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Aid for refugees at UNHCR's Monrovia compound


Aid for refugees at UNHCR's Monrovia compound

Hundreds of displaced refugees in Monrovia could be moved to Samukai camp once security improves around the Liberian capital. This comes as some humanitarian agencies prepare to return to refugee camps overrun by recent fighting.
17 June 2003
Sierra Leonean refugees at VOA camp before the recent fighting and displacement. Many have fled for Monrovia with reports of violence and looting.

MONROVIA, Liberia, June 17 (UNHCR) - Hundreds of refugees seeking shelter at the UN refugee agency's office in Monrovia have received assistance and could be moved to a nearby camp once security improves around the Liberian capital.

On Monday, food and some domestic items were distributed to 540 Sierra Leonean refugees encamped in and around UNHCR's compound in Monrovia. They had sought refuge there after four camps on the capital's outskirts were hit by fighting between government and rebel forces.

UNHCR is planning to move these refugees to Samukai camp when the security situation stabilises. Other refugees encamped in a building opposite the agency's office have also received food and left for displaced centres around Monrovia, where they can receive more assistance from various agencies.

Meanwhile, more reports of violence, looting and two deaths in and around VOA camp have surfaced as Sierra Leonean refugees continue to arrive in Monrovia after fleeing the camp. Over the weekend, the Liberian police visited the camp and confirmed cases of generalised violence. There have also been reports that 15 looters were killed in a clash with the police.

UNHCR has been unable to access any of its four camps - VOA, Samukai, Banjor or Zuannah - for weeks and cannot confirm the refugees' reports. Many of the 15,000 Sierra Leonean refugees previously housed in those camps have since fled into Monrovia, where some are seeking shelter in public buildings along with tens of thousands of displaced Liberians.

Some non-governmental organisations working with the refugee agency are ready to return to the camps with much-needed drugs, medical care, construction material and other aid. UNHCR has asked the Liberian government to help ensure the safety of these aid workers so that they can resume humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups.