U.N. rights official cites atrocities in Sierra Leone, including amputated limbs
June 27, 1999
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (CNN) -- Many residents of this strife-torn city are struggling to survive the atrocities of war, including amputated limbs and homelessness.
One woman told international officials a rebel accused her of sympathizing with the government, and chopped off her left hand with a machete. Her right hand was also slashed, but it was saved, though it remains badly injured.
Victims of amputation are so numerous that a local aid agency which specializes in physical therapy has begun making artificial limbs for the victims.
"I am very shocked, as are all my colleagues" said Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a visit to Freetown. She said delegates had not known "how much the people have suffering, and how much they will go on suffering."
Robinson said world attention has been distracted by Kosovo, and needs to be refocused on such atrocities in Africa.
Nigerian president visits
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo traveled to Sierra Leone on Friday on a peace mission.
African diplomats said that Obasanjo, who took office on May 29 to end 15 years of military rule in Nigeria, was trying to advance peace talks between President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and rebels, traveling to Togo for talks with Sierra Leonean rebel leader Foday Sankoh.
Kabbah's government has offered the rebels four cabinet posts and four lower-tier posts.
The rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) is considering the offer. It rejected a previous offer of three cabinet posts.
Correspondent Catherine Bond and Reuters contributed to this report.
Sierra Leone peace talks delayed
Human Rights Watch
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