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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
S Leone's war amputees 'ignored'
By Lansana Fofana
BBC News, Freetown

Sierra Leone amputees playing football
Amputees feel the government is making empty promises
Amputees of Sierra Leone's civil war say they are being neglected by the government and want a $3,000 monthly payment each to start immediately.

Justice Minister Frederick Carew said this amount was unreasonable, but other benefits were being considered.

Since the war's end in 2002, the amputees said ex-fighters have received training and cash for disarming.

But the many people mutilated by both sides in 10-year war have to make their living by begging, they said.

Some 50,000 people died in the war in which horrific atrocities were committed.

There are as yet no reliable statistics on the number of amputees and war victims in Sierra Leone but it is thought the figure may run into several thousands.

Losing patience

"We want the government to start paying the compensation right now," Said Lamin Jusu Jarka, the chairman of the Amputee and War Wounded Association, told a stormy meeting with the attorney general and Mr Carew.

We have been incapacitated but it seems the government cares less about our fate
Woman amputee

A Trust Fund for war victims was one of the recommendations made in last month's report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Mr Carew assured the amputees their plight was at top of the government's agenda and was committed to the Trust Fund.

"I am working on a cabinet paper that would guarantee the amputees and war wounded free medical care, free education for their spouses through to university level and free transportation, among other benefits," he said.

However, a 3,000 monthly payout for each amputee, he said, was out of the question.

"Even the monthly salary of the president is far below what they are demanding. It sounds unreasonable."


But many war victims are losing patience and accuse the government of making empty promises.

RUF rebels
RUF rebels waged a campaign of amputation and rape

"Right now we are suffering. We can't meet our children's school bills and other commitments. We have been incapacitated but it seems the government cares little about our fate," said a 34-year old female amputee from Kono in the east .

Sahr Momodu, whose left leg was chopped by rebel forces in 1994, said he felt cheated as those who mutilated him have been compensated for disarming.

After the war, the thousands of amputees housed at a camp in west the capital, Freetown, dubbed the Amputee Camp, were relocated to their home districts.

But only 400 of them have so far benefited from a shelter scheme organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Mr Jusu Jarka said.

A UN-backed war crimes court has been set up to try those, from both sides, who bear the "greatest responsibility" for the wartime brutalities.

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