Thursday, 6 November 2003

Monrovia (Fides Service)- “Leaders of the two rebel movements LURD and MODEL are now negotiating with heads of the international peacekeeping force to put an end to fighting in northern Liberia” a local Consolata Missionary Sister in Harbel, 50 km south Monrovia told Fides Service over the telephone. Both groups MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia) and LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) engaged in bitter combat which involved also supporters of exiled president Charles Taylor.
The missionary Sister tells Fides: “People from Ganta (north Liberia) say the situation has improved and there is less fighting”. In Ganta, the centre of fierce fighting over the past few months, the Consolata Missionaries have a Centre for Leprosy sufferers which they managed to keep operating even in the heat of the war. “We had three sisters working in Ganta: one in a parish and the other two at the Leprosy Centre” she said. “But 7 months ago our Sisters had to take refuge in Harbel. The guerrillas attacked the mission and the parish, only the walls and the roof remained everything else was destroyed or stolen..”
But the traditional fear of lepers and leprosy saved the Leprosy Centre from looting and the lepers from certain death. The missionary tells Fides Service: “Fortunately the guerrillas were afraid to touch the lepers and even the building and they were unharmed and lived through the chaos of civil war in relative calm. We made sure they received food and medicines through informal channels otherwise they would have starved to death. Although physically absent for months we still assisted these brothers and sisters using our imagination and inventive.”
“Now that the situation has improved we have decided to go back to Ganta next week to rebuild the mission and resume our apostolate. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 6/11/2003 lines 31 words 369)