A. General Situation
WFP Liberia Country Director led a field visit to Nimba County
On 24 May, WFP Liberia Country Director led a field visit to Nimba County with donors and a number of journalists to visit WFP supported initiatives such as the WFP/UNHCR/UNMIL landing strip in Nimba, the Johnny Foker School, MSF-Switzerland Therapeutic Feeding Center and hospital, Catholic Mission TB/Leprosy Center, and Children of Hope Orphanage and the Contingency Planned area. Participants included USAID, EU, Swiss Development Corporation, RFI, AFP, UNMIL Radio, BBC Radio, EPA, and Corriere Della Sera.
B. HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES
The accelerated return of IDPs continues in camps in Bong County. The process has been completed in the Unification IDP camp and work has commenced in Mt. Barclay IDP camp in Montserrado County. The total number of IDPs already assisted to return to their areas of origin is presently at 159, 213 as of 13 June.
The distribution of the second tranche two-months food ration to returnees and IDPs, which completes the four-months resettlement food package, continued in Montserrado, Bong, Bomi, Capemount, Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties.
Liberian refugees from asylum countries continued to be assisted under the UNHCR voluntary repatriation exercise. Close to 1,000 persons have been facilitated to return home since the voter registration exercise for returnees kicked off on 23rd May. In some areas of return, voter registration centers are set-up at transit sites to register Liberian returnees on UNHCR's convoys. The National Elections Commission recognizes Liberian returnees with valid UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation Form and will allow them to register until 4 June 2005.
So far, a total of 16,074 Liberian refugees have been assisted to return home. The returnees received food rations, NFIs and secondary transportation. The number of those who have so far collected the second tranche of food package stands at 7,299 returnees which represent 72 % of returnees who should have received their second trench. The issue of the actual number of spontaneous return continues to be a challenge. At the Bo entry point in Grand Cape Mount County, a returnee-processing center to track and process spontaneous returnees has been set up. Also, discussions are on-going with the Norwegian Refugee Council, (NRC) to exchange views on the methodology of the returnee-monitoring project.
UNHCR Gap Analysis
In efforts to verify the Gaps analysis database established by UNHCR, a mission was undertaken to areas of operation. It was realized that much is needed in term of school rehabilitation and it is recommended that salary for teachers be considered if schools are to be operational once more. The gap in shelter is considerably high in Lofa, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount Counties. It is estimated that 50% of the communities need some sort of shelter support while 90% of returning IDPs and returnees will require shelter support.
The health sector intervention has witnessed a steady but slow progress. There is still need to rehabilitate 160 clinics though UNHCR and UNICEF continue to play a leading role in the rehabilitation and equipping of community clinics, health centers and major hospitals. With regard water and sanitation, only 16% of the population in Liberia has access to clean and safe drinking water while 2% have access to pit latrines. The need to increase the number of wells and encourage the production of slabs to be distributed to families for individual compartments latrines cannot be overemphasized. On the issue of sustainable livelihood through income generation and crop production, it was observed that despite the current intervention to include seeds and tools distribution there is a gap of 50% that needs to be financed annually. Also, there is need to increase the amount of funds in the revolving fund loan schemes in order to meet the demands of a wider client base particularly in the informal sector.
The mission also confirmed the deplorable conditions of roads and bridges. It underscored the need to foster partnership with the Liberia Community Infrastructure Program (LCIP) and UNMIL to rehabilitate not only trunk roads but also vital feeder roads for the return movement of returnee and IDP traffic.
The Gaps Analyses and IDPs database is intended to give a clear picture of sector intervention and provide a tracking mechanism of the status of the projects. UNHCR will regularly update the data, which will be incorporated within the overall RFTF process.
On 30 - 31 May, Civil Affairs participated in a follow-up technical meeting organized by UNDP to discuss the content for the development of a training module for the seven components of its social reintegration project: human rights, sexual and gender-based violence, child protection, civic education, peace building and reconciliation, psychosocial counseling and HIV/AIDS; the methodology for the implementation of the training programme and the key thematic messages for sensitization. The project is designed as part of the RR programme.
Renovation of the Gboveh High School in Bong County has commenced. UNHCR provided USD $80,000.00 to renovate both academic wings of the school and provide furnitures. The project is part of UNHCR Direct Community Assistance (DCA) being implemented by African Concern International. The project will be completed in two months.
During the reporting period, WFP distributed 392.5 Mt. of food commodities to benefit 40,425 beneficiaries. In Margibi and Montserrado Counties, the General Food Distribution for the month of May was completed in all IDPs camps where 123.486 Mt. of assorted food commodities were distributed to benefit 12,716 IDPs.
During that week, 5.83 Mt. of assorted relief commodities were distributed to 155 Liberian returnees, who arrived in Sinje, Grand Capemount County, from the Republic of Sierra Leone, and in Gbarnga, Bong County, from Cote d'Ivoire.
In Lofa County, 5,261 IDPs received 174 Mt. of food commodities, as their first tranche resettlement food ration, in the Totota, Maimu I IDPs camp. Additionally, in Montserrado and Margibi Counties, 1,010 IDPs received their first tranche resettlement food assistance, which total 34 Mt.of relief food.
In Bong county 3.788 Mt. of food commodities was delivered to the Voloblai Self-help Road Construction Project to benefit 400 participants working on the road project. It is expected to indirectly benefit the entire community and especially women who are providing support to the men in carrying out the work.
Under school feeding, WFP during the reporting period covered 121,529 beneficiaries in Montserrado and Margibi Counties, through the provision of 508 Mt. of assorted food items. In Bomi, Gbapolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties, the programme reached 12,808 school children with 93 Mt. of food.
On Friday, May 27, 2005 the School Feeding Unit held its regular monthly coordination meeting with six of its cooperative partners and UNICEF. Meeting participants agreed to share issues affecting the education systems of WFP supported schools. These activities will focus on learning environments, school timing, teacher qualifications, availability of text books and curriculums, availability of water and latrine.
In Bomi County, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has distributed the remaining seeds and tools to communal farmers in the three Counties under the agriculture CEPs (totaling 4,000 farmers in western Liberia). Also, in Grand Gedeh County, CARITAS distributed seeds and tools to some 271 refugee families in the districts of Gbarzon and Tchien. Returnee farmers are engaged in the production of vegetables, cassava, corn and swam rice. Women are equally particpating in the agriculture activity. Seeds multiplication strategy for the continuation of the project has been underscored.
As part of the process for re-activating active surveillance of priority diseases, the National Field Surveillance Officer of the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare and the WHO EPI Surveillance Officer have visited Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Gbarpolu, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount Counties to sensitize County and district health teams, health facility staff, and supervisory staff of health partner organizations on the re-activation of active disease surveillance in all the 15 Counties. The team was accompanied by the senior members of each County health team; and they also interacted with 45 community health workers in Nimba County, 35 trained traditional midwives, and 10 participants in a Family Planning training workshop in Lofa County.
Comprehensive EPI Review is planned to be held in Monrovia and selected Counties in June 2005. The comprehensive review will entail EPI Cluster Survey, Programme Management Review and Identification of System-Wide Barriers to Immunization, EPI Surveillance Review, and Injection Safety Assessment. These activities will lead to preparation of the National EPI Strategic Plan of Action for 2006-2010. The Terms of Reference and proposals for the Cluster Survey have been jointly developed with the support of WHO and UNICEF.
In order to launch the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR)
Programme in all the fifteen Counties of Liberia, the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, in collaboration with WHO, has initiated training of County level trainers, using the adapted IDSR Training Modules. The venue of the training workshop was Phebe Hospital in Bong County.
A total of 18 trainers were selected from Bong, Lofa, and Nimba Counties to participate in the County Level Trainers' Workshop. These trainers will in turn train the District Surveillance Officers and the personnel at health facilities in the three counties. By July 2005, training of County Level Trainers for all the 15 Counties will be completed.
The UNHCR HIV/AIDS focal point for Grand Gedeh and Sinoe Counties reported that the Health and Education Committee of the task force is currently involved in the dissemination of safe-sex leaflets, stickers on HIV/AIDS prevention/ control and condoms distribution in some towns and villages. UNHCR will provide additional condoms, stickers and safe sex leaflets to enhance the process.
On 3 June, a ceremony was held in River Gee to inaugurate the completion of a bridge built by the Chinese Engineers (CHINENG). The County Superintendent expressed on behalf of the NTGL's Chairman expressed his deepest appreciation for the role UNMIL has played in laying the foundation for peace in Liberia, particularly in River Gee. He stated that this is the second bridge completed by the CHINENG in River Gee, while the construction of a third bridge is in progress.
The graduation ceremony of over one thousand ex-combatants of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) turned violent Friday, 27 May 05 when the graduates became disgruntled over unpaid disarmament benefits. The ex-combatants complained that up to their graduation day, their full benefits had not been paid.
HCS visited the office of the LRRRC in Bong County to assist them with the preparation of their "Return and Reintegration" meeting, which is due to happen every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month. Negotiations and organization are on-going.
HCS and the Bangladesh battalion 5 in Gbarnga are in discussion to commence a Security briefing for NGOs.
The Health and Water and sanitation SWGs, held their first meeting within the reporting period and selected officials to steer the groups. The health SWG will be chaired by the County Health Officer while Water and Sanitation will be chaired by the NGO SOLIDARITES. The health WG selected a Task Force that has formulated draft terms of reference that will be reviewed in the next meeting. During the Water and sanitation SWG meeting, it was realized that about three agencies had a health and hygiene promotion component and each used different messages. It was agreed that the messages need to be consolidated in conjunction with the Health SWG to be adapted to the different situations.
The first Inter-agency meeting in 2005 was held on Tuesday 31st May 2005. The meeting was chaired by LRRRC and co-chaired by HCS and received briefing on key issues from the newly re-activated SWGs rather than individual agencies talking about their activities as was the case before. Agencies were requested to ensure their technical project officers attended the SWGs as that is the forum where agreement will be reached on priority areas, who will work where, standards and guidelines in respect to the different activities. The chairs of the SWGs will then share any key issues or information during the Inter-agency meetings that will be held once a month. Heads of agencies were requested to attend the Inter-agency meeting regularly.
HCS co-chaired the Gbapolu county Humanitarian Coordination Meeting on 25 May in Bopolu and follow-up on Gbapolu County sectoral meetings.
HCS participated in the Property Rights/Issues Meeting in Tubmanburg, it was reported two buildings are now being renovated to accommodate government doctors assigned at the Tubmanburg Hospital for gynecology and other cases.
On May 26 the InterAgency meeting was chaired by LRRRC and HCS. The discussion focused on the road rehabilitation and the new monthly schedule. They discussed aims and tasks of the inter-agency initiative, and there was consensus for the new drafted schedule.
HCS participated in a joint monitoring/assessment mission of on-going reintegration agricultural and road projects with FAO, WFP, RRR, Civil Affairs and the implementing partner of WFP, a local NGO known as National Foundation against Poverty and Disease (NAFAPD) in 5 towns in Gbarzon and Tchien Districts in Grand Gedeh Co. These projects are supported by WFP food assistance for local initiatives and are being implemented by NAFAPD for the communities benefiting returnees, refugees, IDPs, War Affected Persons (WAP) and ex-combatants. The purpose of the monitoring was to see the actual activities on the field.
For further information please write to:
Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer
Humanitarian Coordination Section - UNMIL
Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia
Phone: +1 (212) 963 9926 ext. 3901/3911