Disarmament and Conflicts Continue in Africa

August 20, 2001

Disarmament and Conflicts Continue in Africa

Disarmament in Sierra Leone's Kono district – a key diamond mining area – has been completed, bringing the number of fighters who have surrendered their weapons in Sierra Leone to more than 16,000, the Associate Press reports. In addition, pro-government fighters in the Moyamba district began turning over their weapons to the United Nations mission last week, the U.N. news service reports. Disarmament is also expected to begin today in the northern province of Koinadugu.

In Angola, at least 256 people are dead after a train carrying more than 500 people was attacked by UNITA rebels on Aug. 10, AP reports. The train derailed after hitting two land mines and burst into flames. UNITA fighters gunned down many survivors. The U.N. Security Council says UNITA deliberately targeted civilians during the attack and members of the council pledged their ongoing support for all existing sanctions against UNITA. Since the attack, more than 2,000 new Angolan refugees have arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nearly 10,000 Angolans have fled there since UNITA began heavier attacks earlier this month.

In other conflict news, officials from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone agreed last week to curb the activity of armed groups fighting near the junction of their borders in a diamond-rich area, Reuters reports. The countries released a joint statement saying they agreed to "foster good neighborliness, bearing in mind the interest of their countries as well as the historical links that bind their peoples."

- by Julia M. Duncan