MSF report chronicles stories of Liberians caught in ongoing violent conflict

Click logo for report in PDF format "While discussions of an international intervention in Liberia drag on, hundreds of thousands of Liberians continue to be caught in wave after wave of violence," stated MSF operational director Christopher Stokes. "There is not a single fully functioning hospital in the whole of Liberia. Six weeks ago, humanitarian organizations had access to only a quarter of the country. That access has now been even further reduced to just a few square kilometers in one neighborhood of Monrovia.
Against a backdrop of shelling, gunfire and looting in Liberia's capital, MSF teams on the ground report a rising toll of civilian casualties. On Monday alone, MSF teams in Monrovia treated more than 155 wounded and reported 13 deaths. For the third time in less than two months, tens of thousands of displaced Liberian civilians are again on the run seeking refuge in stadiums, abandoned buildings and homes in the capital. In a 28-page report entitled "Liberian Stories" (click here to get complete PDF file) released by MSF today, displaced Liberians give their accounts of the arbitrary violence, looting, rape, forced recruitment, family separation and general chaos that have been part of their daily life during more than a decade of war. "Every day we listen to our patients telling us the terrible stories of what they have been through over the past months and years," said MSF medical coordinator Dr. Nathalie Civet in Monrovia. "Arbitrary violence, rape and displacement have become commonplace for them. Now the recent fighting has worsened their situation. "In Monrovia and the camps in nearby Montserrado County, a lack of food and medical care combined with a poor sanitation situation has led to a cholera outbreak and an increase in malnutrition." In its report, MSF calls upon all parties to the conflict in Liberia to respect the rights of the civilian population and cease acts of indiscriminate violence, sexual assault, extortion and forced recruitment. The organization urges all parties to respect the rights of civilians to seek safe refuge at home and abroad and to access basic services needed for survival. It asks that humanitarian organizations be allowed access to the civilian populations in all parts of Liberia. MSF also urges neighboring countries to keep their borders open to Liberians seeking safety abroad and to provide them adequate protection and assistance. "Hundreds of thousands of Liberians continue to be caught in wave after wave of violence," stated MSF operational director Christopher Stokes. "There is not a single fully functioning hospital in the whole of Liberia. Six weeks ago, humanitarian organizations had access to only a quarter of the country. That access has now been even further reduced to just a few square kilometers in one neighborhood of Monrovia. "The majority of Liberians civilians are being left to suffer the consequences of ongoing warfare alone and in deplorable conditions. The warring parties must respect the rights of civilians to seek refuge in their own country or abroad and they must provide them safe access to food, water, shelter, and medical care." Present in Liberia since 1990, MSF is currently running two hospitals with in and out-patient, surgical, and nutritional facilities in Monrovia, as well as eight medical clinics, four cholera treatment centers, and emergency water supply points for displaced persons in the city.