IRIN-West Africa Update 371 for 1998.12.31

IRIN-West Africa Update 371 for 1998.12.31

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 371 of Events in West Africa (Thursday 31 December)

SIERRA LEONE: Roads in the north unsafe

Most of the main roads in Sierra Leone's northern provinces are unsafe because rebels dominate in the area which has become difficult for the state administration to access, a spokesman for UNOMSIL told IRIN today (Thursday).

"In all probability Lunsar is in rebel hands since rebels are attacking Port Loko," the official said from Freetown. Port Loko, which lies about 30 km west of Lunsar, became a rebel target after they left Makeni. The rebels have vowed to attack Freetown but the UNOMSIL spokesman said ECOMOG had driven the rebels out of Hastings, 19 km southeast of Freetown.

He also said that hundreds of fleeing civilians were arriving in Freetown. Although the city's international airport at Lungi is still open Ghana Airways has cancelled flight into the city, an airline official told IRIN.

Despite the presence of rebels closer to the capital, UNSOMSIL described Freetown as safe, saying it was being defended by ECOMOG and the nation's Civil Defence Force (CDF).

More reinforcements roll in

Nigeria continued to pour more reinforcements into Freetown yesterday (Wednesday) raising the strength of the West African intervention force, ECOMOG, to at least 17,000 men, Reuters reported quoting an ECOMOG spokesman.

It quoted the spokesman as saying that there could be a total of 20,000 ECOMOG troops in the country by the end of the week. An ECOMOG spokesman told IRIN yesterday that Nigeria had sent its reinforcements because most countries which were to contribute troops had not, so far, been able to do so, most likely because of financial problems. The Gambia and Mali have promised troops. Reuters reported that 200 Ghanaian troops had come from Liberia earlier in the week.

Humanitarian situation

A combined UN and NGO team assessing damage to the town of Waterloo, 25 km southeast of Freetown, after a rebel attack said that 51 houses were burned, an official of the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UN-HACU) told IRIN today. The team was headed by Sierra Leone's National Commission for Reconstruction, Relief and Rehabilitation (NCRRR) and UN-HACU. Waterloo residents, who were abducted by the rebels, told the team during yesterday's assessment that the rebels were in the hills overlooking the town, the UN-HACU official said. She also said that 2,000 IDPs and 100 Liberian refugees returned to their camp at Waterloo yesterday.

She added that 5,118 IDPs, mostly from Makeni, had arrived in Kambia, about 75 km north of Freetown. WFP has about 20 mt tons of cereal available and will be responsible for feeding these IDPs, she said. Local officials of other NGOs such as CRS, CARE, Caritas, World Vision International, MSF and Action contre le faim (ACF), are assessing the situation to determine the level of assistance they can provide for the IDPs in Kambia, the UN-HACU official said.

NIGERIA: Emergency declared in Bayelsa State

Bayelsa State administrator Paul Obi has declared a state of emergency in this oil rich region in Nigeria following the deaths of three people during protests by militant Ijaw youths, AFP reported today. Police fire shots in the air and used tear gas to disperse the protestors. AFP did not say how many youths were protesting.

Obi imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and placed military and police units on alert, the agency said, quoting 'The Guardian' newspaper. It said Ijaw youths marched on the government offices after the expiration of their ultimatum to oil companies that they leave the Niger Delta.The youths, who have been demanding a greater share of the nation's oil wealth for their region, had given the oil companies until December 30 to withdraw form the Ijaw area.

Nigeria earns some US $10 billion annually from oil exports but little of this ends up in the oil producing communities, AFP said.

SAO TOME: Posser da Costa to try again to form government

President Miguel Trovoada has asked former foreign minister Guilherme Posser da Costa to try again to form a new government in Sao Tome, AFP reported yesterday. The president rejected the first government list put forward by Posser da Costa, a deputy chairman of the Movimento de Libertacao de Sao Tome e Principe-Partido Social Democrata (MLSTP-PSD). In November's elections the MLSTP-PSD won 31 of the seats in the 55-seat national assembly.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa quoted a presidential decree as saying that the outgoing government of Raul Braganca Neto would stay in office in a caretaker role until the new administration takes over.

Abidjan, 31 December 1998, 17:30 GMT


Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 17:30:24 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 371 for 1998.12.31

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific