July 17 2003
Liberia's capital ruled by fear
17/07/2003 - Despite a fragile cease-fire between troops loyal to the government and the LURD rebels, Liberia's capital Monrovia is under rule of anarchy and fear. Ten thousand refugees are living in catastrophic conditions. 1,000 people are staying on in the SOS Children's Village at the moment, hundreds are being provided with food and other goods, as well as medical care.
Looters and attacks from armed youngsters and children, belonging to President Charles Taylor's regular army, are seeing to it that the population and thousands of refugees in the streets live in insecurity and fear. The rumour that the rebel troops will attack any international peace-keeping troops, if President Taylor has not left the country by the time they arrive, is exacerbating the feeling of fear.
Of the original 7,500 people who had fled onto the SOS Children's Village's land, there are only now 1,000 left in the children's village. Because of the cease-fire, however unstable it might be, people are risking going home to save their belongings from looters. Most of the refugees in the SOS Children's Village are being accommodated in the school buildings, hundreds are receiving medical care each day in the small SOS Clinic, and being provided with food and other important goods.
Whether or not the children and co-workers from SOS Children's Village Juah Town - evacuated to Monrovia in the middle of May - will be able to return to their village in Bassa County at the end of July, depends on the security situation.
There are an estimated million people staying in Monrovia at the moment, a town with a population of usually around 500,000. Nobody can tell how the situation might develop over the next few weeks, people are prepared every day for a new outbreak of violence. The situation in the refugee camps is dramatic. There is a lack of both water and food, and poor hygiene is resulting in diarrhoea, malaria and cholera amongst the refugees.