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Inter-agency mission to eastern Sierra Leone

Briefing notes

Inter-agency mission to eastern Sierra Leone

13 July 1999

The UNHCR Representative in Sierra Leone, who is also the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator there, led a first inter-agency mission on 7 July to rebel-controlled Buedu in eastern Sierra Leone near the Liberian border. The group - believed to be the first foreigners to visit that part of Sierra Leone in three years - met with the RUF commander major general Sam Bokarie.

The mission came on the heels of the Lomé agreement, under which both sides agreed to grant unhindered access to humanitarian agencies. It is vital to help hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans uprooted and traumatised by the civil war and pave the way for the return of nearly half a million refugees driven from the country.

General Bokarie told the mission that humanitarian agencies would be allowed into areas under his control and that their safety would be assured. It is too early to say whether and when such access will be granted.