In Liberia, 14 years of war have caused the death of more than 250 000 people, the departure of hundreds of thousands of Liberians to neighbouring countries, and the internal displacement of some 500 000 people out of a population of 3 million. Years of civil war have totally destroyed the health and education systems, infrastructure like roads and bridges, drinking water and electricity supplies, production mechanisms for farming and trade, and the civil and administrative apparatus.
Since the peace agreements were signed in August 2003, security has been insured by the presence of 15 000 peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) deployed throughout the country, and by 1 100 international police officers. UNMIL, whose mandate has been extended until 31 March 2006, is also in charge of assisting the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRR) process for 101 495 ex-combatants.
At the end of 2004 most of the country was secure once more, and many internally displaced people and refugees began to return home spontaneously. Their return to Liberia and resettlement in their places of origin was the main humanitarian challenge of 2005, and the process will continue in 2006. While several camps for displaced persons have already been closed, many more refugees are waiting for the results of the second round of elections on 8 November 2005 before returning home.
In view of the scale of Liberia's needs - everything must be rebuilt - and in order to maximise the impact of humanitarian aid in a period of transition between the immediate post-crisis and development, DG ECHO has drawn up priority intervention zones for 2006 based on an assessment of humanitarian needs. This global plan will cover assistance for the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons in their places of origin, and the restoration of access to basic services such as water, health and sanitation, shelter, food security, and protection, in the priority zones. DG ECHO will target refugees and displaced people, vulnerable sections of the population like women and children, and host communities. The proposed envelope for the global plan for Liberia is EUR 16 400 000 over 18 months.