- Following renewed fighting in Liberia, refugees are crossing the border to Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, into areas that are already heavily affected by migrations and political unrest. In Liberia, the numbers of internally displaced is closing into 200,000 civilians.
Some 182,347 persons currently receive assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Liberia. The recent attack and capture of the south-western coastal town Harper have caused hundreds of residents to flee to Côte d'Ivoire and to the interior of Liberia and adjacent areas. 'The Benty', a Croatian cargo ship, arrived in Monrovia on the morning of 20 May with hundred of people from Harper, fleeing the fighting. 1,248 civilians were registered off the ship when it docked in Monrovia.
With the fall of Harper to rebel forces and the subsequent looting of humanitarian goods, WFP reports the loss of some 75 tons of food stored there. This added to about 115 tons, which were lost when Zwedru fell into the hands of Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebels. The overall food supply situation in Liberia however "remained satisfactory," WFP today reports.
Following renewed fighting in Liberia, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reports that up to 15,000 persons have fled across the Cavally River from Liberia to Côte d'Ivoire over the weekend. Some of those fleeing were Ivorian nationals and Liberians that had taken refuge from fighting in Côte d'Ivoire.
Most of these refugees were scattered in villages just across the border, the agency says. UNHCR was planning to shelter the Liberian refugees near Tabou in the southwest. By Monday night, already 750 new arrivals had registered by UNHCR in Tabou. WFP has also received reports of an influx from Liberia further north along the border. Many were reported to suffer from "severe malnutrition".
While WFP will take responsibility for the feeding of the new influx of refugees or returnees from Liberia, the agency already is engaged in large-scale programmed for the many internally displaced Ivorians following the civil war in the country. Only in the rebel capital Bouaké, WFP counts a total of 38,557 beneficiaries.
Also Liberia's northern neighbour Guinea is noting the humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting in Liberia. While the border areas of Nzérékoré were reported to be calm, the security situation in the town of Nzérékoré had deteriorated and security measures stepped up, WFP reports. Gunfire could be heard in certain parts of town.
Rebels had also attacked some people in the Guinean village of Diécké, raising fears among the town's population and causing some to leave town for more secure areas. Combat between rebels and national troops continued; fire from automatic weapons could be heard in and around the town of Guéckédou. The security situation was reported to be generally calm in Kankan and Kissidougou.
From 1 to 11 May, some 500 people left Côte d'Ivoire and entered Guinea through the Lola prefecture. 267 were Guineans, with a lesser number of Ivorians, Liberians, and third-country nationals. Fighting close to the Guinean border had hindered Liberian refugees to enter directly into Guinea.
In Sierra Leone, the world's poorest country, which houses over 100,000 Liberian refugees, the security situation across the country, including border areas, was reported to remain "calm and stable" and social and economic activities were "normal", WFP reports.
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