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Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 13:18 GMT
Rape, mutilation continue in Sierra Leone

Amputation victims Thousands of people have been mutilated during the war


United Nations monitors say former rebels in Sierra Leone are continuing to rape, loot and mutilate civilians in the north, despite a peace accord.

The UN report includes an account of a man whose face had been badly bitten by the fighters themselves.


Almost daily reports of looting of villages, house burnings, harassment and abductions of civilians, rape and sexual abuse
UN report
The monitors, part of the UN's peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone, have just returned from Port Loko and other northern areas formerly held by rebels.

They report that some 2,000 former rebels looted nine villages in the second week of January.

The UN report says people have been regularly abducted while out gathering wood and food, with men taken as labourers and women to cook and for sexual purposes.

"There have been almost daily reports of looting of villages, house burnings, harassment and abductions of civilians, rape and sexual abuse," the report says.

Situation deteriorates

They say the security situation has deteriorated following a period of relative calm a month ago - a lull which the report attributes to UN peacekeeping patrols, and payments made to demobilised rebel fighters.

UN human rights experts blamed the abuses to followers of Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and his ally Johnny Paul Koroma, leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).


Rebels severely bit the victim's ears and nose and around his right eye
UN report
Last year's peace accord gave the RUF a share in the Sierra Leone Government - a deal which was sharply criticised by human rights groups because of abuses committed by the rebels.

The AFRC formed the military junta which ruled Sierra Leone following a May 1997 coup, until the restoration of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in February 1998.

Diseases

In one case reported by the UN monitors, the rebels "severely bit the victim's ears and nose and around his right eye" and "he lost his left ear and both his nose and right ear were badly mauled".

Most women arriving at displaced people's camps need to be treated for sexually transmitted diseases contracted as a result of rape and sexual abuse, according to the report.

The human rights experts said medical and psychological facilities should be set up to care for women and girls who have been victims of violence.

They recommended that a UN human rights field monitor be deployed in the region.

The UN report substantiates similar findings released last week by Human Rights Watch.
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See also:
24 May 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Battle to rebuild shattered Sierra Leone
23 Jan 00 |  Africa
Sierra Leone diamond trade halted
02 Dec 99 |  Africa
Gurkhas to tackle Sierra Leone troublespot
30 Nov 99 |  Africa
UN troops arrive in Sierra Leone
22 Nov 99 |  Africa
Sierra Leone rebels form political party
13 Feb 99 |  Africa
Grim facts of Sierra Leone's war

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