Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report 7 - 20 Nov 1999

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SUMMARY
Continued violations of the cease-fire agreement and the slow implementation of the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Programme have continued to hinder humanitarian interventions. Security continues to be poor in most parts of the Northern Province, and real questions remain about the ability or willingness of the parties to the conflict to support the DDR process.

1. Political

Multi-Donor Mission to Sierra Leone

A Multi-Donor Mission visited Sierra Leone (November 8-11) led by the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn McAskie. The mission consisted of representatives from a number of key donor countries (Japan, USA, UK, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Ireland), the EU and United Nations officials from the FAO and WFP as well as a representative from IOM.

The objective of the mission was to demonstrate the commitment of the international donor community to support Sierra Leone’s recovery from the civil war, and to focus on critical needs across all sectors. The mission met people across a wide variety of sectors including government officials, leaders of the AFRC and RUF, international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) local members of civil society and UN officials.

They visited the amputee camp at Aberdeen, and the St Michael’s Children’s Centre in Lakka. They also visited the Therapeutic Feeding Centre, Government Hospital and the Lebanese camp in Kenema. Ms. McAskie stated that the uncertain security situation on the ground made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to access areas where people where suffering. She urged all parties to speed up the DDR process that plays an important role in humanitarian intervention, and to respect the commitment to provide access to all parts of the country for humanitarian aid.

New Special Representative to replace Ambassador Francis Okelo

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan has appointed veteran Diplomat Oluyemi Adeniji as Special Representative to replace Ambassador Francis Okelo who is ending his two years position in Sierra Leone. Mr. Adeniji is considered an expert in disarmament and conflict resolution and has produced several publications in this regard.

UNAMSIL Peace-Keeping Contingent

Kenya has agreed to send 45 Officers and 779 servicemen and 6 service women as part of the 6,000 strong peace keeping-force (UNAMSIL). The United Nations has stated that it will begin deployment of troops to Sierra Leone on the week of 22 November.

Canadian Government donates money to Sierra Leone

Cause Canada announced that the Government of Canada has donated 100,000 Canadian dollars for permanent shelter support in the country. Cause Canada intends to use funds to construct 60 houses equipped with Kitchens, Latrines and water wells in the villages of Bevehun, Bandama and Waima along the Bo-Kenema Highway.

United Nations Institute of Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) Mission

A two-week mission to Sierra Leone by two representatives from UNIDIR- Dr. Robin Poulton and Dr. Anofloe Ayissi (Specialist in African Security in the UNIDIR) to promote new ideas for Peace and Disarmament ended on 14 November.

The team visited with members of the government, UN Agencies, civil society groups and the press. Dr. Poulton said that if disarmament should continue at a fast pace then, there must be a visible sign that the people can appreciate. He suggested that a 100 weapons should be burnt as a "Smoke of Peace" as a means of building up the confidence of all Sierra Leoneans in the DDR programme. UNDP and the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) are launching the campaign against small arms nation wide.

Government Policy on Displaced Camps

The National Committee for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCRRR) gave a press release on 12 November on behalf of the Government discouraging IDP camps. The Commissioner encouraged all IDPs whose homes are in safe areas to return home and resettle in their homes. Plans are being put in place for the resettlement and reintegration of IDPs after disarmament of ex-combatants.

The NCRRR commended Freetown Cold Storage Company for employing four amputees, stating that this type of positive action is one of the best ways of helping amputees prosper in society. Other private business enterprises and institutions were urged to follow this step.

US Mission to Aid Sierra Leone

The US State Department is funding a mission to rehabilitate victims of war; Charles Ellmaker who left for Guekedou, Guinea on 13 November will head the mission. The mission grant of US$766,000 is for a year and will focus on psychological help for tortured victims. Ellmaker stated that "if torturers no longer get the political benefit that they expected, then that as a weapon becomes useless."

The OCHA/HACU, UN Agencies and International NGO’s also had a visit from Beth Stanford from the OFDA office in Washington and Janet Beik, the Regional Refugee Coordinator from the State Department office in Abidjan. They were here to discuss programs that the US government is funding.

Formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission

On 8 November AFRC called for the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as provided by the Lomé Peace Accord. This commission will form a forum where Sierra Leoneans can tell their stories, express their grievances and identify those who tortured them. The Commission will form an essential part of the peace and reconciliation process, but Chairman Foday Sankoh of the RUF opposes the idea and calls for a blanket amnesty for all crimes.

Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in South Africa

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban, South Africa on 15 November called on all parties to the Lomé Peace Accord to fulfil their commitments to the DDR programme. The communiqué also commended ECOMOG force and expressed support for UNAMSIL.

2. SECURITY

The security situation has not improved since the last sitrep, when a number of incidents were reported that severely impacted on the ability of humanitarian agencies to carry out their activities. Insecurity has also affected the DDR programme in Lungi and Port Loko.

On 8 November riots broke out at the demobilisation camp in Lungi among rebel SLA soldiers. The soldiers were demanding information, an acceleration of the DDR process and payment of monies they claim are owed to them. The ex-SLA looted businesses and personal homes. While the United Nations Military Observers and Government staff were eventually able to restore calm at the camp, tensions remain. Also ex-combatants have threatened DDR staff at the Port Loko centres. This has helped to highlight the necessity of dramatically improving the consistency and quality of the sensitization effort and speeding up the process of providing the benefits to the ex-combatants.

As reported in the Human Rights section below, there continue to be almost daily attacks on civilians in Port Loko district. These primarily consist of raids for food, but abductions and rapes are also frequently reported. These attacks have been followed by an incident involving a vehicle belonging to Children’s Aid Direct (CAD), an International NGO carrying out humanitarian operations in Port Loko district. The occupants of the vehicle, engaged normally in supplementary feeding activities, were stripped, beaten and forced to march into the bush. While they were released the following day, this unacceptable incident has severely jeopardized operations in the area, and will be addressed at the highest levels. This is the first attack on an international aid agency, outside of a combat situation, for over a year.

Insecurity continues to grow in the Kabala area, where RUF armed elements continue to push ex-SLA soldiers from their bases in the North. Many of these soldiers are now in Kabala town, and have informally surrendered their weapons to loyal SLA. Others remain in the outskirts of the town, with their weapons, and have been responsible for some looting. A United Nations mission is planning to go to Kabala this week to highlight the issues there, and recommend on a future course of action.

The Yele-Matotoka road is currently blocked, following disagreements between the CDF and RUF.

A UNAMSIL mission in Segbwema was diverted to Buedu, at the request of Sam Bockarie. Initial reports indicated that the team had been detained, but UNAMSIL officials have since denied this.

Other areas of the country remain quiet, notably in Makeni/Magburaka, where the new command appears to have consolidated its control.

All persons abducted in October near Mange Bridge along the Masiaka highway have been released.

Information that several members of UNAMSIL were detained at Kailahun is false and should be disregarded.

3. HUMANITARIAN HIGHLIGHTS

A. Access

Access to the North has significantly reduced over the last few weeks, primarily due to the lack of secure environment in which to work, threats against agency staff, and the mentioned attack on CAD. Despite a number of pledges and commitments by RUF commanders, looted aid resources have not been returned. Travel and security in most of the northern province still remains a problem, which has limited the amount of humanitarian intervention in the area. With considerable and persistent effort a minimal supply of medical, nutrition and food has been able to reach this area in the past. At this time, conditions do not exist for a significant increase in activity in the Northern Province.

WFP and World Vision International have completed an assessment mission to Kailahun district and hope to start small-scale operation once logistical constraints have been addressed.

B. Sectoral Analysis

Agriculture

FAO delivers fishing equipment to fishing communities

An FAO project is assisting war-affected artisanal fisherman and women groups who are fish processors and marketers in the Western Area, Pujenhun, Bonthe, and Moyamba districts. Some 2000 families are benefiting from the ongoing distribution of project supplies which include fishing boats, outboard engines, fishing nets, kuralon hard cord, ropes, twines, hooks, life jackets, lead in plates, ice machine, insulated containers and fish smoking ovens.

The project also provides training in fish processing and marketing. On 12 November project inputs were delivered to beneficiaries in Tombo, in the Western area. Tombo is considered one of the most important fishing areas in Sierra Leone that suffered the devastation of the war. The distribution was completed on 17 November with distributions to Fogbo and Magmpoh few miles from Waterloo.

CAD agricultural team has provided an additional 1,000 vulnerable farm households in Masimera, Malal and Yoni chiefdoms in the Port Loko and Tonkolili districts with groundnut seeds, cassava, potato vines and farm tools.

International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) have completed agricultural input distribution to 12,226 farm families in Lower Yoni, Kholifa Mabang and Gbonkelenken Chiefdoms in the North. They have also assisted 237 war victims in Mortaim and Morgegba Villages near Grafton with seeds and tools, while Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone (EFSL) is planning to assist with food for agriculture.

Child Protection

Spontaneous releases continue to occur, supported by ECOMOG, Human Rights community, UNAMSIL, and Child Protection Network and rebel groups. On 14 November 52 Child combatants were released at Laia Junction, as well as 6 abductees, 2 babes and 4 children. However, there remain 2,486 children registered as missing in the Western Area since January 1999.

At the St. Michael’s Children’s Centre Lakka west of Freetown there are 152 children (abductees and children associated with the fighting forces) being taken care of by Family Home Improvement (FHM) in collaboration with Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) and UNICEF, prior to fostering or reunification.

National Family Tracing and Reunification October 1999

Western
Area
Northern
Province
Southern
Province
Eastern
Province
TOTAL
Missing CHN Documented
70
-
35
30
135
Missing CHN Reunified
245
-
-
-
245
Found CHN Documented
11
345
99
06
461
Found CHN Reunified
74
05
69
16
164
CHN....Children
Source: UNICEF- Sierra Leone

Western Area Family Tracing And Reunification Update January - October 1999

OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
Missing CHN. Documented (Reg./UAC)
70
4,411
Missing CHN Reunified
245
1,925
Children Still Missing
2,486
Found CHN. Documented (Reg.)
11
584
Found Children Reunified
74
400
CHN. In Interim Centres and Foster Homes
184
Reg.:- Registered
UAC:- Unaccompanied Children
Source: UNICEF -Sierra Leone

Released Children/Abductees- January to October 1999

Western Area
Children Officially released
Northern Area
Children Officially released
Total Number of Children released
MONTH
ECOMOG
AFRC/SLA
ECOMOG
AFRC/SLA
January
-
-
-
-
-
February
40
-
-
-
40
March
55
51
-
-
106
April
05
-
-
-
05
May
01
-
-
-
01
June
02
-
-
-
02
July
10
129
-
-
139
August
04
165
-
52
221
September
03
-
-
76
79
October
19
29
-
217
268
November
-
51
-
-
51
TOTAL
139
425
-
345
912
Official Number of Demobilised child soldiers to date =160
Source: UNICEF -Sierra Leone

Food Aid

On 8 November a caseload of 2,647 Liberian refugees in the Eastern region received their November ratio of food (159bags of bulgur, 159 bags of maize meal and 107 pails of vegetable oil) from WFP.

Discussions in the Committee on Food Aid (CFA) have been focused on expanding access to areas that desperately need assistance. In particular, Makeni and its surrounding towns clearly need support, but security remains uncertain and insufficient to allow for action. However, in the meantime, more information will be sought on the situation in Kabala and Port Loko, and the possible implications for food aid.

Some progress has been reported on the funding for the WFP EMOP set up to acquire food for DDR participants: the Norwegian government has committed US$250,000 in cash, the Swedish are considering an equal sum, and the US agency Food for Peace has committed up to US$1million worth of pulses and oil.

Health and Nutrition

Second Round of National Immunization Days (NID)

The second round of the NID took place between 6-7 November. Vitamin A was given during this round, which plays an important role in the resistance of under five children. This round was considered successful; the teams were able to access most parts of the country including Kono. Oral Polio Vaccine coverage was 85% and 80% coverage of the Vitamin A supplement nationwide.

The causative agent for bloody diarrhea in the Southern Province has been identified in Shigella N. in the Southern Province. The agent is resistant to antibiotics; the MOHS has recommended the use of noladixic acid for serious cases.

Medicins Sans Frontiers Belgium (MSF-B) started operating a mobile clinic on 9 November between Kendeyella site2 and Splendid camp in Bo. This clinic is expected to serve 11,000 IDPs. This clinic will also cover Kendeyella site1 camp.

Lebanese Camp in Kenema continues to receive medical attention from the UNICEF sponsored clinics at the New Police barracks.

Planned Parenthood Association Sierra Leone (PPASL) conducted refresher courses for 75 Community Based Distribution (CBD) agents, 45 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and 15 Mother/Child Health (MCH) Aides in reproductive health, Family Planning and Income Generating skills.

Courses in Soap making and gari processing for 100 women of reproductive age were given. Bumpe, Boama and Jiama Bongor chiefdoms in the Southern Province were the target areas.

CAD continues to support 7 health clinics in Port Loko District with medical supplies, equipment, basic repairs, furniture and incentives for MOH staff. In the first week of November support was extended to an eighth clinic. They continue to implement a Supplementary-feeding Programme for malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women from 8 locations in Port Loko District. The severely malnourished cases are transferred to the Action Contra la Faim (ACF) feeding centre in Freetown. Approximately, 600 children and 500 pregnant women are currently being supported in the programme.

Refugees

UNHCR reports that the current number of Sierra Leonean refugees is 460,000 with 380,000 in Guinea and 80,0000 in Liberia. Of these numbers 173,000 are originally from Kailahun, 28,000 from Kenema and 20,000 from Freetown. Repatriation as planned is unlikely to begin in significant numbers as planned for the beginning of 2000 due to insecurity. However, 3,000 ex-SLA soldiers are expected to return from Liberia in the near future. Fighting along the Makeni-Kabala axis has resulted in the movement of 1,000 civilian’s north into Kabala.

Water and Sanitation

Oxfam has completed 3 showers and 3 laundry facilities at the Kendeyella site 2, and well construction at Tikonko is on going. The maintenance of existing hand pumps has been completed. Repairs on hand pumps and hygiene promotion is ongoing at Gondama in Bo. ACF is installing one submersible pump at their TFC. They have completed 12 blocks of latrines at the Kendeyella site 2. Construction to underway for 6 new latrine blocks and 2 VIP latrines for MSF-B who started running a clinic at the Kendeyella site 2.

Distribution of medicated soap and hygiene promotion at site 1 is ongoing. Construction of hygiene training hall at the site is in progress.

World Vision Sierra Leone (WVSL) has rehabilitated 63 wells in 6 chiefdoms in the Bonthe District, and has installed 40 pumps.

CARE is doing concrete work at various stages on 25 wells in the Moyamba district. Rehabilitation work on 10 existing wells is in progress. 90 latrine slabs have been cast and placed over pits while 79 latrine pits have been excavated and health lessons being taught in the Moyamba District.

OXFAM and ACF will be constructing 6 Latrines each at the Splendid camp after the demobilisation of booths.

C. IDP Updates

Due to the recent attacks in the Port Loko-Lungi-Lunsar axis the number of displaced people has soared with numbers between 8,000-10,000 in Port Loko town. When the security situation allows, the National Technical Committee (NTC), HACU and NCRRR are planning an assessment mission to the area to evaluate needs in food, shelter and water sanitation.

Actionaid has acquired a variety of non-food emergency items for Kambia district and will distribute then as soon as accessibility improves.

African Muslim Agency (AMA) distributed clothing to different areas:

  • Jui refugee camp 55 bales
  • National Workshop 25 bales
  • Jui/Kossoh Town 10 bales
  • AMA centre Kenema 31 bales
  • Representatives of displaced Paramount Chiefs 10 bales

BO

400 booths constructed at Kendeyella site2 have been allocated to IDPs. OXFAM is doing work on the water facility at the camp whilst ACF is taking care of sanitation. Cause Canada has constructed over 700 skeletal booths on site 2 of Kendeyella camp.

KENEMA

OXFAM and MERLIN continue to provide humanitarian assistance in Watsan and Health respectively at Lebanese Camp.

OXFAM and AFRICARE continue to provide health and Watsan facilities for Nyandeyama camp. A 9-man management committee (3 each from Kono, Kailahun and Kenema Districts) has been elected to address IDP concerns.

IRC provided 2 rolls of plastic sheets for roofing the school and a football to children.

The transit centre for abductees at Dauda in Kenema is now complete. 8 booths to house 150 prisoners of war/Abductees. Each shelter is estimated to hold 50 released abductees.

OXFAM has completed 2 toilet structures with 4 squat holes each and 2 laundries and shower sites at Dauda. 1 traditional well has been rehabilitated. The fencing of whole campsite started on 11 November. There are no prisoners/abductees at the site; Agricultural Production Extension and General Services (APEGS) a local NGO has offered to manage the camp.

FREETOWN

  • Amputee Camp: There are presently 1,500 Amputees and family members at the site and 371 war victims. Representatives of the Multi-Donor Mission to Sierra Leone paid a visit to the camp on 9 November to assess their needs. Handicap International are running the prosthetists centre at the camp and have Dave Evans from the Vietnam Veterans Foundation training amputees and other people in the construction of prosthetic limbs for amputees. The camp manager pleaded on behalf of the amputees for donors to assist their return home and help in getting an education.
  • National Stadium: GOAL has moved a total of 4,738 registered IDPs to Grafton. There remains 240 unregistered IDPs and 55 polio and leprosy victims at the stadium that need to be moved to some other location; the matter has been referred to NCRRR.
  • Parade Grounds: The monthly food distribution by WFP has been completed; 26 cartoons of vegetable oil, 138 bags of bulgur and 58 bags of peas for 764 IDPs.
  • Mandela Camp: Monthly food distribution by WFP has been completed for 434 IDPs.
  • National Workshop: On 16 November UNICEF immunized children against measles. There are still illegal occupants at the camp, which is creating a problem for the legal occupants.
  • Trade Centre: EFSL has disinfected all sheds and toilets against bed bugs. CHASL is planning a micro-credit program at the camp for single mothers and orphans.
  • Approved School: The International Islamic Relief Organisation (IIRO) is planning on phasing out camp management at Approved School by December 1999.
  • Grafton: There are a total of 10,710 IDPs at Grafton who need to be verified. GOAL is having some problems in doing this and this is causing a delay for food distribution at the camp.
  • Waterloo: ADRA hopes to complete the booths for IDPs staying at the make shift in Waterloo and have them moved out. ADRA is still under-going problems with abductees at the transit centre especially with food as is appealing to WFP to help out in this regard.

4. DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILISATION AND REINTERGRATION (DDR)

Status Report: Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration of Ex-Combatants

Location of demobilisation Centre
Assigned groups for centres
Fully operational
Ready for Use
No. of Ex-combatants
Registered
Lungi
RUF
CDF
AFRC
CHILD
Yes
0
0
63
7
Port Loko
RUF
CDF
AFRC
CHILD
Yes
Yes
90
372
262
5
Hastings
RUF
CDF
AFRC
CHILD
Yes
Yes
2
24
168
70
Kenema
RUF
CDF
AFRC
CHILD
Yes
Yes
1
81
0
14
Daru
RUF
Yes
Yes
Source: UNAMSIL - Sierra Leone

There are a total of 1,063 ex-combatants at the various centres around the country.

Lt. Col. Johnny Paul Koroma has visited field commanders in the Okra hills and asked them to register for the DDR programme. He assured them that there were provisions for them to join the new army, however it was important that they give up their weapons by 15 December the end of the disarmament period. In this same light Chairman Sankoh sensitized his men in Makeni and Kailahun about the importance of the DDR programme. He urged his men to turn away from war and work towards peace.

The demobilisation site at Daru continues to remain empty contrary to some reports.

5. HUMAN RIGHTS

There have been repeated reports of human rights abuses of civilians by former rebel elements. There have been daily reports of attacks on villages, and associated rape, abduction, looting, and various forms of intimidation. These incidents are reported to be more prevalent in the Port Loko - Lungi axis. Also, civilians continued to be levied with taxes and general harassment in RUF controlled areas as well as in Bo and Northwest area by CDF elements.

Amnesty International called upon Commonwealth member states to help restore good governance, the rule of Law, and respect of human rights in Sierra Leone. In order to end human rights abuses effective implementation of the peace accord has to take place. This can only be effective with a strong commitment from the international community. They recommend support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in investigating human rights abuses. Recommendations are also made that those helping to bring peace in the region be properly trained about international human rights and humanitarian law.

13 Walpole Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: +232 22 227759/227764, Fax: 228720, E-mail: rpainter@sierratel.sl/aeziaki@hotmail.com

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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