U.S. Assessment Receives Rousing Welcome In Charles Taylor's Stronghold Bong County

By: Charles Crawford

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted July 15, 2003

The United States Humanitarian and Military Assessment team in Liberia on last Saturday, paid a one-day visit to Bong County, as momentum for the deployment of a U.S--backed multi-national peacekeeping force in the country continues to build up among Liberians.

According to our reporter who traveled with the team to rural Liberia, the team which assessed the security and humanitarian needs of rural dwellers, was welcomed by Liberians who lined the routes from Kakata to Gbarnga.

The citizens of towns along the main highway including Salala, Totota, etc, who chanted “we want peace, we are tired with war, we want Bush, and thank God for Bush”, waived palm branches, lappas and whatsoever they had in their hands as a sign of embracing the US team and indicating that indeed they are tired with the nearly 14 years of civil conflict which has engulfed their motherland.

The team made its first stop at the damaged bridge that forms the border between Margibi County and Bong County, and continued to the Salala Health Center which now temporally houses the Phebe Medical Health Center.

At the medical center, Phebe’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Emmanuel M. Sandoe briefed the team about the severe problems facing the hospital in this time of the national crisis.

Despite the acute shortage of medical supplies and manpower, Dr. Sandoe added, “we are committed to providing healthcare to our people with the limited resources available”, and stressed the need for an urgent assistance from donors and friendly nations if Phebe is to cater to the health needs of the nearly 700,000 inhabitants of Bong County.

Dr. Sandoe, who is also Bong County's Chief Medical Officer, also attributed the problems faced by the hospital to the massive looting of its facilities and logistics by government forces during the recent LURD onslaught on Gbarnga . He also complained about the constant and unabated harassment of medical staff by the same forces.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sandoe has disclosed that Phebe Hospital is making all efforts to move back to its center in Suakoko, Bong County, provided the security condition remains stable in the area. The team later drove to the deserted Bong capital, Gbarnga city, to assess the level of damage done to the city and its people, and returned back to base in Monrovia in a safely.

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