IRIN West Africa Update 350 for 1998.12.1

IRIN West Africa Update 350 for 1998.12.1


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

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IRIN-WA Update 350 of Events in West Africa (Tuesday 1 December)

NIGER: Provisional figures show Niger with grain surplus

Good rains this year have enabled Niger to produce what might be a surplus of cereals, according to provisional figures given by the Ministry of Agriculture.

An official of the ministry told IRIN today (Tuesday) that an estimated 213,000 mt of surplus grain had been produced. He said the figure was subject to confirmation at the end of this year and only then, he said, would the deficit areas of cereal production be known. The 1997 cereal deficit was 152,000 mt, he said.

Niger, a landlocked Sahelian country, has registered good harvests in Maradi in the south of the country, Tahoua, Dosso and Tillaberi in the west.

Teachers' strike shuts schools

Most schools closed in Niger's capital, Niamey, yesterday (Monday) as two teachers' unions began a three-day strike for payment of salary arrears, AFP reported, quoting a union official. The agency said two in three secondary and nearly all primary schools and colleges were closed.

The National Union of Teachers in Niger and the National Union of Basic Teachers want their September and October salaries paid. AFP said that 15,000 teachers and other civil servants were owed between seven and eight months in salaries arrears. The current strike follows protests in March, and others last year, when 40,000 civil servants demonstrated, demanding up to seven months of unpaid salaries.

GUINEA: Preparation for elections amid heightened tension

Guinea's self-exiled opposition leader Alpha Conde was returning home today as tension rose in the country ahead of December 14 presidential elections, a source in Conakry told IRIN today. He said some 500 hundred supporters were at the airport, but that the situation was calm and under control.

Reuters quoted Conde as saying in Senegal yesterday that: "On my arrival home tomorrow, I will tell my supporters that I want to get to power through democratic elections," calling on them to ignore "all provocation". Conde, leader of Guinea's main opposition Rassemblement du Peuple Guineen (RPG), left Guinea 18 months ago complaining of threats to his life.

With clashes already reported between supporters of rival candidates in the election, some members of the humanitarian community in Guinea were going to reduce their activities before elections as a "precautionary" measure, the source contacted by IRIN said.

Apart from Conde, three other candidates are in the running: the incumbent President Lansana Conte, leader of the Parti de l'Union et du Progres (PUP), Mamadou Ba of the Union pour le progres et le renouveau (UPR), and the leader of the Parti du renouveau et du progres (PRP), Siradiou Diallo. According to the bi-weekly "Jeune Afrique Economie", the opposition coalition group, Coordination de l'opposition democratique (CODEM), grouping the key political opposition parties, had advocated fielding a single candidate. This was rejected. Meanwhile, an Electoral Commission was established to ensure "transparent elections", weekly "Jeune Afrique Economie" added.

Party supporters held after official lynched

Thirteen supporters of the opposition party RPG were arrested over the weekend in connection with the lynching of Jean Traore, deputy to the prefect of Banian in southern Guinea, AFP reported, quoting the local radio station. There are conflicting reports on the cause of the government official's death.

According to the RPG, quoted by AFP, the local government official was killed by the mob after he shot down a party supporter and injured two others. Police sources said a security officer shot into a crowd of RPG supporters when the deputy prefect tried to disarm the policeman.

WEST AFRICA: UNHCR ends workshop on child rights

A regional workshop dubbed "Action for the Rights of Children" has decided to produce revised training modules for 1999 that will cater to children traumatised or otherwise affected by war in West Africa, the UNHCR told IRIN yesterday (Monday).

The workshop, held on 24 November, aimed at training agents who work with refugee children and teenagers. Participants reviewed existing training modules on child soldiers, sexual exploitation of children, voluntary repatriation as well as child and adolescent development.

The participants from Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone also examined the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Of these countries Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone have recently been or are still at war. The workshop was sponsored by the UNHCR and Save the Children Fund (SCF) .

UN desertification conference opens

Signatories to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification began presenting reports yesterday at an international conference in Senegal on their efforts to stop land degradation and reduce the effects of drought.

The interim secretariat of this UN convention, established in 1997, said in a statement yesterday that the oral progress reports at this second conference would be put in writing and in greater detail for the next meeting, scheduled for the second half of 1999.

The review will allow governments, it said, to direct their efforts at areas with the highest priority in fighting desertification. The third conference will place emphasis on Africa, it said, where 73 percent of the continent is severely or moderately desertified.

Officials from the 150 countries represented at the Dakar conference will also discuss relations with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a multi-billion-dollar fund set up by the international community in 1990. At its first assembly in April, the GEF decided it could fund efforts to combat desertification so long as the projects were linked to its core areas of interest: climate change, biodiversity, international waters or depletion of the ozone layer.

Under the Convention, countries affected by desertification must work with the population and adapt their legal, institutional and policies so that local communities partake actively in fighting desertification. Developed nations and donor agencies are expected to improve coordination with the affected countries when offering financial and technical help.

Sub-Saharan Africa worst hit by AIDS

In sub-Saharan Africa, the prevalence of AIDS is greater than anywhere else in the world. According to the latest statistics released by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and WHO ahead of 1 December -World AIDS Day - two million people across Africa have died of the disease.

The full report is available on irin-wa-updates or on

Abidjan, 1 December 1998 17:15 gmt


Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 17:49:49 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN West Africa Update 350 for 1998.12.1

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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