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UN Radio: Ship to Begin Evacuation from Liberia

UN Radio: UNHCR Rescue Ship to Begin Evacuation from Liberia

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  • UNHCR Rescue Ship to Begin Evacuation from Liberia

    A rescue ship sent by the UN Refugee agency has arrived in the war-torn Liberian capital of Monrovia. After a security clearance, it is set to begin the emergency evacuation of desperate Sierra Leonean refugees, who fled into Monrovia during a recent rebel attack on the city and its surrounding areas. UNHCR's Spokesman Ron Redmond says thousands are seeking help in this emergency evacuation.

    "For the first voyage UNHCR staff in Monrovia have identified more than 360 refugees, including the most vulnerable among some 1,000 who have been seeking shelter in and around our compound in the city. Given the desperation among many Liberians and others who want to get out of Monrovia, we've also asked local authorities to provide security around the port while we do the loading of this first ship."

    UNHCR says that, security and weather permitting, the ship is scheduled to begin the return voyage to Freetown today. Assuming the current ceasefire holds in Monrovia, the ship should be able to make a voyage about every four days.

    WHO Calls for Urgent Funds to Combat Mounting Health Crisis in Liberia

    The World Health Organization has made an urgent appeal for funds to provide crucial health care to Liberians. The UN health agency says that although fighting in Monrovia has currently subsided, tens of thousands of men, women and children displaced by the recent fighting are still living in rudimentary shelters, with minimal access to health care. WHO's Spokesperson, Christine McNab, says terrible sanitary conditions prevail in the temporary camps in and around Monrovia, where nearly 100,000 internally displaced people live with no latrines and contaminated water. This has resulted in over 400 cases of cholera in the past two weeks alone.

    "What WHO would like to do and is attempting to do is to help launch a chlorination campaign in Monrovia to improve the drinking water conditions. We have been able to distribute hundreds of kilograms of chlorine, also essential medicines, ORS salts to rehydrate people who have cholera, but … there's not enough supply in the city."

    Ms. McNab says the agency has gotten no donor response to the 200 thousand dollar appeal it made for Liberia in June.

    World Food Programme Says Iraq Operation Is Largest in Its History

    "One truck per minute getting into Iraq, each minute, 24 hours a day, for seven days a week, each minute we have one truck getting into Iraq for the month of June. "

    Jean-Jacques Graisse, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme, says the operation in Iraq is the largest in the UN food agency's history. In the five-month operation ending in October, WFP plans to bring into Iraq about 2.2 million tons of food, the same amount that it distributed worldwide in 2002. The operation is expected to cost one and a half billion US dollars. About two-thirds of that has come from the UN's Iraq oil-for-food programme, the rest is from donors. Mr. Graisse said the operation was necessary because the food ration system in place in Iraq under Sadam Hussein has made the Iraqis completely dependent on food aid and they have no coping mechanisms.

    "Even at the worst time in Afghanistan, or in other countries like that, people are used to try to ,look for food and buy food, or produce. There they were getting it for free and have been getting it for free for so long. That has made it a very special system, and therefore, we thought that if we did not take over the system itself rapidly, we would end up with a major problem around June … where all the stocks would run out."

    First Meeting on UN Plan to End Illicit Small Arms Trade to Open Monday

    Beginning Monday government representatives will gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the first international meeting to discuss the UN's action plan for eradicating the illicit trade in small arms. The meeting is a follow up to the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, which adopted the Programme of Action. The Conference succeeded in placing on the international agenda the issue, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a "global scourge". Small arms and light weapons kill more than half a million people each year, 90 percent of them civilians. This includes 300 thousand in armed conflict and 200 thousand from homicides and suicides.

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