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DATE=8/3/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SIERRA LEONE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-252446 BYLINE=GORDON MARTIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Eight years of civil conflict in (the West African country of) Sierra Leone came to an end nearly a month ago (on July 7) with the signing of a peace agreement between the Government and the rebel "Revolutionary United Front". The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sierra Leone, Kingsley Amaning (of Ghana) says there is an urgent need of food and other aid to avert a disaster. Gordon Martin in Geneva has this report. TEXT: Despite the serious problems that face the country, Kingsley Amaning says the month-old peace accord has improved the mood of the people of Sierra Leone. ///ACT AMANING/// The result is that people are now collectively in a massive way looking up, and looking about and see how they can consolidate the peace in the country. And what opportunities this agreement would have opened up for all of us, including those who are very much involved in the humanitarian operations in Sierra Leone. ///END ACT/// Mr. Amaning says two U-N assessment missions found in northern areas of the country about one-third (30- percent) of the population is malnourished. ///ACT AMANING/// /// OPT /// The first findings indicate there is over 30 percent malnutrition among children below the age of 10. Unfortunately, similar tendencies at almost the same level were discovered in the adult population. /// END OPT /// Now, this is a major and a serious indication of malnourishment in the areas of the north and, therefore, we have to undertake a swift and massive intervention. Otherwise, we will soon be having a humanitarian disaster on our hands. /// END ACT /// In government-held areas, more than 200-thousand people need food aid, says Mr. Amaning. The problem seems much larger in rebel-held zones. Mr. Amaning says the United Nations is considering assistance to more than one-million people. All the clinics and health structures in the areas the United Nations surveyed have broken down and require a massive and swift intervention to make them function again, says Mr. Amaning. He says there are many obstacles that make aid distribution difficult. Bridges on key road links have been destroyed, and armed bands roam the countryside demanding supplies from aid convoys. Mr. Amaning stresses the critical need for stability to be restored to Sierra Leone. He recalls that a committee created to carry out the humanitarian provisions of the peace accord has not been able to meet because of a failure to agree on a meeting venue. Despite guarantees they have given, government and rebel representatives are still not working together effectively with aid organizations, Mr. Amaning says. // OPT /// He says ways to demobilize and demilitarize the country are not yet in place. /// ACT AMANING // OPT ACT /// We need to have, in a very short time, [a] peacekeeping force and military observers in those areas held by various armed groups so that disarmament and demobilization can take place and so that whatever efforts we are making to arrest the humanitarian disaster will be effective and well founded. /// END ACT // END OPT /// Mr. Amaning says -- We are making slow progress in Sierra Leone, and adds, the problems are many and we discover new ones as we go along. (Signed) NEB/GM/GE/RAE 03-Aug-1999 14:29 PM EDT (03-Aug-1999 1829 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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