War and Peace
AngolaCatholic Bishop Anastacio Kahango on 1 October expressed satisfaction at the 2 day Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Heads of State Summit being held in Luanda. Angolan Deputy Health Minister Natalia do Espirito Santo also welcomed the summit. Deputy Foreign Minister Jorge Chicoty said that with the end of the war, conditions are created for development of Angola’s potential.
To the Catholic Church and the government, the choice of Luanda as a venue for the summit signifies recognition of the peace in the country and an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation in the development of member states. (Source: Angola Press Agency)
Liberia <7h3> The fighting in Liberia continues to threaten the stability of the Mano River Union countries- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; yet they have faced humanitarian severe crises, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported.
"Sustained conflict in the Mano River basin has spread across borders and engulfed the region in a severe humanitarian crisis. Several failed peace accords and peacekeeping efforts, collapsed economies, and some of the worst human rights atrocities in recent history made this one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises," USAID said in a situation report dated 9 October.
At least 232,000 people are displaced while another 269,000 are refugees in the region, according to USAID. This includes 100,000-300,000 IDPs and 173,000 refugees in Guinea; 126,000 IDPs and 66,000 refugees in Liberia and 12,000 IDPs and 30,000 refugees in Sierra Leone.
In Guinea, the reports said, the security situation had been stable throughout most of late 2001. As a result of recent fighting in Liberia, at least 13,000 new refugees had entered the country since May 2002. The new arrivals, mostly women, children, and the elderly, reported continued problems with Liberian security restrictions when attempting to cross into Guinea.
In Liberia, violent conflict continued between the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, mostly in the northern Lofa County.
"The overall situation continued to deteriorate in 2002 as sporadic fighting and insecurity hindered the efforts of relief agencies to reach vulnerable populations," the reports said.
The security situation in Sierra Leone, which had steadily improved since August 2000, was bolstered by the May 2002 re-election of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. However, areas near the Liberian border remained unstable as a result of continued border incursions by both the army and LURD. (Source: IRIN)
NigeriaThe governor of the southeastern state of Abia, Orij Kalu, vowed to revive a banned vigilante group- the Bakassi Boys- after the state legislature passed a law enabling the reconstitution of the vigilante group. State-owned Radio Nigeria quoted governor Kalu as saying that the passage of the law showed the group's operations had popular support. Once reconstituted the group would not engage in extra-judicial killings. It was the accusations of extra-judicial and human rights violations by national and international rights groups that led the federal government to ban the group, reknown for unorthodox methods such as public beheadings, burning of suspected criminals, illegal detention.
The Bakassi Boys, who operate in Abia and Anambra State, was set up by traders and business owners who found the state police ineffective in curbing rising crime in the two states. (Source: IRIN)
Cote d'IvoireThree weeks after the 19 September failed coup d'etat, the number of civilians fleeing Cote d'Ivoire's "war zones" was increasing rapidly and the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, was by 11 October turning into a transit town for the displaced. The secretary general of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, was expected to return to the commercial capital, Abidjan, on 12 October to re-start peace negotiations between the government and rebellious soldiers controlling the "war zones", news reports said. President Laurent Gbagbo had on Tuesday said he was not opposed to talks as long as the rebels first disarmed. He also said the ECOWAS chairman President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal had suggested a new peace proposal. Cote d'Ivoire's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Philippe Djangone-Bi, told the media in New York that the government now had a clearer idea of the composition of the assailants and their motive. They were politically motivated, he said. In Yamoussoukro, four hundred people arrived on Thursday at St. Augustin cathedral from Bouake, 111 km to the north, church officials said. Some had walked through the bushes. The number, mostly women and children, was the largest to arrive at the town in a single day. They told church workers that "several hundreds were still on their way". A few rooms have been temporarily converted into sleeping rooms, Cathedral officials said. As at 9 October, the cathedral had received 1,065 people of whom 603 were women, 232 children and 230 men. WFP, in a press statement in Abidjan on 11 October , also reported that together with its partners, it was assessing the food aid needs of nearly 10,000 displaced immigrant workers in the western Man region. These included 6,500 people in Duekoue town. It was discussing with the Burkina Faso government a mechanism to cater for a massive return of immigrants from Cote d'Ivoire, of whom some 4,500 had reportedly already arrived in Burkina Faso. WFP said five transit centers would be set up and assistance would be provided for two months. A mechanism was also being set up in Mali to respond to a possible return of Malians, of whom 4,000 had already crossed back. "The UN Country Team has mapped out available resources in the country and put together a set of Reponses for the Malians," the WFP statement said.
Similar discussions were going on with Ghana. "The WFP food stocks in Ghana are very limited and by next week 40 tons of emergency food rations and high energy biscuits will be airlifted to the country," WFP said. The Ivorian Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security, The Red Cross, NGOs such as CARITAS and Medecins sans Frontieres, the District of Yamoussoukro, some business owners and others had been providing aid to the displaced. The conflict has led to a 17-year high in cocoa prices on international commodity markets. The West African country is the world's leading cocoa producer with an annual production of over one million tons. (Source: IRIN) Liberia The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended a one-year extension of the Peace-Building Office in Liberia (UNOL), the UN reported on 10 October. Liberia was still going through a difficult political, security and humanitarian crisis prompting Annan to make the recommendation, the UN said. "The UNOL continues to contribute to national efforts at reconciliation, while at the same time monitoring developments and assisting in the promotion of respect for human rights and the rule of law," it said. Annan said UNOL had kept him and the Council informed about the evolving situation in Liberia and it had provided a useful link between the country and the international community, especially since sanctions were imposed.
Annan on 17 September appointed Abou Moussa as his new representative in Liberia and head of UNOL. Moussa had been the Regional Director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for West Africa. In a related development, the number of Liberians who have sought refuge in neighbouring Sierra Leone has grown by 3,000 following a new influx of displaced fleeing fighting between the Armed Forces of Liberian and rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, this new influx constitutes the latest massive influx since June when close to 10,000 arrived in Sierra Leone. UNHCR plans to transport them from the border area to camps farther inside Sierra Leone, which now host close to 60,000 Liberian refugees, 46,000 of whom have arrived this year alone. (Source: IRIN)