Local chief appeals for humanitarian assistance

Kabala- Sierra Leone (PANA) -- Following atrocities suffered from rebel RUF fighters, a local chief in Sierra Leone's Koinadugu district has appealed to President Kabbah for humanitarian assistance.
"We have suffered and are still suffering," Chief Manga Yamala Samura of Gberia Fotombu bemoaned, saying he and his people have lived in the forest for the past three years, in fear of the rebels.
Speaking to reporters in the border town of Fotombu, Samura gave harrowing accounts of how rebels of the Revolutionary United Front subjected local villagers to physical and mental abuse, raping and killing many as well as torching their houses.
He said nearly all towns along the border with Guinea had been destroyed by not only RUF rebels but also aerial bombardment by Guinean helicopter gunships.
"We are a desolate and oppressed people," Samura said, adding "our female children have been taken from us, while our male children were either killed or maimed in front of our eyes.
" The chief said he and his people now survive on boiled banana and wild yams, after rebels "took away our goats, sheep, cows, fowls and farming tools, and destroyed schools, hospitals, churches and mosques and wells.
" According to the only local nurse in the area, Jeneba Samurah, who works for the international health charity, Doctors without Borders (MSF), children were dying there on a daily basis from hunger and malnutrition.
Koinadugu was among the first districts to be declared arms-free by the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, but the government in Freetown was yet to restore its authority in the area.

24 october 2001 07:51:00

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