Humanitarian aid insufficient for displaced in northern Lofa

MSF press release, Liberia, July 3, 2001 - As the security situation in Lofa County continues to deteriorate, the level of aid being provided to those displaced by the fighting remains wholly inadequate.

The clashes between Government forces, armed groups and the displaced populations have now spread throughout Lofa County (located in the north of the country). After walking through the forest for three weeks, 35,000 people have now been settled into camps set up on the Jenne Manna, Bopulu and Gbarnga roads. The total number of people fleeing the fighting is probably higher. Unless adequate relief is provided, the plight of those displaced threatens to deteriorate rapidly.

For the past few days, at those sites which MSF teams have been able to access, the number of malnourished children has been increasing as the families have used up their food stocks. In addition to respiratory infections and malaria, cases of bloody diarrhea have also been reported. At Belefanah, where humanitarian organizations have had limited access for the past month, the fate of around 6,000 people is particularly alarming.

MSF, which is among the few humanitarian organizations operational on the ground, is providing medical and logistical assistance to those displaced. But the present level of operations is not enough to meet all the people's water, food and health care needs.

A third MSF cargo plane is leaving today for Monrovia, carrying 35 tonnes of medical and logistical equipment, to be used by MSF relief programmes for displaced persons in northern Lofa.

The eight MSF volunteers currently working in the area have set up displacement camps - including health clinics - at both Cari and Jenne Manna. MSF is also setting up a relief operation at Belefanah.