UNAMSIL Press Briefing – Friday, 10 November 2000

UNAMSIL Press Briefing – Friday, 10 November 2000 
Posted November 13, 2000 – 18:51 by newsdesk

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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of a briefing with UNAMSIL Spokesman Hirut Befecadu and military spokesman Lt. Commander Patrick Coker 

The meeting of the Coordination Mechanism for ECOWAS, Government of Sierra Leone and the UN started in Abuja on 8 November under the chairmanship of the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, standing in for his Malian counterpart whose arrival was delayed. The meeting has concluded its deliberations and has made several recommendations whereby it expressed that the meeting with the RUF should focus exclusively on a ceasefire, and that all the other outstanding issues relating to restarting the political dialogue would be discussed after a through assessment of progress made in implementing the ceasefre agreement. The Coordination Committee emphasized the importance of deploying UNAMSIL troops throughout Sierra Leone to monitor the ceasefire, and called on ECOWAS to press the RUF to return all the seized UNAMSIL weapons and equipment. It further called for the need to build trust and confidence between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF, as well as to encourage the RUF to have direct contacts with the government and President Kabbah, UNAMSIL and ECOWAS. It also called on the RUF to establish a presence in Freetown as soon as possible.

The delegation of the RUF led by Col Jonathan Kposowa and six other members have been airlifted from Monrovia by an aircraft provided by the Nigerian Government to travel to Abuja for the meeting between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF. The Liberian delegation also travelled on the same plane. We expect the meeting to have started by noon today.

UNAMSIL’s Civil Affairs Section in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), provided 1000 kits of vegetable seeds to the NGO Farming Families Project named PLASAS, operating in the Freetown Western Area and the Northern Province. The delivery ceremony took place November 9, 2000. The project beneficiaries are 43 community groups comprising 1075 women gardeners, who have traditionally been engaged in community farming, but due to the civil war, their condition worsened. The donation will allow the beneficiaries not only to ensure food security, but also to generate a minimum income. Their request for funding was made to UNAMSIL’s Civil Affairs Section by FAMINE, an umbrella organization supporting efforts of Community Based organizations (CBO), involved in rehabilitation and reintegration activities.

On November 8, a Civil Affairs Officer Ms Laura Linares conducted a field visit to Bo to establish links with regional and local authorities, representatives of NGOs, the UNAMSIL Guinean contingent, MILOBS and UN Civ Pol officers. The role of the Civil Affairs Section was discussed with the Resident Minister, the Mayor and the Counsellors of Bo, and NCRRR representatives. Emphasis was made on governance and the humanitarian situation. The Resident Minister pointed out that his effort is focused on promoting confidence building, and stressed the need to work in close collaboration with UNAMSIL to enhance the capacity of regional and local government. He also suggested that a sensitisation campaign be initiated to further explain the role of UNAMSIL to the population. The NCRRR representatives on his part identified three areas of concern: The restoration of civil authority; rehabilitation of roads infrastructure and rehabilitation of community basic services such as health centres, primary school and court barriers.

Freetown MILOBS at Wilberforce Reception Centre disarmed two-RUF child combatants and one-AFRC unarmed child combatant on November 8, they were transported to LAKKA Child Camp the same day.

The DDR Camp at Lungi was officially closed on November 8, as the last ex-combatant was discharged. The camp will be handed over to the SLA on November 11.

You will recall that we informed you that the withdrawal of the Indian and Jordanian peacekeepers will be carried out in phases. The first phase of this withdrawal commenced during the week. The details are not available, however, the general outline is as follows: from the western area, Jorbatt 1 which is located at Waterloo-songo will be the first to pull out from the Jordanian contingent next week. The Jorbatt 1 area of responsibility will be taken-over by NIBATT 5 and 6. Jorbatt 2 located at Masiaka will vacate their position to the Kenyan Battalion. In the eastern area, the Ghanaian Battalion that was located at Kenema will now take over from Indian Battalion 1 at Daru. The Zambian Battalion currently located at Lungi will take over form Ghana Battalion at Kenema. The advance redeployments and phased withdrawal has commenced however none of the peacekeepers have left the shores of Sierra Leone yet. These general movements will ensure that no vacuum is created to jeopardize the current security situation in UNAMSIL positions.

There was a wreath laying in honor of Lance Corporal Nabu who drowned at the Lumley Beach. He was sent off by senior military and civilian officers of UNAMSIL. His remains will be flown to India.


For additional information, contact:
UNAMSIL Public Information Office
UNAMSIL Headquarters, Mammy Yoko, P. O. Box 5, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: 232-22-273-183/4/5 Fax: 232-22-273-189 e-mail: odine@un.org

(c) United Nations 2000
For information purposes only; not an official document of the United Nations.

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