UNHCR organizes second aid airlift for Ivorian refugees in Liberia
MONROVIA, Liberia, January 31 (UNHCR) - A UNHCR-chartered cargo plane landed in the Liberia capital of Monrovia at the weekend carrying 83 tonnes of aid for tens of thousands of refugees from Côte d'Ivoire.
The aid airlift, the second organized by UNHCR for Ivorians displaced by post-electoral tension in their country over the past two months, landed at Roberts International Airport on Sunday evening.
The McDonnell Douglas MD11 had left Liege in Belgium earlier on Sunday carrying 17,000 blankets, 11,400 plastic mats, 11,400 jerrycans, 5,700 kitchen sets and tarpaulins. The supplies had been trucked to Belgium from UNHCR's emergency stockpile in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The items will be stored in a new UNHCR warehouse at Robertsfield, 60 kms from Monrovia, before being transported to eastern Liberia, where more than 31,000 refugees from Côte d'Ivoire have found shelter since late November. The majority of them are being hosted alongside the local communities in 26 villages in Nimba county and most are woman and children.
"This is the second flight to be chartered by UNHCR to carry aid to Liberia in the past six weeks. We now have enough to meet the demands of 50,000 refugees," said a delighted UNHCR Supply Officer Yohannes Hailu Guebre-Mariam. UNHCR organized a first emergency airlift of 25 tonnes to Liberia on December 19 to meet the needs of the first wave of Ivorian refugees.
"This cargo, which is much larger than the first, will meet the [continuing] needs of some of the early arrivals and cope with a possible increase in Ivorian asylum- seekers," said Ibrahima Coly, UNHCR's representative for Liberia, "We are determined to help alleviate the suffering of Ivorians, while assisting the Liberian communities that have welcomed them with open arms and shared their meagre resources."
Coly said UNHCR would start transporting the aid to those who needed it most in the next few days. Meanwhile, UNHCR is continuing construction work on a camp in Nimba county to house the refugees.
By Francis Kpatindé in Monrovia, Liberia