Sierra Leone
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Guinean military presence in Yenga worries Sierra Leonean residents

By Alfred Koroma

Sierra Leoneans in Yenga have expressed worries as Guinean Military Officers re-entered the community, patrolling around with weapons.

The residents say they feel intimidated and insecure by the Guinean military officers since the New Year began.

“Every morning they pass here with weapons. We are worried. We don’t want to see weapons again. Our children are with us,”Town Chief of Yenga, Chief Tamba Nyuma told the Sierra Leone Broadcsating Corporation Morning Coffee Program.

“What is happening here is paining us, we are under threat. The Guineans say they own Yenga,” he added.

The Town Chief called on government’s intervention, saying “We are tired with this intimidation. 23 years now we are tired. We sleep under ambush. “

Yenga is a village in Kissi Teng Chiefdom, Kailahun District in the Eastern province at the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Since the rebel war, there has been a dispute between residents of both countries over who own the village largely occupied by the Kissi people of Sierra Leone.

 Guineans came to occupy Yenga during the civil war in Sierra Leone. This was after Guinean troops were sent into the village to help the army of Sierra Leone suppress the RUF rebels and remained in the community after the war ended.

But before that, Yenga was administered by the Kailahun District of Sierra Leone.

In 2005, Sierra Leone and Guinea signed an agreement that Yenga belonged to Sierra Leone and later declared demilitarization of the village in 2012.

 But the dispute over ownership of the area remains unresolved despite the many bilateral agreements signed.

Speaking to SLBC, Sierra Leone citizens in Yenga say their Guinean counterparts are claiming ownership of the community and destroying properties belonging to them.  Guinea military officers have entered the community back moving around with weapons, an operation which residents say has hampered their normal activities. 

 Yenga has no school since the Guineans last broke the last one belonging to Sierra Leone. The principal of the school now teaches in another town, Yenga’s local town chief, Nyuma also told SLBC, noting “my message to government: Yenga don’t have security. We are only under Guinea security and we don’t want that.”