Liberia: UN reports thousands more flee fighting

29 July 2003

Thousands more Liberians have been displaced after the rebel capture of Buchanan, the West African country’s second-largest city, and the United Nations has received reports that over 50,000 people, including some who fled recent fighting in Monrovia, the capital, are moving towards an area near the international airport.

Since fighting between government forces and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebels intensified around Buchanan late last week, some 9,000 people have fled into the city, adding the existing caseload of 6,000 refugees, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a news release today.

Recent fighting on Monrovia’s outskirts has caused displacement as well, and the UN has received reports that thousands of people are fleeing the war in Gardnersville, some 20 kilometres east of the capital and heading towards Paynesville, roughly 30 kilometres southeast, where refugee centres are already overcrowded.

Yesterday, within Monrovia, mortar shells landed on a church in the city centre and killed three persons instantly and wounded over 40 others, OCHA said. The Red Cross branch in the slum area of West Point reports having recorded 133 people wounded and 49 deaths, mostly of civilians, as a result of recent barrage of shelling in the area.

Fighting in the capital has overwhelmed health facilities, with nearly all energy devoted to treating the wounded, OCHA reported. Sanitation remains a major problem in the refugee camps.


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