Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal for Children and Women: Jan-Dec 2000



  • Lomé Peace Accord signed on 7 July 1999 ending nine years of war - a unique accord with specific sections that require all sides to provide access and basic services for children as well as specifying the structures for the demobilization of child combatants
  • Emergence of the 'Forgotten Generation' - children in Sierra Leone have begun to accept displacement, war and lack of basic services as a normal part of their lives
  • During the nine years of conflict, 450,000 people - approximately 10 per cent of the population - fled across borders; return movement will peak in year 2000; reintegration and resettlement required for some 2.6 million war-affected people, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and other war-affected who did not flee
  • Estimated 34 per cent of the population have access to safe water, 12 per cent to sanitation
  • 55 per cent of reported 4,000 missing children are documented as cases of abduction; up to 5,000 child combatants require disarmament, demobilization and reintegration assistance
  • Health service coverage is, to date, below 40 per cent (pre-war rate was 75 per cent)
  • Maternal mortality is 1,800 per 100,000 live births
  • Infant and under-five mortality is 164 and 284, respectively, per 1,000 live births
  • Illiteracy rate is an estimated 80 per cent, mainly females


  • Rehabilitate the primary health care (PHC) system in five key districts most affected by IDPs - this includes provision of supplies as well as training and technical support to district staff; this is expected to reduce the impact of key diseases and factors that affect maternal and child health (MCH);
  • Eradicate polio and improve vaccination coverage to 90 per cent for all children under one year of age;
  • Reduce child malnutrition rates in five targeted districts in the north and west that host IDPs;
  • Construct and/or rehabilitate low-cost water and sanitation facilities, targeting schools, primary health units and areas of IDP settlement and return;
  • Enable 300,000 children to return to formal primary school and provide non-formal emergency education to 100,000 war-affected children and youths;
  • Provide for the special needs of children, including some 5,000 child soldiers, 10,000 unaccompanied children and other war-affected children.

UNICEF's long-term presence in Sierra Leone has helped foster partnerships with a range of governmental, grass-roots and international entities. This intimate knowledge of the context and the players has shaped the programme to reflect needs at the community level. UNICEF's presence in Freetown, Bo and Kenema facilitates close monitoring of needs and input at central and provincial level in the most-affected areas of the country. UNICEF has also played a key role in the overall coordination of activities in child protection, health and education by bringing partners together for regular meetings as well as development and refinement of national policies. The fact that child protection issues are specifically addressed in the Lomé Peace Accord reflects the influence of the advocacy efforts by UNICEF and partners.


Primary Health Care
Emergency Nutrition Support Project
Support to Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI)
Support to Safe Motherhood Programme
Water and Sanitation Project
Recovery of Basic Education and Youth Development
Child Protection Programme


All sectors of society in Sierra Leone have been gravely affected by nine years of civil war. Children have been hit hardest, as a lost generation has grown up in the 1990s accepting displacement, inadequate access to basic services and abduction into fighting forces as a normal part of their lives. Although the Lomé Peace Accord was signed in July, children have yet to reap the benefits of peace as 45,000 fighters have yet to be disarmed. Support to rehabilitation activities is challenged by the sheer magnitude of damage to society and basic infrastructure.

With the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord, civil strife that traumatized countless civilians for nearly a decade has ended. There are strong reasons to believe that the peace process is on track, such as the relatively well-maintained ceasefire and the arrival of the rebel leaders to take up government posts in Freetown as per the Lomé Accord. At the same time, the majority of the war-affected civilians remain out of the reach of humanitarian agencies due to difficulties in the implementation of the Accord and in ensuring all parties are on board. The successful implementation of the Accord is key to moving Sierra Leone from relief to recovery.

Within the context of the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), UNICEF is challenged to support the implementation of the Lomé Accord and the components related to children. These include the advocacy and promotion of human rights, particularly of women and children, and support for the human rights elements of the Accord and the Sierra Leone Human Rights Manifesto. Restoration or improvement of pre-war levels of service is an immediate priority in the Education, Health/Nutrition and Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) sectors. Beyond these immediate needs lies the major challenge to ensure the reintegration and resettlement of the hundreds of thousands of demobilized combatants, IDPs and refugees.


In spite of a volatile year in which humanitarian workers were evacuated, resettled and abducted, UNICEF and its partners were able to maintain a life-saving presence. UNICEF's programmes from the 1999 CAP fell within the broad strategies outlined in the two-year (1998-99) Country Programme approved by the Executive Board. This Country Programme was adaptable to a range of scenarios from protracted conflict to peace. In 1999, $5.12 million was raised under the CAP against a requested amount of $7.75 million. Areas of success include:

  • Supported 130 peripheral health units (PHUs) and clinics with essential drugs, basic medical equipment and immunization;
  • Strengthened the skills of medical service providers in the management of endemic and communicable diseases;
  • Basic education programmes assisted the Government and its partners to re-open schools in accessible areas in March 1999; a total of 61,335 displaced and other disadvantaged children were assisted with a package of learning materials;
  • 2,800 children in Makeni completed summer school in September 1999, enabling them to catch up on school time lost during the war;
  • Temporary classrooms accommodating 6,400 displaced pupils living in the local community were constructed; additional staff was supported; and water and sanitation needs of schools were addressed;
  • Educational assistance given to street and other extremely disadvantaged children; training and workshops given to teachers and inspectors;
  • Provision of learning materials and strengthening of the non-formal education system;
  • A review of the non-formal primary education in the western area was completed in order to redirect programme for year 2000;
  • A coordination mechanism for non-formal education was established, and standardized monitoring tools developed;
  • Developed strong partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to address critical needs in education of children and youths;
  • Reactivated and strengthened, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the National Family Tracing and Reunification Network (FTR);
  • In collaboration with AFRICARE, provided support for household food security and women's groups with agricultural input;
  • With Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), Village Development Committees (VDCs) and other partners, carried out chlorination campaigns in corpse and rubbish clean-up in Freetown; coordinated hygiene and sanitation education programmes;
  • Assisted in trucking some 100,000 gallons of potable water to various IDP camps and residents; chlorinated and constructed wells.


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