Liberia

Liberia: UNMIL Humanitarian Situation Report No. 13

Source
Posted
Originally published
6 June 2005 - 13 June 2005

A. GENERAL SITUATION

Highlights

Cholera Outbreak Reported

There have been 513 reported cases of acute watery Diarrhea in Monrovia, and 2 confirmed cases of Cholera. WHO and other health specialists are closely surveying the situation.

B. HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES

IDPs

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 159,271 as of 13 June according to the WFP deregistration of IDPs.

During 30 May - 4 June 2005, a total of 6,637 IDP beneficiaries, resettled in camps in Bong, Montserrado and Margibi Counties, destined for Zorzor (73%), Lofa, and other Counties received 221 Mt. of assorted food commodities, as their first tranche resettlement food ration.

WFP has assisted the process with 5,800 MT of food. Distribution of the second tranche two-month food ration to Returnees and IDP, which completes the four-month resettlement food package continues. Currently, 76,250 resettled IDPs have also collected their second tranche of WFP food support, totaling over 2,800 mt, in Bomi, Bong, Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Montserado Counties.

Refugees

During the two weeks extension period UNHCR received convoys mainly from Guinea and Sierra Leone. The return to Lofa County is going on, since returnees want to reach their home districts before the rainy season starts. Since Montserrado belongs to the main areas of return, UNHCR is together with its Implementing Partners, enhancing reintegration programs for urban returnees.

So far, 20,624 refugees have been assisted to return home from refugee camps in neighbouring asylum countries while over 100, 000 Liberian refugees have come back spontaneously since 2003.

Through the new Mass Information Campaign for refugees in neighbouring asylum countries, UNHCR will attend to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) and clarify any rumours. The main concern Liberian refugees currently do express, is regarding their safety after coming back. Some also fear to be confronted with unsolved property and housing issues in their former villages, especially those who intend to return to Lofa and Nimba Counties.

Although UNHCR has, together with other partners, successfully established Property and Housing Committees in most of the places, there is still some insecurity among the refugee's community regarding this issue. However the majority is highly interested in getting detailed information on the overall living conditions in their districts of return: Is there a school in or near their village: access to a health centre or a clinic: road conditions; And if there assistance with food and shelter; and what kind of community empowerment projects (CEPs) are already in place.

Apart from these FAQs, the Mass Info Campaign will also address individual questions and concerns raised by the refugees in the different countries. Special attention is being paid to the needs of unaccompanied minors and separated children. Guidelines and procedures for their care have recently been established by the UNHCR Protection Unit. In order to compile detailed information, UNHCR Field offices are currently working on District Profiles which will be completed by the end of June.

Additionally, 8,182 returnees have collected their second tranche of WFP food support, in Bomi, Bong, Capemount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Montserado and Counties.

During the week, 17.41 Mt. of relief commodities were distributed to 58 Liberian Returnees, who disembarked in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, from the Republic of Sierra Loene, 456 Returnees who disembarked at the UNHCR Transit Center in Voinjama, Lofa County, from Kissidougou and Nzerekore, in Guinea, and 31 Liberian Returnees from Ghana who were received at the RIA on May 31, 2005.

Returnees who came back after 21 May, the official closing date for voter's registration, had the possibility to register in their County's Magistrate until 4 June 2005. The two weeks extended period was well attended. Many of the home coming returnees expressed their satisfaction with the registration procedure and expressed hopes regarding the October 2005 presidential and general elections in Liberia. However, they would have wished to see a longer extension period for all those Liberian refugees who are still arriving in the country.

While refugee children in the camps in Nimba County prepare for national exam for upper elementary school, fish farmers in the refugee community completed the construction of three fish ponds. UNHCR' Implementing Partner Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) conducted a 2-day workshop for teachers in Nimba on the conservation of the environment.

Food Aid

During the reporting week, 119.9 Mt. of WFP food was delivered to 8,305 Food Suppport to Local Initiatives (FSLI) project participants in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Montserrado, Cape Mount, Bomi, and Gbapolu Counties. WFP-supported FSLI activities are progressing in various Counties. For example, in Monrovia, five FSLIs received 20.89 Mt. of food relief for 2,227 participants. In Voinjama, WFP distributed 4.64 Mt. of assorted commodities for agriculture and infrastructure projects supervised by GTZ. In Phebe, WFP is satisfied with progress at the Voloblai Self Help Project, implemented by Samaritan Purse. In Zwedru, seven agriculture projects were assessed by WFP, RRR and FAO on 31 May 31 2005. Through Tubmanburg, 785 FSLI project participants in Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbapolu Counties received 54.88 Mt. of assorted food commodities during the period under review. Meanwhile, a local NGO National Foundation against Poverty and Disease (NAFAPD) has entered into agreement with WFP to distribute WFP food to FSLI projects in Sinoe and Grand Gedeh Counties.

Agriculture

More than 5 tons of seed rice and agricultural tools were distributed to farmers from Totoquele town in Bopulu district. These seeds and tools were made available by FAO and were distributed by CCF. Five more tons of seed rice is waiting to be airlifted to Henry town in the coming weeks.

To further support agricultural activities in Liberia, WFP purchased and received 100 Mt. of seed rice. Already, 22 Mt. (20 up-land, 2 low-land seeds) have been sent to WFP office in Saclepea. Rice planting opportunities in Liberia this season can last through July.

In Zwedru, for the 5 June 2005 World Environmental Day celebration, WFP provided 0.72 Mt. of assorted food items to the Zwedru City Corporation for a clean-up campaign. In this regard, 50 participants are expected to come from nine zones in Zwedru totaling 450 persons.

Health and Nutrition

UNICEF facilitated the training of eight data managers responsible for the analysis of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) survey. Ninety surveyors previously trained are presently out in the field collecting the data. The survey will be nation-wide.

UNICEF conducted five focus group interviews in Lofa County. The interviews are part of an evaluation exercise of Vitamin A supplemental activities in the country and will determine the use of guidelines for Vitamin A supplementation.

UNICEF participated in the first in a series of Training for Trainers workshop on "Life saving skills for safe motherhood" at Phebe Hospital School of Nursing in Bong County. Twenty participants are being trained for two weeks in maternal and neo-natal care. The project will train a total of 250 mid-level health workers in safe motherhood.

UNICEF and UNMIL have solved the power supply problem at the national EPI cold room located at the JFK compound. UNMIL has connected the cold room to their generator supplying electricity to the JFK Hospital. The national cold room is the main storage of the nation's vaccines.

WFP delivered over 30 Mt. of food for orphans, TB, in-patients, persons affected with HIV/AIDS during the reporting period. In Bong, 12.915 Mt. of food was delivered to 879 beneficiaries. Additionally, 20 malnourished children from the LAM Clinic were added to the Institutional Feeding program. In Saclepea, 2.46 Mt. of food support was delivered for 276 patients and the malnourished. In Montserrado and Margibi, WFP provided 45.734 Mt. of food for orphans and the ill.

During the week in review, WFP visited four clinics related to the MCH feeding programme. Two centres receiving WFP support were found to be well maintained and in line with WFP criteria. One centre was re-trained on how to use the new SFP IP/Centre reporting form as well as proper rations for Tb patients. WFP further conducted a visit to Robert H. Ferguson Health Centre's MCH feeding program and is geared to support 200 pregnant and lactating mothers. Due to non-compliance to WFP corporate principles and operating guidelines, two orphanages with 112 children had to be removed from the listing of WFP's food support. Five orphanages were reminded of these principles and guidelines.

On 30 May 2005 Dr. Eugene A. Nyarko, WHO Representative for Liberia donated to the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare (MOH&SW) computers, microscopes, and laboratory reagents valued at US$40,0000. The computers will support the Onchocerciasis Programme to establish a database on the project for Community-Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI), currently being implemented in seven (7) Counties in Liberia. The CDTI Project is designed to control the prevalence of river blindness in Liberia. The microscopes and laboratory reagents will facilitate the establishment of the Public Health Laboratory.

With support from WHO-Liberia, the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare organized a programme of activities for the observance of World No-Tobacco Day on 31 May 2005. Under the theme "The Role of Health Professionals in Tobacco Control", the programme started with a parade of school children through the main streets of Sinkor in Monrovia, and culminated in an indoor programme at the Auditorium of J.F.K Medical Centre. The indoor programme focused on the indispensable role of health professionals in controlling the use of tobacco, and the dangerous effects of tobacco on the human health.

On 2 June 2005 Dr. Eugene A. Nyarko, WHO Representative for Liberia and Dr. Peter S. Coleman, Minister of Health & Social Welfare officially launched the Liberia's 2005 World Health Report at the Monrovia City Hall. The theme of the Report is: "Make Every Mother and Child Count". The ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries including Justice Henry Reed Cooper, Chief Justice of Liberia, Ambassador Abou Moussa, UN Resident Coordinator, Liberia, Hon. Mohammed Sheriff Chairman of the NTLA Committee on Health, Representative of the USAID Director, Bishop Sumowood Harris, President of Liberia Council of Churches, Sheik Kafumba Conneh, President of Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, and Members of the Diplomatic Corps in Liberia.

WHO-Liberia continued to coordinate the work of the Technical Group, which is developing proposals on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Health System for the Global Fund. The activity is expected to be concluded in early June 2005, when the proposals will be signed and submitted to the Global Fund.

The MOH/WHO national team made final visits to Gbarpolu, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount Counties from 24 - 30 May 2005, in order to continue the process of re-activating active disease surveillance in the country. The national surveillance team comprised of the National Field Surveillance Officer of MOH and the WHO EPI Surveillance Officer. The team traveled throughout each county with the county surveillance officer and the county EPI supervisor. A total of eleven (11) districts, 25 health facilities and two major communities were visited. The trip from Bopolu City to Fassama Town was the most difficult for the surveillance re-activation team.

The EPI Medical Officer participated in the workshop, which was conducted from 01 - 02 June 2005. The objective was to prepare 240 personnel, including nurses and medical students, for the EPI coverage survey as part of the planned EPI Comprehensive Review.

A meeting of EPI, EPI Surveillance, Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) and Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response personnel of MOH and WHO was held on 01 June 2005 to discuss the harmonization of disease surveillance reports that go out of the country. The objective was to avoid releasing different data on the same diseases for the same periods. Participants included 3 EPR staff members, 4 EPI staff members, and 2 WHO/EPI staff members. They agreed that the data generated should be harmonized by all the data managers at national level before being released. All reports from a county should be synthesized by the county health team; and copies of health partners' reports should be sent to the county health teams for this purpose. A new IDSR software, which was introduced at the Data Managers' Meeting in Senegal, will be used to manage the data on malaria and epidemic-prone diseases. Data managers will meet regularly to review the data, and synthesize them for timely reporting.

The Steering Committee of principal stakeholders for the forth-coming Inter-Agency Health Evaluation has finalized the Terms of Reference for the evaluation in June 2005.

WHO and UNHCR will serve as Chair and Co-Chair respectively; and Save the Children (SC/UK) will serve as Secretary. All stakeholders, including MOH, health sector UN Agencies, international and local NGOs have reached a consensus, and agreed on the evaluation. The objective of the activity is to evaluate the emergency response in the health sector since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to assist the MOH in prioritizing health interventions.

Water & Sanitation

UNICEF in collaboration with the Humanitarian Information Center (HIC) has completed the development of a Water and Sanitation database for water points and latrines in communities and intervention work of agencies in the sector. The database will be managed by the Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with other members of the Inter-Ministerial WATSAN Technical Committee.

With UNICEF support, the Ministry of Rural Development has completed the construction of two hand dug wells with hand pumps and three 4-access latrines at three schools in River Cess County. The schools are Cestos Central Elementary, Cestos Nursery and Gorzoho. The sanitation facilities will benefit an estimated 600 students and their teachers.

Education

One hundred and fifty female teachers graduated on June 4 from the UNICEF supported Ten-week 'C' Certificate Teacher Training program at the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute in Margibi County. The graduates are from public and community schools in Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Bong, Grand Cape Mount and Maryland Counties. UNICEF also presented a package of Life Skills teaching materials to the various schools from where the graduates came. The 'C' Certificate training program is part of UNICEF's support to the ministry of Education for the upgrading of the skills of primary school teachers.

With UNICEF's financial support the Ministry of Education has completed rehabilitation work on the Webbo Teacher Training Institute (WRTTI) in River Gee County. The institute is to resume operations this month with the training of about 300 female teachers from the southeastern counties.

UNICEF is working with three community schools to observe the 2005 Day of the African Child (DAC). Preparation has included the provision of 310 pieces of school furniture including desks, chairs and tables for both students and teachers. and the construction of a latrine and well at the Elizabeth Tubman Memorial Institute (ETMI), the VOA 1 REAP Community School, and the Kendaji. The schools with a total enrollment of 560 students will also receive toys, footballs and reading materials.

WFP reached 98,492 children with 386.272 Mt. of food this reporting period. The last 59 schools in Montserrado County benefiting from the ESF program received 119.214 Mt. of food ration for 33,471 children. In Voinjama, WFP managed to distribute 16.4 Mt. of assorted food commodities to 3,084 students in 13 schools while facing damaged bridges. If these bridges are not prepared before the rainy season sets in, those schools will become inaccessible. In Saclepea, WFP food reached 10,183 children through ADRA. In addition to 87.023 Mt. of food to 45 schools, WFP also provided 90 cooking pots; 10,014 plastic plates; 2,333 spoons; and 2,333 plastic cups. Food delivery to schools ended in Bong this week, 219.91 Mt. of assorted food commodities delivered to 45,299 children in 102 schools.

WFP and its cooperating partner GAA completed head count in schools in three districts in Grand Cape Mount County. The purpose of the exercise was to verify beneficiary figures in schools since there have been heavy movement of IDPs from camps in Montserrado County to Grand Cape Mount and other parts of the country. In Zwedru, nine schools were monitored in Tchien and Gbarzon districts and found that enrolment had increased in some schools and decreased in others. A decrease was due to the lack of teachers, another due to high school students leaving for employment of US$ 2 daily. Results from the head count will be reflected in future ESF distribution.

During the week in review, Girls-Take-Home-Ration was launched at the G.W. Gibson School, Bong County. The school which is one of WFP food assisted school has a population of 952 (665 boys, 287 girls). The program was well attended by school authorities, members of the PTA, ESF implementing partner LWF/WS and the whole student body. Eleven girls received 0.355 MT of assorted commodities.

Reintegration

The NCDDRR Regional Referral and Counseling Offices opened in Gbarnga, Bong County and Zwedru, Grand Gedeh. The Gbarnga opening ceremony was attended by the UNDP County Director, the Joint Implementation Unit (JIU) Senior Program and Policy Adviser, the Director of NCDDRR and the Superintendent of Bong County. Speaking on behalf of the UNMIL OIC, the UNDP Country Director called for partnership, patience and commitment among all involved in the reintegration programs. The establishment of the NCDDRR Offices will increase the flow of information to ex-combatants and service providers of reintegration programs and lead to better collaboration of reintegration programs in the region.

The Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in Jacobs' Town, Monrovia, began the distribution of tool kits to 137 ex-combatants who have successfully completed skills training in tailoring.

FAO, in collaboration with RRR, has begun the provision of assistance to approximately 2,900 farming families in Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties. The assistance package consists of farming tools and seed, as well as training in agriculture techniques.

Protection

Rumours of forced child labour in Bong County led UNHCR's Protection Unit and Child Protection Agencies to the spot to verify them. The joint mission went to Kokoyah at David Town where child labour had been reported. The team found out, that children are actually being forced - mainly by their own parents - to do hard labour in local mining. Some ex-child soldiers were found to work for their ex-commanders who still do have some influence on them. The team issued recommendations to minimize the abuse of children in Bong County and is setting up guidelines to handle and avoid such situations. Furthermore, the recommendations urge all partners to trace families of separated children and facilitate the reunification of those children who are somehow still dependent on former combatants.

UNICEF provided financial and technical support to a four-day workshop for 34 staff of four Child Protection Agencies (CPA). The workshop took place in Ganta, Nimba County and aimed to help Child Protection Partners identify strategies for conducting effective reintegration follow-up for demobilized children, returnee separated and refugee children; facilitate staff in filling in the reintegration forms, identify ways of making referrals for demobilized children.

UNICEF supported an inter-agency team comprised of Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Save the Children-UK and a representative of the Union of Orphanages to undertake an assessment of two orphanages in Bong and Nimba Counties. The assessment team assessed the condition of children in the Mother Theresa Orphanage in Nimba County and the Ma Farm Orphanage in Nimba County. In both orphanages arrangement for reunification of children was discussed and agreed upon. In Nimba, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and UNHCR were given the responsibility of resettling the 59 children in Mother Thereza Orphanage, while Christian Children fund (CCF) is to reunify the 30 children from Ma Farm Orphanage.

UNICEF and the Government of Liberia have completed the Situation Analysis of Orphans and Children made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. (OVC).

The OVC situation analysis was presented to stakeholders (United Nations Agencies, the Government of Liberia, NGOs, the Religious Community and Child Rights Organizations) on 08 June. The development of a Strategic Plan of Action for OVC is scheduled for 16 -17 June 2005.

UNICEF helped train 34 staff of Child Protection Agencies engaged in the reintegration of war affected children in the Guidelines and Terms of Reference for Reintegration. The workshop provided an opportunity for the staff of these Child Protection Agencies to familiarize themselves with the Reintegration Guidelines and Terms of Reference for agencies engaged in reintegration. During the workshop, the participants developed key performance indicators for each guideline. Child Protection Agencies represented at the workshop are implementing reintegration programmes for the Ministries of Education and Gender and Development.

UNICEF supported the testing of an information package developed to generate information on "Services Available to Separated Children during IDP Repatriation". The trial was conducted in the Konneh IDP Camp in Margibi County. Results from the trial shows that people had no information on who is a separated child and the kind assistance available to them.

Environment

On 5 June, all UNHCR field offices commemorated World Environment Day with tree planting exercises and holding workshops on the conservation of endangered nature.

COORDINATION

Humanitarian Coordination Section

Gbarnga

HCS facilitated the General Coordination Meeting for Bong County on 2nd June 2005 at the Administration Building in Gbarnga. The objectives of the meeting were: to get an update on the humanitarian activities and security issues for the County; to establish ground rules for the General Coordination Meeting; to assess the relevance of some working groups and their sector meetings in order to delete or create new working groups; and to identify issues of concern affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance, prioritize issues and identify solutions. Two new working groups were established: Income generation activities has been formed, which will be headed by UNDP and its members include: UNDP, UNHCR, SDP, and ARC; Gender Based Violence Working Group has also been established and will work within the Protection working group headed by UNHCR.

HCS coordinated the establishment of Security Briefings for NGOs. Briefings will be provided by UNMIL CIVPOL and the Liberian National Police on a monthly basis, although HCS is exploring the possibility of scheduling the meetings every two weeks.

HCS together with UNHCR are in discussion to schedule a mission to the Liberian Refugee Camps in Guinea in order identify problems and assess the needs of Liberian refugees, in the first week of August. It is hoped that HCS will head the mission and will include UNHCR, LRRRC and other UNMIL relevant sections Human Rights, Public Information, and Civil Affairs. Planning and negotiations are still being conducted.

Tubmanburg

UNHCR office in T-burg has reported through a recent survey that refugee return from Sierra Leone is low because; (1) the refugees have already planted seeds (2) due to the rainy season they are not enthusiastic to move right away (3) the refugees are awaiting the results of the elections and (4) they are waiting for schools of their children to close before returning home.

On 9 June, the Western Area HCM chaired by HCS was attended by the Humanitarian Coordinator Abou Moussa. The meeting covered a security briefing, Sectoral updates, and briefing on humanitarian situation in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbapolu Counties.

On 10 June, a delegation including the Norwegian State Secretary visited Tubmanburg on which included a briefing by HCS.

Voinjama

On June 2 a delegation from Sweden visited Voinjama to monitor the activities of the INGO PMU and to assess the needs of the County in view of possible new projects to be funded by the Swedish government.

The HCS officer suggests that more field visit should be undertaken to have a clearer picture of the situation in Lofa, however, this is hampered by the need to remain MOSS compliant.

Zwedru

On 2 June 2005, HCS in collaboration with Civil Affairs, RRR, MOA, FAO, LCIP, LAS and the UNMIL Engineer conducted an assessment of the major bridge crossing the Duwee River on the Ziah Town -Tembo Border Road in Konobo District. The purpose of the mission was for the engineers to assess and provide technical advice on the rehabilitation of the bridge before LAS commences work. The 71 ft long and 14 ft wide bridge is strategic in that it is an entry point to Tai, the border to Ivory Coast, where thousands of Liberian Refugees are located; the route to trading center between Grand Gedeh and the Ivory Coast; and a channel to facilitate tools and seeds distribution by FAO to towns and villages beyond the River. The Engineers have agreed to use garbions for the rehabilitation. The UNMIL Engineer has offered to pay regular visit as the work commences which is expected soon.

The WATSAN Working Group meeting has been revived. The group will now meet every two weeks. The group hopes to review and recommend ways to improve the Water situation in the county; as there are open wells which have not been chlorinated for the past three months and are being used by the communities for drinking. At the moment there is an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in Greenville. According to reports from the OIC of the Hospital for the last five (5) days 30 cases of diarrhea and one (1) death have been reported.

Emergency Relief Fund (ERF)

The ERF program manager left Liberia on 5 June 2005 to take up another assignment in Indonesia. The team is presently occupied with ensuring that final narrative and externally audited financial reports are properly submitted by implementing partners (IPs) that have closed their projects, to enhance the processing of their final 20% trench payments.

For further information please write to:

Rosemary Musumba
Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer
Humanitarian Coordination Section - UNMIL
Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia
Email: musumbar@un.org
Phone: +1 (212) 963 9926 ext. 3901/3911