Liberia Humanitarian Situation Update No. 110
A. GENERAL SITUATION
NTGL Chair and representatives of former warring factions to meet in Accra
NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant and signatories of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) of 18 August traveled to Accra, Ghana on 28 July for a review progress made in the implementation of the CPA. The meeting comes at a time when there have been mounting pressure on the NTGL from warring factions in particular, and signatories to the accord regarding the appointment of officials to the government. Many observers are of the view that while the 29 July meeting could clarify contentious issues in the CPA, it could also be a springboard for manipulations that would subsequently emasculate the resolve of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The outcome of the meeting will become clearer in the coming days.
US Government issues executive order
United States President, George W. Bush during the reporting period passed an Executive Order that blocked property of certain persons and prohibited the importation of certain goods from Liberia. The US President indicated that his actions were necessary in view of actions and policies of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons. In particular, their unlawful depletion of Liberian resources and their removal from Liberia and their secret control of Liberian funds and property have undermined Liberia's transition to democracy and the orderly development of its political, administrative, and economic institutions and resources. President Bush further noted that the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the related ceasefire have not yet been universally implemented throughout Liberia. The illicit trade in round logs and timber products is linked to the proliferation of and trafficking in illegal arms, which perpetuate the Liberian conflict and exacerbate other conflicts throughout West Africa. The US President informed that the above-mentioned actions, policies and circumstances presented an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States, subsequently warranting the declaration of a national emergency to deal with the threat. The Executive Order will affect persons determined by the US Treasury in collaboration with the Secretary of State, and includes the Former Liberian President, his immediate family members, and senior members of his government. Close allies and associates of the former Liberian President are also affected.
Liberians commemorate 157th independence anniversary
Thousands of Liberians around the country on 26 July commemorated the 157th anniversary of the Declaration of Liberia's Independence without security incidents. In Monrovia, the celebration was characterized by festive activities, military and paramilitary parades and a National Independence Day Oration delivered by Sister Mary Laurene Browne and President of the Don Bosco Polytechnic College in Monrovia. In her Independence Day address, Sister Laurene named patriotism, education, human rights, and empowerment of the people, religious tolerance and reconciliation as six ingredients that were essential for peaceful co-existence and survival of Liberia. Speaking on the theme, "Fashioning Ourselves into a People for Significant Interdependence", the renowned educator indicated that selective interdependence was the way forward for the global community and that developing nations such as Liberia must forge good partnerships created out of mutual respect in order to accelerate qualitative development simultaneously, adding that now was the time for Liberia to choose appropriately in order to live in dignity.
Liberians also used the day to express gratitude to the international community for the level of peace and security compared to the mayhem and destruction a year ago. As a show of reconciling with their compatriots, some 2,000 ex-combatants escorted by UNMIL troops paraded throughout the principal streets of Monrovia to ask for forgiveness for their actions. Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, UN SRSG Jacques Paul Klein, Senior Government Officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps attended the official celebrations.
President Kabbah expresses gratitude to Liberians for hosting Sierra Leonean Refugees
President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Republic of Sierra Leone paid a brief visit to Liberia on 22 July enroute to Nigeria. His stopover was geared towards reinforcing cooperation with NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant under the aegis of the Mano River Union. President Kabbah also used the occasion to thank Liberians for hosting thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees that resided here during Sierra Leone's civil war. Majority of the Sierra Leonean refugees are already being assisted by UNHCR to return to Sierra Leone.
Nigeria dispatches 120 Mobile Police to Liberia
On 22 July, a contingent of 120 officers and men of the Mobile Police Force of Nigeria arrived in Liberia to assist in law enforcement and are expected to contribute to the creation of a safe environment for the successful conduct of the 2005 general elections. Nigeria is the first African Country to contribute to send its police contingent. In a related development, 10 Jamaican police officers are expected to join their Nigerian counterparts during the period as part of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia. One of their main tasks is to train Liberian policewomen. The party of Jamaican peacekeeping officers is made up largely of women in conformity with the UN mission's objective of raising awareness in respect to gender, gender-based violence and gender issues in policing.
The Disarmament and Demobilization process continued smoothly with out major incidents at disarmament sites during the reporting period. A total of 60,456 combatants have been disarmed since the commencement of the exercise in December 2003. As of 27 July, 59,045 ex-combatants have been disarmed and processed for demobilization since April 2004, out of which 53,471 have graduated from the demobilization program. The DDRR program informs that combatants surrendered a total of 19,328 weapons, 4,884,251 small arms ammunitions and 19,275unexploded ordnances. The program also reported that it has a total of 471 foreign ex-combatants enrolled in the DDRR program, 52% are from Guinea, while 28% are from Sierra Leone. The rest are from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Joint assessment mission to Harper
On 12 July UNMIL Civil-Military Coordination Team organized a joint assessment mission to Harper, Maryland County with participation drawn from CIMIC, UNMIL Human Rights, Civil Affairs (Education Focal point), UNICEF and the HCS. The team visited the J.J. Dossen Hospital, the Senegalese Level I hospital and the site for the proposed level II hospital. The team also met with the Danish Refugee Council before the departure for Monrovia. Key issues identified were problems related to lack of employment opportunities, food and delays in commencing the DDRR in the County. MODEL fighters were said to have exhorted money from the civilians to buy food and other needs. Limited access to health facilities was identified as a major issue in the County. The partially functioning regional hospital lacks basic facilities, equipment and drugs. People have been flocking to the Level 1 hospital where the Senegalese were able to provide free medical treatment for the last three weeks. They have now run out of drugs and can only prescribe.
The Senegalese contingent in Harper informed the mission that there was already sixty medical staff available to offer services when the Level II hospital becomes operational. The staff included: 2 Surgeons, 1 Anesthetist, 1 Internist, 1 Dermatologist, 1 Dentist, 1 ICU Specialist, 1 Pharmacist, 15 Specialized nurses and maintenance staff. According to the chief Doctor, the staffs were ready to work at the Level II hospital and also assist the regional hospital. At the J.J. Dossen Hospital, the OPD, one general and one maternity ward were functioning. The hospital authorities informed that they urgently needed an operations theatre, a Surgeon, Doctor's accommodation, laboratory, delivery table, Ambu-bag, vacuum extractor, mattresses and essential drugs. They also reported that the TB ward had no roof, a situation that has compelled TB patients to be put in the same ward with other patients.
The following action points are being recommended as response to the gaps identified in southeastern region:
- Enlist support from the highest levels
on raising the awareness on the health situation and mobilizing funds to
respond to the urgent health needs in Harper. It should be noted
that HUMEDICA, an international NGO currently running the OPD and the two
wards would withdraw from the hospital at the end of September 2004.
- Liaison with QIP to advice on possibilities
of assisting some aspects of the many needs at the hospital.
- The HCS to quickly organize another
longer mission to Harper to identify office building and immediately start
the process of setting up a permanent base.
- Encourage other NGOs and humanitarian
actors to move to the south-eastern region and start interventions. During
the regional coordination meeting held on 28 July, the HCS briefed participants
on the joint mission and stressed that security was no longer an issue
in Maryland as this was always cited as one of the reasons why NGOs did
not move to Harper. CIMIC office gave a briefing regarding the current
deployment by the Ethiopian battalion 3 into Barclayville in Grand Kru
and Fish town in River Gee, thereby covering the remaining areas.
- G5 CIMIC to follow up with the government on the Food for ex-combatants upon receipt of the list of names.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) disclosed to HCS during a 22 - 26 July visit of humanitarian agencies and NGOs to Voinjama that they had commenced activities on a low scale in the County. The organization is presently renovating its office in Voinjama and plans to intervene in WATSAN, Education, Interim Care Centers and Counseling. IRC informed the visiting delegation that it had earlier conducted a one-week workshop on Interim Care for some 50 participants in Voinjama in preparation for DDRR activities. Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) is also based in Voinjama District and is assisting residents with construction tools and materials for rebuilding their shelters. PWJ informed that it had distributed construction kits to widows in Voinjama. Each kit contains 3 bundles (60 pieces of zinc sheeting), 2 cartons of zinc nails and 2 packs of 3-inch nails. While in Voinjama, the visiting team noted that there was an acute food shortage for the increasing number of returnees settling into Voinjama on a daily basis. WFP has meanwhile begun the delivery of food commodities to facilitate incentives for food-for-work projects in the County. Already, residents are involved in side brushing of roads and cleaning up towns. The roadside brushing activities in Voinjama and Zorzor Districts facilitated by Kweatonor Development Relief Services (KDRS), a local NGO based in Zorzor with Food-for-Work support from WFP. The HCS team recommended the need for increased service providers in the County in order to accelerate interventions in the county.
Gbarnga regional update:
At the 29 July meeting of the Gbarnga Sector 3 Office Humanitarian Coordination meeting, the HCS Field Coordinator gave a presentation on the role of the County Resettlement Assessment Committee (CRAC) and a representative of the Emergency Relief Fund informed meeting participants of the kind of programs/activities the fund would facilitate. A CRAC for Bong County was established at the end of the meeting and will hold its first meeting on 3 August at the County Superintendent's office.
Regional Food-for-Peace Team Leader visits WFP
USAID West Africa Regional Food for Peace (FFP) office in Dakar Team Leader, Carolyn Hughes visited the WFP Liberia from 22 - 27 July. The purpose of her visit was to discuss WFP food pipeline situation in Liberia, the impact of food shortfalls on the beneficiaries, discuss with Agencies concerned with the future refugees /IDPs repatriation exercise and visits to various WFP programme activities. During the visit, she was engaged in the following activities:
1. Briefs on WFP operations in Liberia and Pipeline situation;
2. Meetings with NTGL officials (LRRRC), UNHCR and WFP implementing Partners;
3. Visited WFP warehouses and the different facilities of the Freeport of Monrovia,
4. Visited Ricks Institute and Mount Barclay IDP camps and a few schools and orphanages in and around Monrovia;
5. One-day trip was to Bong County, where she visited Phebe sub office, food storage facilities in the area, a cantonment site and an interim care center for juvenile ex-combatants managed by Save the Children-UK.
De-briefing WFP staff on the last day of her visit, Ms Hughes indicated that she would prioritize the arrival of the FFP shipment of 8480 Mt in order to avoid the food pipeline break in September. In addition, she promised to forward the funding request for Monrovia Port operations to PRM, as well as contact OFDA regarding funding of household nutritional assessment and the post of nutritionist in Liberia.
LRRRC facilitates camp management training workshop
On 23 July 2004, the LRRRC in collaboration with NRC, UNHCR and OCHA conducted a workshop for camp Managers at the Fendell IDP camp. The objective of the workshop was to increase the capacity of the camp managers and IDP Camp leadership in the areas of a) Humanitarian coordination in camp management, b) LRRRC camp management guidelines, c) Protection of IDPs in camp setting, d) Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and e) Returning Planning of IDPs to the county of origins as per the Government of Liberia strategy on Return. The workshop was also geared towards empowerment of camp managers to enable them make positive decision in the general welfare of the people they serve. A total of 39 participants from camp management agencies and representatives from the IDP camp leadership attended the workshop. Initial feedbacks from the workshop indicated the need for a series of workshops to sharpen the focus of camp managers to the overall Return Focus Transitional Framework (RFTF) of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL).
C. HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES BY SECTOR
WFP activity update
During the period under review, a total of 1,349.22 MTs of assorted food commodities was distributed to 106,282 IDPs located in 11 IDP camps. As a result, distribution of food ration for the month of July was completed in the following camps: Mount Barclay, Morris farm, Soul Clinic, Buchanan, Conneh, Salala, Tumutu and Saclepea. Distribution is still in progress in Ricks, Sinje 3 and Sewegbeh. In addition, 6.74 MTs was distributed to some 541 refugees located in Saclepea refugee Camp in Nimba County.
For its HIV/AIDS and nutrition interventions, WFP provided some 64.4 Mt of food to 7,114 beneficiaries including malnourished children, their caretakers, pregnant women and lactating mothers at various MCHs, SFPs and TFP centers. The feeding centers are located in the seven counties of Montserrado, Cape Mount, Bomi, Margibi, Nimba, Grand Bassa and Bong. A further 19.1 MTs was distributed to 1,078 HIV/AIDS programs in Montserrado and Margibi counties. In addition, distribution of some 186.9 MTs to 12,457 beneficiaries was made in various orphanages, TB centers and other vulnerable groups like the sick in hospitals. Also, a total of 145 MTs of assorted commodities was delivered to 79 schools to feed some 19,750 school children benefiting from the school feeding program.
WFP food support to the DDRR program witnessed an average of 1,785 ex-combatants benefited from a total of 6.3 Mt of assorted food commodities as wet ration at the various cantonment sites in Bong, Grand Gedeh, Bomi and Montserrado Counties. At the Interim Care Centers (ICCs), a total of 1,796 child soldiers (1,340 boys and 456 girls) were fed with 7.8 MTs of food as wet ration. In addition, various food commodities including rice, pulses, vegetable oil and salt amounting to 132.39 MTs were distributed to some 2,771 ex-combatants (male- 2,224, female- 547) as take home ration. Take home ration is calculated based on 2 dependants per adult ex-combatants at the cantonment sites. At the ICCs, 14.22 MTs of food was distributed to 929 child ex-combatants (743 boys, 186 girls).
Resourcing and pipeline update:
The following new contributions were confirmed during the week:
1. 254 Mt of CSB (USD $ 200,000) from PRM -USA;
2. 1406 Mt of various commodities ($ 1.25 Million) from Netherlands / Denmark;
3. 1556 Mt of Bulgur wheat ($1.2 Million) from TPG N.V - Private donor;
4. 2122 Mt of various commodities ($1.8 Million) from DFID -UK.
Contributions nearly to be confirmed include:
1. Some 10,655 Mt (7 Million Euro) from EU
The new confirmed contributions reduced the food pipeline shortfalls to 15,258 Mt (by 24%). Most of the new contributions are expected to arrive in Monrovia between October and November. Additional pledges and confirmed contributions are required to offset the outstanding food shortfalls of 11,241 MTs of cereals, 1750 MTs of pulses, 766 Mt of Oil, 93 MTs of Salt, 1405 MTs of CSB and 3 MTs of Sugar from July -December 04.
For August food distribution, the Country office continues to face a pipeline break of 622 MTs pulses (100% requirements) pending arrival of the loan of 950 Mt of pulses from Abidjan. Distribution of August food rations is planned to commence next week. The existing in-country food stocks of 6,004 Mt will cover the August requirements for Cereals, Vegetable Oil, Salt (79%) and Sugar at reduced rations.
WFP continues to face a critical Pipeline break in September on all commodities except sugar totalling to 5856 Mt. The pipeline break could be averted if arrival of the US-FFP shipment of 8480 Mt is accelerated so that the cargo arrive in August or consideration of food diversions / loans from other WFP operations in the region.
Shelter & NFIs
SC/UK and OGB begin process for tarpaulin distribution
In the IDP camp management meeting, the IDP committee was informed that SC-UK and OXFAM GB are jointly doing population verification exercises for the distribution of ECHO and ERF funded tarpaulins to the most vulnerable segments of the IDP population. The distribution is prioritizing newly constructed shelters of IDPs from transit centers. The IDP Committee has requested additional information from SC-UK and OXFAM on the methodology/strategy being used in the identification of the targeted beneficiaries.
UNICEF and MOE on PTA strengthening coordination of Accelerated Learning Program
With UNICEF support, the Ministry of Education held a 4-day comprehensive conference for National Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs). Presentations at the workshop covered the role of PTAs in child protection, girls' education promotion; sustaining schools and teachers with limited governmental resources; community support to schools and teachers; and the school feeding program, which was outlined and presented by the World Food Program. Participants included Education Officers from all counties, PTA leaders from 25 schools, as well as various NTGL officials. Participants of the workshop recommended: 1) the development of a National PTA Policy framework and 2) the revitalization of community ownership framework in schools. In a related development UNICEF, during the reporting period coordinated a comprehensive meeting for all organizations involved in the Accelerated Learning Project (ALP) to discuss program implementation in Liberia. The group will meet again to ensure that increased number of children benefit from the program and to endure coordination in the implementation of the program. Separately, UNICEF held a meeting with County Educational Officers (CEOs) to discuss the concepts and management of the ALP in Liberia. The CEOs and District Education Officers (C/DEOs) were encouraged to communicate office needs to the Ministry for UNICEF support considerations.
Immunization of 70,000 children begins in Sinoe and Gbarpolu Counties
After last week's successful training on measles vaccination, immunization activities have started in Sinoe and Gbarpolu counties to benefit 70,000 children that are 6 months to under-15 years old. UNICEF is supporting the campaign with funding from ECHO.
Ministry of Health trains 520 in malaria management
UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health to trained 520 parents and caregivers on malaria management. The training package includes 3 main components:
1) information on the prevention of malaria, 2) skills to caregivers on how to care for children with malaria and 3) access to Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) for use by vulnerable groups. Participants came from 8 communities in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bong and Margibi Counties. In another development, UNICEF provided the National Drugs Services 4,000 gallons of fuel to help maintain the cold-chain system for vaccines during the periods covering July 2004 to January 2005 period.
Education Ministry and UNICEF begin deworming of school children
UNICEF and the Ministry of Education facilitated a one-day health sensitization workshop for parents, teachers and principals on de-worming of school children between the ages 3 - 10 years old. The aim of the workshop is to sensitize school administration on the prevention of diseases and expose them to personal hygiene practices that will safeguard the children. Children in 50 schools in five counties will be administered with Menbendazole tablets in the initial process, while 5,000 children will be covered quarterly.
SC-UK emergency statement on issues affecting Liberian Children
During the reporting period Save the Children (SC-UK) issued an emergency statement on issues affecting Liberian children. The statement acknowledges efforts of child protection agencies in ensuring that children associated with the armed forces are prioritized within the demobilization and disarmament process as well as clarification on appropriate arrangements for the provision of their resettlement 'package' to Children Associated with the Fighting Forces (CAFF). SC-UK state that notwithstanding a pronouncement by the Minister of Gender and Development that the DDR Process recommenced in April with special emphasis and focus on children associated with the armed forces, there were still significant gaps affecting the well-being of children. The identified gaps are summarized in seven key areas: 1) the lack of access to adequate safe drinking water, sanitation, immunization and proper nutrition; 2) the absence of proper reintegration programmes for children, which leaves ex-combatants very few opportunities; 3) ongoing recruitment of children into rebel forces; 4) separation of large numbers of children from their families and the associate risks of violence, abuse and exploitation; 5) limited access to livelihood opportunities - a situation that has compelled many children to engage in hazardous and exploitative survival activities, including prostitution, theft, drug dealing and living on the streets; 6) increased number of girls faced with sexual exploitation and abuse resulting in increased rates of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS incidence, especially in camps for refugees and displaced persons; and 7) access to primary education which is very low and in most cases non-existent, particularly in towns and villages in the rural areas.
Already, Save the Children UK has ongoing programs that are designed to respond to some of the gaps identified above. SC-UK's collaborates with the Ministry of Health in building the capacity of the Ministry to respond to the health needs of the country - including the immunization of over 700,000 children. Currently, the agency is involved in identifying children who are separated in order to reunify them and provide follow up care. SC-UK is also engaged in working through children's clubs and community groups and providing training that will avoid cases of separation and allow children to protect themselves from violence and abuse. Since December 2003, Save the Children, through the Ministry of Health's Bureau of Social Welfare, has been providing support to the Juvenile Justice system in Monrovia to ensure the protection of children in conflict with the law and is working with children who have been associated with the fighting forces. This involves providing interim care facilities for such children and helping communities to accept them back, providing care for children who do not have families and supporting skills training and apprenticeship initiatives to help them work towards a better future.
UNICEF and partners to enhance access to safe drinking water for 8 urban communities
With USAID funding, UNICEF is supporting two separate but mutually supporting community-managed water tank projects. These projects aim at bringing 116,000 liters of safe drinking water daily to 25,000 persons in 8 urban poor communities in Monrovia. The first project is being facilitated in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and it focuses on construction and installation of new water tanks. The second project with the Monrovia City Corporation focuses on social mobilization. The targeted communities currently do not have access to water pipeline as either the local water sources are contaminated or the ground is not conducive for wells. UNICEF will provide seed water, capacity building, managers and caretakers for three months. Thereafter, communities will take over and manage their own water trucking cost recovery scheme.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.