Guinea-Bissau loses national archive to war

November 6, 1998

The war that erupted earlier this yearin the West African republic of Guinea-Bissau has resulted in the destructionof the country's largest and most active researchinstitution.

The complex housing the facility, the Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEP), is located less than a kilometre from the front line of hostilities.

The location has been transformed into an advanced post of the Senegalese troops who are supported bythe head of stateand are in conflict with the military junta. The death toll is heavy but figures are as yet unavailable. Some 250,000 people have been made refugees.

The damage to INEP appears to be complete, with archives exposedto rain and dirt,and hundreds of audio cassettes recording the history of the country'sliberation struggle having disappeared. Photographs and films from the national archive have been founddispersed and lying in mud.

"This is reallyserious in view of the fact that no general history of Guinea -Bissau has yet been written and that all recent efforts by INEP have been geared towards this objective," said a recent visitor.

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