After seven years of a civil war that devastated the country, Liberian society remains deeply divided, and thousands of its citizens, fearful of returning, continued to live outside its borders. The economy is in a state of collapse and the infrastructure, including health, education and social services, is in ruins.
The Liberian authorities appealed to humanitarian organisations to help improve the security situation in the camps sheltering Sierra Leonean refugees. Security forces were also placed on maximum alert to monitor the situation along the country's borders.
The ICRC delegation in Liberia is located in Monrovia.
People Deprived of their Freedom:
To assess the material and psychological conditions of detainees, the ICRC visits six prisons in Liberia. Detainees held in connection with the 1998 clashes and the attempted coup d'état are included in the prison visits. The ICRC monitors prisoners welfare to ensure that their food and other basic needs are met. Visits to detention centres in rural areas are conducted in conjunction with the Liberian Red Cross, while a locally hired ICRC nurse makes medical visits and distributes medicine.
The delegation also helps children of security detainees pay their school fees and provides non-food assistance to the detainees' families.
Restoring Family Links:
In cooperation with the Liberian Red Cross, the ICRC exchanges Red Cross Messages (RCM) for civilians, mainly Sierra Leonean refugees, including some on behalf of unaccompanied children trying to locate their parents. The RCM Network extends to areas where Liberian refugees were expected to return and to regions where Sierra Leoneans had taken refuge from the civil war in their country. Messages are also collected and distributed on behalf of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea.
Education of International Humanitarian Law:
In order to promote respect and understanding for International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the ICRC features articles on IHL in daily newspapers and radio programmes. Public concerts, including songs whose lyrics promote respect for basic humanitarian values, are organised in various urban and rural communities every Saturday.
The ICRC also organises seminars to spread the knowledge of IHL for senior police, army and security officers and civil servants. The army now incorporates the basics of IHL into its new training programme.
Cooperation with the National Society:
The ICRC conducts cooperation activities with the Liberian Red Cross in areas of education of IHL and tracing activities. The ICRC provides logistical support when necessary and provides National Society clinics with basic drugs and dressings as well as assisting with distributions of food rations in prisons.
The ICRC activities in Liberia cover a wide spectrum of humanitarian activities, such as:
Visits to prisons to assess detainees conditions of detention:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC continued to visit 344 detainees regularly and to monitor conditions in 6 prisons.
Visits to prisons to assess their material conditions:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC initiated structural repair work and improved water-supply and sanitation facilities in a number of prisons.
Health activities for the sick and wounded:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC continued to support 2 Liberian Red Cross by providing basic drugs and dressings and by defraying running costs.
Restoring family links through the Red Cross Message Network (RCM):
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC , in collaboration with the Liberian Red Cross, maintained and improved a RCM service for 2,088 refugees.
Organising workshops to spread the knowledge of IHL:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC conducted dissemination sessions on the basic rules of the law of armed conflict and humanitarian principles for 36 members of the armed, police and security forces.
Budget and Staff:
The 2000 budget for ICRC Liberia is SFr 1,728,689.
- 1 expatriate.
- 33 locally hired staff.