"Recent rebel attacks in the east and west have involved the killing of civilians, the destruction of homes and abductions. Women and children have been deliberately targeted with close-range gunfire and other civilians have been summarily executed.
Following the withdrawal of military observers from Makeni, Bo and Kenema, it has been difficult for UNOMSIL to gather reliable information about the human rights situation in the countryside, particularly in the areas recently overrun by the rebels. However, the rebel attacks have certainly resulted in population displacements and, it is feared, the killing of civilians.
While much of the ECOMOG activity around Freetown was militarily justified, UNOMSIL has received complaints of assault, harassment and unnecessary detention, primarily of young men. Members of the pro-government CDF have been accused of summarily killing one person during a house raid on 26 December.
On 26 December, a number of prominent personalities organised and addressed a large rally in the city centre. Many of the speeches were highly inflammatory and called on people to take the law into their own hands regarding alleged rebels or rebel sympathisers. During the proceedings, some members of the crowd seized two men and accused them of being rebels. UNOMSIL personnel witnessed the murder of the two men by persons in the crowd, with the clear support of onlookers. When the identities of the two victims were later ascertained, there was no indication that they harboured sympathies for the rebels.
Immediately after the incident, my special representative expressed his grave concern to the President and requested government intervention to restrain similar inflammatory statements and acts of violence. The minister for information then broadcast a message calling on people to desist from revenge attacks and to hand all suspects over to the authorities. No further such incidents were reported that day.
The humanitarian implications of the recent developments in Sierra Leone are very troubling. Overland access to the interior has been cut and the capacity to provide humanitarian assistance has been sharply reduced as all expatriate staff of international non-governmental organisations and most United Nations agency and ICRC staff have been relocated outside of the country. While sufficient food stocks are available in country to meet the immediate needs, delivery much beyond Freetown is no longer possible. The country might soon be facing a humanitarian crisis of major proportions.
Rebel advances have been preceded by the displacement of large numbers of civilians in an attempt to flee the violence. It is estimated that as many as 40,000 internally displaced persons were concentrated in Makeni prior to the attack on that city. Closer to Freetown, in Waterloo, rebel attacks prompted the flight of 12,000 internally displaced persons and Liberian refugees residing in a camp to Freetown. Though some may now have returned to the camp, lack of access prevents humanitarian agencies from assessing their situation and distributing assistance. The continued violence also raises the prospect of refugee flows to neighbouring countries."
Pause there. Mr Taylor, speaking of refugee flows, did the Freetown invasion result in refugees fleeing to Liberia?