TITLE=SIERRA LEONE (L-ONLY)
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
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.
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.
/// 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
/// 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)
03-Aug-1999 14:29 PM EDT (03-Aug-1999 1829 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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