IRIN West Africa Weekly Roundup 76 for 1998.11.27

IRIN West Africa Weekly Roundup 76 for 1998.11.27


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

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IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup No 76 of Main Events for West Africa covering the period 20-26 November 1998

GUINEA BISSAU: West African states, France pledge peacekeeping help

Niger, Togo, Benin and the Gambia pledged troops to the ECOMOG peacekeeping force for Guinea Bissau this week and France said it was ready to help with logistics support.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said in a statement on Thursday quoted by Reuters that Niger and Togo would each provide 500 troops, Benin 300 and the Gambia 150. The force, under the control of ECOMOG field commander General Timothy Shelpidi, was set up by ECOWAS after the warring parties in Guinea Bissau signed a peace deal in the Nigerian capital Abuja on November 1.

France now prefers to support African troops in peacekeeping operations rather than send in its own troops and its deputy chief of staff, General Jean-Paul Raffenne told Reuters on Wednesday talks were "already underway for us to play a role in this force". He said France had enough equipment stockpiled in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, to fit out a battalion.

Shelpidi was in a high-ranking ECOWAS delegation which met a UNHCR team lead by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss ways of bringing peace and stability to West Africa. The meeting prepared the ground for a planned ECOWAS/UNHCR ministerial conference in West Africa which will tackle refugee issues and conflict prevention and resolution.

In Ghana, President John Rawlings warned this week of the danger of duplicating efforts to manage conflicts. The United States has created an African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) and France has set up a similar operation, particularly in West Africa.

GUINEA BISSAU: Aid flights resume

Twice-weekly aid flights between Senegal and Guinea Bissau resumed on Monday, OCHA said in a report and the European Union agency ECHO has also put an aircraft at the disposal of NGOs three times every two weeks. Sweden has pledged US $125,000 for WFP to fund its role as the air support manager for humanitarian agencies operating in Guinea Bissau, OCHA said.

The OCHA report, covering the situation in the country in November said 375,000 people needed humanitarian aid including 90,000 in Prabis, Cumura and Safim on the outskirts of Bissau, the capital.

The full OCHA report is available on the website Reliefweb at:

UNITED NATIONS: UN adopts resolutions on protection of refugees

The United Nations Security Council adopted two resolutions on Thursday last week on the status and treatment of refugees and on the flow of illicit arms in Africa.

The Council supported unanimously the use of military and police units as well as people trained specially in humanitarian operations to help maintain the security and the civilian character of refugee camps and settlements and called on African states to develop further institutions and procedures to implement international laws on refugees.

SIERRA LEONE: Rebel commander says he is ready for peace

Sam Bockari, the deputy leader of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), said the rebels did not "want to be an obstacle to peace" in Sierra Leone. He said in a satellite telephone interview with AFP on Friday he favoured an OAU-brokered peace agreement with the Freetown government.

Sierra Leonean authorities, meanwhile, said they were considering an amnesty for rebels who laid down their arms, the BBC reported on Thursday. But it quoted President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as saying that those guilty of serious offences would have to be tried.

Kidnapped missionary still held

Three Roman Catholic priests have begun searching for the Reverend Mario Guerra who was captured in northern Sierra Leone two weeks ago by RUF rebels, AFP quoted church sources as saying on Wednesday.

The rebels are demanding a satellite phone, medical supplies and radio contact between the rebels' military commander Solomon Musa and his wife, who is in Freetown, the Sierra Leonean capital.

Guerra, 64, said in a radio transmission on Monday that he was being well treated and was in good health, missionary sources reported.

EU gives Freetown US $124.8 million

The European Union signed an agreement on Monday to provide Sierra Leone with 111.5 million European Currency Units (US $124.8 million) to revamp its shattered economy. EU sources told IRIN the money, to be disbursed over five years, would support rehabilitation of the country's infrastructure, the development of social and public sectors and good government.

BENIN: 15,000 already dead of AIDS in Benin, WHO says

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report received by IRIN on Tuesday said 15,000 people have died in Benin from AIDS and 54,000 already have HIV. A separate government report published on Friday of last week and quoted by AFP said 1.43 million people would die of AIDS by 2025, cutting the population growth rate from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent.

WHO and the and UNAIDS said on Tuesday that the global AIDS epicentre continued to be in sub-Saharan Africa where 5,500 funerals took place every day. South Africa alone accounted for one in seven new infections, the report said, while some countries in West Africa were relatively less affected, partly because of early and sustained prevention efforts.

The complete report, New World AIDS Day, is available on:

WEST AFRICA: Niger, Burkina Faso mount polio vaccination campaigns

Burkina Faso and Niger launched campaigns over the weekend to vaccinate children against polio. Burkina Faso said the campaign covered the whole country, involving more than five million children, while in Niger two million children were to be vaccinated.

NIGER: Niamey gets loan, but needs more disaster aid

The African Development Fund (ADF) said on Thursday it had approved a loan of 11 million units of account (about US $15.49 million) to Niger which will help it fight poverty. The ADF, a unit of the African Development Bank (ADB), said in a statement made available to IRIN that the 50-year loan, which carries a service charge of 0.75 percent with a 10-year grace period, should help Niger achieve GDP growth of 4.5 percent per annum.

But the country's early warning and disaster relief body told IRIN on Monday it was still desperate for help to rebuild homes and repair infrastructure wrecked in the severe flooding last August. Niger's Systeme d'Alerte Precoce et de Gestion des Catastrophes (SAP/GC) said in a document sent to IRIN that although it had received lots of aid since the floods, it was still lacking what it needed most - food. An official told IRIN the country needed such essentials as rice, beans and sorghum to use in a "food for work" programme for the flood victims.

The official also said Niger needed mats and lamps, simple huts to rehouse the people, blankets and tents.

SAP/GC said it had to repair 32 roads, 232 wells, dykes around rice paddies, 89 schools and dispensaries and 4,862 homes.

Donor contributions soar in Niger budget

Donor contributions are up 65 percent in Niger's 1999 budget which shows an increase of 14.7 percent, according to a Reuters report on Saturday. The 1998 budget showed a 39 percent drop in donor contributions.

TOGO: European Commission stops talks with Lome

The European Commission agreed in Brussels on Wednesday to stop consultations with Togo because of its human rights record. It said in a statement received by IRIN that respect of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law were mandatory for signatories of the Lome aid and trade convention between Africa and the European Union.

The full text of the statement is available on IRIN-WA Extra.

However, the EU continued to give aid to Togo and set aside 10 million ecus (US $11.2 million) to support small-scale business projects, it said on Wednesday. The aid will also support education, health, water supply and transport.

NIGERIA: UN Special Rapporteur visits Nigeria

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Soli Sorabjee, spent the week in Nigeria where he welcomed his visit as a sign of the "government's liberalising move". Earlier plans for a visit were cancelled by the former hardline military leader, General Sani Abacha. Sorabjee, who has met human rights groups as well as government and other officials during the visit, which began on Sunday, said there had been a "sea change" since General Abdulsalami Abubakar took power, news organisations reported.

Abubakar began releasing political prisoners shortly after he took over and repealed security laws permitting detention without trial. But the Nigerian human rights group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, told him on Tuesday the government still held 295 political detainees, news agencies reported.

The Nigerian Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, Emmanuel Udogwu, told the rapporteur that three decrees said to restrict freedom of association among labour unions were in the process of being repealed, Nigerian television reported on Tuesday.

Ijaws leave oil flow stations

A spokesman for the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell told IRIN on Thursday that Ijaw youths ended their blockade of oil flow stations the day before with the exception of one in the southeastern delta area of Nigeria. The spokesman said the Ijaws' concerns about the unequal distribution of wealth from the vast oil fields in the region were echoed by other ethnic groups. He said the Ijaws hoped their blockade would force the Nigerian government to examine their grievances.

Shell said it lost 250,000 barrels a day over a four-week period. Its daily production in 900,000 barrels a day.

LIBERIA: US embassy back at work

The United States embassy in Monrovia resumed operations on Monday two months after scaling down its diplomatic activities following a gun battle outside its compound in which shots were fired at former faction leader Roosevelt Johnson and his supporters as they tried to take refuge in the embassy.

The move follows a Liberian government apology for the incident.

Senate approves drug enforcement agency

The Liberian Senate has approved the establishment of a new drug enforcement agency to formulate and enforce all domestic anti-drugs legislation. The office of the UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in Abidjan told IRIN on Tuesday that 75 percent of the former fighters engaged in the seven-year Liberian civil war had used alcohol, tobacco and drugs like cannabis, cocaine and heroin to help them fight.

The National Interministerial Drug Committee (NIDC) designed a three-million US dollar project for the rehabilitation of the fighters and UNDCP had recommended the establishment of an anti-drug agency to strengthen its legal capacity and to create an alternative resource base.

Abidjan, November 27, 1998 1600 GMT


Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 16:55:14 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN West Africa Weekly Roundup 76 for 1998.11.27

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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