IRIN-WA Update 514 for 23 July [19990724]

IRIN-WA Update 514 for 23 July [19990724]

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination 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 514 of events in West Africa (Friday 23 July 1999)

Poor response to UN emergency appeals

United Nations agencies asked donor countries on Thursday to increase funding for humanitarian operations worldwide which help some 26 million people at risk.

The United Nations Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ross Mountain, said at a news conference in Geneva that donors had given 33 percent of the funds sought in this year's appeals.

In West Africa the response has been poor. Mountain said Guinea Bissau has received 19 percent of the funds sought and Sierra Leone 27 percent.

He said the rate of funding for the UN's consolidated appeals for complex emergencies had dropped steadily over the last three years from 75 percent in 1996, to 66 percent in 1997, to 54 percent in 1998.

WEST AFRICA: WFP approves emergency operation for refugees, IDPs

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has approved a US $106-million emergency operation to feed 1.8 million refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in five West African countries, the agency said on Friday.

As a result of a decade of civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, "hundreds of thousands of people in the region have been forced to leave their homes and are either refugees or IDPs with little or no access to food and most can only survive with international support," according to Paul Ares, the WFP regional manager, said.

The one-year operation which starts in July will provide 173,000 mt of emergency food to people affected by war in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. With the newly approved operation, WFP will continue feeding Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana until they are repatriated. IDPs in Sierra Leone will continue to receive WFP help until June 2000.

The UN agency will also support reconstruction efforts to help repatriated refugees and IDPs resettle in their own countries, Ares said. In Liberia, help will be given to reconstruct schools, rebuild roads and bridges and make large areas of the country accessible to aid agencies. In Sierra Leone, WFP will "seek to reach tens of thousands of people cut off from humanitarian assistance".

SIERRA LEONE: Aid delivery mechanisms established in Makeni

A United Nations mission to Makeni established on Thursday procedures with rebel leaders in the area to provide humanitarian aid to northern and north-eastern Sierra Leone, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Freetown said in a report.

Humanitarian agencies have been unable to access Makeni since January when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels launched their offensive on Freetown.

Led by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Sierra Leone, Kingsely Amaning, the team included UN and NGO specialists in health, food aid, human rights and children.

In meetings with the team, rebel commanders pledged to facilitate assessments and humanitarian interventions in areas north of Makeni, to return all stolen assets to their respective owners, and to accept the presence of Sierra Leonean relief personnel in areas under their control.

In light of these commitments, it was agreed that Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) and Action contre la Faim would send teams to Makeni within 24 hours to assess the nutritional status of children. Food agencies would send a team within 72 hours to determine requirements. It was also agreed that UNOMSIL would make a human rights assessment in Makeni within a week.

Parliament endorses rebel political role

Parliament has approved a bill granting rebels a role in the political life of the country in line with the terms of the Lome peace accord signed on 7 July, news organisations reported state radio as saying on Thursday. The legislation means that the RUF is now recognised as a legal political party. Officials of the National Elections Commission said that following the ratification of the bill, it would start registering rebel fighters and their supporters in preparation for future elections, news organisations reported.

British officer to head Sierra Leone police force

Britain will send a senior police officer to be Sierra Leone's new Inspector General of Police, a British diplomatic source in Freetown told IRIN on Friday. The source added that the Commonwealth police advisers would return to Freetown to start training the local police force. They were evacuated from Freetown in December 1998 as a result of the RUF offensive.

GUINEA BISSAU: Lisbon approved plan for refugee repatriation

Portugal approved a plan on Thursday to repatriate some 4,000 refugees who were victims of the recently ended war in Guinea Bissau, the Portuguese news agency Lusa, reported on Friday.

"The vast majority of these refugees are not registered with the UNHCR," Khassim Diagne, the UNHCR regional public information officer, told IRIN on Friday.

The Portuguese plan, which will be implemented by the International Organisation for Migration, covers the cost of transport and a stipend for the reintegration of refugees into society, Lusa said. The refugees have until 15 October to register for voluntary repatriation. After this date they will forego Portuguese government stipends.

Trial of POWs next week

Guinea Bissau's attorney general, Amine Saad, announced on Thursday that 328 prisoners taken during the civil war will be tried in court next week. The prisoners were soldiers loyal to the ousted president, Joao Bernardo Vieira. The victorious rebel Military Junta, which deposed Vieira, turned its prisoners over to the country's civilian authorities on 9 July.

Senegal's border reopens to road traffic

The main road between the Guinea Bissau capital, Bissau, and the largest town in Senegal's Casamance area, Ziguinchor, was re-opened to traffic on Tuesday, Lusa said quoting the Senegalese media. The border between the two countries had been closed since the outbreak of the military rebellion in June 1998.

NIGERIA: New military commanders appointed

New generals have been appointed to head Nigeria's military commands, including the West African Peacekeeping Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) based in Sierra Leone, Reuters reported quoting the mainly government-owned `Daily Times' newspaper.

A total 191 new appointments have been made to divisional commands and positions in the armed forces, Reuters reported. They will fill vacancies created when President Olusegun Obasanjo retired some 150 officers two weeks after democratic elections brought him to power at the end of May.

Major General Gabriel Kpamber will replace Major General Felix Mujakperuo as ECOMOG force commander, spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Olukolade told IRIN on Friday. "He is due to arrive in Freetown next week," Olukolade said.

Uneasy calm in in Kano following riots

An uneasy calm returned to the northern Muslim Nigerian city of Kano on Friday after rioting the previous day. This rioting was linked to earlier disturbances in the south-western town of Shagamu which left dozens dead, news organisations reported. One senior official in the state governor's office told Reuters that the governor "will douse the tension when he makes a broadcast".

Witnesses told Reuters that shops and houses belonging to southern Nigerians were looted on Thursday by youths in Kano's Kruna district, after Hausa victims returned from Shagamu, some 50 km north-east of Lagos. There were no confirmed reports of deaths in Kano, but dozens of people were injured, it said.

Clashes took place on Sunday in the south-western town of Shagumu between Nigeria's two largest ethnic groups, the Yoruba and the Hausa, during a traditional Yoruba festival known as the Oro. The conflict erupted because Yoruba people said that the Hausa community had refused to obey the traditional rule which requires non-participants in the festival to stay off the streets.

Future agricultural priorities agreed

The Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, Jacques Diouf and Obasanjo agreed on Tuesday on future agricultural priorities for Nigeria, the agency's representative in Nigeria, Hashim A-Shami, told IRIN on Friday.

A-Shami said Obasanjo agreed to focus on five priority areas in the next few years: food security, rehabilitation of dams and irrigation systems, aquaculture, animal health and food preservation facilities and silos.

"Agriculture is a top priority for President Obasanjo," A-shami told IRIN.

A-Shami said that the FAO Assistant Director-General was due in Nigeria over the weekend to follow up on these priority areas with Nigerian ministers.

During his trip to Nigeria, Diouf also met the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Lansana Kouyate. They discussed ways in which ECOWAS could work with the FAO to implement food security programmes in all 16 ECOWAS countries, A-Shami said.

Abidjan, 22 July 1999; 20:00 GMT


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Item: irin-english-1294

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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