More Liberians Returning to Their Homes
Posted January 26, 2004
The acting humanitarian coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia has called
for a quick response to address the humanitarian needs of thousands of war-weary
Liberians who were returning from the bush in search of relief assistance.
Justin Bagarishya, who is also Country Director of the World Food Program (WFP)
in Liberia, told reporters on Wednesday that information provided by UN peacekeepers
who had deployed in rural Liberia point to a steady return of civilians to their
villages of origin.
"The movement you can see is that people are returning, but we need to
respond immediately to their needs", he said. "Without assistance,
criminality and lawlessness will prevail, but assistance will mitigate that
Bagarishya also said that relief assistance was delivered to Tappita, Nimba
county, near Liberia's border with Cote d'Ivoire. Tappita is controlled by the
country's second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).
Relief missions have travelled with escorts provided by UN peacekeepers. Ethiopian
UN troops have recently deployed in Tappita.
Bagarishya said the first distribution on January 17 had covered 1,000 people.
Another convoy is being planned for Tappita for the end of the month, this time
targeting more than 6,000 people.
The UN official also announced that a relief convoy consisting of 360 tonnes
of bulgur wheat, sugar and salt would depart the capital, Monrovia on Thursday
for Saclepea in Nimba county, with the assistance targeting 26,000 people in
Saclepea and surrounding villages.
Bagarishya said a UN inter-agency mission would travel to the port city of Harper
located near the southwestern Ivorian coastal town of Tabou with some relief
supplies on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was starting
this week a major agricultural programme to be implemented in April. It will
benefit a total of 30,000 families.
"In the first stage of the assistance 10,000 families in Grand Gedeh and
5,000 families in Lofa counties will receive tools, including axes, machetes,
hoes, rakes and shovels", ICRC said.
The ICRC disclosed that less than 20 percent of the original population of the
northern Liberian county of Lofa, once considered the country's sole food basket,
had returned so far, and most fields had not been cultivated for the last three
"In Grand Gedeh more than 80 percent of the population is already present
in the villages. Planting good quality seeds will be the key to restarting a
sustainable livelihood in dignity", The ICRC said.
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newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia).
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