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Guinea-Bissau: assisting the displaced and assessing needs

02-07-1998 News Release 98/26

During the last two weeks, over 120 tonnes of food have been distributed to some 35,000 displaced persons in and around Bissau by the ICRC and the Guinea-Bissau Red Cross, which is receiving support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The food (rice, cooking oil and canned beef) was provided by the United Nations World Food Programme.

If a truce can be negotiated, a team of Red Cross volunteers stands ready to bury the dead in the capital's northern districts, where the heaviest fighting took place. Meanwhile, the ICRC and the National Society have installed 5,000-litre tanks of drinking water for the displaced in three locations in the outskirts of the city.

The three ICRC delegates who entered Guinea-Bissau last week from the neighbouring Republic of Guinea are continuing to assess the situation in the northern, central and southern parts of the country. For the time being the displaced appear to have found refuge among the local population, but their needs are great.

The most urgent priorities are to ensure access to drinking water, especially in the urban areas, provide hospitals and dispensaries with medical supplies and distribute food to the displaced, who are currently dependent on the meagre resources of the local population and whose situation could rapidly deteriorate if the conflict drags on.

National Society volunteers and an ICRC delegate sent in from Dakar are also carrying out a survey of the situation in the Bissagos Islands, off the coast of Bissau.