NEW YORK, 18 March (OCHA) - Fighting between Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy Rebels and Liberian Government forces in Liberia's Bong County has caused an estimated 15,000 persons to flee the town of Gbarnga toward Totota, where there are already an estimated 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). There are unconfirmed reports that another 2,000 internally displaced persons who had been staying at a camp called TV Tower have been forced to flee for their safety again. The United Nations humanitarian community in Liberia has dispatched a team to the area to gather more information. The United Nations team will work closely with the Liberian Government's own emergency agency, the LRRRC, to determine the number and condition of the people who have fled.
Fighting has also recently occurred near Liberia's capital in the north-west of the country. Within the capital city of Monrovia, armed security officers are reported to have searched houses in the Mamba Point and Waterside areas as part of a "Cordon and Search" operation. The United Nations has also received reports of the forced conscription of men and women into fighting forces.
Last week, fighting was reported in the western towns of Combat and Zinc in Bomi County. In response to humanitarian needs in that area, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began lifting food rations to IDP camps near Monrovia in Montserrado County for distribution to previous IDP beneficiaries. The food assistance is expected to benefit some 111,525 IDPs in eight camps. A planned verification of new arrivals by the LRRRC and the WFP is also expected to begin soon. Following the completion of the exercise, the WFP would be in a better position to target food rations to the newly arrived beneficiary caseload.
After fighting occurred near Toe town in south-eastern Liberia two weeks ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plans to focus on supporting return and reintegration activities, as well as relocating refugees and Third Country Nationals in Grand Gedeh to either Harper or Saclepea, depending on the result of discussion it is holding with the government of Liberia. Before the recent armed incident in Grand Gedeh, the UNHCR and the Government selected a site in Fish Town, River Gee County to relocate refugees in Grand Gedeh County. The decision was taken against growing insecurity in Grand Gedeh County. The UNHCR also plans to work with the International Organization for Migration to ensure the speedy repatriation of Third Country Nationals to their original countries.
For further information, please contact Brian Grogan, 212 963-1143.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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