IRIN-West Africa Update 366 for 1998.12.98

IRIN-West Africa Update 366 for 1998.12.98

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

Tel: +225 21 73 54 fax: +225 21 63 35 e-mail:

IRIN-WA Update 366 of Events in West Africa (Wednesday 23 December)

SIERRA LEONE: ECOMOG artillery pounds hills near Freetown

ECOMOG artillery pounded hills overlooking the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, today (Wednesday) after security forces received what turned out to be false reports that rebels were in the area, Information Minister Julius Spencer said on state radio. The reports said rebels were descending from Fourah Bay College on a hilltop overlooking the city, AFP reported. It said ECOMOG had set up checkpoints throughout the city. ECOMOG could not be immediately reached for comment.

A humanitarian source in the city told IRIN today that residents were anxious and the atmosphere was tense, especially in the heavily populated eastern section. The source said thousands of IDPs and Liberian refugees in a camp at Waterloo, 30 km south of Freetown, had fled following a rebel attack and some had reached Freetown.

Missionaries evacuate Makeni for first time

Elderly Xaverian missionaries in the Roman Catholic diocese of Makeni have been evacuated as a precaution because of a recent rebel presence l60 km to the east, missionary sources said yesterday. However, younger missionaries and the local clergy are to remain in the administrative centre together with the bishop of the area, Monsignor Biguzzi. The sources said two Xaverian missionaries, the Reverend Kasanzikie Kamanzi from Congo and the Reverend Jose-Angel Aguirre Abaitua from Spain, are missing from the Parish of Christ the King at Binkolo, about 10 km east of Makeni. Bishop Biguzzi said that the two probably took shelter following an evacuation plan adopted recently.

MAURITANIA: Four politicians held in Boumdeit

Three opposition politicians of l'Union des forces democratiques are being held in Boumdeit, a remote area 500 km east of Nouackhott, the Mauritanian capital. Human rights sources in Mauritania told IRIN today that the fate of the three men was likely to be decided at a ministerial council, which meets weekly. They have not been charged. The three, Ahmed Ould Daddah, Mohameden Ould Babah and Mohameden Ould Icheddou, were arrested on 16 December for saying at a mass rally that the government wanted to accept Israeli nuclear waste for dumping.

Lawyers in Nouackhott have gone on strike demanding the release of Icheddou, who is a lawyer, the sources said. The sources said the men had been denied access to their lawyers and family and Amnesty International said in a statement yesterday it feared the men risked ill-treatment because they were being held in an unofficial place of detention.

GUINEA: Official investigation opens into Conde's arrest

The Guinean government announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it was opening an investigation into the arrest of Alpha Conde, the chief opposition leader, who was detained last week, the French radio station RFI reported. Police accuse him of trying to cross the border into neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire which had been closed during presidential elections. The government said Conde would continue to be under house arrest in safe conditions adding that the criticism from various quarters of Conde's arrest was uncalled for. Conde is the leader of the Rassemblement du Peuple de la Guinee (RPG).

SENEGAL: Senegal approves draft law to ban female circumcision

Senegal's Council of Ministers has approved a draft law to ban female circumcision which affects 700,000 women in the country, UNICEF officials told IRIN today. A petition advocating the ban was brought before the council, which approved the draft yesterday, by village women fighting to end the age-old practice. The draft has to be approved by the National Assembly before becoming law. Under the draft published in an official communique, AFP reported, people engaging in female circumcision - the removal of the clitoris and sometimes the labia - would be imprisoned for five years.

An effort to make the rural population aware of the dangers of the practice was begun two years ago by the NGO, Tostan, under a UNICEF-supported social and literacy project in Malicounda, a village 70 km east of Dakar, the Senegalese capital.

WEST AFRICA: IFRC launches US $157 million appeal

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has appealed for 207.5 million Swiss francs (about US $152.7 million) in 1999 for 23.5 million people in 60 countries needing humanitarian help, the Geneva-based body said in a statement received today (Wednesday) by IRIN. Of this amount 13.2 million Swiss francs (US $9.7 million) would fund the repatriation and resettlement of 1.8 million Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Abidjan, 23 December 1998 17:15 GMT


Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 17:30:44 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 366 for 1998.12.98

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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