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UNHCR investigates new displacement north-east of Monrovia

UNHCR investigates new displacement north-east of Monrovia

The UN refugee agency is assessing humanitarian conditions in Totota, Salala and Kakata towns, where recent rebel fighting has displaced tens of thousands of terrified Liberians. Meanwhile, security measures and aid distribution continue in Monrovia's refugee camps.
3 September 2003

MONROVIA, Liberia, Sept 3 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency today joined other aid agencies on a mission north-east of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to investigate new reports of large-scale displacement and to assess the humanitarian conditions in host areas.

On Wednesday, an inter-agency team that included UNHCR staff visited an area encompassing the towns of Totota, Salala and Kakata, north-east of Monrovia. The day before, sounds of shelling north of Totota had reportedly sent thousands of terrified Liberians moving towards the three towns.

In Totota alone, an estimated 80,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have sought shelter in transit centres. In Salala, the International Committee of the Red Cross is planning to set up a second camp to cope with the recent influx. A separate group of over 6,000 people is believed to be living in a new IDP camp between Salala and Kakata.

Around Monrovia, security has been beefed up in VOA, Banjor and Samukai refugee camps, with three daily patrols by the West African ECOMIL troops. UNHCR has also been exploring the possibility of creating refugee watch teams trained in specific protection and security concerns, and equipped with basic tools like flashlights and whistles.

Distribution is continuing in the three refugee camps, as well as in Zuannah town. So far, some 7,000 refugees have received relief items like sleeping mats, blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, kitchen sets and soap.

Some 14,110 refugees are currently registered in these camps, where UNHCR has been registering those interested in repatriating to Sierra Leone. The agency plans to expand its sensitisation and registration exercise to other refugees in Harbel, south-east of Monrovia.

UNHCR has also been providing aid to some of the eight IDP camps in Monrovia. In Perry Town camp, UNHCR has transported relief supplies for 435 families to be distributed by a local non-governmental agency later this week. Some 3,600 displaced people have returned to Perry Town, which used to host 8,000 people. Many families have been separated in the recent rebel fighting that forced some of them north to Tubmanburg.

In addition to relief items from UNHCR, displaced people and refugees in and around Monrovia have also been receiving food from the UN World Food Programme.