By Sarah Oughton April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am
David Peppiatt, our international director, reports back from Liberia where tens of thousands of refugees have fled from fighting in the Ivory Coast:
After five days visiting Ivorian refugees and their host communities in Liberia last week, it is clear to me that the humanitarian crisis is far from over.
As the planting season approaches, there’s an urgent need to provide seeds and tools so families can begin to feed themselves. It will also be a race against time with the rains coming next month.
One volunteer told me how the Liberian Red Cross is working where no one else is. As we embarked on a journey along incredibly challenging roads that wind through the equatorial jungle, bumping you this way and that, I soon found out exactly what he meant.
We travelled for 11 hours that day and crossed 25 bridges to spend one hour with a community. Many bridges had fragile logs that you felt may give way under a truck and we had to get out, inspect the bridge and let the car cross – and this is before the rains. So we need to preposition key supplies, such as seeds and tools, and water and sanitation equipment as soon as possible, before the roads deteriorate and it becomes very difficult to reach these remote areas.
One of the great strengths of the Red Cross is its network of volunteers across all countries. I saw the value of this when I met a number of Ivorian Red Cross volunteers who have been embraced by the Liberian Red Cross.
Since becoming refugees in Liberia, they are now proudly wearing a Liberian Red Cross bib and working on the water and sanitation and other Red Cross activities, such as helping to restore family links between refugees who’ve been separated from their loved ones, particularly children.
One man still had his Ivorian Red Cross cap which he showed me, telling me: “Je suis avec la Croix Rouge De Cote D’Ivoire.” Having these volunteers help is a great benefit to the operation as they are able to easily communicate with and understand the needs of their fellow refugees.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, we urgently need your help to address the needs of thousands of families who are struggling to survive.
Please visit our website and make a donation today.