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Liberia: Thousands of displaced people sheltering in camps

03-08-2001 News Release 01/30

Close to 30,000 people have fled their homes since armed clashes broke out in northern Liberia at the end of last year. A large swathe of the Lofa region, situated on the border with south-eastern Guinea, was abandoned by its inhabitants when the fighting escalated in early April. Owing to persistent insecurity in the region, these people are unlikely to return home anytime soon. 

Five camps set up around Gbanga, the second largest city in Liberia after the capital, Monrovia, currently house some 20,000 displaced people – most of them women, children and the elderly. The rest of the displaced are sheltering in two camps to the west, in the Bopolu area.

In a camp set up near the Gbanga TV tower, about 20 ICRC staff and Liberia Red Cross volunteers are assisting over 6,000 people daily. Here, hundreds of makeshift mud dwellings covered with plastic sheeting were built in just a few days. Others are being put up for new arrivals, who continue to turn up in small groups. A medical team is on the spot to treat the sick, most of whom are suffering from malaria or skin diseases. The most serious cases are evacuated by ambulance to the nearby hospital in Phebe.

Red Cross volunteers have also dug several wells in the crumbling red earth – no easy task given the depth of the water table in this area. As the World Food Programme is distributing food to the displaced, the ICRC is concentrating its efforts on providing them with supplies such as blankets, buckets, soap and kitchen sets.