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Sierra Leone

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assistance the Department has given to Sierra Leone, since UK forces entered the country, in respect of victims of the Revolutionary United Front. [117320]

The entire country could be said to be a victim of the Revolutionary United Front as well as other fighting factions over a period of 10 or so years. On that basis, all assistance from the Department has been designed to assist victims of the conflict. Since the middle of 2000, this has amounted to some £100 million.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will hold discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone in order to set a target date for all amputees to be fitted with serviceable artificial limbs. [117321]

The Department's strategy for engagement in the years ahead is set out in a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed with the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) last November. The benchmarks for progress by GQSL do not include targets relating to treatments for the disabled.All amputees in camps have either been fitted with artificial limbs or offered them. Many prefer not to use them. Some additional people are coming in from the remoter communities of districts to register as amputees. It is expected that Hope International and Handicap International will continue to provide assistance.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the numbers of amputees (a) in the amputees' central camp and (b) elsewhere in Sierra Leone. [117323]

It is very difficult to give accurate figures for amputee numbers countrywide. Some organisations such as Handicap International have been assisting amputees and other war affected people in Sierra Leone for several years. They have found that the number of surviving amputees is much smaller than originally thought since many died as a result of their injuries. Also, some were in inaccessible areas and could not be assisted or even counted. Some of those from remote locations are however coming to Freetown for treatment but numbers are uncertain. Very vulnerable people may still be afraid to come forward despite encouragement to do so. In spite of this the estimate of amputee numbers has not changed since the former Secretary of State wrote to the hon. Member on 3 December 2001 at which time it was estimated at around 1,000.Two years ago there were 220 registered amputees in the Murray Town camp and an unknown number of war wounded in Grafton Camp on the Western Peninsular. Since then good progress has been made in re-housing many amputees and their families. We understand that so far 239 beneficiaries and their families have been re-settled in greater Freetown and across 17 Chiefdoms, in effect reintegrated into local communities. When the final 70 houses are finished this year and the amputees relocated, the Murray Town camp will be closed.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what the numbers of amputees are in Sierra Leone who (a) are awaiting and (b) have received artificial limbs since United Kingdom forces entered the country. [117324]

This information is not available. All those in camps have been fitted with artificial limbs or have been offered them. Hope International, Handicap International and Mercy Ships have found that their services in this area were much under utilised if they concentrated on amputees alone. They, therefore, expanded their programmes to also cover war-affected disabled and polio victims.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will list the sources from which artificial limbs have been made available to the amputees in Sierra Leone. [117325]

These are made locally through Hope International workshops at Murray Town and Wellington in Freetown and at Bo. Local technicians have been trained to manufacture the prostheses. Handicap International and Mercy Ships also provide help with this service. Some amputees have also gone abroad to have artificial limbs fitted.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what plans the Department has to facilitate the (a) rehabilitation and (b) resettlement of the amputees in Sierra Leone. [117326]

This work is the responsibility of the Government of Sierra Leone's Reintegration Coordination Committee that meets monthly. Among its tasks is monitoring all aspects of assistance for registered amputees. It comprises the National Commission for Social Action, the National Recovery Committee, the local representative of the Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross and three international NGOs, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Cause Canada and Handicap International. DFID is not and has no plans to be represented on this body.The majority of amputees who have been in camps in Freetown have already been relocated to the areas of their choice through a programme administered by the NRC. It was funded mainly by a donation of $1 million from the United States and Norwegian governments.Once relocated the amputees are provided with food by the World Food Programme. They are assisted further by Cause Canada who provides skills training, micro credit and other services.