31/07/2003

Trócaire urges Government action in Liberia

Leading Irish charity, Trócaire has called on the UK and Irish Governments to take swift action in Liberia.

The call came as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) received reports this week that over 50,000 people, including some who fled recent fighting in the capital Monrovia, were moving towards an area near the international airport.

Trócaire has already released £35,700 to local Liberian partners for the provision of food and basic household items for 4,000 people living in temporary camps in Liberia, however, Roisin Shannon, Regional Manager of Trocaire in Northern Ireland said more action was needed. She added: “We are currently witnessing a serious humanitarian crisis in Liberia, and one that is worsening with each passing day. Recent reports identify access to food and clean water as acute needs throughout the displaced population of more than 500,000 countrywide.

"Against a backdrop of inconclusive peace talks in Ghana, hostilities involving both militia groups are now spreading to other parts of the country.”

Since fighting between government forces and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (Model) rebels intensified around Buchanan late last week, some 9,000 people have fled into the city, adding the 6,000 refugees already there.

“The waiting game being played by the US administration is costing lives. President George Bush has prevaricated for over a week about committing US forces to Liberia. Meanwhile the rest of the world has stood by as Liberia has disintegrated into violence and bloodshed. If President Bush is unwilling to commit troops under a UN mandate then he must make an immediate declaration announcing his intentions so that other countries could step into the breach," Roisin said.

On a recent trip to Ireland, organised by Trócaire, Archbishop Michael Francis of Monrovia stressed the importance of establishing a secure environment for the safe distribution of emergency relief to the vulnerable population.

Ms Shannon concluded: “We would encourage both Governments to support any resolution that will enable the expeditious replacement of the US engagement with a longer-term UN mandated intervention.”

Trócaire has also donated £42,800 to Development Education Network Liberia (DEN-L) who will distribute food to 25,000 people in temporary camps in Monrovia and it’s surrounds.

The leading charity has responded to requests from Liberian partners to help thousands of internally displaced children made homeless by the recent conflict. Six new night shelters have been opened to help provide temporary housing, food, clothes and protection for up to 6,000 children.

(MB)

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