UN RELIEF AGENCIES EXTREMELY CONCERNED AT DETERIORATING
From: UN New York, June 06 2003 05:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
As fighting continues to rage in and around
the capital city of Liberia, United Nations relief agencies are struggling
against pounding rains to help thousands of terrified civilians driven from
their homes in search of safe haven in western Côte d’Ivoire.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
continuing conflict in Liberia has displaced tens of thousands of refugees
and locals near Monrovia, and sent more than 23,000 Liberians fleeing into
western Côte d'Ivoire in the last two weeks. Poor weather conditions are
making aid efforts all the more difficult.
Yesterday, UNHCR staff in Liberia reported that resurgent fighting between
the Government and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and
Democracy (LURD) near Monrovia had spread to camps that hosted Sierra
Leonean refugees. Nearby, the sprawling camps for internally displaced
Liberians were also affected. The camps were deserted, and tens of thousands
of refugees and displaced people were seen seeking refuge in various
locations in Monrovia. Some of the agency’s local staff were also displaced
from their homes.
As the conflict rages in eastern Liberia, UNHCR has learned that a group of
1,000 Ivoirian refugees who had earlier fled their country's civil war for
Harper in south-eastern Liberia are now asking for help to return home. The
Ivoirian army is exploring ways to escort them along the 18-kilometre
stretch of road to the border crossing at Prollo, and then across the river
in dugout boats. About 1,000 Malian and Burkina Faso nationals are also
believed to be stuck in Harper.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) said security conditions were
deteriorating daily in Liberia. The agency reported that without any
peaceful solution, there would continue to be large numbers of people
becoming displaced inside the country, and there would also be Liberians
moving into neighbouring countries.
The fighting had stopped WFP from distributing food to the 115,000 displaced
persons in camps around Monrovia. To date, 70 per cent of the country was
inaccessible to humanitarian organizations because of the intense fighting.