Italian Catholic Peace Delegation, Mano River Relief Assess Plight of IDPs

By: Josephus Moses Gray

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted January 20, 2004

A joint delegation from a sub-regional based humanitarian, relief and developmental group, the Mano River Relief and Development Network (MRRDN) a two-man high power delegation from the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, Italy, recently paid a one-day working visit to two internally displaced centers near Monrovia to assess the worsening humanitarian situation facing the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs.)

The joint assessment tour of the IDPs camps was arranged by the MRRDN, with the MRRDN Executive Director, Mrs. Geraldine P. Kaba leading the trips to the camps.

The assessment tour which was spear headed by Madam Geraldine P. Kaba, Executive Director of the Mano River Relief and Development Network, afforded the peace delegation the opportunity to identify several areas of interests and support, aimed at alleviating the plight of the destitute population

The Catholic delegation which arrived in the country last Thursday included Mr. Vittorio Scelzo and Mr. Paol. They were expected to leave the country on Monday following conclusion of their assessment mission in areas of peace building and organization.

The mission’s visit in the country was made possible through the instrumentality of two prominent Liberians including Mr. Mustapha Kamara, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry and Mr. Francis W. Nyepan, Chief Executive Founder of the Mano River Relief and Development Network (MRRDN).

The two IDPs centers the Sant’Egidio mission visited include the Blamasee and Jah Tondo displaced camps, about 20 miles outside of Monrovia. Blamasee has the population of over 17,718 while Jah Tondo has over 18,000 IDPs.
Commenting on the plight of the IDPs, Messrs John C. Dorbor and Robert S. Toe of PMU and LRRRC respectively described the situation of the IDPs as being grave.

Speaking separately, the two men said although some UN agencies and NGOs were rendering some assistance, more needs to be done saying that the IDPs are suffering. the Community of Sant Egibio in Rome, Italy, says it is disturbed over the worsening Humanitarian situation looming over the country.

Speaking recently at the end of a one day assessment tour of displaced camps outside Monrovia, the head of the Italian Catholic Peace Advocacy Group, Mr. Vittorio Scelzo said quick and urgent actions were needed to address the looming situation.

According to them, the lack of sufficient structures in the camps while IDPs temporarily sheltering at the transit center were partly sleeping in the open air. They also named the lack of building materials such as sticks, food and non-food items, blankets, cooking utensils, support for formal education, medical clinics as major problems facing the IDPs.
Addressing the vulnerable and destitute population at the various IDP centers including the Blamasee and Jah Tondo Camps, Mr. Scelzo said the visit was intended to get first-head information and the true picture of humanitarian facing the vulnerable population in Liberia.

The peace delegation used the visit to discourage the vulnerable population against losing hopes, saying that it is time the IDPs see their suffering as a test to their resolve of over coming difficulties and challenges created by the 14-year-old fighting in Liberia.

The representatives of the IDPs, Messrs Samuel K. Morris and C. Baimba Fahnbulleh also described their plight as pathetic and painful, saying that they have been abandoned by UNHCR. Representatives of the vulnerable population used the occasion to adequately brief the peace delegation on what they described as "pathetic and painful situation.

Explaining in tears, the IDPs said some of their colleagues are partly sleeping in the open while others are on the cold floor. They expressed concern about the acute shortage of essential needs.

They accused the UNHCR of dumping them at the transit center without addressing their need. They spoke of lack of medicines, safe drinking water, clothing and educational needs, among other essential human needs.

The head of Sant’Egidio delegation to Liberia, Mr. Scelzo expressed shock and concern over the plight of the IDPs, saying that they are moved by the situation. They encouraged them not to lose hopes, saying that better days are ahead.

The Co-chairman of the IDPs, Mr. Augustus Y. Johnson said the population needs sticks to construct housing units for the vulnerable IDPs and 622 other family heads.

In another development, the Sant’Egidio delegation over the weekend paid a courtesy call on the NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant, UN agencies, ICRC, Mano River Relief, Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Transport, Defense, Labour, State for Presidential Affairs, former president Moses Z. Blah and the three belligerent groups.

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