Liberia getting relief to refugees, no matter how remote

Publié: 19 mai 2011 15:28 CET

by Faye Callaghan

With 165,000 Ivorian refugees still seeking safety in neighbouring Liberia, work continues in providing shelter, food, clean water and basic household items. But when the roads are flooded and bridges collapse, the task becomes more challenging.

Liberian Red Cross volunteers recently spent 11 hours travelling through swamped dirt tracks and navigating broken bridges to take vital supplies to virtually inaccessible villages along the border with Cote d’Ivoire.

Don Johnson, operations coordinator for the International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Liberia, says the trip was not easy. “Many of these villages were cut off by dilapidated bridges, roads were turned into mud pits and rivers were swollen,” he says. “At many points the bridges were totally collapsed. We couldn’t wait for them to be fixed, so we carried the relief items by hand.”

The donation of family kits by the Swiss Red Cross provided almost 500 women, who were either pregnant or breastfeeding, with essential items. The kits included basics such as mosquito nets, blankets and buckets as well as items to provide a little comfort including a lamp, toothpaste and children’s activity books.

While the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire is coming to an end, many refugees are still fearful of returning and remain with their kind hosts in Liberia. But these villages are struggling to provide enough food for all.

A distribution of seeds and tools in Nimba County aims to ease the situation by enabling both host families and refugees to take advantage of the fertile rainy season to increase the food available. As they wait for their harvest, cash will be provided to refugees so they can buy food to ease the strain on the host population and also support the local economy.