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Update No. 96/2 on ICRC activities in Liberia

03-05-1996 Operational Update

 Short mission to Monrovia  

Following radio contact with local staff in Monrovia, the ICRC decided to send a delegate and a Portuguese Red Cross nurse back into the Liberian capital on Sunday, 21 April, for a short mission. Their main task was to support the ICRC's local employees and volunteers from the Liberian National Red Cross Society in their continuing work for the stricken population, specifically helping to clear the streets of corpses which present a serious health hazard. The delegates brought in plastic sheeting and lime to be used by the Red Cross team, as well as chlorine for water purification purposes.

ICRC vehicles, recovered after being unaccounted for following the violent events of the previous week, were used to transport sick and wounded people between hospitals as well as from a makeshift MSF medical structure in Mamba Point to a hospital in the northern part of the city. The ICRC teams also visited the Barclay Training Centre and Greystone compound to evaluate the situation there, and evacuated two people on medical grounds. In the Greystone compound, work was undertaken in conjunction with the Liberian Red Cross and MSF to set up latrines.

The mission to Monrovia was a temporary one. The delegates have since returned to Freetown in Sierra Leone. They will be involved, along with the ex-head of the Liberia delegation, in preparations to establish an ICRC " delegation in exile " in the region.


 The future: the ICRC's position  

The ICRC has sent a position paper to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General, the Organization for African Unity, ECOWAS and the Permanent Missions of a number of countries in order to clarify its position on Liberia. The institution deplored and condemned the serious and systematic violations of the elementary rules of international humanitarian law and of the minimum principles of humanity that have been committed since the start of the conflict in December 1989. The ICRC felt that the time had come to question whether the humanitarian logistics previously in place should automatically be reinstated, as they could again be used in the future as a tool of war. It called upon the international community to reappraise the particular nature of this conflict in its search for ways to restore law and order. A humanitarian operation with lasting effects would be possible only if a credible level of security was guaranteed both for the victims of the conflict and for humanitarian workers. To this end, a genuine effort must be made, both by the Liberians themselves and by the community of States, to restore order and maintain stability.

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