Thursday, 31 July 2003

Monrovia (Fides Service) – There are at least 3 or 4 thousands displaced persons sheltering inside the compound of the Consolata Mission at Buchanan, the main port of Liberia about 90 km from the capital Monrovia. This was reported to Fides Service by Sister Maria who is at the other Consolata Mission at Harbel not far from Monrovia’s airport. “This morning our Sisters in Buchanan managed to contact us, by radio because the telephone lines have been cut” says Sister Mary, “they say fighting in the city continues between troops loyal to President Taylor and MODEL rebels (Movement for Democracy in Liberia). The mission’s small clinic is packed and they have almost run out of medicines. Many of the people sheltering at the Mission have fled from Monrovia where the army is fighting the other rebel group LURD Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy.
Fighting continues also in Monrovia. “Mortar shells kill at least 8 or 10 people every day” Father Mauro Armanini, Provincial of the Society for African Missions SMA tells Fides Service. “It is mainly the civilians who are dying, mostly in the area of the embassies where they desperately seek safety”. The humanitarian situation unbearable. “A tragedy of unheard of proportions is happening inside Monrovia’s sports stadium” says Sister Mary. “Inside the stadium there are between 40,000 and 50,000 people without food nor water. A person coming from there told us that every day at least 10 children die of hunger, thirst or disease”.
“Before a kilo of rice cost 5 Liberian dollars; today it costs 100. People have to steal to eat” Father Mauro says. “Diseases like cholera are spreading because the water is infected” says Sister Mary. “The water pipeline is out of use and well water is polluted by cadavers of the dead thrown into the few existing wells.”
“The rebels are committing unspeakable acts of violence, particularly against women. We have heard reports of sexual mutilation and rape” Sister Mary says. “Liberians feel they are being robbed of their dignity by this absurd war”.
“We no longer believe in the promises made by the international community” says Father Mauro, “unless there is a concrete intervention”.
A Nigerian reconnaissance mission has arrived in Monrovia to verify the possibility of sending an African peacekeeping force. In Ghana there is a meeting today of the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa to discuss an African intervention in Liberia. Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Monrovia has launched a pressing appeal to the US Congress for Washington to assume its responsibilities with regard to the Liberian crisis. LM (Fides Service 31/7/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 471)