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Country Reports
SIERRA LEONE, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: Sierra Leone ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 25 April 2001. Sierra Leone has acknowledged that it has a small stockpile of 900 antipersonnel mines.

Mine Ban Policy

Sierra Leone signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 29 July 1998 and ratified on 25 April 2001. The treaty will formally enter into force for Sierra Leone on 1 October 2001. Ibrahim S. Conteh, the Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the government was slow in ratification because of numerous bureaucratic procedures.[1] Sierra Leone’s first transparency report required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty will be due by 30 March 2002.

Sierra Leone did not attend the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2000, and did not participate in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001. However, Sierra Leone for the first time sent a senior delegation to the All-Africa Seminar on Universalization and Implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in Africa, held in Bamako, Mali, in February 2001. Sierra Leone was voted in favor of the November 2000 UN General Assembly resolution calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Sierra Leone is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Sierra Leone is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It reportedly has obtained some antipersonnel mines from neighboring Liberia.[2] At the Bamako landmine seminar in February 2001, Sierra Leone acknowledged that it maintains a small stockpile of 900 antipersonnel mines.[3] The types are not known.

According to the Sierra Leone military, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels are also believed to have a stockpile of antitank mines, obtained through Liberia and from Eastern Europe.[4]

Use and Landmine Problem

The Sierra Leone military states that the RUF and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) used mines in the Yarms Farm, Newton, and Regent-Grafton axis and the Lungi area in 1997 and 1998.[5] These mines were planted in defined areas and subsequently demined by ECOMOG engineers. The Sierra Leone military acknowledges that in the Kailahun area in 1994-1995 it used a small number of antipersonnel mines in an operation.[6] (For details on past use, see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 177-178 and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 168-170.)

Landmine Monitor visited Daru in May 2001 and interviewed UNAMSIL military observers as well as RUF combatants who had decided to leave the rebels and join the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. The UN observers and the ex-combatants had never seen or heard of antipersonnel mine use. The RUF combatants did openly describe their making improvised explosive devices using grenades.[7]

In the 2000 and 2001 DDR disarmament process no antipersonnel mines have been turned in, although British Special Forces during their operations against the RUF in 2000 encountered a handful of antipersonnel mines among captured rebel weapons.[8]

The British Special Forces reportedly used Claymore-type mines in their operations to free colleagues abducted by the rebel West Side Boys in September 2000.[9]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Landmines have killed and maimed civilians and combat soldiers in Sierra Leone,[10] but statistics are not systematically collected. According to the records at the Military Hospital at Wilberforce, forty-five people (adults and males) were killed and eleven injured by landmines during the 1992-1997 war.[11]

Except for life-saving surgery there is no support given for the treatment and rehabilitation of mine victims.[12] Connaught Hospital has not received any landmine survivors.[13] Medicine San Frontiers MSF (France) also reports not having any mine survivors in their records.[14]

SHARE has been educating resettled IDPs and refugees on the dangers posed by mines and other unexploded ordnance.

In Freetown, Handicap International manages the Limb Fitting Center which is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. In the LFC, HI provides orthopedic devices (prostheses and orthoses), physical and occupational rehabilitation, and psychological support. The clinic assists mostly those disabled as a result of the armed conflict. In 2000, 609 orthopedic devices were produced, and 1,661 patients treated in 12,995 sessions at the rehabilitation unit. The psychological support to disabled persons is very limited, and only in severe cases. The priority is to give psychological support to children and adolescents, who are victims of the war. In addition, HI supports the Ministry of Health's workshop in the Bo Provincial Hospital in the south of the country providing functional rehabilitation services.[15]

 World Hope also provides prosthetic services to war victims. Dave Evans of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has been to Sierra Leone four times since October 1999 to train national prosthetic technicians at the HI workshop; he has conducted over 1,200 hours of training on upper extremity prostheses to 11 technicians.[16]

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[1] SHARE interview with Ibrahim Conteh, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 February 2001. (Save Heritage and Rehabilitate the Environment – SHARE – is a local NGO.)
[2] SHARE interview with Capt. R.B. Harleston, SO2 J3 (Operations), Freetown, 5 February 2001.
[3] Landmine Monitor interview with Col. A.B Sessay, Bamako, 15 February 2001.
[4] Ibid.
[5] SHARE interview with Maj. Alan Benjamin, Freetown, 6 February 2001.
[6] SHARE interview with Capt. R.B. Harleston, SO2 J3 (Operations), Freetown, 5 February 2001.
[7] Landmine Monitor interviews, Daru, 13 May 2001.
[8] Details of these antipersonnel mines were passed onto the Landmine Monitor from Freetown in July 2000.
[9] “‘Paras’ Showdown in the Jungle,” Evening Standard, 6 April 2001.
[10] Lt. Col. T.N. Momodu, Staff Officer 1 to the Chief of Defence Staff, Sierra Leone Army, Public Lecture, “Landmines and the Environmental and Sustainable Peace in Sierra Leone,” organized by SHARE at the British Council, Freetown, 26 January 2000.
[11] SHARE interview with Col. Dr. kis Kamara, Medical Doctor, Military Hospital, Ministry of Defence, Freetown, 5 February 2001.
[12] SHARE interview with Dr Baimba Baryoh, consultant surgeon, Connaught Hospital, 8 February 2001.
[13] Ibid.
[14] SHARE interview with Josette Benamane, coordinator, MSF (France), 8 February 2001.
[15] Email from Handicap International, 2 August 2001.
[16] Email from Mike Kendellen, Program Manager for Post War Rehabilitation, VVAF, 24 July 2001.