IRIN-West Africa Update no 367 for 1998:12:24

IRIN-West Africa Update no 367 for 1998:12:24

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 367 of Events in West Africa (Thursday 24 December)

SIERRA LEONE: Freetown calm but tense

Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, remained calm but tense today (Thursday) following this week's rebel attack on the village of Waterloo, 30 km to the south, diplomatic sources and aid agencies told IRIN.

One ranking Western diplomat said Freetown residents were going about their business as usual, shops were full and public transport was running between the provinces and the capital. The diplomat said Waterloo, the village south of Freetown that was attacked on Tuesday, was firmly under the control of the West African intervention force, ECOMOG. He said the force took just two hours to reassert its control.

ECOMOG has been checking civilians for rebels who might be trying to slip into the city by posing as IDPs, a UN official told IRIN yesterday (Wednesday). Reuters yesterday quoted an ECOMOG officer as saying the force had foiled a plan by rebels to attack the city on three fronts around 19 December.

Troop reinforcements arrive

Diplomatic sources told IRIN that about 2,000 Nigerian troops and three Alpha jets had arrived in Freetown to reinforce the ECOMOG force. News reports said the troops arrived on Wednesday. Authoritative ECOMOG officials could not be reached for comment.

The long-awaited reinforcements from other West African countries have still not materialised, because of financial constraints. This has left the ECOMOG force in Sierra Leone largely manned by Nigerians.

A UN Security council statement issued yesterday called on the international community to provide resources for the troop reinforcements and logistical support for ECOMOG.

UN Security Council condemns presence of foreign forces

The UN Security Council has condemned the participation of foreign forces in Sierra Leone's war and expressed concern about the organised delivery of large quantity of arms reaching rebels, news agencies reported yesterday.

A statement read to reporters after the UN secretariat briefed the council called on all countries to abide by the UN arms embargo against he rebels and against neighbouring Liberia. Diplomats in Freetown told IRIN that it was a well known fact that the source of weapons deliveries to the rebels was Liberia. The Liberian government has consistently denied any involvement in Sierra Leone's war, closed its border and deployed troops along the frontier.

Britain advises its nationals to leave

Britain has sent two aircraft to Freetown and advised non-essential nationals to leave the country on these flights, the High Commission told IRIN today. Other diplomatic sources told IRIN that the EU and Germany would follow the British example but the Belgian consul said he would stay in Freetown because the situation was calm.

Humanitarian situation Freetown and beyond

A UN aid agency told IRIN today that residents were trickling back to Waterloo town and a camp there for IDPs. An official said 1,000 IDPs had returned to the camp which, before Tuesday's attack, catered for 10,000 to 12,000 IDP inmates. The official said the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UNHACU) and NGOs will make a joint aid assessment of the situation in Waterloo and its environs on Monday.

However, in Makeni, 150 east of Freetown, a panicked population had been trying to leave, despite ECOMOG assurances that their town is safe, the official said. People were frightened, she said, because of a rebel attack on Binkolo, about 10 km north of Makeni and by the reported presence in Makeni of ex-Sierra Leonean soldiers. Many of these soldiers had joined the Revolutionary United Front and ex-military junta rebels.

IDPs from Magburaka, about 20 km south of Makeni, have been fleeing into the bush because of recent rebel attacks nearby, the official said. She said that the rising tension had caused residents and IDPs in Masingbi, just east of Makeni, to flee to villages or the bush. Nobody is heading to Makeni, and all agencies and the Roman Catholic mission had pulled out, the official said.

GUINEA BISSAU: Prime Minister designate to focus on military

Guinea Bissau's prime minister designate, Francisco Fadul, said yesterday his top priority at the head of the government of national unity would be to solve the problems of the military and those of the veterans of the war of independence, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Fadul, the civilian adviser to the leader of the Military Junta that tried to oust President Joao Bernardo Vieira, said an "Arab and African" country had promised his government aid.

Lusa reported that Fadul and Vieira were due to meet today to discuss the composition of the government. Vieira will name four members and the Military Junta four. Under the Abuja peace accord signed in the Nigerian capital early November, Vieira is to ensure there is a government of national unity, followed by presidential and legislative elections by March 1999.

LIBERIA: EU to fund resettlement programmes

Brian Brewer, a European Union Programme Officer in Monrovia, told IRIN today that the EU would expand its resettlement programme in Liberia and move towards developmental activities in 1999. He said EU projects would focus on the resettlement and reintegration of the internally displaced by the seven-year war which ended last year, increase food production in order "to break the food dependency" syndrome, repair roads and bridges, and produce and disseminate adapted school books.

In 1998, the EU funded community-based projects to facilitate the resettlement of Liberians in the counties of Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Maryland and Grand Kru. Brewer said in 1999 the programme would expand to include Lofa, Bomi and Cape Mount counties. He said 8,000 people were expected to moved from Monrovia to Grand Gedeh next year, adding that it was important that the international community help them rebuild their lives. The EU projects would continue to provide employment in projects which would benefit the community such as the repair of road networks, preparing land for crop production, strengthening agricultural production, and building dykes and clay dams. Brewer said over half of US $50 million EU budget in Liberia for 1999 would be channelled towards community-based projects.

Brewer added that the EU sponsored a US $1 million programme for the production of school books, which were rewritten to reflect the civil war in Liberia and its impact on Liberian society. Most of the books were aimed at schools in the interior which have been poorly endowed with educational material, Brewer added.

WEST AFRICA: France and Britain to battle tuberculosis

France and Britain said they were teaming up to battle tuberculosis in West Africa by funding research during a three-year period to better diagnose and treat the disease, Reuters reported today, quoting a French ministry statement. Britain's International Development Minister Clare Short and French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin announced it was the largest joint programme in West Africa and would cost US $1.4 million. The research would be undertaken by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in The Gambia in collaboration with other West African centres, the statement added. It would focus on improving the detection and treatment of tuberculosis in The Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its second annual compilation of data on the disease, reported that between 1995 and 1996, TB case notifications increased in four out of six WHO geographical regions in the world. It added that the marked increase in Africa was certainly linked to HIV, the virus which gives AIDS. In a related development, WHO issued guidelines in a report, `Tuberculosis and Air Travel: Guidelines for Prevention and Control', to reduce transmission of the disease to the world's 1.4 billion air passengers. WHO underlined that while the risk is low, TB transmission during air travel has been documented.

SAO TOME: Posser da Costa confirmed as new premier

The President of Sao Tome and Principe, MiguelTrovoada, has confirmed Guilherme Posser da Costa as the country's new prime minister. Portuguese television reported today that the former Foreign Minister was nominated to form the new government by his party, the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome e Principe, last Friday. The party was returned to power in general elections in November.

The television said Posser da Costa would meet President Trovoada on Friday after which he is expected to announce his cabinet.

Abidjan, 24 December 1998, 14:30 GMT


Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 15:09:02 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update no 367 for 1998:12:24

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific