Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report 5 - 16 Jan 2000

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


1. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
British Foreign Minister Visits Sierra Leone

British Foreign Minister Peter Hain visited Freetown on 12 January as part of a six-day visit to Africa that would take him to Ghana and Nigeria. His visit to Sierra Leone was to show Britain’s continued support to the peace process. He urged the International Community to join Britain in helping Sierra Leone to recover from war. Hain assured President Kabbah that Britain would stand by him and the people of Sierra Leone to restore lasting peace to the country. He pledged Britains support of £250,000 towards the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, the funds will be channeled through the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. He urged all parties to adhere to the peace accord and refrain from committing more atrocities. Britain has also contributed 13 Military Observers to UNAMSIL. The Foreign Minister reminded Sierra Leoneans that the future was up them to embrace and now was a good time to do so.

DDR Sensitization Tour Takes Place in Bo Kenema, Tongo Fields and Kono

Chairman Foday Sankoh, Deputy Minister of Defence Hinga Norman and ECOMOG Force Commander Major General Gabriel Kpamber, visited Bo, Kenema and Tongo Fields on 6 January as part of a 3-day sensitization tour urging ex-combatants to turn in their weapons and adhere to the DDR program. They returned to Freetown on 8 January after ending the tour at Tongo Fields. This rich diamond mining area now lies in complete ruins, with no Government or relief agencies present in town. The team also visited Kono on 14 January where they received a warm welcome from residents. Journalists accompanying the mission said that destruction appeared to be considerable.

The Deployment of UN Peacekeepers

Over 5,000 peacekeeping troops have arrived and have been deployed around the country. The troops are from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and India.

  • One Nigerian battalion: Lungi (International Airport), Pepel Village and Tasso Island.
  • One Nigerian battalion: Port Loko, Masiaka and Lunsar (Crucial roads linking Freetown and the provinces)
  • One Kenyan battalion: Northern Town of Makeni and Magburaka.
  • One Ghanaian battalion: Daru Kailahun District, Kenema and Bo.
  • One Indian battalion is providing administrative, medical, transport and engineering support, including an aviation-refueling unit in the Freetown area.
  • The remaining battalion from Guinea is expected to deploy soon.

In addition to the peacekeeping troops, some 215 unarmed Military Observers from 30 countries are monitoring the cease-fire and reporting violations to the international community and the Government.

ECOMOG peacekeeping troops have temporarily stopped withdrawal from Sierra Leone. Gen. Kpamber was reported as saying that ECOMOG would remain for another 90 days to allow the UN time to deploy.

$2.5 Million Grant from Chinese Government

The Minister of Lands, Housing, Country planning and Environment Peter Borbor Vandi and the Beijing Urban Construction Group signed a letter of intent for $2.5 million from the Chinese Government to provide low-cost housing for IDPs and refugees. 70% of the grant will be used for housing units and 30% towards the purchase of building materials and equipment from China.

Chinese Donate 2,850 Bags of Rice

The Chinese Government donated 2,850 bags of rice to the Sierra Leone Government. The Minister of Development and Economic Planning Dr. Kadi Sesay said that the rice would be sold through competitive bidding with proceeds going towards the establishment of a social security scheme. This scheme will provide assistance to the vulnerable members of society (the aged, orphans, amputees and poor). In addition to this, the Chinese Government has also donated $10 million of financial aid to fund agricultural development addressing the problem of food security.

The Diamonds in Sierra Leone Fuelled the War

A report by the Partnership African Canada (PAC) has alleged that that the mining and sale of illegal diamonds in Sierra Leone fuelled the war, with complicity of international companies. While this is not a new suggestion, the research published in the report shows that Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire are said to have been complicit in the smuggling of diamonds from Sierra Leone. While Liberia has an annual mining capacity of up to 150,000 carats per year, it currently exports over 6 million a year. Côte d’Ivoire, while having no mining industry, currently exports 1.5 million carats a year to Belgium alone. The reports find a number of key parties to blame for this situation, both inside Sierra Leone and internationally. The report alleges that in addition to internal corruption, the Diamond High Council (HRD) of Belgium and international mining companies make it possible for smuggling and crime to take place. Recommendations of the report include, regulation of the HRD by the Belgian government, a moral and regulated approach by de Beers and other mining companies, a consumer campaign to target diamonds from conflict-torn countries, and action within the country to bring security to diamond areas, and have open and honest purchasing facilities.

The UN Security Council is Briefed on Annan’s Request for Expansion of UNAMSIL

On 12 January the UN Security Council was briefed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the need to increase the number of UNAMSIL troops in Sierra Leone from 6,000 to 11,100. He emphasized that the need for the expansion was to help in the implementation of the Lomé Peace Accord and with the DDR program. They would also carry out additional tasks currently assigned to ECOMOG. The expansion would not fundamentally change the nature of UNAMSIL’s mandate, but would include the provision of security at Lungi Airport and Freetown, some other key installations, disarmament camps and weapons storage sites. The additional UN peacekeepers would also provide support for humanitarian assistance activities around the country.

Social Action and Poverty Alleviation Program (SAPA) Receive Support from African Development Bank (ADB)

The Director of SAPA Ms. Kenyeh Barlay reported that SAPA has received funding for 51 projects from the African Development Bank. Thirty sub-projects for special programs are for women and 21 are social infrastructure programs (health and education). The total sum is over one billion Leones.

The Council of Paramount Chiefs Express Need for Involvement in DDR Program

The Council of Paramount Chiefs (a nationwide group) has expressed concern over the government’s failure to involve them in the DDR programme. The chiefs complain that they do not have a representative on any of the DDR committees. This has prevented them from making meaningful contributions to the program.

Kenyan Soldier Dies

A Kenyan soldier has become the first casualty in the United Nations peacekeeping force. Yusuf Birik drowned while participating in a water obstacle-training course at Magburaka.

2. SECURITY

The security situation across Sierra Leone has improved substantially across most parts of the country over the last month. While there has been an increase in petty crime and harassment in Freetown, Lungi, Kabala and Port Loko, the progress on the Lomé Accord and the arrival of UN troops has helped and coincided with a lessening of tension across the country. The successful deployment of UNAMSIL troops in up-country areas has significantly improved security in towns like Lunsar, Makeni and Magburaka. At the same time, many RUF fighters have ceased to carry weapons in areas controlled by them. However, the need for caution remains, as rogue groups or ex-combatants have been harassing people in some areas, while the area around Occra Hills and Kambia continues to be poor for civilians.

In Port Loko district, five villages were attacked on the 6 January in Koya chiefdom, south of Port Loko. A second attack took place on the 9 January in three villages East of Songo.

A force of around three hundred Guinean troops was allegedly stopped by a group of RUF at Bamoi junction in the week beginning 11 January. They were troops who were on their way to join UNAMSIL, but were wearing ECOMOG insignia at the time. A standoff developed, and at least some Guinean possessions were allegedly taken by the RUF.

There are currently two groups of RUF totaling five hundred combatants awaiting demobilization near Kabala, in Koinadugu district. The first is near Alikalia, the second at Falaba. Also, in addition to the 700 disarmed SLA inside Kabala town, there is an equal number of armed SLA in the outskirts of the area. Overall, the situation in the Kabala area continues to be very insecure, with residents suffering from continuous harassment from ex-combatants. It is critical that the DDR process is extended to Kabala as soon as possible.

There are no significant events to report from the South or East.

3. HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

A. Access

It is likely that the humanitarian access situation will substantially improve over the next few weeks, especially if current progress continues to be sustained. The deployment of UNAMSIL troops, combined with gradual progress on the Lomé Accord, has led to a revived access initiative from the United Nations and NGO relief agencies. A UN Security mission traveled to Makeni and onwards to Magburaka, Matatoka, Makali and Masingbi. The mission members recommended that discussions could immediately commence on the re-establishment of humanitarian operations in the areas visited, and by extension most of Tonkolili and Bombali districts. However, the mission also recommended that urgent discussions must take place with the Government of National Unity on the subject of the role of RUFP liaison with humanitarian agencies.

Kambia continues be unstable, although MSF-H operates there at this time. The road from Port Loko to Kambia is especially considered to be risky. Kailahun and Kono are also mostly un-reached by humanitarian agencies. Some travel is possible in South Kailahun, but security assessments are required in the near future to re-open this area. World Vision have some operations in three chiefdoms in Kono district, but not in the Koidu / Sefadu areas.

B. Sectoral Analysis

Agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture continues with its support towards Farmers associations in the region. They have donated two rice hullers and six power tillers that have been designated for Bo and Pujenhun.

World Vision Sierra Leone (WVSL) has food and personnel in the eastern province with seeds and tools ready for distribution.

ACF has completed their post harvest monitoring in Bo North and Wunde Chiefdom in the south.

Child Protection

Abducted Children continue to be released during this reporting period. Fostering of children has also been a success as families come forward willing to foster children temporarily until their parents are found. Family tracing has also been successfully with a significant number of children being unified with their parents. Several hundred children ex-combatants were transported from Kabala to the Makeni area during the week.

Family Tracing

National Picture

Registrations Tracing Requests Families Traced Reunification’s Follow-up visits
East
30
113
17
3
25
North
141
40
37
6
South
33
5
25
93
W/Area
156
74
171
77
TOTAL
360
118
156
211
201

Western Area Update

DECEMBER GRAND TOTAL
Missing Children Documented
37
4448
Missing Children reunified
72
2204
Children Still Missing
2244
Found Children Documented (Reg.)
156
910
Found Children reunified
99
659
National Picture (January - December)
REGION
Registrations
Tracing Requests
Families Traced
Reunification’s
Follow-up
Visits
East
159
341
221
151
433
North
1075
105
360
283
258
South
760
465
476
339
563
W/Area
1106
4047
970
1681
2362
TOTAL
3100
4958
2027
2454
3616

Training

A total of 60 social workers from various Child Protection agencies in the Western Area are participating in a training programme organised by COOPI and UNICEF. The course content covers the principles of social work. At the end of the training, a test will be done based on which; social workers will be selected as trainers.

Interim Care

A reception centre has been established at Lakka for ex-child combatants. This will serve, as a transit centre in which ex-combatants brought to Freetown will stay until arrangements are made for their transfer to their area of origin. Whilst at the centre, they will receive counselling and participate in other activities arranged by the centre.

Psychosocial

CCF organised a 'Day with kids" in which 25 kids in the programme spent some time with their counsellors at Goderich Beach, cooking, singing and dancing. Someone from PPASL was also invited to talk to these kids on responsible sexual behaviour. The kids were given parting gifts. CCF plans to meet with the parents of these kids and counsel them as well.

Survivors of Sexual Violence

21 survivors of sexual violence were registered in the Western Area and 4 in the North in December. All of them and a further 9 in the South were counselled. 2 deliveries were reported.

Street Children

A party for street children was organised by GOAL at the National Stadium. The children engaged in football matches and other sports.

Children in Conflict With the Law

15 children were arrested in the Western Area and 21 in the East on charges of larceny and fraud. 10 were advocated for and released in the Western Area and 17 in the Eastern Province.

(Source on Child Protection UNICEF)

Food Aid

WFP is planning an increase of the number of trucks going to the Konta Area as road conditions improve. In the interim they have carried out a one-off food distribution to residents of Konta.

WFP started assessment on 11 January for feeding of school children in the Eastern Province of Kenema district Small Bo, Kandu, Leppiama, Simbaru, Nyawa chiefdoms

The World Islamic Call Society donated 100 bags of rice to amputees and other war wounded victims at their Aberdeen Road Camp on 6 January. In addition to this they donated 500 T-shirts and 20 bags of rice to the Muslim community for the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr.

CRS reported that 35MT of bulgur have been successfully transported to Kabala overland through Guinea. CES supplied the oil component of the food supply.

World Vision International (WVI) is currently carrying out verification exercise for food for agriculture (FFAg) distribution in 3 chiefdoms (Nimiyema, Nimikoro and Goroama) in the Kono district.

Health and Nutrition

MSF-F has reported an outbreak of bloody diarrhea (Shigella SD1) in Kenema and Moyamba. The number of cases reported between 1-29 December 1999 were 1,396 in Kenema district (Tunkia, Gaura and Dama chiefdoms). 128 new cases have been reported between January 1-10 in Kenema District (Mano, Jebla, Gorahun, Kokoru and Gebwema). There have been 93 related deaths in the Kenema district. Mobile teams have been set up to up to give health education and treatment in the villages as well as soap and ORS distribution. Mobile teams are visiting the villages and chlorinating wells.

International Medical Corps (IMC) received information of a death related to bloody diarrhea at the demobilisation centre in Port Loko South. All patients at the clinic had been drinking from the same stream instead of the chlorinated wells. 12 more cases were reported at the clinic on 11 January. NCDDR was asked to advise all ex-combatants to drink water only from the chlorinated wells. Samples were collected and tested, the results were Schistosoma Mansoni with suspected Shigella, the samples have been sent to Paris for further tests. None of the samples contained Vibrio Cholera.

ACF identified 141 malnourished children at Konta and introduced wet feeding for them.

ICRC has been performing 16 operations per week at the Government hospital in Kenema. ICRC supports a ward for war-wounded people.

MERLIN reported that the number of malnutrition cases in Kenema is decreasing. With this decrease in numbers they are planning on closing the Therapeutic Feeding Centre (TFC) at Blama camp. The remaining patients numbering less than 50 will be moved to the Kenema TFC at the Government hospital. They continue to support/run the pediatric ward at the Government hospital and plan to construct an isolation unit.

UNICEF provided kits to AFRICARE, IRC and MOHS to provide refresher training for 20 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) in Nyandeyama and Niawama camps in Kenema.

ACF currently has a caseload of 159 TFC and 1,314 SFC in Magburaka; these numbers have been stable since December

Refugees

UNHCR, GTZ-MLP, and UN-HACU took part in an assessment mission to Zimmi South. The mission was to assess the security situation in Zimmi, the returnee movement and overall needs. The security situation was calm, but with some atmosphere of uncertainty from residents with the planned withdrawal of ECOMOG troops from the area. Three border crossings are now open (Mano River Bridge, Dar-Es-Salaam and Gangama) and are manned by ECOMOG, Immigration and Sierra Leone Police. Refugees are reported to be trickling into Sierra Leone, especially in the Sorogbema and Makpele chiefdoms in Pujenhun District. It is estimated that an average of 50 refugees per week arrive at each of the border crossing points. Resettlement and reconstruction activities were observed along the Mano River Bridge. There is only one health centre open in the region situated in Zimmi town. The centre can only treat simple cases with more severe cases sent to Kenema MSF-B are presently rehabilitating the hospital in Zimmi town. The only schools operational in Zimmi and Jendema.

Water and Sanitation

ACF completed a 2’X10’ shower at Blama camp (Kenema district). They also increased the depth of a well at Niawma Camp (Kenema district) by 11/2 meters to get to the water table.

CARE completed rehabilitation of old wells in 15 villages in Small Bo chiefdom Kenema District.

OXFAM conducted a 7-day health and sanitation training program at the Lebanese camp in Kenema.

C. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Update

The National Technical Committee and Committee on Food Aid are working out modalities for the phase out of IDP camps in Freetown and eventually the rest of the country. A committee has been formed that is looking into the draft policy regarding this phase down with the hope of ending assistance to IDP camps in Freetown by 29 February. This committee will discuss ways to resettle IDPs who come from safe areas while those from unsafe areas will continue to live in no more than two camps in the Western Area. It is proposed that the government finds alternatives to provide housing for the homeless staying at the camps, and develop a sensitization campaign.

Residents of this area appealed to WFP for food support leading to a recent assessment of the area. The assessment revealed a desperate need for assistance in health, sanitation, education, clothing, shelter and support to farming activities in Lower Yoni.

WFP reported that they would be attempting to deploy a lorry behind the Gendema ferry, to enable the transport of relief supplies from Kenema to Konta. If this works out then they would start plans to register IDPs at the ACF feeding centres and displaced camps in Konta. ACF reported a decrease in the caseload at the TFC in Konta to 160. They also plan to transport 5MT of Watsan facilities to Konta when access is available.

CARE reported that the reverification in Yele indicated that the number of IDPs has reduced from 14,372 to 12,282. Non-Food Items were distributed to this new caseload. A rapid assessment of 7-chiefdoms (Lower Masakong, Upper Masakong, Petifu, Mayorpoh, Makonkori, Makomb-Yeben and Walbana) was also conducted. 478 families were registered giving a total of vulnerable population of 5,461.

WFP Visit to Konta

WFP made an assessment to Konta on 6 January and reported on the general condition of the area and IDPs there. The road segment 42-44km from Bo, remains dangerous with sharp stones, deep and slippery curves. Bridges between Mondema and Konta are weak and narrow. The road leading to Gendema from Konta ferry crossing is passable for light vehicles up to 2-ton weight. Eight bridges need to be reinforced for heavy load.

The IDPs in Konta are ready to resettle in their homes and need assistance with resettlement packages, although some have already started returning home. The camp currently lacks Watsan facilities, blankets, shelter, health care and food. A displaced committee comprising of 9 chiefdom representatives organizes the welfare of residents. WFP proposes to verify the number of IDPs in the area and provide an initial distribution of food. Speedy rehabilitation of roads and bridges is also needed.

BO

An inter-agency reverification of non-camp IDPs indicted that less than 4,084 of the 6,080 IDPs originally registered are currently residing in Bo. Not all of these IDPs are considered vulnerable. The National Technical Committee recommended a one-off distribution of two-week food rations. A re-verification of the 4,084 is intended, using the Interagency Household Registration/Verification form to determine the numbers of vulnerable people. Any IDPs who do not fall into the vulnerable category will not be eligible for food -aid. The Vulnerable group will be given food foe work to construct booths in IDP camps in Bo and be given the facilities accorded to IDPs.

Registered IDPs in camps in Bo

CAMP
FAMILY HEADS
CASELOAD
Kendeyella Site
126
675
Kendeyella Site
879
3,633
Splendid camp
1,937
8,476
Lebanese camp
277
1,371

Total Number of IDPs in Bo 14,932 this number includes IDPs in Bo North who are not in camps.

CRS is assisting communities in Bo through their community Education Initiatives Project. They plan on increasing the number of schools to 40 pilot school projects and 30 pilot schools in Pujenhun. Two schools have already been rehabilitated in Pujenhun.

There is an urgent need for plastic sheeting’s to complete the booths at Kendeyella site2. Agencies with these resources are asked to help.

KENEMA

ICRC distributed kitchen utensils, blankets and used clothing to 309 family heads with 2,113 beneficiaries at the Niawama camp. 201 family heads (1,407 beneficiaries) within the Kenema Township also received similar Non-food items.

IRC supplied educational materials (books, chalk, pencils etc) to the IDP school at Blama camp of 2,471 beneficiaries. They also conducted psychosocial services and activities at Blama and Lebanese camps. Footballs and other indoor games were distributed.

KABALA

The displaced camp with close to 1,200 IDPs (mainly dependents of SLA fighters) are in great need of non-food items such as plastic sheeting, pots, blankets, mats etc. An officer of CES has been appointed to manage the camp. CES in collaboration with CRS and MSF-B are trying to provide services to the residents and have been trucking in food supplies from Freetown with no security problems encountered on the road.

FREETOWN

Seven displaced camps, 3 educational institutions and 6 mosques received break-fasting (Sonakate) for the holy month of Ramadan from the Sierra Leone Muslim Missionaries Union (SLAMMU) over 30,000 IDPs benefited from this gift. The IDP camps, which benefited include: Approved School, National Workshop, Mandela camp, Parade grounds, Trade Centre and Amputee camp.

The Amputee camp, Parade grounds and Mandela camp benefited from relief items donated by a Sierra Leone women’s group based in the US. NCRRR donated clothes to children at Approved school.

ICRC carried out a food distribution to Polio victims Amputee victims and hospital patients they plan to carry out clothes distribution to the same target group in Freetown.

  • Trade Centre: The European Union distributed kerosene lanterns to each family head. They are also planning to distribute mattresses to the same group. CHASL has distributed funds to caretakers of foster children at the camp. A number of NGO have been making donations to camp residents without going through the camp management, this is causing problems for camp managers and are appealing to NGOs to go through them for future donations.
  • Grafton: A new executive of the IDPs has been established, this has calmed the problem of in fighting between IDPs. CHASL has completed one-week of trauma healing. ACF is constructing showers and GOAL has 50 Kitchens under construction.
  • Approved School: WVI have completed food distribution at the centre. OXFAM has completed the construction of 3 toilets and 1 shower in section C of the camp.

4. DDR

The number of discharged ex-combatants in Port Loko District is on a slow, steady rise. In a press release by Dr. Francis Kaikai Executive Secretary of NCDDR, reports of ex-combatants being discharged from centres in Lungi and Port Loko who have gone through the demobilisation process. 840 ex-combatants were recently discharged from Lungi with an additional 1,040 from Port Loko. The DDR Secretariat is working on a database and tracking mechanism for the discharged ex-combatants. Some of the discharged ex-combatants are currently participating in various community sensitisation programmes while the secretariat is busy putting reintegration programmes toge5her in collaboration with various NGOs, the UN system, parastatals and Government institutions. Pre-discharge orientation activities are being carried out at Lungi and Port Loko for existing camp occupiers.

DDR Update for Reporting Period

RUF
2,222
AFRC/EX-SLA
3,838
CURRENT SLA
3,804
CDF
1,740
OTHERS
1,414
TOTAL
13,018
Source NCDDR

5,108 Weapons and 61,613 Ammunition handed over.

The ratio of weapons handed in to ex-combatants is 3:1 this implies that there are ex-combatants registering at the sites are not coming in with their weapons. In one incident, 532 SLA threatened UNAMSIL observers when they refused to register them at Malal with only a hand grenade each. Consultations with Freetown resulted in their admission into the programme.

The figures reflect data, which included ex-combatants who were brought into the system prior to the November 4, 1999 commencement of the current DDR program.

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