Hunger Hits Displaced Camps In Liberia

By: Francis Pelenah Jr.

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 23, 2003

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in camps in Brewerville, outside Monrovia, are said to be dying daily as a result of hunger. Within just 10 days, a total of 16 persons died of hunger in both the Jah-Tondo and Wilson Corner IDP camps.

During an investigative tour of the two camps by our reporter yesterday, the chairperson of the Coalition of IDP Camps Committee, Mr. Victor G. Toatoe told The INQUIRER that they have gone three months without food rations.

Children were seen desperately bursting palm kernels to help themselves in every corner, while others eat all kinds of roots for food just to survive.

Mr. Toatoe who is also the chairman of the Wilson Corner displaced people told The INQUIRER that for the past one week, seven persons have been buried, noting that this was the same at the other IDP camps in Brewerville.

Asked about reasons given by the World Food Program (WFP) concerning the delay in the distribution of food, Mr. Toatoe said "we had a meeting with WFP and were told that the EU has ordered the WFP not to carry out any distribution now until proper checks".

According to WFP, the EU which is said to be the donor of the food is demanding a proper check of the people in the camps before distribution, having the feeling that most of the people have already fled the camps owing to the recent attacks in the area by rebels.

He however, dispelled the claims saying that IDPs have since returned but are finding things dificult. "I believe this whole thing has a political tone under it", he noted. He is however, appealing to the WFP to release the food so as to save the lives of many who continue to die daily.

At the Jah-Tondo displaced camp, our reporter was shown recent graves of people mainly children and elderly women who have died from hunger. Just yesterday morning prior to the arrival of our reporter, two persons were buried.

The chairman of the Jah-Tondo Town IDPs, Mrs. Hannah Pewee disclosed that a total of nine persons have been buried recently after dying from hunger. She then appealed to the WFP and other NGOs to help the camp with food so as to reduce the increasing rate of starvation.

Meanwhile as a result of the lack of food in the displaced camps, medical agencies have also scaled down their operations closing as early as 12 noon.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.