U.S. Based NGO Assesses Humanitarian Situation In Central Liberia

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted December 2, 2003

A mission from the United States-based International relief and humanitarian organization, Mano River Relief and Development Network (MRRDN) last week paid a one-day visit to the embattled county of Nimba to assess the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the area. Nimba is situated in Central Liberia.

MRRDN is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-political organization headquartered in the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts (USA) with representative groups throughout the United States and outreach/affiliate groups in the Mano River Basin-region in West Africa. Mrs. Geraldine P. Kaba, its Executive Director heads the organization.
According to the MRRDN Monrovia office, the assessment team visited several towns and villages hosting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Ivorian refugees population in central Liberia. Among the areas visited was the strategic city of Saclepea, which is situated between the two major devastated cities of Ganta and Tappita. Other areas also visited included the John Voker High School IDPs center in Saclepea and the Ivorian refugees and IDPs camp outside the city of Saclepea.

The one-day assessment visit to Nimba County was due to persistent media reports of pressing humanitarian situation in central Liberia and the serious suffering afflicting the vulnerable population of the region. Besides, the MRRDN in a release said that its mission was aimed at getting first-hand information and assessing the plight of the IDPs and Ivorian refugees including other vulnerable and war-affected population.

The chairperson of both the IDPs and refugees, Messrs Prince Broach and John Miremout on a guided tour of the camps put the IDPs and refugees population to over 15,000 persons, saying that 60 of that number represents refugees’ population.

Mr. Broach told the MRRDN mission that there are over 2,000 IDPs at the John Voker High School IDPs Center. Out of that vulnerable population, Mr. Broach said 40 are orphans while 38 are widows. He said the children (orphans) lost their parents while the women husbands got killed.

For Mr. Miremont, spokesman for the Ivorian refugees in Nimba told the MRRDN assessment mission that some of the refugees are hiding in the forests owing to reported fighting in the country. He explained that grave, pathetic and desperate humanitarian situation that they are undergoing.

During the guided tour of both IDPs and refugees camps, the MRRDN took note of malnourished cases visible at the various camps. The mission saw several malnourished children; little Menson Voah, seven years old, could neither stand on his legs nor sit. Few of the vulnerable population explained in tears the ordeal that they experienced in the hands of the belligerent forces in the areas. The stories were all similar, painful, pathetic and grave.

Mr. Christopher O. Johnson, an official of the Community Action Program (CAP), a local NGO operating in Nimba, told the mission that fighters in the area raped a pregnant woman. According to him, the lady was forced to give birth but succumbed to death later. Mr. Johnson also quoted another victim whom he said informed him of his entire family, including his wife, three daughters and five sons being killed in his presence.

Mr. Johnson told the MRRDN Mission that there are 13 categories of the vulnerable population in Saclepea. According to him, there are 106 frailly elderly, 90 elderly, 117 lactating mothers and 270 single female parents. Others are 18 single make parents, 96 pregnant women, 22 single females, 60 separated children, 11 critical ill persons, and two disabled and deaf-dumb persons, respectively.

While on the guided tour of Nimba, the MRRDN mission saw visible signs the suffering among the IDPs and refugees. The mission also saw several hunger stricken children and elderly lying on the chill ground. Speaking separately, the IDPs and refugees appeal to the MRRDN to render them assistance and identify with their plights.

A high power delegation from the MRRDN headquarters in Boston, USA, headed by its Executive Director, Mrs. Geraldine P. Kaba and Financial Director, Mr. Joseph Edmund Weeks, visited Liberia in October to assess the pressing humanitarian need of the country and to set-up the headquarters for the organization’s Liberia branch offices.
During the three-week long MRRDN assessment visit to Liberia, the delegation tour several IDPs and refugees camps in the country including the Soul Clinic and Samuel K. Does Sports Complex IDPs centers. During these guided tour of the camps, the MRRDN Executive Director was highly touched by the plight of the vulnerable population and expressed her organization’s sympathy and concern for the plight of the IDPs and refugees, and promised that a great deal of assistance would be forthcoming in the very near future.

Prior to the MRRDN delegation’s departure for USA, Mrs. Kaba joined others in the distribution of food and non-food items like rice, cooking utensils, spoons, and palm oil and plates to IDPs. The distributions took place at the Soul Clinic and Samuel K. Does Sports Complex IDPs centers. In a prepared statement, Mrs. Kaba declared that the assessment visit and subsequent distribution of items were a good faith effort demonstrating MRRDN commitment to Liberia’s vulnerable population. We are prepared to participate in any process that would empower our people and restore their dignity. Liberians are a resilient people and MRRDN will facilitate efforts to rekindle the pride of our people.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.