Liberia

Liberia: UNMIL Humanitarian Situation Report No. 113

23 - 29 July 2007

HIGHLIGHTS

- UNMIL medical outreach provides emergency health care to nearly 1,200 people without health facilities in south-eastern Liberia

- Local authorities institute measures to address increasing cases of rabies in Lofa County

HCS coordinates medical outreach to remote town in southeast Liberia

The Humanitarian Coordination Section (HCS) of the UN Mission in Liberia in collaboration with a team of 11 doctors from the Mission's Chinese contingent organized a two-day medical outreach mission on 22-23 July to Geetugbaken in Grand Kru County in the southeast of Liberia. Organized in response to the dire health needs in the town and surrounding areas, the team of doctors from the Chinese-run Level II Hospital in Grand Gedeh County examined 1,194 patients in a temporary facility set up in a primary school in the town. The most common illnesses treated were skin diseases, diarrhoea, malaria, gastrointestinal diseases and eye infections.

Geetugbaken (known locally as Geeken) is a large town located in Buah District in Grand Kru County in southeastern Liberia. Like many of its neighbouring towns and villages (Wropluken, Dayoken and Chenriken), the town has no health facility, and the estimated 4,000 residents of these communities have to travel (often by foot) up to 40 km to seek medical attention at the nearest clinic in Kanweaken, River Gee County.

Buah District in Grand Kru County is mostly inaccessible during the rainy season, thereby hampering the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance. As a result, the medical team had to travel by helicopter to Geetugbaken from Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County. Access to health, water and sanitation in the district is poor. According to the Liberia Comprehensive Nutrition and Food Survey (CFSNS), only five percent of communities In Grand Kru County had an available functional health facility in 2006.

The outreach mission arose out of a recommendation made by the HCS office in Maryland County following several needs assessment visits to Grand Kru County. HCS organized the logistics of the mission and provided support staff in collaboration with other sections of UNMIL. Residents of the Geetubaken and neighbouring towns who benefited from the emergency medical services thanked UNMIL for the assistance and appealed for improved health facilities in their communities.

Update on humanitarian funding

By 31 July, total funding for humanitarian activities in Liberia reached US$ 51.54 million. Of this amount, US$ 30.04 million were allocated to fund projects in the 2007 Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for Liberia (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/fts.nsf/doc105?OpenForm&rc=1&cc=lbr). The CHAP is now 25.5% funded.

African Union mission discusses refugees and IDPs with UNHCR and others

A six-member delegation of the African Union Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons arrived in Liberia on 28 July to 'share and obtain first-hand information concerning Liberia's experience in the handling and management of refugees, returnees and IDPs in the country'. According to UNHCR, the delegation led by the Kenyan Ambassador to Ethiopia will meet with UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNMIL, the Government of Liberia and other organizations involved in refugee and IDP assistance, and will visit some refugee/returnee projects. The mission will stay until 3 August.

Update on suspected rabies in Lofa County

Local authorities in Lofa County have established a Task Force to help address the problem of rabid dog attacks and to respond to the health needs of those suspected of developing rabies after being bitten by the dogs. Recently, the number of deaths from dog bites had reached nine in three districts in the county, with a corresponding increase in the number of reported human rabies cases. The local authorities have culled some stray dogs in the county.

The establishment of the Task Force is intended to provide a long-term solution to the problem. Access to rabies vaccines is hampered by high costs of the drugs, and there are no rabies vaccines available in the county.

Standardized procedures for SGBV response developed in Maryland County

In Maryland County, a Task Force on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has developed standard operating procedures for prevention and response to reported cases of SGBV. This set of guidelines defines guiding principles for all protection/human rights agencies and includes procedures on conducting interviews, psychosocial counselling, administering medical care, and use of reporting, referral and legal follow-up mechanisms.

WFP food aid reaches 45,000 amidst poor road conditions

During the week, WFP distributed 369 metric tons of food to over 45,000 beneficiaries in Liberia. The beneficiaries included some 8,364 malnourished mothers and children, critically ill persons and people living with HIV/AIDS. However, poor road conditions and damaged bridges prevented the distribution of food assistance to projects and beneficiaries in Rivercess County. Liberia is in the peak of the rainy season, and movement of cargo by road is becoming difficult in many parts of the country.

Returnees benefit from skills training programmes

UNHCR is providing opportunities for skills training to returnees, as part of its assistance to the reintegration of returnees into society. Recently, 86 returnees graduated from a UNHCR-sponsored skills training programme in Monrovia. The graduates, including three females, received training in electronics, auto mechanics, building construction, carpentry and other courses. At the end of their graduation, UNHCR provided the returnees with start up kits to enable them set up their own small businesses.

Meanwhile, the repatriation of residual refugees registered before the official deadline is continuing. On 18 July, 30 refugees returned from Cote d'Ivoire onboard an UNMIL helicopter via Maryland County in the southeast. So far, UNHCR has assisted the return of 110,797 Liberian refugees. UNHCR estimates that 70,000 Liberia refugees remain outside of Liberia, mainly in neighbouring countries.