issues of all the children in Port Loko are described as complicated. Demobilised child ex-combatants are not contained within the Interim Care Centre due to the number of unprotected escape routes. Children return to see their ‘families’ in the DDR site on a regular basis and some commanders make daily trips to the Interim Care Centre to see their ‘children’. While such visits may not have a direct impact on the safety of the civilian population, the freedom of movement of children and adult ex-combatants is deemed intimidating, particularly when the civilians have not had adequate support or explanation on the DDR process. The majority of the children interviewed by Save The Children UK in the Interim Care Centre had removed their wrist bands for ‘safe keeping’. The fact that the demobilised child ex-combatants are not clearly identifiable may increase the vulnerability of the civilians, and reduce the capacity of the security forces and Child Protection Agencies to maintain order.

Education

IDPs had organized a school with three primary school-type classes. There are approximately 500 primary school age children in the camp although not all are attending school. They have no teaching materials beyond a few black boards, chalk, and a few sets of basic teacher’s manuals for literacy, numeracy and community education.

Health

International Medical Corps (IMC) clinics are serving the ex-combatants, their dependants, the IDP population and the adjacent community. On the average, up to 100 patients are seen daily. IMC reports that security incidents, such as threats, harassment and theft of drugs by ex-combatants are causing serious problems for their staff members in both clinics, north and south of Port Loko. The district hospital is in an appalling state, unable to offer tertiary services and minimal secondary services. Looted in December last year, it has no electricity, no theatre, no mattresses, hardly any drugs, no serilisers, nor any of the other critical hospital equipment. Urgent action is therefore required to bring the hospital up to a minimum standard. Patients requiring further assistance do not have viable options as the road conditions to Lungi are poor.

In the IDP camp, there were reported cases of bloody and watery diarrhoea and reports of some deaths, which were not documented. There were also evidences of skin diseases and some malnutrition.

Human Rights

The mission also established the continuation of human rights abuses in Port Loko including displacement of civilians, rape, abductions, forced labour and beating.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The mission made the following conclusions and recommendations based on their findings:

  • Considerable opportunities exist to address pressing needs in Port Loko.
  • The current IDP camp should be moved to a safer location, with temporary shelters and basic WATSAN facilities.
  • An immediate one-off VGF ration should be provided to IDPs followed by ongoing targeted support for some families,
  • Medical facilities must be upgraded to meet IDP needs.
  • Some work must be done with local authorities to improve security in the town.
  • A small camp for ex-combatant families should be constructed on the recommended site next to the DDR camp.
  • The needs of children need greater attention and support, particularly in the Interim Care Centre.
  • The Supplementary Freeding Programme should be restarted when possible.
  • Urgent attention is required for the District Hospital, which is completely unable to offer any meaningful care in the area.

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