Humanitarian agencies in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have requested US $180 million for programmes in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2003 in a joint appeal launched on Tuesday by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In Guinea, the 2003 inter-agency appeal for US $54.1 million focuses on humanitarian emergency assistance, the transition to development and encouraging peace within the context of continuing sub-regional conflicts.
In Liberia, US $42.7 million is being requested. It would go mainly towards strengthening coping mechanisms of displaced persons and other vulnerable populations in a country where conflict between the state and insurgents has spread in 2002.
In Sierra Leone, US $ 82.9 million is being requested for relief work and to help the country recover from a civil war that ended in January.
All three countries have been affected by the conflicts that have buffeted the sub-region in recent years. Last year, their common border was the scene of fighting between dissidents and government forces from Liberia and Guinea and rebels from Sierra Leone.
The security situation on the borders has stabilised [but] fighting in Liberia has sent waves of Liberians into Guinean territory since January 2002," OCHA said. "This at times caused the humanitarian community to halt food distribution and limited access to refugee populations ... however the deterioration of the situation in Liberia, coupled with the recent security developments in Côte d'Ivoire, could further weaken the already devastated social and economic infrastructure."
The Guinean humanitarian strategy for 2003 includes: continuing voluntary repatriation and assistance to Sierra Leonean refugees in camps; protect and assist old and new Liberian refugees; enhanced identification of protection needs of vulnerable groups; and more effective and flexible mechanisms in the daily management of the camps.
It also includes enhancing national capacity to respond to crisis situations; supporting initiatives to improve the context for humanitarian action; and preventing the deterioration of the situation by establishing a system of early warning and contingency planning for humanitarian crises.
In Liberia, the humanitarian agencies aim to provide a response to the continuing conflict, which has worsened this year, causing loss of life, destruction of property and infrastructure and population displacement.
"There are presently 130,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps [in Liberia], while 200,000 people are in conflict areas where humanitarian access is severely restricted. Concurrently, more than 200,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana," OCHA said.
"In addition, there are approximately 50,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia. The political and security upheaval that recently occurred in Côte d'Ivoire may have further humanitarian consequences for Liberia, including new population displacement ... The humanitarian situation in Liberia significantly deteriorated in 2002," OCHA added.
The strategic goals of the 2003 Common Humanitarian Action Plan for Liberia include: reducing the vulnerability of war-affected populations to hunger, health hazards and rights abuses; assist repatriation of refugees; strengthening the capacity and local coping mechanisms of war-affected populations, with a focus on women; promoting social cohesion, including peace-building and trauma-healing, to support national reconciliation and sustainable reintegration; and enhancing the coordination of planning and delivery of humanitarian assistance supported by an integrated resource mobilisation strategy.
In Sierra Leone the appeal is being made in the context of the end of the 1991-2002 civil war; the extended deployment of UN and national security forces; the extension of state authority and the holding of peaceful elections in 2002 that brought greater stability to the country.
"In 2002, over 100,000 Sierra Leonean refugee returnees and 124,000 IDPs resettled to their home areas," OCHA said. "Most of the resettled population returned to the Northern and Eastern provinces where conditions and services are inadequate and extensive assistance will be required to support a viable reintegration and rehabilitation process.
"While the situation in Sierra Leone improved, the situation in Liberia deteriorated leading to the influx of an additional 37,000 Liberian refugees. Despite weak absorption capacity, the Government has ensured that refugees are accommodated in camps ... however, there is evidence of friction with host communities. There are also concerns about the infiltration of armed dissidents."
According to OCHA, key factors that will influence events in Sierra Leone in 2003 include: an inclusive political process; the government's capacity to maintain internal and external security; continued presence of the UN peacekeeping mission; consolidation of state authority in all areas of the country; effective management of diamond resources; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Special Court set up with the help of the international community; the reintegration and reconciliation process; the conflict in Liberia; elections in Guinea; and continued support of the international community.
The funds requested would facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees; ensure protection and services for Liberian refugees and other displaced populations; rebuild viable and peaceful communities; target identified vulnerable groups; improve access to basic social services; restore families' food security and livelihoods; restore state services throughout the country; raise awareness of and curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and build a culture of human rights.
A flash appeal for $15.9 million to avert a massive humanitarian crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali is due to be launched on Thursday in the Ivorian commercial capital, Abidjan. The appeal covers the period November 2002 to January 2003.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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