UNHCR concerned about aid workers' disappearance in eastern Liberia
GENEVA, March 5 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency today expressed grave concern over the disappearance of three humanitarian workers from its partner agency, the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), amid rebel fighting in eastern Liberia.
ADRA, which is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, has issued a statement saying that its country director for Liberia, Emmanuel Sharpolu; Kaare Lund of ADRA Norway; and driver Musa Kita were reported missing after being caught in fighting in Toe Town, close to the Liberia-Côte d'Ivoire border. They were on their way to visit a Norwegian-funded ADRA project.
"Once again, we are painfully reminded of the dangers aid workers face daily in their efforts to help uprooted people in West Africa," said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Mary Ann Wyrsch, who visited the region recently.
UNHCR, which is doing all it can to help locate the three men, remains extremely concerned about the general situation in Liberia's volatile border region, where aid workers are struggling to help tens of thousands of people who have fled fighting in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire.
Last week's rebel fighting in eastern Liberia sent some 2,500 Ivorian refugees and other West Africans fleeing from the Toe Town transit centre. An estimated 8,000 people from the local community were also displaced. Some eye-witness reports suggested that the rebels had retreated towards the Ivorian border, taking with them "large numbers" of people from the area.
Referring to the resurgent fighting, UNHCR's Representative in Liberia, Moses Okello, said, "This development is a very serious one, not only for Liberia but also for UNHCR operations in this part of the world."