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Liberia: massive increase in aid

05-07-2002 News Release 02/37

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched an appeal today for a budget extension of 6.8 million Swiss francs, bringing the total budget for Liberia to 13 million francs, or twice the amount initially planned (6.2 million francs). The funds will mainly be used to set up a surgical unit in an annexe of the JFK hospital in Monrovia and to help internally displaced persons, whose numbers have been constantly rising in recent months.

The ICRC estimates that nearly 80,000 displaced persons are scattered throughout the country today. The organization is currently providing one form of aid or another for nearly 65,000 of those living in camps and it fears that the present disturbances could cause the displacement of thousands more. ICRC head of operations for West Africa Laurent Corbaz, who recently came back from Liberia, was struck by the disastrous situation in the country. " The victims'needs, which were already considerable, have simply increased with this new crisis and we must respond to them " , he said.

The ICRC will continue to play a key role in providing civilians and the war-wounded with protection and assistance. It will also build up its tracing agency's network in Liberia and in neighbouring countries, mobilizing the local branches of the National Red Cross Societies concerned with a view to locating the relatives of hundreds of children who have been separated from their families by the conflict.

1The budget increase was considered necessary given the humanitarian situation in Liberia, which has become steadily worse as a result of the crisis that has been affecting the country since last year. The ICR C will also need to improve its ability to act by increasing the number of its expatriates from 10 to 23.