AS SECURITY IMPROVES UN AGENCY RESUMES AID WORK IN REMOTE AREAS OF LIBERIA

From: UN New York, Apr 29 2003 11:00AM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

The United Nations refugee agency today said it is gradually re-establishing a presence in the remote areas of Liberia, close to the border with Côte d'Ivoire, where tens of thousands of people had been cut off from humanitarian aid for two months due to increased conflict.

“Over the past two weeks the security situation in the area has somewhat improved, allowing some aid workers to go back for the first time since 28 February when an attack uprooted thousands of civilians and left three humanitarian workers dead,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva. Last Thursday, UNHCR and World Food Programme (WFP) staff travelled to Saclepea, Nimba County, to distribute food in the transit camp hosting over 700 Ivoirian refugees and 34 West African migrant workers who fled the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire. The team stayed in Saclapea for three days, before returning to Monrovia on Sunday, after reports of renewed fighting in the neighbouring town of Tappita. UNHCR also continues to review the possibility of a full resumption of aid efforts in Harper, a coastal town in southeastern Mariland County, where it is, in collaboration with WFP, currently operating two flights per week. UNHCR will today use a WFP-chartered boat to send some non-food items, light vehicles and fuel for the refugee operations there. “We hope that refugees and other people displaced by the fighting in the area will now attempt to reach Harper as soon as they hear that aid is available there,” Mr. Janowski said. Close to 100,000 people – a mix of Ivoirians, Liberians and third-country nationals – have fled into Liberia since the conflict spread to western Côte d'Ivoire in mid-November of last year. UNHCR also learned that refugees continued to arrive from Côte d'Ivoire but could not verify the reports independently.


added by: Robert W. Kranz  April-2003