- We are currently in the first stage of this process, and are now sending personnel to establish refugee camps for the internally displaced. In addition to this we will build schools and provide education, says NRC Secretary General Raymond Johansen, and adds that the organization collaborates closely with the UN.
Since the outbreak of the civil war in 1989 approximately 228 000 Liberians have left the country, and about the same amount of people are refugees in their own country. Out of these, there are 130 000 people living under very poor conditions in camps. Furthermore, one third of the country is not under the control of the government forces. The armed conflict in the Ivory Coast has led to many Liberians being forced to return home. The UNHCR has started to evacuate approximately 60 000 Liberian refugees in the Ivory Coast.
Johansen expresses great concern for the current development in all of West Africa. -- At worst the long-lasting and brutal civil war in Liberia, as well as the escalating actions of war in the Ivory Coast, can lead to a completely unsettled West Africa, he says, and emphasizes that the current fragile peace in the neighbouring country Sierra Leone very easily could be broken.
- I am also concerned that a war on Iraq could contribute to reduced focus on Africa. Famine, aids epidemics and armed conflicts all require an increased humanitarian effort from the Western World. Furthermore we see that the UN and international humanitarian organizations are having a hard time raising funds for activities on the African continent, he adds.
The NRC is currently providing aid to refugees and internally displaced people in 16 different countries on four continents. In Africa the organization has program activities in Sierra Leone, Angola, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Liberia.
For further information:
Raymond Johansen, Secretary General in the NRC: (47) 23 10 98 10 / (47) 90 19 91 72