Heavy rains bring worsening conditions for those who fled Liberian camp - UN agency

Heavy rains bring worsening conditions for those who fled Liberian camp - UN agency

With heavy rains in Liberia exacerbating conditions for those without shelter, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today voiced growing concern about the welfare of thousands of people who had scattered from a camp in the wake of a rebel attack last month in the northwestern part of the country.

A UNHCR spokesman in Geneva cited grim reports from Sierra Leonean refugees who, after fleeing the Sinje camp, had managed to reach their home country as well as other refugee camps around the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

"They are famished, sick and exhausted from walking long distances," spokesman Kris Janowski said. "They said some were too weak or wounded to manage the trek. Some have paid exorbitant prices to hire vehicles to bring them to the camps, but many cannot afford transport."

Since the June 20 attack, some 3,800 refugees from Sinje have been registered in the camps around Monrovia.

Mr. Janowski said heavy rains were also wreaking havoc on already poor roads leading to the Monrovia camps, making access increasingly difficult. He said the UN agency would have to use these roads to transport Sierra Leonean refugees to the harbour for possible repatriation by sea. About 4,000 have signed up so far, with more adding their names every day.

Meanwhile, UNHCR said it remained very concerned about the fate of five nurses taken by rebels in the attack on the refugee camp.