Liberia

Liberia: Fighting continues in northwest

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ABIDJAN, 14 March (IRIN) - Fighting between Liberian government forces and rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) continued on Friday in the northwest of the country with serious exchanges at Kley junction, 40 km from the capital, Monrovia.
Armed activity was also reported to be encircling Bong County, north of Monrovia, with fighting in Zorzor, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its weekly update for 8-15 March. The fighting was reported to be moving southwards towards Gbalatuah, 65 km north of Gbarnga. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in Bellefanai, about 40 km away. There were also reports of armed activity in Sanoyea about 50 km west of Gbarnga, OCHA added.

"As a consequence of increased armed activity north of Bong, hundreds of residents living in Gbalatuah and Bellefanai moved into Gbarnga during the week of 9 March [with] about 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the Gbalatuah and Bellefanai areas into the Bong camps. However, as at 13 March, movement into the camps had reduced due to the return of calm along the St. Paul River Bridge that is the border between Bong and Lofa," OCHA said.

The northwestern front line was reported at Abojah in Suehn Mecca district, Bomi county while Bopolu and Tubmanburg, west of Monrovia were under LURD control. Government forces were stationed around Po River, 20 km from Monrovia.

Meanwhile the World Food programme (WFP) began lifting food rations to IDP camps in Montserrado County for distribution to previous IDP beneficiaries. The food assistance was expected to benefit some 111,525 IDPs in eight camps. A planned verification of new arrivals was expected to begin soon, following which, WFP would be in a better position to target food rations to the newly arrived beneficiary caseload.

In a related development, the Norwegian Refugee Council began the training of 40 teachers in preparation for its Rapid Response Education Programme in three of the Montserrado camps. Two school shelters, one in Blamasee and the other in Seigbeh were nearing completion and identification and registration of some 1,000 pupils was on going in Wilson, Blamasee and Seigbeh camps, OCHA said.

[ENDS]

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