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Africa

2004-01-28

AFRICA/LIBERIA – CAPUCHIN FATHERS’ VEHICLE STOLEN: THIEVES’ RANSOM DEMAND TYPICAL OF LIBERIA’S STATE OF CONFUSION

Monrovia (Fides Service )- “People are disillusioned with the country’s political vicissitudes; they have other problems, where to find food for the evening meal” a local Church source told Fides commenting the request for the resignation of Gyude Bryant, head of Liberia’s temporary government presented by the two main rebel groups LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) and MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia). The groups say Bryant’s government lacks transparency. “The request is seen as the latest act in the struggle for power in which the rebels have employed all manner of blackmail and demands” local sources told Fides. To heighten the confusion one component of MODEL disassociated itself from the request for Bryant’s resignation.
In this situaiton of confusion the missionaries continue to stand with the people. “Our Sisters have started a programme of assistance for refugees in Totata camp” said Consolata Sister in Harbel, 50 km south of Monrovia. “The programme, conducted in collaboration with the Jesuit Refugee Service, consists in providing basic instruction for women and children ”. “We have another group of Sisters who help a leprosy centre in Ganta (northern Liberia), although they can only go there once or twice a week. Due to lack of security they cannot stay there. In fact the mission house was completely sacked. But we do hope to return soon to Ganta, although the UN peace keepers seem unable to guarantee security in the area” the Sisters told Fides.
“Unfortunately international bodies are not always successful as they claim” the Sisters said. “The United Nations troops say they have reached this town or that, but you never see any of them on the streets. The state of insecurity makes the work of humanitarian organisations very difficult. Even driving about in a car can be dangerous: a few days ago in Buchanan, the country’s main port city, the Capuchin Fathers had their vehicle stolen from under their feet. In broad daylight, at three in the afternoon, a group of armed men came out from a large crowd and forced the Fathers to get out of the car. The car was driven over the border to Ivory Coast and the thieves are demanding money for its return. This is just one of numerous acts of violence which happen every day in Liberia” the Sisters said. “Certainly compared to a few months ago the situation has improved, on the whole fighting has stopped, people are no longer dying of hunger. Nevertheless, the country is still far from stability”. (L.M.) (Fides Service 28/1/2004, lines 30, words 454)

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