Liberia: Plea for relief operation access
As the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Liberia has been postponed once again, UNHCR urges all parties to ensure that relief operations can safely resume in Liberia where hundreds of thousands of people are currently uprooted with aid workers unable to reach most of them.
Food and some domestic items were distributed yesterday to 540 Sierra Leonean refugees who sought shelter in and around the UNHCR office in Liberia's capital, Monrovia. Other refugees camping in the building opposite the office had received food and left for the displaced centres around Monrovia where they can get assistance from various agencies. There is a plan to move the refugees assembled around our office to Samukai refugee camp, as soon as the security situation permits.
Meanwhile more Sierra Leonean refugees have arrived in Monrovia from VOA camp outside the city and reported more violence and looting in and around the camp, including two deaths. UNHCR has not been able to confirm this, since we have not been able to visit the camp in days. However, the Liberian police, which deployed forces over the week-end in the camp, did confirm generalised violence. Fifteen looters were reportedly killed in the VOA camp area during a clash with the police.
UNHCR has not been able to access any of its four camps in the Monrovia area for the past week. The four camps once held 15,000 Sierra Leonean refugees, but many have since dispersed due to the fighting, seeking shelter in public buildings in and around Monrovia. UNHCR has requested the government's help in ensuring that the humanitarians can safely access the camps and resume assistance. Various NGOs working with UNHCR are ready to return to the camps with medicines, shelter material and other aid, as soon as security improves.