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Africa

2003-07-24

AFRICA/LIBERIA - REBELS ATTACK FRANCISCAN MISSION; ST JOHN OF GOD HOSPITALLER BROTHERS IN MONROVIA REPORT: THREE IN A BED, CHILDREN DYING FROM LACK OF FOOD, ANAEMIA, MALARIA

Monrovia (Fides Service) – “We were deeply concerned for our Sisters and for the suffering that this tragic situation is causing the people of Liberia. The Sisters are unhurt and they will continue their pastoral and social work in the mission in Monrovia, serving the poor and the sick. Today all we can do is to pray and hope that with good will on all sides, a solution will be reached to put an end to the suffering of the civilian population.” This was how Sister Francois Massy, general counsellor of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary FMM, commented the attack on July 24 on the FMM mission in Monrovia. The house was sacked but the three missionary Sisters were unhurt.
Another religious Order involved in assisting the people of Monrovia are the St John of God Hospitaller Brothers who run St Joseph’s Catholic Hospital. This structure is the most important centre for health care and training in the whole country, particularly since a good part of the people have fled to the south of the city where the hospital is located. Father Jose Antonio Soria tells of the difficult situation: “There is a scarcity of water, light, food and medicines: we have to send away those whose conditions are not serious to make place for emergency cases”.
In a report sent to Fides the Brothers say: “The hospital looks on to the Ocean; 140 beds become 200 at times of emergency. It has departments for surgery, paediatrics, ear nose and throat, gynaecology, maternity, where there is the only specialised doctor in the whole country”.
“In fact only 26 of the 80 registered doctors in Liberia are working and they do this under extremely difficult conditions. We serve a large population. More than one million of Liberia’s three million people live in Monrovia mostly in the south of the city where there are also many refugees from Sierra Lone and Ivory Coast. Monrovia normally has a population of 350,000. It now has to contend with overcrowding and the structures and serviced are unable to cope. Schools, churches, shops have been occupied by the homeless. Children are brought to hospital in serious conditions, suffering from under nourishment, anaemia and malaria. Very often we have to put them three in a bed.”
The St John of God Hospitaller Brothers have been working in Monrovia since 1963, where they work with competence and courage. Father Antonio launches an appeal: “we need medicines, drips, antibiotics, penicillin, bags for blood transfusions and surgical material” LM (Fides Service 24/7/2003 EM lines 42 Words: 492)

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