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Liberia: years after the conflict, the need for aid persists

10-11-2010 News Release 10/204

Monrovia/Geneva (ICRC) – Lack of healthcare, clean water and sanitation are the main difficulties Liberians still face today. ''Seven years after the end of the armed conflict, people still need humanitarian aid," said Karin Hofmann, the ICRC's head of delegation in Liberia.

A 2009 study confirmed the devastating effects of the conflict on almost everyone in Liberia: of 500 people interviewed, virtually all (96%) had experienced violence.

Since the war ended in 2003 the ICRC has gradually switched from large-scale assistance and protection to projects aimed at those most in need. The organization operates mainly by supporting the programmes of the Liberian National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) in the areas of emergency preparedness, community-based health, promotion of humanitarian principles and restoring family links, and has strengthened its partnership with the National Society.

To mark 20 years of uninterrupted humanitarian action in the country, the ICRC is launching a photo exhibition on 11 November at the National Museum in Monrovia. Other joint ICRC/LNRCS events across the capital will commemorate the victims of the armed conflict and pay tribute to the Red Cross staff who worked tirelessly to alleviate their suffering.

"The photos highlight the lasting impact of more than a decade of armed conflict in Liberia and the immense suffering of its people," said Ms Hofmann. "During the fierce battles that rocked Monrovia, thousands received aid, the wounded were evacuated and treated and hospitals received medical supplies.'' The ICRC also visited detainees, to monitor their treatment and conditions of detention. The organization repeatedly called on all sides to abide by the rules of war, but those rules were ignored more often than they were respected.

"Many Liberians still recall seeing posters with the faces of more than 2,000 children separated from their parents," explained Ms Hofmann, commenting on one of the photos in the exhibition. "These photos were often the first sign to a parent that their child was alive, and the first step towards reuniting children with their families in neighbouring countries."

The young people who suffered so much back then account for more than half the Liberian population today. Some will be taking part in games illustrating the importance of humanitarian principles. After the National Museum in Monrovia, the photo exhibition will be touring Voinjama, Zwedru, Saniquellie, Gbarnga and Tubmanburg.


For further information, please contact:
Carla Bou Kheir, ICRC Monrovia, tel: +231 65 19 967 or +231 77 55 65 33
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 50 or +41 22 730 20 11

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