URGENT NEEDS IN HEALTH, EDUCATION AND CHILD PROTECTION
- Over 26,000 returnees and refugees from Côte d'Ivoire require urgent relief assistance
- More expected to cross into Liberia as uncertainty deepens
- Regional instability threatens the survival of the Liberian children
- US$ 11.8 million appealed for 2003
1. EMERGENCY OVERVIEW AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
The recent military activities in the rebel-held cities of Danane and Man in Côte d'Ivoire have increased the flow of returnees and refugees crossing over into Liberia for safety. Latest government reports put the number of arrivals at over 26,000 returnees and refugees, sheltered in five makeshift centres in Nimba and Grand Gedeh border counties in Liberia. Many more are expected to cross the Liberian border in coming weeks. Most humanitarian agencies working in the country were not prepared to cope with this large influx of people and are now revising their initial plans. Until more resources are made available, the agencies need to share the meagre resources with over 130,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in other parts of the country.
Weekly emergency co-ordination meetings held in Monrovia have clearly indicated wide gaps in humanitarian assistance. Before the current crisis, WFP had enough stocks to last until March 2003. However, with increased needs now, supplies will probably deplete by end-January. At present, only UNICEF and WFP have limited stocks of high energy/protein biscuits, which need to be shared with others escaping the fighting in northern Liberia. Water and sanitation services, essential drugs, vaccines and auto-destruct syringes, transportation, school-in-a-box and recreational kits, and tarpaulins are the most critical supplies required immediately.
As the fighting continues and uncertainty looms in Côte d'Ivoire, more people are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. The gravity of the problem can be measured from the fact that people are now fleeing into Liberia -- one of the most war-ravaged countries in Africa. The conflict in Côte d'Ivoire is also affecting tens of thousands of Liberians who had sought refuge in Cote d'Ivoire to escape the war in Liberia. It is feared that the numbers will swell further as there are over 47,000 displaced people near the border and another 25,000 elsewhere in the country trying to flee the fighting.
Instability threatens the survival chances of the Liberian children
Many returnees and refugees are crossing by canoes using unofficial routes into Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties in Liberia. They have to travel long distances before they reach transit centres. It is feared that some of the children are not immunized considering that cross-border immunisation has not been carried out since 2000. The increased inflow of vulnerable populations has increased the potential for disease outbreaks in Liberia. It is likely to deepen poverty and make the resilient communities more vulnerable to diseases and HIV/AIDS.
The crisis in Côte d'Ivoire has stalled sub-regional peace initiatives. An ECOWAS-wide peer review mechanism on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been put on hold. Mano River Union peace initiatives have also taken secondary attention.
Humanitarian agencies make spontaneous response
Responding to the present crisis, the humanitarian agencies have held initial meetings under the co-ordination of UNHCR and OCHA, undertaken assessments and responded with immediate relief assistance. The UN agencies, EU, Save the Children-UK, GTZ, Action Contre la Faim, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Medecins sans Frontières (France and Switzerland), Merlin, ICRC and International Rescue Committee are among the agencies that have moved to the area to provide immediate support. These agencies have set up transit camps, mobile clinics, water points and protection units to assist the returnees and refugees. OCHA and the Government's Liberia Refugee Relief, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) are co-ordinating efforts to improve protection measures and increase transit camps sites for the returnees and refugees.
2. UNICEF RESPONSE: ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
UNICEF Liberia responds to the crisis
Based on initial assessments and co-ordination meetings, UNICEF, in co-ordination with WFP, has provided high energy/protein biscuits to the affected population. In partnership with GTZ and LWF, UNICEF has provided nine large tents for transit shelter in Luogatuo, Toe Town and Karnplay centres. In collaboration with LWF, UNICEF distributed 241 cartons of high energy/protein biscuits and 4 tents, donated by the Norwegian Government. With logistical support from UNHCR, UNICEF has positioned a mobile water treatment unit at Luogatuo. An assessment mission dispatched some weeks ago is expected to determine the most vulnerable population and their location.
Child Friendly Spaces improving the environment of children
Prior to the current crisis, UNICEF had established partnership with Save the Children-UK, ACF, World Vision International and two experienced local organizations (Children Assistance Programme and COHDA) to co-operate in the area of education. UNICEF has established Child Friendly Spaces and emergency education services (including Early Childhood Development and recreation) in four camps around Monrovia. It intends to support construction of similar units in the new camps for returnees. These spaces have been helping to enhance participation and protection of children in the difficult camp environment. The Child Friendly Spaces increase the visibility of children, promote integration of services and monitor provision of services. The Child Friendly Spaces are clearly delineated places set-up where activities mainly for children are implemented. A Child Friendly Space comprises the following: recreational corners for children of various age groups, games, literacy and numeracy, Early Childhood Development training and trauma relief corners. While improving the environment of children and youths, these gathering centres are also supporting mothers by releasing them to start income generating activities.
Further response planned in collaboration with other agencies
In collaboration with WHO, UNICEF is planning to strengthen the County Health Teams in Nimba and Grand Gedeh to increase disease surveillance and improve routine immunisation. UNICEF will also support growth monitoring and supplementary feeding centres and establishment of Child Friendly Spaces in the transit camps. These spaces will support school-in-a-box, recreational activities, and youth friendly services, jointly with UNFPA. The spaces will also enhance protection of the vulnerable children and youths. It will also provide hand pumps to improve the capacity of safe water supply.
3. 2002 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS AND RECEIPTS
Of the US$ 2.1 million outlined to support UNICEF's humanitarian interventions in Liberia in 2002, UNICEF received only US$ 922,791. While UNICEF is thankful to the donor contributions, the funding shortfalls in the areas of education and protection have constrained UNICEF's ability to respond to the educational and protection needs of affected populations. The table below shows the contributions received, by donor:
Table 1: FUNDS RECEIVED FOR 2002 APPEAL BY DONOR
AS OF 31 DECEMBER 2002
Income/ Pledge (US$)
4. 2003 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS AND CURRENT PRIORITIES
As part of the 2003 UN Consolidated Appeal for Liberia, UNICEF has requested for some US$ 11.8 million to continue/expand its humanitarian assistance to the affected children and women in the country. The table below provides a detailed summary of the total requirements, by sector:
Table 2: 2003 APPEAL REQUIREMENTS BY SECTOR
Funds required (US$)
|Water and Environmental Sanitation||
|Shelter and non-food items||
Funds are required to support procurement of essential drugs, vaccines, syringes, ORS, "school in a box" and recreational kits. There is an urgent need for family tracing and reunification as well as advocacy against sexual abuse and violence among children and the youth. UNICEF requires services of an Emergency Officer to co-ordinate the activities. There is also a need for an EPI officer to support immunisation and surveillance activities in the counties hosting the returnees, refugees and other displaced persons. UNICEF requires additional funds to strengthen its activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of communities and reduce their vulnerability to human rights abuses and HIV/AIDS. Girls face the highest risk both during migration and in the camps, where they are exposed to rape and prostitution. The need for special intervention such as advocacy, reproductive health and life skills to improve their situation are of paramount concern.
Details of the Liberia Emergency Programme can be obtained from:
Tel: + 231 226 138
Fax: + 231 226 136
Tel: + 41 22 909 5546
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165