Sierra Leone + 3 more

Sierra Leone: Humanitarian Situation Report, May 2003

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Situation Report
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Originally published


SECURITY HIGHLIGHTS
According to UNAMSIL, the security situation across the country, including border areas, remained calm and stable during the reporting period.

UN Peacekeeping day celebrated

United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sierra Leone joined their counterparts the world all over to celebrate the International Day of the UN Peacekeepers on 29 May.

The ceremony was held at the National Stadium attended by the Vice President Hon. Solomon Berewa, the UN Resident Coordinator and Deputy SRSG Mr. Alan Doss, the UN Force Commander, General Opande, and other dignitaries. The day was celebrated to commemorate the activities of the UN Peacekeepers in the world.

The Vice President, Mr. Doss and the UN Force Commander paid special tributes to those peacekeepers that had lost their lives on Mission in Sierra Leone. The occasion saw the parade of the forces and was climaxed by the laying of wreaths by the above dignitaries.

UNAMSIL draw down on troops in Sierra Leone

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone embarked on phase II of their draw down plan in the country. The UNAMSIL force of 17,500 troops has gradually drawn down to 13,000 troops. The troop level will remain static until late August when the next phase of drawdown will commence. The drawdown plan as authorised by the Security Council will end next year December.

In addition to other strategic plans put in place, the SLP and the RSLAF have been deployed to areas that UNAMSIL troops have left. Two force reserve units are based in Lungi and Masiaka for emergency response should there be a problem anywhere in the country that would require their urgent intervention. The peacekeeping force will involve the SLP and RSLAF in an emergency response exercise in Pujehun and Zimmi in Southern Sierra Leone. Under exercise "Diamond Ring" the use of the helicopter gunship will enhance the forces emergency response capacity should the need arise.

New inspector general of police approved

Parliament approved the nomination of Mr. Brima Acha Kamara as Inspector-General of Police on Wednesday May 15th. Mr. Kamara succeeds the British national, Keith Biddle, whose contract ends at the end of the month.

UNAMSIL- strengthening UN peacekeeping capacity

The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) held a three-day conference on the future of UN peacekeeping at the headquarters of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone. The meeting the first of its kind brought together the world body and the troop contributing countries (TCCs).

In his opening remarks, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji thanked the contributing countries and strategic partners for their contributions, which has brought peace to Sierra Leone. He highlighted the aims of the conference to improve the operational readiness of the African infantry battalions in the UNAMSIL, enhance the implementation of the UN Security Council mandate in Sierra Leone, and identify steps to continue improving cooperation between the UN's DPKO and troop-contributing countries in the provision of logistics.

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Sierra Leone opens oil bids

The Sierra Leone government's Oil Exploration Bid Evaluation Committee opened its first bids on Friday 30 May at the State House in Freetown. Bids were invited from companies interested in exploring for oil in the country's coastal waters. The committee, headed by Vice President Solomon Berewa, from now until mid-July will have to consider bids from three companies: Repsol YPF of Spain, 8 Investment Inc. of the United States, and Oranto Petroleum Sierra Leone Ltd. During the bid opening the Vice President said he hoped the results of the exploration would be positive to help the country get out of the woods financially and pledged that the entire process would remain transparent and open.

ECOWAS to create a rapid response military force for the region

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) security committee has decided to create a rapid response military force to tackle conflicts in the region. It also agreed to send more peacekeeping troops to crisis-torn Cote d'Ivoire, according to IRIN news.

At a meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, attended by the leaders of Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal on 28 May, it was resolved that the rapid deployment force would work through the activation of "standby units within the armed forces of member states." The leaders articulated a sub-regional policy towards maintaining peace and security in West Africa. The framework of the policy includes strict compliance with the ECOWAS moratorium on the manufacture, export and import of light weapons and small arms to accord with UN and African Union provisions. Additional troops to be sent to Cote d'Ivoire will meet the expanded mandate of the ECOWAS mission in that country.

ECOWAS already has 1,200 peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire. Alongside 4,000 French soldiers, the peacekeepers are policing a fragile ceasefire since a failed coup on 19 September pushed the country into civil war. The UN too is preparing to send military observers there. The creation of a rapid response force by ECOWAS aims to institutionalise structures for maintaining peace and security in the region

Joint Regional Humanitarian Field Review

A Joint Regional Humanitarian Field Review composed of UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, OCHA, IOM, MSF, Save the Children, Oxfam and donor representatives from the US, UK, Sweden and ECHO will visit Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone on 22 June to 2 July. The Field Review aims to broadly define core humanitarian objectives by looking at, among other things, parameters of humanitarian response and protection required in the countries and their sub-regional linkages addressing, in particular, gaps in funding, capacity, as well as cross-cutting issues such as threats to civilian populations and humanitarian workers, access, advocacy and cross-border operational issues.

The UN Security Council reschedules its trip to West Africa

The United Nations Security Council has rescheduled its mission to West Africa for the 29th June - 5th July, tentatively. The mission will visit Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, seeking to explore new opportunities for progress towards peace and stability in the sub region. The tentative date of arrival in Sierra Leone is 3 July.

Cabinet held in Kenema

Sierra Leone's Government Cabinet met in Kenema 14 - 15 May as part of an initiative to make rural people feel part of their government. During their stay in Kenema, the cabinet had meetings with the paramount chiefs and dignitaries of the Eastern Region. The ministers took the opportunity to convey their achievements, future plans and constrains to the people while the local dignitaries also communicated their pressing needs to the government officials. It is hoped that the government officials having got first hand information from the people will be equipped to make realistic policies for the sustainable development of the region and nation at large.

This is the first time that the cabinet met out of the capital city, Freetown. Future cabinet meetings are planned for the other provincial capitals on a quarterly basis, according to the President.

New Sierra Leonean ambassador to the USA

Ambassador Ibrahim M'baba Kamara officially took up his post as the Ambassador to the United States on Thursday 15 may 2003. Kamara formerly served as Sierra Leone's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He succeeds former Ambassador John Leigh, who left the post last year.

UNHCR high Commissioner in Sierra Leone

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, made an eight-day mission to five West Africa states 10 - 17 May. In Liberia, Lubbers met with Sierra Leonean refugees on the outskirts of the Liberian capital Monrovia during which he urged them to return home. The refugees expressed their desire to return home but feared prosecution for war crimes.

Lubbers arrived in Sierra Leone on 12 May for a three-day visit. He met with President Kabbah in Kenema, during which he urged the President to continue to support the return of Sierra Leonean refugees from neighbouring countries. While in Kenema, he also met with Liberian refugee women at the Tobanda Refugee Camp. Later, in Koidu, he visited the Alladura Primary School for returned refugee children from Guinea, and a settlement of amputees.

The High Commissioner called post-war Sierra Leone "an island of stability" in the midst of a still chaotic region, as he spoke to reporters in Freetown at the end of his three-day visit to the country. He noted considerable improvement in Sierra Leone compared to when he last visited the country over two years ago. In his press conference on Friday 14 May, Lubbers said he was concerned about the substantial number of refugees coming in from Liberia. There are currently some 70,000 Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone, and the High Commissioner said it was important to see that the number did not rise.

Sierra Leone Special Court

Special Court indicts more

The special court for Sierra Leone on Thursday 28 May indicted Brima "Bazzy" Kamara a former senior commander of both the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the West Side Boys making him the ninth person to be indicted by the court.

According to the Court, Kamara was taken into custody two days earlier and has been indicted for bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. He will make his initial appearance before the Court first week in June.

Two affiliates of the CDF, Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa, have also been provisionally detained under a court rule that allows suspects to be held for up to 30 days before being formally charged.

Those previously indicted by the Court are: Foday Sankoh, Issa Sessay, the late Sam Bockarie, Morris Kallon, Augustine Gbao, Johnny Paul Koroma, Alex Tamba Brima, and Samuel Hinga Norman. Seven of those individuals are in custody. Bockarie was killed in early May in neighbouring Liberia while Koroma remains at large.

Sankoh to be hospitalised

Former RUF leader Foday Sankoh's health is reported to have deteriorated to the extent that he may not be fit to stand trial before Sierra Leone's war crimes tribunal. The Special Court's doctor, Donald Harding told the BBC that the rebel leader was paralysed and unable to speak, but that his condition remained stable, receiving treatment and added that he is not at death's door. Harding acknowledged that Sankoh would be unable to get the medical attention he needed in Sierra Leone, and that there were already plans to take him to an undisclosed third country for an assessment of his mental capabilities.

Norman on hunger strike

Former Internal Affairs Minister Sam Hinga Norman, who has been indicted for war crimes allegedly committed by his Kamajor militia during Sierra Leone's civil war, is reported to be on hunger strike in his efforts to draw local and international attention to his plight. His relatives and supporters have accused the court of holding him in conditions so poor as to violate his human rights. The court however, denies the charges. Harding said Norman was drinking fruit juice and water, and that despite the hunger strike he was still in good health. He also denied allegations that the former minister was being kept in a mosquito-infested cell disclosing that the cells are sprayed regularly.

Liberia finally hands over the remains of Ex-rebel leader Sam Bockarie to Sierra Leone Government

The remains of former field commander Sam Bockarie commonly known as Maskita, arrived at the Lungi International Airport in Freetown on Sunday 1 June, nearly a month after his violent death, and hours after the government in Monrovia handed his corpse over to Sierra Leone's Ambassador to Liberia, Sierra News reports. The Sierra Leonean authorities in turn have handed the body over to Sierra Leone's Special Court, where prosecutors want to perform forensic tests to make sure that the remains are actually those of the former rebel warlord.

The Liberian government handed over the body of the former rebel commando after persistent pressure on them, from the Prosecutor of Sierra Leone's Special Court, and the Sierra Leone government, that Liberia delivers the body for proper identification and proof. The Sierra Leone's Ambassador to Liberia had also written to Liberia's Foreign Ministry asking the authorities to confirm or deny the deaths of members of Bockarie's family, who were also claimed to be killed by the Liberian government in order to prevent a possible DNA test for proper identification of Bockarie's corpse.

On 6 May, the Liberia Government reported that ex-rebel leader Sam Bockarie was killed on Monday 5 May at the Liberia- Ivory Coast border town of Bin-Houye during an apparent attempt by Liberian authorities to arrest him. The body was conveyed to a Liberian mortuary where the Sierra Leone ambassador to Liberia Mr Patrick Fohya officially identified the corpse.

There court holds that Mr Bockarie was killed to prevent him giving damning evidence about regional figures and the role of the Liberian President Charles Taylor in the regional conflict at the tribunal. In another development the LURD Rebels of Liberia also claim to have killed Bockarie during a battle encounter.

Meanwhile the Special Court prosecutor demands that Charles Taylor arrests and hand over former AFRC junta leader Johnny Paul Koroma, whom the allege is commanding a contingent of Taylors security forces in the Liberian town of Foya Kamala. The Liberian Government denies that Koroma is in Liberia.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

TRC holds thematic hearings

Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Commission held "thematic hearings" in Freetown on the abuses suffered by women and girls during Sierra Leone's civil war. Kenyan lawyer Binaifer Nowrojee, flew in from the U.S. city of Boston on behalf of a consortium of human rights groups known as the Coalition for Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations, to give testimonies, according to Sierra News. After her testimony, Nowrojee told the BBC that violence against women was not just incidental to the conflict, but was routinely used as a tool of war. "Sexual violence was used in a widespread and systematic way as a weapon of conflict in the Sierra Leonean war, and women were raped in extraordinarily brutal ways," she said.

The TRC also officially held thematic hearings in Kailahun, Kabala and Makeni.

SUBREGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

LIBERIA

LURD rebels in Sierra Leone on peace talks in Liberia

The ECOWAS-appointed mediator, former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar held peace talks aimed at ending Liberia's civil war, with the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), one of the country's two rebel movements, in Sierra Leone on Monday 26 May. However, the second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), which has seized much of eastern Liberia in recent weeks, failed to show up.

According to ReliefWeb, the retired army general said his talks with LURD went well in the sense that they gave him their demands on what they think is wrong with Liberia and what the government should do to allow peace. Abubakar stressed on the need for a ceasefire to ensue a peace talk between the factions. LURD had requested that an international stabilisation force be sent to Liberia to ensure that any truce agreed was not violated. Direct talks between the rebels and the government are expected to take place June 4 in Accra, Ghana and the other rebel group, MODEL are expected to be present.

UN renews sanctions on Liberia

The United Nations Security Council on May 6th renewed sanctions against Liberia, extending the measures to include a ban on timber exports in addition to existing arms and diamond embargoes. The ban is extended against the background that Liberia government continues to give active support to rebel groups that are having a destabilizing effect on West Africa.

Existing sanctions consist of a weapons embargo, measures against the export of its rough diamonds and travel restrictions on senior government members, according to resolution 1343 (2001). The Council stressed its readiness, however, to grant exemptions from travel restrictions in cases of travel that would assist in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the sub-region.

The Council also decided that the measures it took would be terminated immediately if the Council based on information received from various sources, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), determined Liberia's Government had complied with its demands.

Ruud Lubbers UNHCR High Commissioner calls for peace plan for Liberia

Ruud Lubbers, the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, after his visit to Liberia called on the international community to come up with an effective peace plan for Liberia in the light of a civil war that has dogged the country ever since Taylor launched a rebellion in 1989 that eventually brought him to power. He strongly urged all the warring parties to stop fighting before the humanitarian situation got "out of hand."

Marc Destinne de Bernis, the UN resident coordinator in Liberia, said recently that following advances by two rebel movements fighting Taylor's government, relief agencies were no longer able to operate in more than 70 percent of the country.

GUINEA

According to OCHA Guinea, the security situation remains tense in and around Nzérékoré and humanitarian workers are advised to stay indoors from 23:00 to 06:00.

In Conakry, the erratic and limited provision of water and electricity continues, further affecting the safety and security of residents. Electricity and water have mostly been delivered to the centre of the city while most people live in areas away from town where such basic services have been interrupted for up to 20 days.

IVORY COAST

West African leaders call for peace in Cote d'ivoire and Liberia

West African leaders on 29 Tuesday April, urged the Security Council to help ensure peace in Cote d'voire when the UN Security Council met with high-level delegate from West Africa. The UN Sec Gen also appealed to the Council for financial and logistical support needed for the West African Peace keeping force to continue its role in Cote d'voire. The West African delegates also called for attention for a solution to the Liberian crisis.

DONOR UPDATES

The World Bank approves thirty million dollars credit for Sierra Leone's poverty reduction strategy

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors on 20 May approved a $30 million IDA credit to support the Government of Sierra Leone's poverty reduction through improved governance and economic growth, according to ReliefWeb.

This credit referred to as the third Economic Rehabilitation and Recovery Credit (ERRC III), complements support by the African Development Bank, Department for International Development, European Union, and the International Monetary Fund. The fund is meant to help consolidate progress made in governance, improved management of public resources, further decentralization of the government empowering local agencies to manage the delivery of basic services throughout the country, support the Government's institutional and policy reform agenda to stimulate economic growth by establishing an enabling environment for private sector-led investment and maintaining fiscal discipline. ERRC III will also allow the import of essential commodities, including food products, petroleum products, the raw materials and intermediate goods required for economic reconstruction and rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure throughout the country.

The 4R review

A senior team composed of UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, ILO and the World Bank visited Sierra Leone on the 22 to 27 May to review the 4R (repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction) process. The review looked at the 4R within the broader transition and recovery context taking into account the tools used in Sierra Leone, including the National Recovery Strategy, the UN Recovery and Peace Building Strategy, the Inter Agency Appeal for Peace, Relief and Recovery and the UNDAF. The team held series of meetings with government officials, the NCDDR, UN Country Team (UNCT) and visited Kono, Kailahun and Kambia districts to review integrated responses at different stages of the recovery.

The 4R process is a tool to develop better models of transition from relief to recovery, with a specific focus on return and sustainable reintegration of refugees and other displaced populations. Sierra Leone was one of the four countries selected to pilot the 4Rs approach.

USA aid to SLP

The United States made the commitment to provide more than $40,000 to improve the capacity of Sierra Leone's police force, in an agreement signed by U.S. Ambassador Peter Chaveas and police Inspector-General Keith Biddle on Monday 5 May. In this agreement the two countries agreed to set up and support a joint project aimed at strengthening the police force's ability to manage crises and provide security protection. In addition, Sierra Leonean law officers will receive training and instruction from U.S. government technical advisors through scholarships, fellowships and participant training.

British Government aids RSLAF

The British Government donated 1.9 million pound to the Sierra Leone Government as a contribution towards implementing a housing programme for the RSLAF.

SECTORAL HIGHLIGHTS

AGRICULTURE

FAO/MAFFS hold symposium on operationalizng the right to food in Sierra Leone

The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security on 19-21 May held a three-day symposium on Operationalizing the "Right to Food" in Sierra Leone.

The FAO is working towards embedding the concept of the "Right to Food" in Sierra Leone. Both FAO and GOSL had undertaken studies aimed at developing a better understanding of the nature, incidence and underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition, as well as existing coping strategies and their effectiveness in the country. The symposium aims to draft appropriate legislation, linking the right to food approach into national poverty reduction strategies and the design of supporting programmes.

His Excellency President Kabba including the Minister of AFFS, senior members of the ministry, representatives of FAO, WFP, OCHA, WORLD BANK, and various INGOs and NGOs in related agricultural sectors opened the symposium. The reports of the symposium would be released later.

CRS farmer support to Agricultural

Selection of farmers for support from CRS in 2003 has been completed. In total 4,972 farm families have been provided support for rice interventions and 500 women for groundnut farming.

The CRS agriculture team is also currently conducting seeds and tools fairs: 14 fairs covering four chiefdoms in Kailahun district and 17 fairs covering six chiefdoms in Koinadugu district. Four staff from CRS and its partner CES are participating in a farmers field school training session to acquire skills for extension services delivery.

Presentation of the FAO/MAFFS 2002 chiefdom vulnerability assessment and crop survey report

The report of the FAO/MAFFS 2002 vulnerability assessment and crop survey was officially presented at the Bintumani Hotel on 6 May. The main aim of the survey was to identify vulnerable farm families for targeting of agricultural relief programmes and to also identify pockets at risk of malnutrition for targeting of integrated nutrition programmes.

The report now released to the public is meant to give donors, government and development agencies a guide to realistic policies, projects and programmes for agricultural interventions in the country.

FAO distributes seeds to farmers in the refugee camps

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) completed the distribution of groundnut and upland rice seeds in all eight camps. The FAO project coordinator and the UNHCR Protection Officer met with approximately 200 refugees to organize a plan to distribute surplus upland seeds and to prepare for possible distributions of vegetable and swamp rice seeds.

CARE donates seeds to farmers in Jembe camp

CARE has donated groundnut and seed rice to farmers in Jembe (Camp and Host communities). In Gerihun, CARE met with Executive, Camp Management Agriculture Committee on the 15 May 2003 and sensitised refugee farm farmers on the standard package designed by FAO.

Concern Worldwide gives seeds to farmers in Mabang Chiefdom

Concern Worldwide distributed rice seed and groundnut to needy farmers in Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom. They intend to do a detailed assessment in June to identify the most marginalized farm families in an effort to target this group.

EDUCATION

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) supports education in Kailahun

NRC distributed plastic sandals and used clothing to primary school children in Kailahun as a move to encourage them improve on school attendance. They also held a one-day workshop for CREP teachers in Kono, Kambia and Kambia on basis teaching knowledge to up grade the standard of the untrained teachers.

UNHCR holds Regional Education workshop

UNHCR together with International Rescue Committee organised a four-day (27-30 May) regional workshop on regional educational needs. Representatives from UNICEF, World Bank, Norwagian Refugee Council (NRC) and, Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) attended the workshop. The objective of the workshop was to identify and analyse priority issues on education that are common to the. The workshop provided an opportunity to share lessons learned and good practices on education programme management and to formulate concrete action plans to improve education plans in the region from 2003-2005. It also identified ways to improve the competence and skills of staff that are involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of education activities and to strengthen teamwork and networking in the region.

CRS assesses schools for rehabilitation in the Western Area

In conjunction with ADDO, four schools in the Western Area were assessed for rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation of Basic Education Project (REBEP). The CRS team also met with service providers for clarifications on the teacher-training component of the REBEP.

Concern Worldwide completes school construction in Yoni

Concern Worldwide completed the construction of one primary school in Yoni Chiefdom (Mathibo) and will hand it over to the community in June. The constructions of three primary schools in Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom are to commence in June.

HEALTH

SARS emergency unit in Lungi Airport

Sierra Leone joins the world in the prevention of the spread of the recently discovered dreadful disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) by holding an education meeting with the Sierra Leone National Airline staff and establishing an emergency unit at Lungi.

UNHCR tests anti-malaria sheeting in refugee camps

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is providing insecticide-treated plastic sheeting to two refugee camps in southern Sierra Leone in a bid to fight malaria among refugees. More than 16,000 refugees in Largo and Tobanda camps are using the new sheeting designed to provide shelter as well as protection from malaria and other vector-borne diseases. Participating families are given six pieces of plastic sheeting each, which they put up inside their shelters. Families in one section of the camps receive insecticide-treated sheeting, while others receive normal ones. Over the next six to 12 months, all participating refugees will be examined regularly for signs of malaria or other diseases, and given treatment where necessary.

Lassa fever

UNHCR reported that the Lassa fever outbreak in the refugee camps has reduced in intensity and is not as alarming as initially indicated by the WHO report. For the registration exercise all participants were sensitised on the disease and necessary precautions.

Concern Worldwide provides health support

Concern Worldwide has completed a new clinic in Mabang village. The Health Post at Kumrabai Mamilla has been refurbished, staffed and open for business. The mobile clinic continues in the Chiefdom. Training and refresher training has taken place for BFVs and TBAs in the chiefdom. Concern also continues to support the Health post in Mabella, East Freetown with drugs and training.

The deaf and dumb call for welfare assistant

The parent and teachers of the school for the deaf and dumb school at Wilkinson road in Freetown called on the president to express their dissatisfaction over the neglect and discrimination by the public of the deaf and dumb particularly those attending school. They were dissatisfied with discriminated on public transport while commuting to public schools, and denied access to public schools. Other constraint noted were poor bordering facilities, lack of transport and training facilities for the teachers particularly in the area of signs. The President in reply expressed his dismay over the discriminations of these people emphasising that they too like any other Sierra Leonean, had their rights.

SHELTER

Norwegian Refugee Council support housing for Amputee/war wounded

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) completed the construction of seven houses in the Wara-Wara Yagala Chiefdom and three houses in Fadugu in the Kassunko Chiefdom in Kabala. Koinadugu district for the resettlement of the amputees and war wounded.

CRS shelter support

In Koinadugu, CRS housing reconstruction projects are ongoing in all target communities (Kondenbaia, Fadugu, Mongo Bendugu, Lengekoro and Kafogo) with 250 out of 400 houses roofed. In Kailahun housing reconstruction activities are nearing completion with 470 houses completed. Construction of community structures in Nyaniahun Buyama, Bombohun, Jokibu and Siama is in progress, as it is in Foredugu, Rogbere and Makiteh. In Grafton construction activities are ongoing with 8 houses already roofed and 20 homeowners ready to receive roofing materials by the end of the month.In Largo Camp, according to UNHCR, the camp management constructed nine new community transit booths and a total of 180 refugees were relocated from the reception centre to these communal booths.

REFUFEES

Refugee health in camps

In Gerihun, 867 (13%) refugees out of a camp population of 6,831 reported at the clinic for medical attention. Malaria was the most common health problem reported by refugees. One suspected Lassa fever case was identified in Jimmi Bagbo camp. In Tobanda Camp, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative attended the weekly co-ordination meeting. His mission was to acquaint himself with partners in the camp and to have first hand information on the Primary Health Services provided in the camp.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to reduce housing congestion in Jembe Camp

NRC has currently embarked on a housing renovation project in Jembe Camp, repairing and replacing aging and congested housing stock and, ensuring the 16 houses per community standard is maintained in the camp.

UNHCR/GOSL undertakes refugee census

The UNHCR and the Government of Sierra Leone (NaCSA) undertook a refugee census on 19 -21 May 2003. The census covered all eight refugee camps in the country and the urban refugee populations in Kenema, Bo and Freetown. The exercise saw the mobilization of about 800 people, including UNHCR staff from Freetown and various field offices, partner agencies, UNAMSIL and MILOBS. In phases 1 and 2, the overall refugee population per location was counted and categorised by family, uniform food/NFI ration cards with UNHCR/WFP logos were issued to deserving beneficiaries in the camps. The registration will ensure better protection and assistance to refugees.

The Phase 3 has commenced in the Kenema, Bo townships and Largo and Gondama camps. This phase aims at collecting more detailed and accurate data on each refugee family


Statistics and Update on Refugees prior to verification

Camp
Population
Bandajuma
6,074
Gerehun
6,831
Gondama
9,061
Jembe
6,954
Jimmy Gbagbo
6,515
Largo
7,031
Taiima
7,540
Tobanda
4,471
Total
54,741


REPATRIATION

Repatriation of returnees

According to UNHCR, four convoys arrived through Belu in the reporting period repatriating altogether 1,058 individuals. UNHCR assisted a number of returnees to reach five drop?off points along the Daru?Kenema?Bo axis. A few very vulnerable returnees including pregnant women, physically disabled and unaccompanied elders were provided ad hoc transportation from the way station up to their final destinations.

So far, a total of 9,574 individuals have been repatriated to Sierra Leone through Belu since the causeway was inaugurated on 4 April. The construction of booths in the way station's extension continues.

Shipping operations from Liberia

Shipping operations from Liberia to Sierra Leone started 10 May with repatriation twice a week with 250 returnees/ship.

Air repatriation from Monrovia

The costly air repatriation from Monrovia has been suspended after more than 900 Sierra Leoneans were air lifted back home. This measure was adapted as an emergency rescue when fighting raged around the Liberian Capital in February.

FOOD AID

CRS support for food security

CRS carried out VGF to assist people affected by fires in two villages in Pujehun District. In Tongo, CRS is responding to a request for FFW assistance to assist ex-combatants evicted from dwellings. They have received plastic sheets from LWF to rehabilitate derelict structures or construct new ones. CRS will also provide VGF to TB patients in Panguma Hospital.

WFP/UNHCR/ NaCSA sensitised camps on change of food ration.

WFP Sub offices in collaboration with camp managements, GoSL (NaCSA) and UNHCR undertook a sensitization exercise in all refugee camps regarding the change in the May cereal ration from bulgur wheat to maize meal.

WFP in refugee camp census

WFP participated in the May 19 -21 refugee camp census in Kenema, Bo and Moyamba districts by having food aid monitors and supervisors on the ground in all camps. It is anticipated that the over all case load could be reduced.

WFP gives food aid to Liberian Refugees at the Bo hospital

Due to an on-going strike action by staff in the Bo Government hospital early May, a ten-day ration was issued to SL Red Cross Society and to UNHCR to effect cooking for Liberian refugees admitted to the hospital. A total of .33 MT was issued for 50 beneficiaries.

Wet feeding for returnees

For the repatriation convoy movement via the Kambia/Port Loko axis for those Sierra Leoneans returning to Kono and other locations other than Kailahun, WFP provided wet feeding at the Port Loko way station for approximately 3000 people.

WFP support countrywide

Countrywide, WFP supported a total of 160,386 beneficiaries (78,605 female) with 1302 MT of food this month, distribution as follows:

  • Vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programmes (refugees, resettlement, returnees and institutions) supported 34,264 beneficiaries (17,833 female) with 919 MT of food,

  • The Therapeutic Feeding Centres, Supplementary Feeding and, Mother and Child Health Programmes (TFC/SFP/MCH) provided 71 MT of food to 9,880 beneficiaries comprising under-fives, pregnant women, lactating mothers and TFC caretakers

  • The Emergency School Feeding (ESF) Programme supported 109,505 school children with 245 MT of food,

  • Food for training supported 4,018 beneficiaries with 27 MT of food,

  • Safety net institutional feeding provided 37 MT of food to 2.719 beneficiaries ((1,418 female).

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS report for Sierra Leone

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) released the final report on HIV/AIDS Seroprevalence and Behavorial Risk Factors in Sierra Leone. The results of report indicated a difference in the HIV seroprevalence rate for persons 12-49 years, from the results of the previous survey. It is therefore proposed that a new survey be conducted.

US embassy donates condoms

The American embassy donated $75,000 worth of condoms in support of a programme to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone. The money will be channelled through the US Agency for International Development, and the programme will be administered by the aid agency CARE. CARE is to start the programme on 1 June by retailing the condoms at low cost, target persons of reproductive age (15-49 years old) in the Western Area and later reaching out to the provinces.

CARE on HIV/AIDS sensitisation

CARE held a sensitisation meeting with CCSL and Council of Imams on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. They are also to start a radio discussion programme with Talking Drum on Radio UNAMSIL on a weekly basis.

National strategic planning for HIV

International and local consultants have been identified for the development of a national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone. The development of a national policy guideline for HIV programme implementation and voluntary confidential test programmes are also underway.

UNICEF trains religious leaders on HIV/AIDS education

UNICEF in collaboration with the National AIDS Secretariat completed the training and development of training material with religious leaders in Freetown.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE

CCSEA working group conducts sexual exploitation prevention workshop

The coordination committee for the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (CCSEA) working group conducted two Centralized Sexual Exploitation Prevention workshops in Freetown. A total of 27 individuals from 14 different organizations, including two donor organizations, were involved. The responses to the workshops were very positive.

Procedural working group

The draft of HR Manual II has been circulated to the wider CCSEA body and is waiting for comments prior to finalization and distribution to all I/NGOs, UN Agencies, Donors and Line Ministries.

Community Working Group

Two UNICEF consultants came to Sierra Leone to present two manuals on a reporting mechanism for the above to relevant stakeholders for approval. Although several concerns were raised, including the absence of comprehensive references or tools for humanitarian aid worker abuses, the stakeholders accepted the documents. The consultants agreed to refine the documents to have a clearer reflection of the realities of Sierra Leone and incorporate the historical initiatives of the CCSEA in the implementation manuals. They will return in August to conduct training on this system.

Protection of Civilians Workshop in Accra, Ghana

OCHA NY, in collaboration with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria and the African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), organized a workshop in Accra, Ghana on 19-21 May 2003, on the protection of civilians in conflict situations. Participants were from 13 West African countries including representatives of the regional organizations of ECOWAS, PCASED, AU and ECOMOG.

The objectives of the workshop were: to familiarize participants with humanitarian challenges that arise during armed conflicts, to provide an opportunity for participants to work through a crisis scenario exercise and apply potential protection measures, to identify strategies for mainstreaming acquired knowledge within national and regional decision-making structures, to set priorities for follow-up action, and develop regional recommendations to feed into the Secretary-General's next report to the Security Council on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (June 2004).

It was emphasized through the workshop that individual States had the ultimate responsibility in the protection of civilians, ensuring that particularly military forces followed Human Rights Instruments. Additionally, it was stressed that the instability in the region due to one country's support of another country's rebel faction increased the risk to civilians. The representative from OCHA Sierra Leone presented a paper on sexual exploitation and abuse.

UN Gender Focal Points

Initial meetings were held with several of the UN Gender Focal Points to ensure that Sexual Exploitation and Abuse prevention are included in the Gender action plan.

Camp management toolkit

The first draft of the Gender / SGBV chapter of the Camp Management tool kit has been completed and distributed for comment. UNHCR, OXFAM, WFP, IRC, Bo Pujehun Development Association, and NRC assisted in the drafting of the chapter.

WFP conducts SGBV sensitization

A gender/SGBV sensitization activity was conducted by WFP in Jimmy Bagbo and Bandajuma refugee camps in the southern district of Bo.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Amnesty International commends Sierra Leone Human Rights situation

The latest report of Amnesty International states that Sierra Leone's human rights situation improved significantly during 2003. The report cited the end of a decade of civil war and progress made towards addressing abuses inflicted by both sides in the conflict. However, the report also highlighted the need for progress in strengthening the justice system and the promotion and protection of human rights. The report also noted that the court proceedings last year against Foday Sankoh and some 100 other persons on murder and related offences "were repeatedly postponed and international standards of fair trial were not met." In addition, 20 other members of the former armed opposition were held without charge or trial.

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

OCHA Sierra Leone encyclopaedia

The CD-ROM Encyclopaedia of Sierra Leone 2002/3 containing information and data on Sierra Leone that was completed in April was officially launched at OCHA on the 8 May. Heads of various agencies, organisation and government ministries attended the launching where the essence of the encyclopaedia for all in information sharing and promotion of development work in the various sectors was elaborated on. Over 350 of the disks have been released and more are to be produced for a wider circulation.

Second NRS monitoring forms distributed

OCHA in preparing for the second data collection exercise of the NRC distributed fifteen monitoring forms covering the various sectors to each DRC to be completed. The completed forms would be used by SLIS to update the data pack for the various sectors in each district.

In another development a planning session was held on DRC data collection exercise with all UNAMSIL civil affairs and OCHA field staffs on the 30th May. The session was meant to strengthen participants in supporting the DRC in their monitoring capacities.

SLIS and UNAMSIL MILOBS on health care data collection

SLIS and the UNAMSIL Military Observers (MILOBS) are collaborating on data collection in health care analysis. The observers are now collecting GPS coordinates for all the health facilities in the country to help SLIS in their health analysis.

The 3W Initiative

SLIS and key NGO partners tested the WHO, WHERE, WHAT (3W) database on 30 May. The final data will be sent out to all UN agencies, donors and GOSL to identify projects and village interventions.

Development partners meeting

The second development partners' meeting was held at Mamba Point in Freetown on May 20th. Key issues discussed included the exit strategy of the DDR, progress in the development of the PRSP, Multi donor framework, mining and infrastructure sector.

REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

SOUTHERN REGION

Security

The southern region remained calm during the month. However, the period witnessed the scaling down of UMAMSIL troops and the deployment of additional SLP personnel.

Recruitment of RSLAF

Preparations for the recruitment of candidates into the RSLAF from the southern region were also effected with the assistance of the traditional rulers, the District Administration, IMATT and RSLAF. Screening of candidates commenced on the 7 May and interviews were conducted on 12 May at the Bo Town Council and Coronation grounds respectively.

Deployment of SLP in the camps

The deployment of SLP in all refugee camps has been carried out after the completion and equipping of the Police Posts supported by UNDP. UNHCR also provided logistics support to enhance the functions of the SLP within the camps and various Police Stations in the region.

Humanitarian

District Recovery Committee (DRC), Inter Agency Forum (IAF), Community Recovery Committee, and Civil Affairs meetings

Facilitated by OCHA, the Bonthe and Moyamba DRC's were reactivated. New dates were set for meetings to cover plans for greater support to the chiefdoms, sensitization on the National Recovery Strategy, the identification and prioritization of their felt needs, their role in the preparation of the District Recovery Report and, the joint session of the NRC/DRC. Also of importance was the formation of respective committees for the preparation and submission of DRC budget.

OCHA also provided logistics support to the DRC meetings in Bo, Moyamba and Bonthe and participated in the IAF and Civil Affairs meetings in Bo and Moyamba. The IAF notably recognised the scale down by NGOs who are now heading for the eastern province considered a virgin area for their interventions.

NRC meeting in Pujehun

The National Recovery Committee (NRC), hosted by the Pujehun DRC met in Pujehun on the 27 May. The meeting chaired by the Vice President was well attended by NRC and DRC members, traditional rulers, members of parliament, representatives of the UN Agencies INGOs and the donor communities of World Bank, DFID, EU, and civil society.

During the meeting above three million leones was pledged for health, education, agriculture, roads, and energy and power interventions in the district over the next four years. Prior to the meeting the delegates were invited to view a wide range of sites in need of repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction in the district such as the hospital, water and electricity plant, waterfall, market centres, roads and demolished houses.

SGBV sensitisation in four refugee camps

In addition Network Movement for Justice and Development have commenced operations in four refugee camps on Sexual and Gender Based Violence with the view to sensitize and educate refugees on the hazards of Gender Based Violence and its implication on the victim and society at large.

Aid for fire victims

In response to the humanitarian call for assistance to areas affected by the March/April fire disaster in the region, some areas have been serviced with food, used clothing and building materials by some NGO's.

WATSAN

WATSAN facilities improved in camps

WATSAN facilities have improved significantly in all camps. Reports of Lassa fever cases drastically reduced through the interventions of UNWHO and MERLIN

NORTHERN REGION

Security

Low crime rate

Police sources in the various districts in the region disclosed that security continued to be stable, with crime rates dropping considerably. However, amid this welcoming security scenario, Police had cause to attack suspected 'potes' for marijuana trafficking in the Port Loko Township. In the recent past, there had been incidences of rape and various criminal acts alleged to be perpetrated by suspected drug pushers for which the IAF has been exerting pressure on the Police to address.

False NGO agent arrested in Bombali

In another development an impostor claiming to be a field agent for a fictitious organisation was arrested and charged to court for false pretence. The impostor who posed to be on beneficiary assessment, had swindled some Le4, 075,000 from community people in Bombali district on the pretext that his organization was going to provide shelter support for them. He is in police custody and awaits trial.

Political highlights

Strike Action in Teachers College

The nation-wide lecturers strike in all teachers Colleges in the country, has adversely affected students, especially those who would be taking their final examinations, coming July. Concerns have been raised in the region that the situation would create possibilities for bad results that further weakens the educational standards. The Ministry of Education Science and Technology is yet to intervene in time to avert the ongoing disruption of tertiary education.

Arms-Free Certificate to Kolifa Rowala Chiefdom

With UNDP funding, the small arms collection exercise, which started in March 2003 in the Kolifa Rowala Chiefdom, Tonkolili district was successfully concluded this month. As a token of recognition of the efforts of the chiefdom in the exercise, UNDP further granted the chiefdom people $20,000 to be utilized for development activities.

TRC thematic hearings in the Region

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission conducted hearing sessions in Kabala and Makeni. The climax of the two hearings was the testimonies from amputees, especially women. Harrowing tales of man's cruelty despite pleas for clemency were recounted. It was sad though that no victim could remember any perpetrators or explain why their limbs were severed.

Magistrate Courts Rehabilitation

In furtherance of restoring full state authority, two Magistrate Courts are undergoing rehabilitation in the Port Loko District, one in the Port Loko Township and one in Lunsar.

Mange and Rogbere police posts construction completed

With DFID funding, Police Posts undergoing construction at Mange and Rogbere in the Port Loko district have been completed will be officially handed over in June. The Rogbere Police Post is strategically located, and it could control much of the traffic going in and out of the region.

Agriculture

WFP initiates "food for rice"

In order to boost rice production in the region, WFP initiated the concept of 'food for rice", which would provide support to farmers so that they could grow more rice. In that connection, the following support would be given to farmers in Dibia, Massira, Buya Romende and Maranpa chiefdoms, for the next three months: (1) cereals -30 Kg, (2) Pulses - 9 Kg, Vegetable Oil- 3.75 Kg. The four chiefdoms in the Port Loko district were selected for the package, conforming to FAO vulnerability survey, which highlighted these chiefdoms as vulnerable.

Education

UNICEF grants one Toyota hilux to Kambia distric inspector

In order to build the capacity of the Kambia District Inspectorate, to be able to effectively monitor the ongoing teacher development initiative, UNICEF granted the inspectorate one TOYOTA Hilux van.

Health

BANBATT 7 supports youth centres in Kabala Town

Before the departure of BANBATT 7 from the Koinadugu District, they had supported the construction of a symbolic structure to serve as Youth Centre for youths in the Kabala Township. Mr. Alan Doss (DSRSG) and Dr. Dennis Bright (Minister of Youth and Sports) graced the inauguration of the Centre.

CCF and DFID completes health posts in Port Loko district

Christian Children's Fund (CCF) and DFID have completed ten (10) Health Posts and five (5) Health Centres respectively in the Port Loko district.

IMC to pull out of Kambia

International Medical Corps will withdraw from Kambia in June this year while Medicins San Frontiere - Holland (MSF-H) continue their work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Humanitarian

Koinadugu and Bombali DRC Draft Reports

With technical support from UNAMSIL Civil Affairs, NaCSA and UNOCHA, the Koinadugu DRC draft report was completed. In preparation for the NRC meeting in June, the Bombali DRC report is also being prepared and should be finalized by mid-June.

Federating Youth Groups for Leadership

The DRCs of Kambia and Bombali are actively working toward organizing youth in order to create quality and representational leadership with the view of bringing a youth leader on board the DRC that would effectively participate in decision-making and development efforts in the districts. They are using a federation strategy to pull together groups of youth leaders from various youth groups so that a representative leadership structure would emerge from the federation.

Chiefdom sensitisation by DRCs in the region

All DRCs in the region have been sensitising chiefdom authorities on the recovery process, vis-à-vis, and their participation in the recovery process. With the recent financial support to the DRCs in the regions, plans are underway to intensify training of DRC members and chiefdom authorities on the recovery dispensation.

District Directory

OCHA continued work on the district directory. The Bombali, Tonkolili, Port Loko and Kambia districts have been accomplished. The directory will be analysed to show who is working where and what has been done.

Engaging Civil Society/Youth Groups in human rights efforts

OCHA held bi-lateral dialogue with several civil society groups to initiate actions to form linkages, institute plan of action on fundamental human rights issues and undertake common projects. Some progress was made and sensitisation on the rights of the girl-child to go to school took place in the Sella Limba Chiefdom, Bombali district.

SGBV

Failure to Report Rape Cases

UNAMSIL in Kambia investigated why rape cases were no longer reported. After preliminary discussions with victims and their families, it was disclosed to them that rape cases reported to Police required medical reports, contingent on payment of medical fees, which many victims could not afford. They found out that until this issue was resolved many rape cases might not be reported. It was observed that branches of support units in Freetown be established at district level to extend support to vulnerable groups.

EASTERN REGION

Security

The overall security situation in the region remains calm. However, drug abuse is rampant in Kono, which most people attribute to the inability of the youths to secure jobs and the prolonged hold of the RUF on the district. In light of the above, the BOB MARLEY NIGHT, usually celebrated on the 10th May, saw a profuse use of drugs by youths that led to the arrest of some 16 youths by the SLP for drug abuse. Prior to that the police reportedly apprehended 10-15kg of cannabis. The RSLAF have persistently reported that drugs of all varieties are entering Sierra Leone through the porous border with Guinea.

In Kenema, the RSLAF has significantly increased their presence in Manduvulahun, as a reaction to a possible impending attack by LURD, according to reports from UN MILOBS.

Political

Restoration of civil authorities in Kono

On the 7 May, personnel from the Civil Affairs, UNDP and the DSRSG's Offices visited Kono to review the present rehabilitation in the district. It was noted that there are only a few line ministries operating in Kono district namely education, mines and social welfare. The other line ministries are not yet on a permanent basis due to limited office space, personnel quarters and office equipment.

Paramount Chief elected in Dodo chiefdom, Kenema District

Mr. Foday Steven Fabah was elected as the Paramount Chief in Dodo Chiefdom, Kenema district. There is concern over the acceptance of the election by the loosing team. The new PC would be crowned on the 29th May.

UNHCR support community empowerment in Kono

On the 9th May UNHCR organised a workshop on community empowerment programme in Kono. The essence was to assess the extent to which the implementing partners IRC, WVI and GTZ have sensitised their various communities in respect of decision-making, the extent of their preparedness to implement such a new programme, and their ability to monitor and evaluate the C.E.P.

Education

UNHCR holds workshop on educational needs in Kenema

UNHCR in partnership with International Rescue Committee held a 4-day regional workshop from 27 to 30 May to look into educational needs. Representatives from UNICEF, World Bank, National Rescue Committee (NRC) and, Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) also attended the meeting. The main objectives were to identify and analyze priority issues and resources on education within the framework of UNHCR's policy priorities and education field guidelines in the Region.

Humanitarian

DRC meeting in Kono

OCHA facilitated and participated in the DRC meeting in Kono held on the 29th May. The meeting agreed on a fortnightly schedule for meetings. They also deliberated on the method of information collection for the CDCs and agreed that the DRCs monitor the CDCs rotationally. They recognised the need to train the CDCs in problem identification and priority setting.

NaCSA holds workshop on direct community financing in Kono

NaCSA Kono on the 21st May, organised a one-day workshop for all Paramount Chiefs, NGOs and other stakeholders, to explain their new approach, which is the Direct Community Financing (DCF) programme. Emphasis was placed on the role of the community, government agencies, service provider, private sectors, District and Chiefdom Communities in the DCF programme.

The DCF programme is a way of enabling communities to handle their funds, monitor and evaluate their projects, instead of the previous method of contracting credible implementing partners. The problem to be envisaged is how equipped are the communities to undertake and account for purchases they will be making.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kono

During the High Commissioner for Refugees, Ludd Rubbers visit to Kono on 15 May, he visited the amputee/war-wounded settlement at Motema where UNHCR is sponsoring water project for the amputees, implemented by WVSL and Peace Winds Japan.

UNDP/UNHCR joint Mission to Kono

Personnel from UNDP/New York/UNHCR - HQ and Freetown visited Kono on the May 21st, to get an understanding of the practical situation of the District Recovery Strategy and reintegration efforts jointly undertaken by Sierra Leone Government, UN, and NGOs on the ground.

UNOCHA on data collection in Kono

OCHA in collaboration with Civil Affairs and the DRC Chairman are presently colleting information for the compilation of the document to be presented to the joint NRC/DRC launched on the 9th September 2003.

Amputee welfare in Kenema

The Civil Affairs and the Inter-Agency Committee for Amputees and War-Wounded met with the Director of Cause Canada to assess the status of assistance programs to war victims and to discuss the possibility of conducting a nationwide registration in collaboration with government institutions, The nationwide registration survey will be submitted to UNAMSIL and UNICEF for funding, with the twofold purpose of rendering assistance to victims who have not been identified yet, and to enhance national reconciliation.

Youth Groups relocated in Kenema

The former RUF soldiers occupying houses in Lower Bambara Chiefdom vacated the properties after being provided with sheetings by NGOs. The land promised to the Youth group by the Chiefdom has not yet been provided.

For more information please contact hic@sierratel.sl, or visit Http://ochadata.un.org/slis
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this documents are not necessarily shared by UN OCHA.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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