Guinea-Bissau Flash Appeal 2006
Summary of the crisis
From 15 March to the end of April 2006, armed confrontations between a faction of the MFDC (Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance) led by Salif Sadjio and the Guinea Bissau army unfolded near São Domingos on the western part of Guinea Bissau’s border with Senegal. After 23 years of hostilities, Salif Sadjio is reportedly the last leader of MFDC not in favour of the signing of a peace accord in late December 2004 between the Senegalese Government and MFDC. According to the Guinea Bissau Minister of Defence, the military action intended to expel the rebels from a base in Guinea Bissau territory. Since the fall of the main rebel camp Barraca Mandioca in late April and the alleged departure of rebels to neighbouring countries, hostilities have come to an end. The fighting resulted in the destruction, burning or looting of 14villages situated in the combat zone.
The immediate humanitarian consequences include some 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), 80% of whom are women and children, who fled São Domingos and villages in the border area to seek refuge in neighbouring locations and some 2,500 who crossed the border. According to the National Red Cross, most IDPs are residing with local communities and since the end of hostilities those IDPs who have returned to São Domingos are also being hosted by relatives. Further, the closure of the Bourgadier camp in Senegal has provoked the return of Bissau Guinean refugees to this area.The use of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by rebel forces has hindered access and the safe movement of inhabitants in the entire conflict area. Major routes and villages as well as homes and farming fields are suspected of being contaminated with explosive devices. There are reports of civilian casualties including the death of 13 people and several wounded along the main roads close to the border. IDPs with access to their villages are afraid of returning to their homes and fields, due to mine and IED contamination. Under these circumstances, the ICRC, Caritas and the UN have transported food aid and medicines across the river by canoe.
Priority needs and humanitarian response plan
Several inter-agency and specialized rapid assessments have revealed that the main concern for the affected population is the lack of safety and protection from anti-tank/anti-personnel landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) which threaten safe access to their homes and livelihoods. Other critical needs include food aid, safe water, and non-food items such as mosquito nets, cooking utensils, blankets and clothing as well as latrines. Most IDPs reside with host-families who are using their own resources to assist them, including food stocks and seeds. For five weeks, an estimated 20,000 people were isolated within the landmine-contaminated area in Varela and Susana unable to use their main sources of supply and prevented from accessing basic services through normal routes. While traffic has gradually resumed, the affected population still lives under precarious conditions, facing serious problems related to poor shelter and sanitary conditions as well as limited food and water supplies.
This Flash Appeal outlines priority rapid response activities aimed at mitigating the humanitarian consequences of the crisis and the multi-sectoral relief operation to be undertaken over a six-month period as populations are not expected to be able to rebuild their homes and return to their landmine contaminated farming areas before the end of the rainy season in October 2006. The response plan, formulated through the national coordination mechanisms tasked with ensuring coherence and complementarity, introduces the division of labour among humanitarian stakeholders to address the needs of some 20,000 vulnerable persons, including host-families, IDPs and returnees. This Flash Appeal seeks to mobilize US$ 3,640,000 to sustain efforts jump started with contingency stocks and funds from a CERF grant to meet critical humanitarian needs.
In addition to the Flash Appeal, Guinea Bissau and regional humanitarian partners have included a number of projects which remained under-funded in the Regional Consolidated Appeal for West Africa in 2006 targeting the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Guinea Bissau, (See CAP 2006 for West Africa; http://www.unocha.org/cap/; http://fts.unocha.org/).