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Humanitarian aid to Liberia passes two milestones – UN’s OCHA says

Humanitarian aid to Liberia passes two milestones – UN’s OCHA says

For the first time in more than a decade central Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, has electricity and the airfield in Voinjama, a distant border town, is back in use, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

As part of the European Union’s humanitarian support for Liberia’s recovery from years of civil strife, “last week for the first time in 14 years, the provision of electricity through a diesel-powered generator meant that lights were turned on in central Monrovia,” OCHA said.

The process of restoring electricity to the entire capital was likely to take several years, however, it said.

“When the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) landed a test flight at the airstrip in Voinjama, it marked the first time a flight had landed there in nearly 14 years,” OCHA said, adding, “Now the ICRC plans to fly supplies to Voinjama twice a week.”

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has trained some 5,600 teachers in Rapid Educational Response under its Back to School campaign and is monitoring those schools where School-in-a-Box kits have been distributed, OCHA said.

UNICEF and the non-governmental organization (NGO) EQUIP have been collaborating to provide water and sanitation facilities for nearly 12,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nimba County, it said. Nimba County borders both Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

Last week, humanitarian organizations delivered 325 metric tons of food to nearly 20,000 people in Monrovia and in Bong and Montserrado Counties, while UNICEF supplied Medecins sans Frontieres with high protein biscuits, blankets and other necessities for IDPs in Ganta, Nimba County, OCHA said.

World Vision NGO has started a series of counselling workshops for displaced teachers and other school authorities to enable them to understand and help solve the problems of traumatized students, it said.

With regard to the August 2003 peace agreement, the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC), co-sponsored by the UN, said progress was being made, but it said three militias were involved in serious violations, characterized by ethnic violence, killing of innocent civilians and wanton looting.

“These blatant violations of the Ceasefire Agreement will no longer be tolerated,” the IMC said.

The commanders responsible will be answerable for their crimes, it said.

Other IMC co-sponsors are the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the European Union and the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL).