Information on the Fula ethnic group and whether they are being targeted by the government or the rebels [SLE24140.E]

In a 7 June 1996 telephone interview, a professor of international relations at Staffordshire University who specializes in Sierra Leone and recently spent time there, stated that there is evidence that the Fula have been "subjective targets of violence" by elements of the rebel forces of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The source stated that the Fula have historically been merchants and traders, with origins from the neighbouring state of Guinea. As such, the Fula are viewed by some nationals as being exploitative outsiders in control of certain economic domains. Fulas have been targeted in killings used exploit anti-Fula ethnic sentiment in order to obtain increased popular support of the RUF in rural Sierra Leone. The Fula are also subject to violence stemming from robberies by rebel groups and other criminal elements of Sierra Leone society. The source cautioned that these attacks against the Fulas are spasmodic and cannot be determined to be an intensive concerted campaign, nor are Fulas the only group being targeted in this manner.

The source stated that in the voter registration for the recent national elections (March 1996), the government was accused of being discriminatory towards Fulas. There was some difficulty in determining the citizenship, and thus the right to vote, of individual ethnic Fula voters and also in registering all the eligible voters, problems that were compounded by the large numbers of internally and internationally displaced people.

The source noted that although the Fulas may have received preferential treatment under the Momoh regime, he did not believe that they enjoyed special privileges under the Strasser military regime (1992-1996) or the present civilian rule (since March 1996).

The source stated that after a brief lull in violent activities immediately following the national elections and the peaceful transition from military to civilian rule, casualties have begun to increase and reached levels of 70 to 100 persons per week over the period of May to June 1996. The source was unaware of the ethnic composition of these recent deaths or whether Fulas represented a disproportionate number of those found dead, as the data was not yet available.

Please find attached additional general information on the Fulas.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Professor of international relations, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom. 7 June 1996. Telephone interview.


Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1992. 12th edition. Edited by Barbara F. Grimes. Dallas, Texas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, p. 362.

Refugee Legal Centre. SL9 11 July 1995. (UNHCR RefWorld: Country and Region Information \ Responses to Information Requests (REFINFO) \ (SLE) Sierra Leone)

SLBS Radio [Freetown, in English]. 25 January 1996. "Sierra Leone: Electoral Commission to Investigate Registration Complaints." (BBC Summary 26 January 1996/NEXUS)

_____. 14 May 1991. "West Africa in Brief: Sierra Leone President Warns Against Cooperating With 'Terrorists'." (BBC Summary 18 May 1991/NEXUS)

Third World Guide 93/94. 1992. Toronto: Garamond Press/Instituto del Tercer Mundo, p. 519.