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Emergency funds needed as more violence looms

[Guinea] Guineans protesting against President Conte flee shooting by the army in central Conakry. [Date picture taken: 01/22/2007]
(Maseco Conde/IRIN)

Union leaders in Guinea are threatening to call another nationwide strike starting next Monday, but emergency relief agencies say the country is ill-prepared for a round of violence similar to one last month and urgently needs $4m in emergency assistance.

“Guinea is heading for another strike because nothing has been done by President [Lansana] Conte toward naming a new prime minister,” Ibrahima Fofana, head of the Guinean Workers Union (USTG), told IRIN on Tuesday. “Our patience has limits.”

He said Monday was Conte’s deadline.

Unions suspended their last 18-day national strike on 29 January after Conte, an aging autocrat, agreed to devolve some of his powers to a new independent prime minister.

If a new strike is called, youths interviewed by IRIN in Conakry’s suburbs said they would be ready to take on security forces as they did during the January strike. That violence left at least 51 people dead and 1,400 injured across the country, according to the Guinean National Health Crisis Committee.

Alpha Ousmane Diakite, a mechanic in the Hamdallaye district of Conakry, said on Tuesday that the security forces “do not scare any young Guinean”.

“We have decided to protest next Monday. If Conte wants to stay in power, he has five days to name a new prime minister,” he said.

Emergency needs

The United Nation’s humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) in Conakry told IRIN it appealed within the “rapid response” window of the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) on Tuesday for US$2.7 million, to fund stockpiles of blood, trauma kits, medical supplies, communications equipment, and the Humanitarian Air Service (HAS).

OCHA said an additional $2 million needs to be committed by other donors for the additional supplies. The money would also go towards providing relief for over 600 of the people wounded in last month’s clashes, including securing legal services for some of the people allegedly shot by state security services.

Georg Cunz, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Guinea, said the country’s national health services are “in an appalling situation”, and the country’s needs are “enormous” if it is to cope just with the fallout from last month’s violence. He warned about the impact of more fighting.

“Everything depends on how the situation evolves next week,” Cunz said on Wednesday. “We have a stock of material for war wounded which would allow for the hospitalisation and treatment of several hundred people, but not much more.”

Other agencies contributed to emergency relief during and after last month’s violence. They included the World Health Organisation, the UN children’s agency, the World Food Programme, and the nongovernmental organisations Terre des Hommes and Mèdecins Sans Frontiéres.

Analysts have warned that persistent violence in Guinea could easily spill over into its neighbours Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, threatening relative stability there.

However, OCHA said last week that its missions to the Guinean border with Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire had found no population movements over the border during the last strike.

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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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