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Liberia: Emergency supplies airlifted to Monrovia

31-07-2003 News Release 03/90

An ICRC-chartered Ilyushin 76 landed this morning at 10.30 a.m. at Monrovia's Robertsfield airport. The cargo aircraft was carrying emergency medical supplies and equipment, together with a water truck that can hold up to 15,000 litres of drinking water and will be used in and around Monrovia.

Fighting resumed in Monrovia on 19 July, and since then the ICRC has been having great difficulty getting to its vehicles. At the same time, tens of thousands of displaced people are in ever more urgent need of drinking water to avoid epidemics.

The fighting has forced the ICRC to scale down its humanitarian activities. Since 18 July, when it distributed food, drinking water and other basic necessities to some 50,000 displaced people, the organization has generally been unable to distribute substantial amounts of aid. It did, however, take advantage of a brief lull in the fighting on 24 July to distribute 40,000 litres of drinking water - 14,000 litres to displaced people gathered in Samuel K. Doe football stadium, and the rest to people living at three other makeshift sites in Monrovia.

The ICRC still manages to register people on a regular basis, especially children separated from their families by the chaotic situation. It is striving to reunite these families as quickly as possible.

Despite the extreme precariousness of the situation, the ICRC is determined to press ahead, in close cooperation with Liberia National Red Cross Society volunteers, and do its utmost to bring aid to victims of the conflict.

In the surgery unit of John F. Kennedy Hospital, the ICRC has registered nearly 1,000 new wounded since fighting resumed. The unit, which opened just one year ago in the former maternity ward, has 170 beds and two operating theatres. Its six expatriate ICRC medical staff and 240 Liberian staff, including many doctors and nurses, have been working around the clock for over two weeks. The unit carri es out some 20 operations a day on average, and is currently treating over 300 patients. To accommodate all the casualties, an entire wing of the main hospital building is being refurbished in the greatest haste to raise the unit's capacity by 250 beds.

 Further information:  

 Dominique Liengme, ICRC Monrovia, tel. ++377 475 13 470  

 Roland Sidler, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 45 or ++41 79 217 32 58  

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