Liberia Humanitarian Situation Update No. 106
A. GENERAL SITUATION
Donors continue to default on pledges for Liberia's reconstruction
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Liberia continues to report that the slow progress in Liberia's reconstruction is due to the apparent inability of donors to honor pledges they made for this purpose. According to the This Day newspaper, Ambassador Jacques P. Klein's comments were contained in a release from the US Embassy Public Affairs office release in Nigeria. The release quoted the SRSG as saying that only a small portion of the $540M pledged by donors in New York in February 2004 has been released. The SRSG emphasized the need for the international community to focus programs towards improving the quality of living for Liberians.
The level of optimism amongst ordinary Liberians for rapid changes in the quality of living following the conclusion of the donor conference has over the last couple of months taken a downward trend given the inability of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), UN Agencies and NGOs to positively improve the standard of living for thousands Liberians. Four months have gone by now since $540M was pledged for Liberia's reconstruction, the reality however is that thousands of Liberians, including internally displaced persons and refugees still have very limited access to humanitarian assistance and basic services - including health, education, water, communication, electricity, etc. UN Agencies and NGOs continue to face shortfalls in funding requirements for their programs, while the National Transitional Government of Liberia has not been able to implement many of its plans contained in the Result Focus Transitional Framework for the reconstruction of Liberia.
UNSC says lifting of sanctions on Liberia dependent on NTGL meeting its preconditions
The leader of the United Nations Security Council delegation touring West Africa, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom has intimated that the lifting of UN sanctions on Liberia would be dependent upon progress made by the NTGL towards meeting all of the preconditions now in place against Liberia. The Ambassador is quoted as indicating preconditions to include 1) control over Liberia's territorial confines and 2) control over its resources. Couple of weeks ago, the UNSC re-enforced its sanctions on Liberia first imposed in 2001 despite pleas from the NTGL Chairman to have it lifted. The UNSC has also passed Resolution 1549, which re-establishes a Panel of Experts on Liberia with a mandate to ensure complete adherence to sanctions. Currently, Liberia is banned from importing weapons, ammunitions and related equipment and exporting diamonds and timber.
UNMIL troops begin HIV/AIDS workshop
In compliance to a July 2000 mandate of the UNSC requiring all peacekeeping missions to have comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness program for uniformed personnel and civilian staff, UNMIL during the reporting period facilitated an HIV/AIDS counseling workshop for peacekeepers in Monrovia. The workshop targets uniformed personnel and civilian staff of UNMIL and is aimed at initiating a strong foundation in the fight against the spread of HIV and facilitating interventions that militates against the impact for those living with HIV/AIDS. Although Liberia's HIV/AIDS prevalence is estimated at 11 - 25%, the potential for sharp increases in the prevalent rates are high. All of the requisite basic factors that induce the spread of HIV/AIDS are currently present in Liberia.
JIU approves additional rehabilitation and reintegration projects: Program officially launched
The Project Approval Committee for the Joint Implementation Unit (JIU) of Liberia's DDRR program has approved 2 additional rehabilitation and reintegration projects to respond to the reintegration needs of ex-combatants (XCs). The projects will provide 'in-center' and 'on-the-job' training for 771 children associated with fighting forces and training and job placement for 1,324 ex-combatants. The projects are being implemented by a local NGO - the Sustainable Development Promoters (SDP) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in Bong and Montserrado Counties. The approval of the above-mentioned projects brings to 5 the total number of projects already approved by the PAC with funding from the UNDP Trust Fund. About 4,035 ex-combatants in Bong, Margibi and Montserrado Counties will benefit from vocational training being funded by the RR projects. The figure represents about 81% of the total number of demobilized combatants that are qualified to enter the RR program.
UNDP during the period launched two of the approved RR programs for some 1,200 ex-combatants. Over the next 8 months, the Monrovia Vocational Training Center will facilitate training for 800 XCs in 5 major trades - carpentry, masonry and building, electricity and tailoring; and in Kakata, the Booker Washington Institute will provide agriculture and other vocational skills to 800 XCs. About $400.000 has been advanced by UNDP to facilitate the 2 ongoing projects. On the over all, 54% of demobilized combatants have expressed interest in vocational training and 39% for formal education. The fact that only 2% of the total demobilized combatants have expressed interest in agriculture activities is worrisome and could adversely impact the future food production capabilities of the country. Meanwhile, Sweden has confirmed its contribution of an additional $1.2M to the DDRR Trust Fund.
ERF Review Board recommends approval of project to HC at first sitting
The Project Review Board of the Emergency Relief Fund had its first official sitting during the reporting period to address the first application submitted to the Fund - a project proposal submitted by the International Medical Corps (IMC) to facilitate a medical communications center to coordinate ambulances in the greater Monrovia area. ERF funding will facilitate the continuation of this life-saving service while long term funding is sourced. Subsequent to the Board satisfying itself that the appropriate level of investigation had been conducted and that the application was in accordance with the Fund's guidelines and requirements, it formally moved to accept the application and recommended it for approval to the HC.
UNHCR holds return preparedness cross-border meeting
UNHCR participated in the first cross border meeting with UNHCR BO Abidjan staff during the reporting period. The meeting participants were able to share and exchange information pertaining to Liberia refugees in Côte d'Ivoire and the preparedness of the Government of Liberia and UNHCR for the upcoming facilitated repatriation of Liberian refugees in October 2004. Meanwhile in preparedness for the pending return and reintegration process, UNHCR has updated registration forms to cope with the needs for legal and material assistance. UNHCR Zwedru is currently carrying out monitoring and registration of Ivorian refugees. The land space for the establishment of transit centers and camps is to be identified. Access roads from the border entry points to the proposed transit centers and campsite are currently being assessed. Spontaneous return from Ivory Coast and Guinea continues on a regular flow into Nimba and other areas. Spontaneous returnees have also been reported from Bo-waterside. Returnees are assisted in the transit site with a hot meal before being transported on UNHCR's trucks. In Voinjama some spontaneous returnees benefited from the shelter programmes of Peace Winds Japan. The families were given shelter construction materials including metallic sheets, nails and hinges to build their homes. Meanwhile, UNHCR has begun to look at the management of the Sierra Leonean refugees who will remain in refugee camps after the 30 June deadline. The first activity earmarked on is the verification of the remaining caseload as a means to get the actual refugee population. The conduct of a Refugee Status Determination and timetable for the application of the cessation clause in Liberia as a durable solution is under consideration. Given the response to the repatriation exercise, UNHCR may continue to allow refugees who registered to go home. For some time now, UNHCR has launched a vigorous campaign to sensitize residents of host communities about the post 30 June deadline.
Discussions on WFP reduced pipeline goes to CFA, HAC and RIMCO
In the CFA meeting of 25 June, WFP's food pipeline break was brought to the attention of members to seek their suggestions in case of continuous breaks. Members discussed the following options if the pipeline situation does not improve: 1) targeting of more vulnerable groups, 2) scaling down of non core activities and concentrate on general food distribution, 3) reduction of the planned 4 months package for returnees and 4) sensitizing the donor community about the pipeline breaks and their implications on the peace process and stability in Liberia. Additionally, the food pipeline situation was discussed in the Humanitarian Action Committee (HAC) meeting held on 29 June. Members were informed that if new pledges are received, the food shortages in August and September can be solved through getting of food loans from other WFP country offices in the region since it takes at least 4 months for the food to arrive in-country from the time the contribution is made. Similar efforts were made at the 29 June RIMCO (RFTF Implementation and Monitoring Committee) meeting. RIMCO's Chairman Gyude Bryant chaired the meeting. It is worth mentioning that there were donor representatives at the HAC and RIMCO meetings.
UNDP supports community-based reintegration (CBR)
UNDP supported the establishment of three District Development Committees (DDC) in Bong County. The first DDC was established in Salala district and the rest in Suacoco and Jorquelleh. Additional DDCs are planned for Zuta and Kpai districts in Bong County. The first committees have been given the necessary information about projects proposals received from their districts. The next step is to arrange a workshop for the committees in participatory methodologies. From Bong the neighboring counties Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh will be accessed.
Global Environment Facility Programme (GEF) launched
On Thursday 1 July the Environmental Protection Agency launched a project to assess the human, institutional and material capacity of Liberia to help protect the global environment (the three Rio Conventions). The UN Environment Programme and UNDP are giving a total of $215,000.00 as financial and logistical support. The project will last for 12 months.
C. HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES BY SECTOR
WFP activity update
WFP pipeline situation is still the same as in the past 3 weeks with the break starting in August for pulses and salt. The break will further affect all the commodities in the food basket in September, November and December. Unless additional pledges and resources are received, the pipeline break will result in shortfall of 14,432 MTs of cereals, 2,218 MTs of pulses, 1,470 MTs of vegetable oil, 405 MTs of salt, 2,073 MTs of CSB and 24 MTs of sugar from August to December 2004.
During the reporting period, WFP did general food distribution to 80,372 beneficiaries including 71,271 IDPs, 9,090 refugees and 11 returnees. Food distribution was completed in Wilson, Jah-Tondo, Blamasee, Horton Farm, Massaquoi Town, Brown Town, Salala, Tumutu, Samukai Town, Banjor and VOA camps. Distributions were still in progress in Sewegbeh, Morris Farm, Soul Clinic, Mount Barclay, Ricks, Kakata and Saclepea camps.
In addition, WFP continues to preposition food commodities at Bo-Waterside in Grand Cape Mount County to provide hot meals for Liberians returning spontaneously from refugee camps in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile in an effort to continue curbing down the trade in relief food, UNMIL confiscated 250 bags of wheat at a checkpoint at Mount Barclay from a civilian truck on June 24. The driver and cargo were handed over to Liberia National Police for further investigation.
Due to WFP's attempts to target food rations in IDP camps more accurately, some IDP camp residents have organized themselves to actively disrupt WFP food distributions. The IDP Committee has been appraised of this and other food-related agitation in the IDP camps and settlements. Measures are being sought with a low-key approach by the international civilian police (CIVPOL) to monitor and address actual and potential problems at flashpoint times and places. Unrest and agitation is expected to rise if the food ration is further reduced due to the pipeline problems reported above.
FAO ends 3-day vegetable seeds processing and storage workshop
During the reporting period, FAO facilitated three training workshops in Montserrado, Margibi and Bong Counties in vegetable seeds processing and storages methodologies. The workshop brought together over 75 participants and was designed for exchange of practical views among master farmers and technicians of FAO implementing partners on vegetable seeds and seedlings production. Discussions also included harvesting, processing and storage of vegetable seeds. The objective of the workshop was to improve existing skills of smallholder traditional vegetable growers with a view to ensure a reliable and continuous supply of quality vegetable seeds of local characteristics on the Liberian market.
CRS distributes seeds and tools to farmers
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has distributed, through its local partners, assorted seeds and tools to 26,573 farm families in Bong, Nimba, Margibi and Sinoe Counties. Farm tools distributed included 45,292 pieces of cutlasses, 12,793 files, 10,763 axes, 7,474 regular hoes and 2,452 scratching and dibbling hoes along with 1,325.37 MT of seed rice. It is envisaged that the agriculture inputs will boost the food production efforts of rural Liberian farmers.
Christian Children Fund and Ministry of Defense sign child protection partnership MOU
A Memorandum of Understanding aimed at placing child rights and children protection was signed in Monrovia during the reporting period between the Ministry of Defense and the Christian Children's Fund (CCF). The signing of the MOU is against the backdrop of increased violations of children's rights during armed conflicts in the sub-region. The MOU indicates the presence of empirical evidence to show that children were exploited, recruited and drawn into active military combat by arm groups during Liberia's decade-long civil war, which was in flagrant violation of international protocols and conventions on the rights and welfare of the child. The ongoing DDRR process in Liberia has posed enormous challenges to UNMIL and child rights agencies to disarm, demobilize, rehabilitate and reintegrate huge numbers children associated with the fighting forces. It is envisaged that the MOU will provide the opportunity for military and security personnel to appreciate the right of the child and play important roles in the protection of children - including children associated with fighting forces.
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