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Sierra Leone: serious malnutrition in the rebel regions

25-10-1995 News Release 43

A survey conducted by an ICRC team in May and June 1995 revealed serious cases of malnutrition among the population of Kailahun, a region controlled by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). " The children are suffering the most " , explained Georges Paclisanu, head of the ICRC's regional delegation in Abidjan. Steps were thus taken to obtain permission from both the government of Sierra Leone and the guerrilla forces to deliver food and rice seed to the region. The government has not yet given the go-ahead. It must do so urgently, for the nutritional situation has undoubtedly worsened since the survey.

The ICRC is also concerned about the humanitarian situation in those government-held towns which were cut off for several months, and has sent a team to Kenema, Koidu and Bo in the eastern part of the country to evaluate the population's needs. It is now attempting to extend this survey to the towns of Daru and Segbwema, near the Liberian border.

The ICRC is pursuing its discussions with the government so as to obtain permission to work wherever war-related humanitarian needs are likely to occur. Under international humanitarian law, the parties to the conflict are obliged to let the civilian population receive the supplies necessary for their survival.