Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report: Special Issue Mar 2000

Situation Report
Originally published



  • Gaining Humanitarian Access: A continuing Challenge
  • The DDR Factor
  • The UNAMSIL Factor
2. THE PEACE PROCESS- Is time running out? - A humanitarian perspective


  • Rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities
  • Rehabilitation and support to the health sector
  • Rehabilitation of Educational infrastructure and provision of learning materials Agricultural support in the northern and eastern regions, particularly Tonkolili and Bombali districts
  • Close monitoring of food security situation especially in rural areas
  • Reinforcement of bridges and arterial routes prior to rains
  • Close monitoring of refugee and IDP returnees
  • Increase support to the DDR Process to facilitate access.
4. BUILDING BLOCKS - A case for continued constructive engagement
  • A vibrant civil society
  • A more dynamic GOSL leadership in coordination of assistance programmes
  • The DDR Programme - A more integrated system
  • International/Regional Support - Sustained interest

6. SECTORAL HIGHLIGHTS - February 2000

  • 100 Days of Disarmament and Demobilization
  • Resettlement and Reintegration
  • Agriculture
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Refugees - UNHCR monitors spontaneous Returns
  • Logistics
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Child Protection
  • Food Aid
  • Education
  • Socio-economic
  • Trends in IDP Movements
  • Human Rights
Annex 1. One Hundred Days of Disarmament - Progress Made

Annex 2. Humanitarian Profile of Currently Unstable Areas

Annex 3. Map Republic of Sierra Leone District

Annex 4. Status of Response to War-Wounded and Amputees


This review period marks the seventh month of the Lome Peace Agreement, which was signed on 7 July 1999. While some progress has been made towards the implementation of the Accord, there is every indication that the process is troubled. Security has improved in some parts, but the overall situation in the country remains tense and volatile. Achieving unhindered humanitarian access, one of the first major agreements signed by the parties to the conflict in Lome on 3 June 1999, has proved difficult. Despite the establishment of a Government of National Unity, former RUF/AFRC fighters continue to lay claim to large areas of the country, obstructing free movement. This makes it extremely difficult for agencies to gain a longer-term perspective on assistance programmes. This special issue examines the current humanitarian situation and the external and internal factors affecting the implementation of humanitarian programmes countrywide.


Gaining Humanitarian Access: A continuing challenge

The Lome Peace Agreement cracked the doors open to previously inaccessible parts of the country, but only wide enough to allow for needs-assessment and limited relief intervention. At this time, humanitarian agencies still do not have unhindered and safe access to seven out of 12 districts (Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia, Kono, Kailahun, Koinadugu and Port Loko), which make up 80 of the country’s 149 chiefdoms, with a total population of 2.4 million according to 1997 projections. Current operations in these areas are carried out under very difficult circumstances, characterised by frequent disruptions and uncertainty. This hinders appropriate programming and effective and sustained engagement in support of the most needy. Furthermore, interventions are mainly limited to emergency relief, while assistance programmes aimed at rehabilitation and reconstruction of devastated communities await more favourable conditions. Humanitarian Profiles of Currently Unstable Areas (attached) highlights present conditions.

In sharp contrast to the grim picture in the north, the southern province, the Western Area and some parts of the eastern province continue to enjoy relatively good conditions of safety and security. Local administration such as the Police and traditional chiefs are also in place in some of these areas supporting the maintenance of law and order. As a result, these areas are benefiting from programmes of reconstruction and rehabilitation in such sectors as agriculture, education, road rehabilitation and restoration of health facilities. It must however be noted that as long as insecurity persists in the northern and eastern parts, the whole country remains vulnerable, particularly places like Kenema with close proximity to Kailahun district.

The DDR Factor:

Formally launched on 4 November 1999, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Programme is perhaps one of the most important benchmarks for the consolidation of peace in Sierra Leone. After a difficult start, the Programme is finally gaining momentum, but continues to be bogged down by a troubled political process. According to the Peace Agreement, Disarmament and Demobilization should have been completed by 15 December 1999. While there is an overall upward trend, (see chart on current DDR trend), the process has been slow, with just over 12,000 of the estimated 45,000 combatants enrolled in the Programme during the first 100 days. The Ministry of Defence disarmed 3,804 loyal SLA, while another 1,414 who were discharged in July 1999 are now undergoing the reintegration Programme. All told, just over 17,000 of the 45,000 have been accounted for with regard to disarmament. Furthermore, less than 5,000 of those who disarmed have actually undergone demobilization, as many of them, in particular, the ex-SLA, have refused to demobilize, in anticipation of a chance to re-enter the Army. The result is over-crowding in the camps, a more cumbersome working environment for DDR personnel and further delays in moving the process forward.

Perceptions on factors contributing to the slow pace of the Programme vary. In addition to slow progress in the political process, the DDR Programme is clearly bogged down by fear, suspicion and mistrust, with each group waiting for the other to disarm first. This is most evident between the RUF and the CDF, which are both disarming at a close rate of 23% and 22% respectively. (see bar chart for proportional representation by group). The leaders of the combatants all claim unflinching commitment to the process, while at the same time justifying reluctant participation. For NCDDR Executive Secretary, a factor in the slow pace is the lack of security, especially in the north and east of the country, which has prevented the institution from setting up centers there.

With over 7,000 men of the approved 11,100 military personnel on the ground, UNAMSIL has successfully deployed forces in Makeni, Port Loko, Lungi, Daru and Kenema. But there has been little or no progress in disarmament in the northern and eastern parts of the country, the exception being Port Loko District. The Daru centre is currently functioning below capacity, with less than 100 people, most of who are ex-SLA wishing to be considered for the new Army. Neither the RUF nor the CDF combatants are showing up at the center. In Makeni, the programme is yet to commence, as DDR officials were unable to secure existing facilities for encampment of the ex-combatants. The NCDDR has identified two sites in the area, but construction, scheduled to begin in March, will take 4-6 weeks.

Additionally, DDR officials believe that the unresolved issue of who would be able to join the new Sierra Leone Army has contributed to slowing down the process. Over 900 of the 1300 ex-combatants currently residing at the Lungi center are ex-SLAs who have refused to demobilize. Some of them have been in the centers for more than three months. Similarly, another 700 ex-SLAs continue to occupy much needed space at the Port Loko DDR camps. The situation in the northern town of Kabala is equally worrying. Agencies have repeatedly reported attacks on civilian populations and aid workers by ex-SLA soldiers in the town who are either waiting to be enrolled in the DDR programme or to be reintegrated into the new Army. Kabala is not one of the designated locations for setting up DDR centres. While UNAMSIL undertook some ‘mobile’ disarmament, there remains a large number of the combatants in and around the town, extorting money and attacking civilians. The latest victims of these attacks are currently being treated at the Kabala hospital. Aid agencies in the area have noted that a continuation of the situation will inevitably lead to the suspension of much need programmes. For instance, a measles outbreak has been reported in the district and a vaccination campaign should begin immediately, but this will be difficult under the current conditions.

It is hoped that this problem will be resolved when the Government adopts a policy on Military Reintegration.

In the interim, Defence Headquarters has issued a press release stating that it has completed plans to move all ex-SLA soldiers to designated bush camps where they will be disarmed and catered for in accordance with the Lome Peace Agreement. At the time of release, nearly 1,000 of the solders had already been moved to a bush camp at Matene (approximately 8 km NE of Masiaka). This activity is aimed at screening and sensitization training for those ex-SLA soldiers who wish to join the new SLA and who are not currently in the DDR programme. Those who do not qualify for the new Army will be absorbed in the DDR Programme.

The UNAMSIL Factor

An important milestone was reached in November when the UN Security Council established a Peacekeeping Force for Sierra Leone. In a further move to support the country’s fragile peace, the Council voted for an expansion from 6,000 military personnel to 11,100 in February. This move has raised hopes that a precarious security situation will finally be stabilized, facilitating DDR and enabling humanitarian and development agencies to meaningfully assist needy populations. The first gain was reaped in February, when the successful deployment of UNAMSIL troops in the northern provincial capital of Makeni paved the way for agencies to undertake a comprehensive multi-sectoral assessment of needs in the area. It also provided an opportunity for the UN to successfully negotiate with the RUF field commanders for the withdrawal of earlier (unacceptable) demands for agencies to channel all aid through the RUF humanitarian wing – the Organization for the Survival of Mankind (OSM). As a way of resolving the issue, the GOSL has invited the OSM Coordinator to join its National Commission for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (NCRRR), while the UN has advised the RUFP to transform the OSM into an independent NGO. Both proposals were accepted by the RUFP.

Although the relationship between UNAMSIL troops and the RUF command is presently tense, causing the RUF to re-establish checkpoints in the Makeni area, the RUF has given assurances that aid agencies operational in the area would be granted free access. This has so far been maintained, but the situation remains volatile. This growing tension between the RUF and UNAMSIL troops is a cause for concern for the humanitarian community. The RUF’s constant refusal to allow UNAMSIL troops to deploy in key areas, has not only dashed hopes of improved security conditions, but also raised concerns of a possible military confrontation between the two forces, which could potentially increase the risk to aid workers on the ground. An INDBATT convoy moving from Kenema to Daru was stopped on 23 February at Bendu Junction between Mano Junction and Segbwema and prevented from proceeding, despite lengthy negotiations with the direct involvement of Minister Mike Lamin. The RUF forces of 200-300 well-armed men took up defensive positions between Segbwema and Bendu Junction. After 24 hrs the INDBATT convoy was ordered to return to Kenema by the RUF combatants. Although UNAMSIL has so far refrained from forceful action against the RUF, it carries a "robust" chapter VII mandate to "take necessary action to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence." The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Oluyemi Adeniji, has warned the RUF leader that contravention of the Lome Peace Accord, such as the seizure of weapons from UN peacekeepers, mounting illegal road blocks and blocking the free movement of UN troops in the discharge of their mandate, must stop immediately or would "invite forceful response." Of the large number of ammunition, arms and vehicles seized from the Guinean troops by RUF elements, only two armoured personnel carriers had been recovered, both of them stripped of their mounted weapons. Meanwhile, Foday Sankoh continues to express the RUFP’s disappointment with regard to the current trend of events in Sierra Leone. In a 24 February letter to the Moral Guarantors and other key actors, Sankoh claimed that the RUFP was not consulted about UNAMSIL’s Mandate, which it considers "highly threatening."

2. THE PEACE PROCESS - Is time running out? - A humanitarian perspective

The direct implications of a delayed DDR Programme on the humanitarian situation are significant: lack of humanitarian access for sustained intervention; lack of spontaneous and promoted return of refugees and IDPs to their home areas; continuing human rights violations against civilian populations; lack of speedy return to productive activity; and prolonged dependence on relief aid.

Inter-sectoral assessments carried out in the last six months have confirmed speculations that the unstable northern and eastern provincial districts (see Humanitarian Profiles) suffered much destruction during the years of war, in common with the rest of the country. Infrastructure damage/looting/destruction has been recorded, affecting roads, schools, health facilities, water and sanitation among others. Outbreaks of communicable diseases such as bloody diarrhea are prevalent. The latest harvest has alleviated hunger in some areas, but below-normal-yields leaves food security in most communities fragile and vulnerable. Stocks are expected to run out in April, leading to a further deterioration of the nutritional status of both children and adults. The lingering instability in this section of the country allows for only tentative relief-type activities despite the fact that long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction activities are critical to facilitate a return to normal existence.

The regular rainy season, also known as the "hungry season" is fast approaching (April/May). DDR officials are concerned that if significant progress is not made before the rains, the process will suffer considerable delays and would be more cumbersome and more costly to manage. Furthermore, the humanitarian situation would deteriorate with the arrival of the rains. Heavy rains will confine rebel activities to fewer locations, but increase the intensity of attacks on villagers. Food has remained an issue for armed combatants on all sides. They are currently looting and raiding and engaging in forced labour for their survival. When the "hungry season" sets in, and given the enforcement of the ceasefire, civilians will be the immediate targets for meeting the needs of hungry and frustrated rebel factions. At the same time as the suffering of those in the interior deepens, humanitarian agencies will face greater difficulties in reaching them due to poor road conditions.

\Nearly half a million Sierra Leoneans are refugees in neighbouring countries, including professionals whose skills are critical to mounting an effective and efficient recovery campaign. This small country with a pre-war population of less than 5 million people has suffered a severe brain drain. To begin rebuilding the country, some of its citizens would need to return home to help. If conditions are not right, they will not return. UNHCR on its part, will not promote their return until the conditions for a return in "safety and dignity" are in place. Without their speedy repatriation and reintegration, local capacity will stay at the lowest level and the country’s reliance on expatriate assistance will escalate.

Agriculture provides employment to over 80 per cent of the rural population and contributes 30 per cent to the GDP in normal times. The arable land is estimated at 5.3 million hectares of which less than 10 per cent is reported to be cultivated annually. As a result, only an estimated 50 per cent of the annual national rice requirement is domestically produced. Continued hostilities have undermined efforts to bridge the gap. The devastation of livestock and displacement of fishermen means an attendant decline in protein intake. With only two months to go before the first phase of the planting season (April/May) begins, conditions for re-starting full-scale agricultural activities in some areas are still remote.

Further delays in re-starting educational activities in most of the country will adversely affect future development of the country. Some children have not been able to return to school for the entire duration of the war. For those children between the ages of 9 and 15 who have never been exposed to formal education, time is running out. Most educational facilities are in shambles, needing urgent repairs or reconstruction. Though some work has begun in accessible areas, lack of access continues to hinder efforts to extend these activities throughout the country.


In most areas assessed, priorities for urgent intervention include:

  • Rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities: WATSAN problems have led to outbreaks of communicable diseases such as bloody diarrhea. The situation will get worse during the rainy season if action is not taken in the immediate future.
  • Rehabilitation and support to the health sector: UN and NGOs are supporting health centers in most areas but there is a lack of equipment, and staff incentives and training are inadequate in some areas. Also, lack of access makes it difficult to go beyond relief support in the unstable locations.
  • Rehabilitation of Educational infrastructure and provision of learning materials: Education remains a major concern for local populations. There are now opportunities to support schools with feeding programmes and provide incentives for reconstruction and repair of school buildings.
  • Agriculture support particularly in the northern and eastern regions: Due to low-level harvests and mass looting of already scarce food supplies, people in many of the chiefdoms are exposed to high risk of food shortages. While food aid will meet short-term needs, food security can only be achieved with the restoration of agricultural and productive activity.
  • Close monitoring of food security situation especially in rural areas: Agencies anticipate a significant deterioration in the nutritional status of the population by April 2000.Before then, the situations must be closely monitored to determine the level of support required to avert a crisis situation.
  • Reinforcement of bridges and arterial routes prior to rains: the NGO-run humanitarian helicopter will cease operations by 10 March. Although the WFP helicopter will continue to be operational for some time, it will not be able to meet all demands. Movement of people and goods will have to be undertaken by road.
  • Close monitoring of refugee and IDP returnees: some of those spontaneously returning are still unable to settle in their home areas. If security conditions do not improve, they will likely become internally displaced and would require relief support.
  • Increased support to the DDR Process to facilitate access: It is well understood that without the effective management and completion of the DDR Programme, the risk and cost of intervention will continue to rise both for donors, aid worker, the GOSL as well as the beneficiaries.

Two main factors directly affect timely intervention in these areas: safe and sustainable access, and timely availability of adequate resources. Both require the attention of local, regional and international actors. The Moral Guarantors of the Peace Process and other influential partners should intensify pressure on the parties to the Accord to speed up the DDR process. Secondly, donors should develop a joint strategy to address major funding gaps.

4. BUILDING BLOCKS - A case for continued constructive engagement

A vibrant civil society

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the current political context, there is reason for optimism and determined effort to support the country’s recovery. The people have not ceased to hunger for peace and to insist on it. Parliament is increasingly compelling the leaders to be accountable. While recognising the tremendous injustice brought to bear on innocent civilians, the people are keen to pursue the path of reconciliation. The Draft Bill establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) proposed by human rights organizations, was on 22 February passed by Parliament as one of the ways of working towards consolidation of peace. The British government has provided US$250,000 towards the initiative, and UNAMSIL/Human Rights is providing technical support. Local civil society movements such as Campaign for Good Governance and the Inter Religious Council are mobilizing support for the peace process and educating civilians on their right to participation in the political process. They are also ensuring that the people’s interests are taken into account in the decision-making process. The number of local NGOs is on the increase, working in tandem with international partners to bring relief to affected populations. With such high level participation and awareness, the foundations are in place for participatory political and economic development.

A more dynamic GOSL leadership in coordination of assistance programmes:

Government institutions are increasing their capacity to manage and direct humanitarian and development coordination processes, in line with overall long-term development goals. The Ministry of Development and Economic Planning is now developing the Government Policy for NGOs. The participation of Line Ministries in sectoral committees is at a much higher level. Government institutions such as NCRRR and NCDDR are providing dynamic leadership in their areas of responsibility. Their continuing engagement will ensure sustainability of assistance programmes. Continued support to these institutions is therefore critical to the success of the peace process.

The DDR Programme - a more integrated system:

After initial administrative, logistics and coordination problems, the DDR Programme is gradually taking shape, with increased levels of efficiency in data collection, sensitization, camp management and coordination. Security conditions have improved for camp personnel, allowing more consistent programming without the frequent disruptions that characterised the process during the first few weeks. Administrative and logistical constraints have eased and roles are more clearly defined between stakeholders. Executive and technical coordination committees are meeting regularly to plan and coordinate the different components of the programme. With a more positive political environment, the programme is likely to speed up.

International/Regional Support - sustained interest

Political dimension: Despite the shaky and slow pace of the peace process, international interest has fortunately been sustained. Various donor missions continue to meet in Sierra Leone and other countries to develop a common strategy for supporting the country’s recovery. On the political front, the latest move by the UN to establish a peacekeeping force is a clear indication of Member State’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to the Sierra Leone problem. In the context of strengthening sub-regional efforts to keep the Sierra Leonean peace process on track, the SRSG continues to maintain close relations with key regional players. A number of recent sub-regional summits have focused attention on increasing pressure on the former parties to the conflict to meet their obligations under the Lome Agreement. Nigeria, a longstanding sponsor of the peace process, continues to fully engage in the problem despite the decision to withdraw its troops. The Nigerian Government has offered to rehat its men to join the UN Force for a temporary period of 90 days, in order to make up for the time it will take to deploy the remainder of the UN Force.

Resource mobilization: Significant progress has been registered in the planning of the reintegration and resettlement phase, reinforced by the World Bank/ADB-financed Community Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Programme (CRRP). The CRRP, which is worth US$37 million, aims at resuscitating vulnerable communities and enhancing the restoration of social infrastructure and community reintegration, including the reintegration of ex-combatants. The programme has already been launched in Freetown and the provincial capitals of the south and east. Its launching in the north is awaiting a more conducive security environment, and the re-establishment of civil administration. The IMF has said it would be ready to disburse a US$14 million loan to Sierra Leone on the condition that the peace process maintains steady progress. This will be in addition to the US$20 million post-conflict loan it disbursed to Sierra Leone on 17 December 1999. The Multi-Donor Trust Fund for DDR, which has so far received US$11.1 million from countries like Britain, Germany, Norway and Canada, is also attracting increased donor interest. WFP has received support towards its "Emergency food assistance to the disarmament and demobilisation programme" to feed the 45,000 ex-combatants. The programme is expected to take effect in March 2000 delivering a total of 3,849mt of assorted food aid commodities over a six-month period.

International Agencies: A consortium of international NGOs, International Organizations and UN specialised agencies have remained faithful to the humanitarian cause throughout the difficult periods in Sierra Leone. Working closely with local partners, their efforts are continuing to save lives, alleviate suffering, strengthen government capacity to respond, and to advocate for adherence to human rights principles. On their part, the Red Cross Movements - the ICRC and the IFRC in cooperation with their national partner, the SLRCS, are intensifying efforts to support family tracing, health, (particularly assistance to amputees and war-wounded) as well as non-food support to IDPs. Other bilateral agencies such as the German GTZ-MLP and the Norwegian Refugee Council are providing critical emergency as well as rehabilitation support. Most notable are their contributions towards reconstruction of schools and shelters. At present, most chiefdoms benefit from relief and/or rehabilitation operations by various agencies, including some chiefdoms in unstable locations. All these efforts require continuing support by donors, as operating in this tough and highly volatile environment is a costly and rigorous exercise. Without sustained humanitarian intervention, the conditions of the war-ravaged people of Sierra Leone will be much worse. In November, UN agencies launched a Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sierra Leone, requesting US$71million to undertake 34 projects in all priority sectors. Although some contributions have been received, the Appeal remains under funded.


The complex nature of the Sierra Leone conflict attracts a multiple and diverse group of actors, ranging from human rights, humanitarian, political, military and development stakeholders. The particular case of Sierra Leone is also characterised by the presence of a democratically elected national government, regional and international actors and rebel factions. The Lome Peace Negotiations triggered a convergence of interests - achieving Peace. For the assistance community, there was a common understanding that meaningful and sustainable intervention could only be undertaken in a peaceful and stable environment. For the parties to the conflict, it was clear that the military option was no longer feasible. The desire for Peace emerged as a rallying point - a common goal.

While mandates may vary, an integrated approach to addressing the problem is inevitable, as the components are so closely linked. If the political process fails, the cost to the humanitarian, human rights and development dimensions will be high and vise versa. Given this context, the UN system is prioritizing the development of a more coordinated and integrated approach to interventions, based on a common analysis and understanding of the problem, and the development of common goals and objectives in strong support of the GOSL’s long-term goals. Existing mechanisms of coordination are being reinforced and ad-hoc arrangements are being formalised to promote greater consultation and information exchange between the Political and Military organs of the UN and the humanitarian, Human Rights and Development community. In formulating their Common Humanitarian Action Plan for 2000, UN Agencies took into account the need to develop linkages between short-term sectoral objectives and medium to long-term goals. A typical example is the strategy employed by food pipeline agencies, which are extending food-aid assistance to support rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts through provision of food-for-work, food-for-agricultural, food-for-training and school feeding programmes. More work is however needed to move towards an integrated strategy for the whole country.

Some donors have also taken on board the importance of maintaining an integrated strategy, particularly in a country where community-based infrastructure has been severely affected by the war, posing a tremendous challenge. In this connection, a high level World Bank/UNDP/UNHCR mission visited Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in February 2000 to assess the key issues associated with joint programming. It is hoped that this initiative will contribute to addressing some of the institutional and financial disconnects that have so often hampered genuine efforts of the international community in post conflict situations.

6. SECTORAL HIGHLIGHTS - February 2000


As the GOSL, supported by local and international partners struggles to extend humanitarian assistance to previously inaccessible areas, they simultaneously engage in planning for the special resettlement and reintegration needs of war-affected populations on one hand, and ex-combatants on the other hand. Beneficiaries would include an estimated 1 million IDPs - including encamped and those not registered in camps), refugee returnees (450,000), and other war-affected populations such as homeless and war-wounded people who have not yet been counted. The NCRRR and the NCDDR are the two government engines leading the process, supported by international and local partners. Resettlement and reintegration activities aim at enabling affected populations and ex-combatants to rebuild their communities, assisting with the restoration of economic and productive activity and helping victims to come to terms with the psychological scars of the war. Ex-fighters will be equipped to become functional members of society, moving from a destructive to a constructive force for community and national development.

While the slow progress in the political process is likely to delay full implementation of reintegration and resettlement programmes, NCRRR and NCDDR have forged ahead with planning the programmes as well as preparing the beneficiaries for the changes envisaged. One pre-requisite for facilitated resettlement and reintegration is sufficient security in areas of return. NCRRR, in collaboration with NGOs and UN Agencies, has established Resettlement Assessment Committees at district and national levels to undertake assessments that will determine whether chiefdoms can be declared safe. The assessment will be based on a national level set of criteria, ranging from absence of hostilities to UNAMSIL and civil administration presence. If the safety of a chiefdom is endorsed, the National Resettlement Assessment Committee would make the decision public and those displaced persons wishing to resettle in such a chiefdom would be included in the Plan. The IDPs from areas deemed unsafe will retain the right to continued accommodation and support services within an IDP camp. For those IDPs from the Western Area whose homes were destroyed, NCRRR and the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Country Planning and the Environment along with their partner agencies will initiate low-cost housing schemes in the Western Area. This will be replicated for homeless IDPs from other urban centres. Resettlement committees have been set up for all sectors, including food aid and non-food assistance with participation from a network of international and national NGOs, UN agencies and Government Line Ministries. NCRRR is also in the process of finalising a comprehensive resettlement plan, which will clearly identify stakeholders and their roles, determine resettlement packages and clarify beneficiary caseloads.

With regard to reintegration of ex-combatants, NCDDR is already providing programmes for those who have been discharged. At present, they are supporting ex-combatants in their efforts to acquire skills and find jobs to lead a civilian life. Though the numbers so far discharged remain small, an increase is anticipated as the Programme evolves. NCDDR is therefore negotiating with a number of training institutions to secure allocations for those who qualify. Regional DDR offices have been established in the Western Area and in Bo and Kenema to facilitate the programme at the provincial level. The Makeni office will be set up as soon as the security situation there stabilizes. As the programme expands, NCDDR is also planning to establish District-level technical committees, which would allow for more decentralized planning and programming.

Overall reintegration and resettlement strategies for both ex-combatants and war-affected populations will need to be based on an integrated programme of activities, which are socially acceptable and sustainable, taking into account the need to restore services in the communities to which IDPs, refugees and ex-combatants will return.


According to a February report by FAO, Sierra Leone will need to import 329,000 mt of cereals this year to make up for a shortfall and feed its roughly 4.5 million people. Estimated imports for 1999 were 290,000 mt, 13 percent less than at present. This year’s cereal supply is estimated at 181,000mt. Of the 5.24 million ha of arable land in the country, about 12-15 per cent is under crop production. The report is based on an assessment done from 29 November to 11 December 1999.

FAO has launched a new project in support of the coordination of the emergency and rehabilitation of agricultural interventions. The project aims at enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and the Marine Resources to effectively coordinate the activities of different organisations in the sector. The project will provide technical support in terms of consultancy services and logistic support for a period of six months.

Agencies are currently assessing the extent of damage of floods that hit the southern region at the end of January. Preliminary reports indicate that two sections in Kpanga Krim chiefdom in Pujehun district were severely hit, destroying rice farms. Seven sections were also affected in the Kweme Bai Krim chiefdom in the Bonthe district. All the rice fields in the entire chiefdom suffered from massive flooding. On the whole, some 2,489 farmers were affected and an estimated yield of 15,262 bushels of rice destroyed. The consequence for farmers is severe shortage of seeds for planting and also food for consumption in the coming season.


Combating Shigella (bloody diarrhea) - a concerted effort

Bloody diarrhea (shigella) has claimed the lives of more than 100 people in the past few months, mainly in the southern and eastern provinces. The worst affected areas are Banta Mokelleh, Dasse, Fakuni and Kaiyamba chiefdoms in the southern province. The northern province has also been affected. MSF, TeraTech, UNICEF, WHO and CARE, have all been working together to fight the disease and to minimize the mortality rate. Treated water supply has not functioned in most of the country for several years. Domestic water collection is mainly from rivers and streams, which are polluted. This could have contributed to the outbreak. In the southeast of Kenema where the outbreak was first reported in December 1999, the majority of the population of over 55,000 drink from river water that could be infected. MSF-F is using the Prisoners of War camp at Dauda town in Kenema district for admissions. Patients are transferred from 5 PHUs in Tunkai, Dama and Guara chiefdoms. Since the start of the programme on 17 February 2000, 220 patients have been registered and 44 admitted. Patients are provided with antibiotics and rehydration treatment. In Koinadugu district in the Kabala area, MSF-B has reported a decline in the number of new cases compared to December 1999. They are now operating six static and three mobile clinics in the area. Health education and well chlorination have been undertaken.

According to WHO, Shigella dysentery Type I, with a characteristic antibiotic sensitivity profile has affected several other West African countries. It is caused by direct contact with an infected person, or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and is said to have a higher death rate than cholera. Since the outbreak, nearly 1,000 patients have been treated, 4,099 cases reported and 131 deaths. Fatality rate however decreased from over 6 per cent in early December to 3.2 per cent in February due to improved case management. In mid February, WHO in cooperation with MSF-F provided an investigation team to evaluate the extent and impact of the disease. The laboratory at Connaught Hospital, Freetown has been strengthened with additional training and supplies so that reliable cultures and antibiotic sensitivity testing can be done locally. Case management protocols have been distributed and additional supplies of antibiotics are being procured.

UNICEF contributes to prevention and control of anemia and malnutrition

UNICEF and Ministry of Health & Sanitation (MOHS) jointly organized a consultative workshop to formulate a national strategy for the prevention and control of anemia in Sierra Leone. A broad plan of action was developed to promote improved nutrition among the most vulnerable groups in the country. UNICEF also supported three separate training sessions of 90 enumerators in the Western Area, Bo and Pujehun districts on National Household Food Security information collection. To support women’s groups in food production and growth monitoring activities, UNICEF, through Action Aid/SL, provided tools and equipment worth over US$10,000 for beneficiaries in the Western Area.

Caring for Amputees and War-Wounded - An integrated Approach

Amputees are perhaps the most affected surviving victims of Sierra Leone’s brutal war. While their specific problem attracts donor interest, previous support had concentrated on relief intervention alone. As their wounds heal and opportunities for reintegration emerge, a number of agencies have established a Committee on Amputees and War-wounded which provides a forum for more integrated and coordinated strategies in responding to a wide range of challenges faced by the beneficiaries. (For details on the status of Amputees and War-wounded, see attached report prepared by UNHACU in January 2000).

As part of the new strategy to help amputees become more independent, the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross and the ICRC has launched an employment scheme for amputees in Freetown. Already, the scheme has resulted in the recruitment of seven men, each with at least one limb missing. Red Cross officials report that in addition to restoring their sense of dignity, the possibility of future employment encourages amputees to register for prosthetic treatment as some feel that it would boost their job prospects.

Meanwhile, the British Department for International Development (DFID) has donated limb-fitting equipment to the NGO, Handicap International, to strengthen their capacity to provide artificial limbs for ex-combatants who have gone through the DDR Programme. The equipment, valued at US$48,000 includes a shoe patching and a vacuum machine. Though targeting ex-combatants, it will also serve the wider disabled community in the country. Handicap International also continues to strengthen its capacity and competences in providing counseling services for ex-child soldiers. A psychiatrist and a psychologist have joined the team from France. The Organization resumed activities in Makeni at the beginning of February, providing wheel chairs, calipers and crutches for the disabled population there.

To support the special needs of amputees, World Hope International, a US-based NGO, opened an Amputee Care Centre in Freetown. A team of limb fitting expatriates is now on the ground to assist in fitting the limbs. The objective is to fit up to 200 amputees with a limbs system considered comfortable, durable and easy to maintain. The Organization intends to establish similar centers in the provinces.

Cause Canada is assisting an estimated 1,000 adults and an equal number of children (war-wounded and amputees) registered in the Western Area and the southern province. Their activities range from psychosocial support to vocational training and community education and sensitization.

WHO develops action proposal in four key areas:

In mid-February, WHO assisted Ministry of Health programme managers in developing action proposals in four key areas: malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), reproductive health and HIV/AIDS control. In consultations with a visiting World Bank team, provisional agreement was reached to provide approximately US$ 7.1 million in funding for the four programmes through International Development Assistance credits. Each proposal features community-based services monitored by district health management teams.

The HIV/AIDS proposal builds on a US$150,000 seed grant from UNAIDS, and is part of a global trend towards a broader-based attack on the AIDS problem. It involves non-governmental community-based groups with governmental coordination. In Sierra Leone, the UNAIDS Theme Group has been expanded from its original membership (UN Agency Heads) to include the national AIDS control programme manager, representatives of national and international NGOs, and key donors. There is growing concern here about the threat of AIDS, which is said to be spreading, particularly among women and children rape victims. The lack of appropriate medical, psychosocial and other related services for women victims of violence is of serious concern, especially in the context of the continued prevalence of rape and sexual abuse. Most women and girls at camps for IDPs require treatment for sexually transmitted diseases suffered as a result of rape.

ICRC supports Health Care Systems

ICRC has continued to provide health care assistance and protection to victims of war and other vulnerable groups in displaced camps and other locations in the Western Area, Kenema, Pujehun, Moyamba, and Tonkolili districts. At present, they are supporting four primary health clinics at Kroo-bay, George Brook, Clay factory and the Rina Health Association Centre all in the depressed parts of the Western Area. Drugs and medical supplies are provided to the clinics on a biweekly basis. In February, nearly 5,000 consultations were done in all the clinics with about 2,916 patients, including 203 antenatal seen. At the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital - P.C.M.H in Freetown, ICRC continues to provide free maternity care for destitute women, single mothers, widows, and the socially underprivileged.

At the Kenema Government Hospital, construction work on the 50-bed ward, operating theatre, physiotherapy department, kitchen and the laundry has now commenced. The project is expected to increase the hospital’s capacity to accommodate more patients and also ease the operating theatre traffic among surgeons. The construction of a permanent water supply system for the hospital forms a high point of the programme. The ICRC surgical team performed 60 operations in February, of which only a few were war-related. Formal registration of war-wounded patients is in progress with about 50 patients already on the waiting list.

REFUGEES - UNHCR Monitors Spontaneous Returns

UNHCR has reported a small but steady increase in spontaneous refugee returns mainly from the Sinje and Vahun camps in Liberia. According to the latest estimates, nearly 10,000 people have returned to major towns in the southern and eastern provinces since the start of the DDR programme in November 1999. With the exception of Pujehun (1,785) and Kenema (1,101) where UNHCR has been able to register returnees, other figures are estimates based on reports of organizations/government officials working in the area and information from the returnees themselves. UNHCR efforts to verify the reports have been constrained by the persisting insecurity in the main areas of return such Kono, Kailahun and Kambia and Kailahun. Reports indicate that most of the returnees coming from Liberia are mainly from Kenema and Kailahun districts. The registered Kenema caseload has mainly settled with relatives in the town. Only 80 are accommodated at the IDP camp there.

Meanwhile, in early February, UNHCR reviewed earlier plans for the repatriation and reintegration of the 450,000 Sierra Leonean Refugees. Based on the security situation and other factors including logistics and the coming rainy season, they made projections for 108,000 refugees to return in the course of the year 2000, primarily to the districts of Kailahun, Kono, Kambia, Kenema, Pujehun and Freetown. The timeframe for the implementation of the voluntary repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees is closely tied to the implementation of the Lome peace agreement. It is therefore hoped that the situation in Sierra Leone will enable UNHCR to start facilitating the return of the refugees, possibly as from April 2000. As soon as the conditions to promote the repatriation - such as i) a permanent cease – fire, ii) a well advanced DDR process, iii) the guarantee of basic civil and political rights and iv) unhindered access to main areas of return with some presence of the central administration - are met, UNHCR will shift from mere facilitation to promotion.


Already poor roads continue to deteriorate, and the Sierra Leone Roads Association (SLRA) capacity to carry out needed repairs has been eroded due to large-scale loss of equipment during the events of January 1999. The conditions on gravel roads, essentially all tertiary roads, are particularly poor during the rainy season (April to October). Most of the bridges on the tertiary roads north and south of the Bo-Kenema axis and in the east between Segbwema and Kailahun have a weight limit of 10 mt and are insufficiently wide to accommodate the wheelbase of commercial transporters. (Many were destroyed or heavily damaged during the fighting.) River crossing by trucks is impossible as there are no operational ferries. All food commodities are currently ferried across the river in small canoes. Good road conditions are vital for the effective and efficient transportation of humanitarian relief aid, the return of IDPs and the repatriation of refugees as well as the deployment of UNAMSIL. WFP Special Operation project for road network rehabilitation of the Kenema-Buedu road has been approved. The project will be funded by WFP and implemented by the SLRA and UNAMSIL.

Summary of Road Conditions:

Freetown-Waterloo (28 km) sealed and heavily trafficked for the first 10 km. Surface is very slick, particularly when wet, and therefore dangerous. Speed in excess of 60 km/hr is not recommended.
Waterloo-Masiaka: (36 km) Completed in 1995, the road is of high quality bituminous standard and passes through flat to rolling terrain. At this time, the road is relatively safe, but caution is warranted as some ambushes have taken place in the Occra Hills area.
Masiaka-Tiama: (120 km): the existing road is sealed though surface is deteriorating in some areas. Rolling terrain with maximum gradients approaching 5-6%. Average speed for commercial vehicles is 20-40 km/hr.
Tiama-Bo: (55 km): Prepared for paving when the coup in May 1997 took place. Since that time this road has not been maintained and is in extremely poor condition with innumerable potholes. Average speed is 10-20 km/hr.
Bo-Kenema (70 km): Bituminous, sealed and in good condition. Speed of 80 km/hr possible.
Kenema-Segbwema: (55 km) Road condition is very poor with a gravel surface which has not been maintained for a long time.
Kenema- Zimmi (86 km) condition extremely poor.
Masiaka-Rogberie Junction (30 km) very poor condition through war damage and lack of maintenance. 100 metre bridge spanning Rokel River which has load capacity of 40 mt. Average speed is 30 km/hr. There have been numerous ambushes along the road and extreme caution is warranted.
Rogberie-Makeni (85 km): Paved, some gravel sections. A bridge span at Mamusa repaired by SLRA with WFP support. Suitable for 40 mt trucks. Some ambushes have occurred, caution is advised.
Makeni-Koidu (168 km): Paved and good condition from Makeni to Magburaka (18 km), then deteriorates, but still passage to trucks. Caution advised.
Makeni-Kabala and north to Guinea Border (117 km t Kabala and a further 55 km to the border with Guinea): Paved with gravel sections. Exact state of road unknown.
Rogberi Junction-Lungi (75 km) Gravel, in poor condition but passable to commercial trucks. Has been very insecure with numerous ambushes. Extreme caution advised.
Rogberie Junction-Kambia (78 km) Gravel and in poor condition. Mange bridge spanning the Little Scarcies River has been damaged. State of the road unknown but thought to be impassable to large commercial trucks.
WFP, 25 January 2000


Following the outbreak of bloody diarrhea, UNICEF launched an awareness and sensitization campaign through school clubs, community and radio programmes on the control and prevention of the disease in the worst affected areas of the Western Area, Bo, Kenema and Port Loko districts. UNICEF and OXFAM continue to support well construction in clinics at Loko Masama chiefdom in the Port Loko district. Meanwhile, OXFAM has completed the assessment of the IDP camp in Port Loko, and is currently undertaking community mobilization in view of hygiene promotion and provision of improved water supply and latrines. OXFAM also completed a technical assessment of water supply in Daru, Kailahun district. The results indicate a high level of contamination alongside an increase in the prevalence of water-related diseases. A planned hygiene promotion capacity assessment was postponed due to insecurity in the area. Short-term intervention involving a number of agencies will commence as soon as the security situation improves. In Segbwema, also in Kailahun district, UNICEF and the Water Supply Division have worked out a plan of action to address WATSAN needs. The aim is to rehabilitate 10 traditional water wells and 20-drop holes of latrine. A team of technicians is already in place and work will begin as soon as security stabilizes in the area. Sanitation tools worth Le 4.9 million have been pre-positioned in Kenema for the intervention.

Action Aid has been undertaking cross-border operations from Guinea addressing health needs of Sierra Leonean refugees in the border areas. Their aim is to minimise the spread of diarrhea among the refugees and host populations. Post-training packages were given to the trainees at the end of the training session. The Organization also rehabilitated nine local wells and trained Well Care Takers. It is expected that these activities will significantly reduce the mortality rate of U5 children in particular.

In addition to their ongoing WATSAN activities in the southern province and the Western Area, ACF is undertaking some WATSAN programmes at their Therapeutic and Supplementary Feeding Centres in Makeni and at the Magbenthe and Makali IDP camps. Some activities are also ongoing in Magburaka, ranging from rehabilitation of shower rooms to construction of latrines.


Since November 1999, UNICEF has facilitated and sponsored the release of a cumulative total of 1,337 child combatants to the DDR programme. At the time of writing, nearly 900 children had undergone the DDR Programme. Although the majority of the children were received and demobilised in the northern province, a significant number originate from the east and south and have been transported to Interim Care Centres (ICC) there. Child Protection Agencies are strengthening the capacity of the ICCs across the country in anticipation of further releases and demobilization of children. The largest ICC at present is in Lunsar in the northern province, with a population of 360 children. The Centre is run by CARITAS-Makeni. Freetown hosts three ICCs, including Lakka, (Family Homes Movement - 120), Lakka (COOPI - 60) Waterloo (ADRA 45 child ex-combatants and 15 formerly abducted children - non combatants).

A planning workshop for reintegration of all the children was held in Freetown on 3 February for all Child Protection agencies nationwide. Participants agreed to a common approach in meeting the needs of children returning to their communities and emphasized the need to develop assessment frameworks for community assessment of needs. This will take into account the socio-economic status of the communities and encourage an inclusive strategy covering the needs of all children affected by war. Child Protection Agencies are expected to build on these initiatives with their communities at grassroots level, while UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Social Welfare to ensure that children’s reintegration needs are included in the broader reintegration agenda for NCDDR and NCRRR.

The demobilization and reintegration of ex-child combatants follows a different procedure from that of adults. The children spend 48 hours at the demobilisation center, and are then taken to ICCs close to their homes for 4-6 weeks, while assessment is carried out regarding reunification with family members where feasible. Communities are also trained to meet the human and economic needs of these children. Follow-up activities are undertaken after a 3-month period to assess whether or not the children are settling well in their communities. UNICEF will launch a more structured format for reintegration of children in March.

As part of the ongoing effort to address the special needs of children affected by war, UNICEF and partners in the Child Protection Network including COOPI and the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF), have produced a training manual in psychosocial training, care of child mothers and refresher training of social workers in family tracing, reunification and the reintegration of former child soldiers. Meanwhile, Save the Children, supported by UNICEF, completed two (one week-long) workshops for 80 Child Protection social workers, focusing on Family Tracing and Re-unification principles and documentation.


As at 23 February 2000, WFP distributed a total of 1,028 Mt of assorted food aid commodities to 107,600 beneficiaries in Sierra Leone under its Vulnerable Group Feeding, Therapeutic and Supplementary Feeding, Food-for-Training, Food-for-work and Emergency School Feeding programmes.

Vulnerable Group Feeding / IDPs

In collaboration with CARE and implementing partners, WFP conducted a census in 114 villages of Lower Yoni chiefdom, Tonkolili district. Among the total registered population of 34,000, the team identified 17,500 vulnerable individuals who have since received a one-off VGF ration amounting to 270mt of assorted food aid commodities. Lower Yoni was affected by fighting last year and agricultural activities were not possible.

From 9-11 February, WFP in collaboration with CARITAS-Makeni and CAD carried out a verification and second food distribution at the Maforki displaced camp in Port Loko. The new caseload of 3,850 IDPs (a slight reduction from the previous caseload of 4,034 IDPs) was serviced with a total of 52mt of assorted food aid commodities. WFP is currently liaising with NCRRR and NRC on the issue of the relocation of the camp to a safer area.

Food-For-Work (FFW):

WVSL is assessing the Kwame Bai Krim chiefdom in the Pujehun district to sensitise the community on FFW projects and also to assess the level of damage caused by flood in the region. In Moyamba district, CARE identified and developed 119 FFW projects in four chiefdoms. WFP-Kenema in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) carried out a joint assessment on the Blama Junction to Dodo road in the east. Community work groups have been formed to participate in the FFW programme to rehabilitate the road, which is vital for relief and commercial access to the affected populations.

Emergency School Feeding:

In line with its strategy to support the education sector through school feeding programmes, WFP extended food assistance to a total of 43,762 students during the month of February. Some 14 schools in the rural Western Area, 38 schools in Bo, 27 schools in Kenema, 38 schools in Lungi and 22 schools in Moyamba benefited from the programme. Kitchen utensils for up to 100,000 students have been purchased and distribution has been completed to schools along the Peninsular and Lungi, and planned for March in Bo and Kenema. Following the recent assessment of the Makeni area, WFP has started preparations for an initial small-scale institutional feeding programme for Makeni schools and medical facilities.


UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports (MYES) to meet a wide range of needs in the education sector. In collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the National Curriculum Research and Development Centre (NCRDC), they provided financial and technical support to the MYES to conduct a 12-day Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop to cater for children who have missed long periods of formal primary education. In Moyamba district, UNICEF provided financial assistance to the Peoples Educational Association (PEA) for the training of 40 facilitators (31 males and 17 females) and the sensitization of 17 Non-Formal Primary Education Centres to cater for a total of 608 girls and 588 boys.

The Canadian Government, through Cause Canada donated US$15,000 to the Bo Teachers College for the provision of more boarding facilities.

UNICEF, in collaboration with Action Aid SL and WVI has provided technical and financial support worth Le 18.2 million to the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports to conduct a youth festival focusing on sensitization on HIV/Aids, Reproductive Health and peace building among young people.


There were no significant changes in the movement of IDPs countrywide. However, recent reports indicate that IDPs in Bo have started returning to their areas of origin notably Kono. Some of those who went back are said to be returning to Bo due to poor living conditions in Kono.


UNDP continues to provide support to the Office of the President in the area of policy analysis and formulation. In collaboration with DFID, it is supporting the Government’s initiative on Good Governance and providing support to the National Commission for Democracy and Human Rights. UNDP has also supported the NCRRR in collaboration with GTZ in reconstructing 475 shelters for IDPs in the east of Freetown. Some 100 of these shelters, which cater for a total of 3325 beneficiaries, are located at Calaba Town and the rest in Kissy. About 60 percent of the beneficiaries are female-headed households. To strengthen local capacity, UNDP is providing training to youths within these communities to acquire construction skills for the production of low-cost building materials and basic construction technologies such as carpentry, brick making, roof construction, plumbing and masonry. This pilot project will be replicated at district level.

As part of its efforts to alleviate poverty in the country, the Social Action and Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPA) has disbursed a total of Le 22.5 million for the month of March 2000 to 12 NGOs in the southern and eastern provinces. The loans will service 210 creditors from 27 Community based Organizations. The loan term is 3-6 months at an interest rate of 15 per cent per loan. The Organization has also awarded contracts worth approximately Le 1.1 billion to its partners for the rehabilitation/reconstruction of 10 Primary Schools and 11 Health Centres in different parts of the country.


On 22 February, the Sierra Leonean Parliament unanimously passed into law the draft bill on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The bill passed through first, second and third readings in one session, following considerable pressure by Government to adopt the bill without delay. Concerns raised during the debate - which did not affect the consensus - included the close involvement of the international community in the TRC, equitable gender representation amongst the Commissioners and an increased role for the legislature in the TRC process. All speakers emphasized the importance of a nationwide public awareness campaign to foster confidence in and understanding of the TRC amongst the population. Two consultants and a representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited Sierra Leone to advise the Government on the implementation of the TRC. The delegation intends to kick-start the process by helping finalize preparations to appoint Commissioners and form a Secretariat.

UNAMSIL observers detected the illegal and arbitrary detention of 17 individuals by the RUF in a local prison in Makeni. A human rights violation report was sent to the RUFP HQ in Freetown and to Brig. Issa in Makeni. However, Issa refused to release these prisoners. Efforts are continuing to secure their release as early as possible.

UNAMSIL reported an increase in monetary extortion of civilian vehicles at RUF checkpoints on the Makeni-Magburaka Road. Additionally, armed child combatants continue roam the streets of Makeni town during daylight hours. Local villagers alleged that the children frequently man the RUF checkpoints in the region.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported an emerging pattern of rebel attacks against IDPs in the Port Loko area. During February, the Organization documented serious abuses committed against the civilian population by rebel elements. The violations range from abductions, murders, mutilation, forced labour, massive looting, ambushes, and the training of child combatants. Most of the victims were civilians living in IDP camps who were attacked when they ventured out to get food, wood and/or water. Once abducted, the men were most often used for forced labour to remove zinc roof panels from abandoned villages, and the women were used to carry looted goods, HRW said. One woman was reportedly killed when she was unable to carry the load and another man killed when he returned to his village to find food. Many were wounded with machetes, knives, and bayonets either while trying to flee capture or because they were unable to carry the wares for the rebels. Approximately half of the abductees, mostly men were able to escape within two weeks of capture as the purpose of abduction was task specific and not for long-term recruitment into the rebel ranks. Rape of abducted women and children continues to be a major problem. HRW documented the rape of 10 young women during an attack on a bus near Masiaka, two female children aged 11 and 12, and a young nursing mother. The victims told HRW that their captors identified themselves as members of the ex-SLA who are based in the villages of Gbere-bana, Rfurawa, Mabingbera and Magboni in Port Loko district. In a recent release, HRW pointed out that these violations were no longer covered under the general amnesty, and urged the GOSL, ECOMOG and the UN to treat the attacks as "not only serious violations of the Lome Accord, but also of national criminal codes and international human rights law."


ACF: Action Contre la Faim

ADRA: Adventist Development and Relief Agency

AFRC: Armed Forces Revolutionary Council

CAD: Children’s Aid Direct

CARE: Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere

CCF: Christian Children’s Fund

CCSL: Council of Churches Sierra Leone

CDF: Civil Defence Force

CES: Christian Extension Services

COOPI: Cooperazione Internationale

CRRP: Community Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Programme

DDR: Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration

DFID: British Department for International Development

ECOMOG: Economic Community Monitoring Group

FAO: Food and Agricultural Organisation

FFW: Food for Work

GDP: Gross Domestic Product

GOAL: Score Against Hunger

GOSL: Government of Sierra Leone

GTZ-MLP: German Technical Cooperation Multilateral Programme

HRW: Human Rights Watch

ICRC: International Committee of the Red Cross

ICC: Interim Care Centres

IDPs: Internally Displaced Persons

IFRC: International Federation of the Red Cross

IMF: International Monetary Fund

MAFE: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Environment

MCSL: Methodist Church Sierra Leone

MERLIN: Medical Emergency and Relief International

MOHS: Ministry of Health and Sanitation

MSF: Médcins sans Frontiéres (France, Holland and Belgium)

MSWGC: Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs

MYES: Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports

NAFSL: National Association of Farmers Sierra Leone

NCRDC: National Curriculum Research and Development Centre

NCRRR: National Commission for Reconstruction, Resettlement and Rehabilitation

NCDDR: National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration

NGO: Non- Governmental Organisations

NRC: Norwegian Refugee Council

OHCHR: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

OSM: Organisation for the Survival of Mankind

PCMH: Princess Christian Maternity Hospital

PEA: Peoples Educational Association

PHC: Peripheral Health Centre

RUF: Revolutionary United Front

RUFP: Revolutionary United Front Party

SAPA: Social Action for Poverty and Alleviation

SCF: Save the Children Fund

SFC: Supplementary Feeding Centre

SLA: Sierra Leone Army

SLRA: Sierra Leone Roads Authority

SLRCS: Sierra Leone Red Cross Society

SRSG: Special Representative of the Secretary General

TFC: Therapeutic Feeding Centre

TOT: Training of Trainers

TRC: Truth and Reconciliation Council

UNAMSIL: United Nations Peace Keeping Mission to Sierra Leone

UNDP: United Nations Development Programme

UNICEF: United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund

UNHACU: United Nations Assistance Coordinating Unit

UNHCR: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

WATSAN: Water and Sanitation

WFP: World Food Programme

WHO: World Health Organisation

WVI : World Vision International

WVSL: World Vision Sierra Leone


Based on NCDDR Joint Weekly Report on Disarmament (7 Nov 1999 to 13 Feb 2000)

Weekly Disarmament Trend

The trend shows an average of 565 fighters are being disarmed weekly. The rate peaked between 31 January and 6 Feb 2000 when 1702 fighters disarmed in Port Loko.

Weekly Disarmament Progress

The above graph shows an upward trend in the rate of disarmament with an average of 565 fighters per week since the launching of the programme on 4 November 1999. 4380 already disarmed fighters before the launching.

However, there was a sharp rise from Jan 31 to Feb 6 2000 when over 1700 fighters were disarmed at Port Loko Reception Centres.

Based on NCDDR Report
Joint Weekly Report on Disarmament (7 Nov 1999 to 13 Feb 2000)

Still Armed Disarmed Adults Disarmed Children

* Includes Pre-Nov 4 number reported by ECOMOG and the 564 disarmed in Kabala
** These were discharged in July 1999 and are in the Reintegration phase of the programme
***Loyal SLA disarmed by SL Defense HQ, not part of the DDR progromme

Current SLA***
Dischargeed SLA**

Annex 2. (February 2000) (pdf format)

Annex 3. Map Republic of Sierra Leone District (pdf format)

* Get Adobe Acrobat Viewer (free)



The practice of mutilating Sierra Leonean civilians was employed as a terror tactic by RUF rebels in the early 1990s, but only seemed to catch the attention of the international community during the first free democratic elections in 1996 when the rebels began amputating innocent civilians for casting their votes. Most of those who suffered amputations in the earlier period were from the rural areas, making it even more cruel as the livelihoods of many rural subsistence farmers were destroyed. Until 1995, the RUF had a deliberate policy of amputating arms to force people to abandon their villages. For the definitive work on this practice, refer to “Fighting for the Rainforest” by Paul Richards. The victims also include children and infants. Additional atrocities occurred when the rebels were forced to retreat from Freetown in January 1999. Only one camp has been established so far to cater for the needs of the victims - the Murray Town Amputee and War Wounded camp which is run by MSF – France and which houses some 1,500 people including amputees, war wounded, and their families. A few amputees are said to be living with relatives in the city, and those in Bo and the rest of the southern province are also residing within the communities.


The exact number of people disabled by the conflict is not known. Government and International aid agencies’ estimates have ranged from 3,000 to 5,000 for amputees and up to 30,000 for other forms of mutilation since the war began in 1991. Humanitarian agencies estimate that the numbers of amputee survivors are much lower, ranging between 500 and 600 countrywide. According to medical personnel, one explanation is the fact that victims who were unable to get access to medical care within the first few days of the amputations could not have survived. Some reports indicate that only about a quarter of the mutilated victims lived long enough to get help. RUF officials have however informed some agencies that they have up to 200 amputee survivors in areas they control, particularly in the eastern district of Kailahun. Agencies are yet to confirm these numbers. Some amputees are known to be residing in the northern town of Makeni, but their numbers are expected to be small. Meanwhile, efforts by the Ministry of Health to carry out a census have been constrained by lack of resources. With regard to war-wounded people, it is not yet known how many of them will require long-term assistance like the amputees. Agencies have confirmed that some of those registered at the Murray Town camp suffered serious lacerations leading to disabilities, while others with less serious wounds have fully recovered and do not require long term support. At present, support by agencies targets amputees, war wounded and their dependants.


Given low government capacity to respond to the needs of all war-affected populations, some international organizations have come to the aid of people disabled by the war. Thus far, interventions have focused on relief assistance, physical/occupational therapy, provision of artificial limbs and other functional devices, and psychosocial rehabilitation. More recently, agencies are planning to channel resources towards the provision of a continuum of services, which would include relief, physical/psycho-social rehabilitation as well as socio-economic reintegration and resettlement. It is hoped that through effective and well-coordinated delivery of a range of services, the amputees would be able to lead more independent lives within their own communities.

Agencies at Work

Handicap International (HI):

This French organization has emerged as one of the lead agencies in the provision of assistance to amputees, war wounded and other disabled people in the country. Mostly funded by ECHO and the French government, and equipped with six international and 56 local staff, HI provides prosthetic/other functional devices, physical rehabilitation and psychological support for disabled victims of war registered in their areas of operation. They have so far produced 89 (functional) and 48 (cosmetic) prostheses for the amputees.

Current Programmes:

§ Physiotherapy unit at the Connaught hospital in Freetown to treat the war wounded.

§ Limb Fitting Centre at Murray Town camp equipped with: orthopedic workshop for the production of prosthetic devices for amputees, polio victims and others; rehabilitation unit to carry out activities relating to physiotherapy and occupational therapy; a psychological unit for amputees and their dependants.

§ Orthopedic workshop and a physiotherapy unit at the Bo Government hospital to provide needed services;

§ Small workshop at the Bo Cheshire Home to repair wheel chairs and crutches for the inmates of the home and patients living in and around Bo.

§ Activities set up in Makeni in 1997 at the Stocco Orthopedic Centre but completely disrupted due to security problems. The workshop will be reconstructed and equipped.


Responsible for managing the Amputee and War Wounded Murray Town Camp. Also provides medical services to the beneficiaries.


ICRC’s assistance is currently focused on provision of surgical facilities to war-wounded people in Kenema who require surgical intervention. They will also undertake reconstruction surgery required before the use of prostheses. Their surgical team in Kenema supports a 48-bed surgical ward at the General Hospital to provide corrective and/or reconstruction surgery to war-wounded victims and other vulnerable individuals. Some 169 operations have been performed since September 1999 of which 79 were patients with war-related injuries. ICRC plans to expand the surgical department and also facilitate a permanent water supply system for the Hospital. In 1997, ICRC set up an independent hospital in the Western Area, (Netlands), for the treatment of amputees and war wounded. Support to amputees included the use of the pioneering Crokenberg procedure which involves reconstructive surgery on the amputee’s stump. Use of the procedure was controversial; while most benefited from the procedure, other beneficiaries felt that prosthetics-based procedures were more useful. ICRC has suspended routinely performing the procedure, and has ceased operations at the Netlands Hospital.


Despite the large number of disabled people (including polio victims) who require artificial limbs, the Sierra Leone government does not have the facilities at present for the production of prostheses and orthoses and mobility devices. WHO is seeking funds in the recently launched UN CAP to help build government capacity to address the immediate, medium and long-term needs of the victims. If funded, the Programme will assist in developing national policy on the disabled; establishing a rehabilitation unit at the MOHS; establishing a training course for health staff; and provision of machines, equipment and materials.


UNICEF has no specific programmes for war-wounded and amputees. Their support is mainly through ongoing child protection and education programmes which generally cater for the needs of all unaccompanied children, ex-combatants and returnees – abducted/refugees. Their involvement is limited to providing access to education to both child amputees and dependant children of adult victims. Although they are able to provide school materials, including school uniforms, the problem of finding room in existing schools in Freetown to accommodate different categories of children affected by the war has persisted, as most of the schools are already congested and unable to expand their current capacities. To address the problem, UNICEF has in the past supported the construction of temporary school structures attached to existing schools. At present, they are applying a community-based approach which aims at improving overall services in different communities, which will benefit amputees who return to their homes.

Cause Canada

Cause Canada has secured funds to provide vocational training, physical therapy and social reintegration. As a first step, they will field a social worker to work with HI on various social issues including determining existing barriers to resettlement of amputees in their communities.

GTZ – Multi-lateral Programme

The German government has provided funds to implement a number of assistance programmes for war-wounded and amputees. Activities will mainly focus on skills training and job placement services. They are in the process of finalizing a training Programme, which will prepare amputees to take up jobs as shopkeepers, messengers, news reporters (in local languages) etc. GTZ is also exploring the possibility of providing adult education, literacy and numeracy as part of the effort to make the beneficiaries employable. Support will be extended to the families in the form of income-generating activities as well as health and sanitation information campaigns.

Lutheran Evangelical Church

On 17 December 1999, the organization, in collaboration with local and international agencies, launched a Trust Fund for Amputees and War Wounded to meet their household needs, including support to their families and dependants. They have so far raised about Le1.5 million through the Trust Fund.

World Hope International

The organization, which was formerly operating in Makeni, is interested in providing prosthetic devices and trauma counseling services to amputees residing in communities in Freetown. They plan to extend these services to amputees in up country locations when the security situation stabilizes. In particular, they will cover Makeni, Kabala and Kono.

International Federation of Red Cross/SL Red Cross Society

Was previously providing relief assistance to amputees, but recently shifted focus to address longer-term needs, including job placement services. They plan to hire an employment agent working under the national Red Cross Society to sensitize employees on the range of capabilities of amputees.

World Vision Sierra Leone

Was involved in providing non-food items to amputees but currently has no specific plans for further assistance. They are currently planning rehabilitation activities.

Donor Support

§ The US government has some funds available to assist amputees and war wounded victims. They are in the process of determining areas of need for allocation.

§ The Canadian government has committed US $1.5 million to international and Canadian organizations to assist war-wounded and children affected by war. Areas of interest include physical therapy, skills training and social reintegration.


Socio-economic Reintegration

There is an existing gap between emergency and reconstructive services to the beneficiaries and planning for their reintegration and resettlement. While agencies like MSF-F and Handicap have focused on emergency assistance, there have been no socio-economic reintegration programmes to complement their efforts. Most of the amputees and war-wounded come from rural communities where they worked as farmers. Given their disability, they are no longer able to function as farmers even with the use of prostheses. Programming should therefore take into account the need to review with those concerned what other occupations they would be interested in and how to upgrade/develop their skills to undertake new tasks.


The plight of victims living upcountry is of particular concern as agencies are yet to gain humanitarian access to some of the areas. The problem is worsened by the fact that most medical structures outside Freetown are inoperative or poorly equipped. Access to provincial towns is important as rehabilitation centres will need to be established under the principle that assistance should be provided as close to beneficiary communities as possible.

Data collection

At present, most agencies are compelled to plan intervention programmes in the dark, with very limited information on the numbers, status or places of origin of the target populations. As earlier mentioned, a census has not yet been undertaken to determine the caseload requiring assistance countrywide. Data collection and analysis is crucial both for relief and reintegration programmes. OCHA/HACU is willing to provide information management and dissemination services, as they have the current capacity to undertake the task.


All agencies involved recognise the important need to coordinate resources and activities in order to achieve maximum results. Agencies concerned are in the process of establishing a committee on amputees and war-wounded. The committee will aim to streamline and harmonize messages and approaches, and develop a framework for coordinated intervention. The committee’s TOR is currently being drafted and will be finalised at its next meeting on 20 January. Among others, it will deal with issues of collaboration and coordination, developing a continuum of services, information sharing, needs assessment and resource mobilization.


According to Handicap, it has been difficult to get a clear and consistent message of beneficiaries’ perspectives on their needs. In the provision of prostheses for instance, they have requested for both functional and cosmetic devices at different times. Furthermore, those who accept the artificial limbs don’t seem to be too keen to use them, as they claim not have any real use for such difficult-to-use devices until they are provided with employment opportunities. Others who have taken up begging in the city would rather show their stumps to appeal to the humanity in the society. Although many have expressed the desire to return to their communities when security permits, there is reason to believe that some of the beneficiaries also take advantage of the perceived benefits at the camp, which has been the focus of most international missions to Sierra Leone. It is however worth noting that majority of those registered at the camp come from the northern province where the security situation remains unstable, and where basic facilities are not available. A return to their communities will largely depend on significant improvement of the security situation in these areas and the restoration of basic medical and social services.

In a country that relies mostly on subsistence existence, to live without a limb or two is a considerable challenge. Given the brutality they have suffered and the severe disability that makes normal existence nearly impossible, amputees expect the government and the international community to provide scholarships for their children for the rest of their lives. They want political representation and have asked for cosmetic devices. Despite their ordeal however, most have demonstrated a willingness to forgive their attackers, and have welcomed a peace process that could lead to lasting peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.


§ A comprehensive census should be conducted as a first step, to determine actual number of war disabled requiring assistance. HACU will liaise with MOHS on status of implementation.

§ Encourage community-based approach: response should not be isolated, but rather the needs of the beneficiaries should be viewed within the context of the needs in their communities;

§ Need to undertake a survey to determine interests and education/skills levels of beneficiaries;

§ The needs of the amputees should be considered along with needs of all disabled, including polio victims and the blind whose conditions have deteriorated due to the war;

§ A longer-term approach should be adopted, with a continuum of services linking relief, rehabilitation and reintegration activities;

§ Advocacy for improved access to victims in currently inaccessible areas;

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