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Côte d'Ivoire/Liberia: Initial survey of needs in south-eastern Liberia

26-08-2003 News Release 03/100

From 19 to 22 August, ICRC staff based in Côte d'Ivoire conducted a survey in south-eastern Liberia. With the agreement of the Ivorian and Liberian authorities, four delegates, including a doctor and a water and sanitation engineer, went to the Zwedru area, which is inaccessible from Monrovia owing to fighting around the capital.

This was the first time this year the ICRC had carried out an assignment in Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire.

The delegates were received by representatives of the Movement for Democracy and Elections in Liberia (MODEL), the opposition movement that controls the south-eastern part of the country. The ICRC assessed the situation of the civilian population in general (in terms of access to basic services such as water and health care) and also that of particular groups directly affected by the conflict, such as people separated from their families, unaccompanied children, displaced people, and detainees. The situation is dire in the small town of Zwedru, where there has been no water or electricity for 13 years and no humanitarian agency has operated since February 2003.

The delegates visited and registered 28 people arrested in connection with the conflict. They also gave a first-aid kit and equipment for disinfecting wells to the local chapter of the Liberia National Red Cross Society. In addition, the delegates placed 19 Red Cross messages in the care of National Society volunteers for local delivery, and were given around 60 messages from people in Zwedru to relatives who were living in Monrovia or had fled to neighbouring countries such as Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.

Following this initial survey, the ICRC will submit proposals to the Liberian and Ivorian authorities with a view to pursuing its humanitarian activities in south-eastern Liberia.

 Further information: Monique Nanchen, ICRC Abidjan, tel. ++225 224 000 70