October 27 2003
Refugees have left SOS Children's Village Monrovia
27/10/2003 - With relative stabilisation of the military and political situation in most parts of Liberia all those refugees who had been staying at the SOS Children's Village Monrovia for months have finally found accommodation in camps near the capital. The SOS Emergency Clinic is working at full capacity and provides up to 400 patients per day with outpatient treatment, food is still being distributed, too.
With the deployment of UN peacekeeping force UNMIL, armistice could be implemented in most parts of Liberia. However, in some areas, even in parts of Monrovia, rebel militia are still active. Demilitarisation of several militia and gang groups is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to Liberia's future. The humanitarian situation is still considered catastrophic; the majority of the country's population fully depends on aid supplies provided by international relief organisations.
In order to ensure that schools in Monrovia can get on with the normal work again and to organise repatriation, in mid-September the Ministry for Education asked those refugees having found protection in school premises during the fighting to move to government-run refugee camps near the city. With support provided by UNICEF, normal teaching will resume by early November in most of the city's schools.
Many people, among them thousands of refugees who had been accommodated on the premises of the SOS Children's Village since June, resist transfer to the camps run by the government for fear of possible insecurity and a lack of supplies. Being guaranteed security and sufficient supplies, these families (provided with a week's supplies) finally moved out of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School and the surrounding premises on 9 October.
Months of capacity overload resulted in significant damages with all buildings of the SOS Children's Village. All houses need new paint, half of the windows were broken, doors and wires were damaged, class-room furnishing has partly become unusable, sewerage systems and water purification tanks are in dire shape. First refurbishing works with the school building should see normal teaching activities resume from 3 November on.
Each day, more than 400 people in need of help visit the SOS Emergency Clinic established due to the disastrous situation of medical services in Monrovia. Opening hours were extended to include afternoons given the enormous demand for medical services. While medicines are distributed at the clinic, a huge number of undernourished children are also being provided with supplementary food. Further revitalisation works are being implemented at the former SOS transit home where the SOS Emergency Clinic was established to offer short-term in-patient treatment.
The people of Monrovia still struggle for survival each and every day. Most depend on food supplies provided by NGOs and UN organisations. SOS Children's provides food supplies to families most in need in the vicinity of the village.
Serious damage was also done to the SOS Children's Village including school and kindergarten in Juah Town, Bassah County marauded by rebels. All furniture and vehicles were stolen; the water and power supply infrastructure was destroyed. Children, mothers and all other co-workers of the SOS Children's Village who were evacuated to Monrovia in the face of the escalating fighting will only be able to return after UNMIL units have been deployed in the region and the population's safety can be guaranteed.