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EMBARGOED TO THE MEDIA UNTIL TUESDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2003, 1100 HRS NEW YORK TIME
The Liberian people have suffered a worsening humanitarian situation due to escalating conflict and a recent surge of fighting in their country.
during this fighting, civilians were direct targets of warfare. People reported gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.
Large numbers of people were displaced by the fighting, sometimes several times.
Many people's survival and coping mechanisms were severely eroded.
Even before the recent surge in fighting the situation was dire as a result of protracted conflict.
Some 80 per cent of Liberians live below the poverty line; and 35 per cent are undernourished.
Only 25 per cent of people have access to safe water; and 36 per cent to proper sanitation facilities. Only 28 per cent of the population are immunized.
A vast majority of people are illiterate. And less than 10 per cent of arable land is under cultivation.
In large parts of the country that were previously inaccessible, people faced a worsening humanitarian situation aggravated by widespread looting, destruction, damage and virtual collapse of social services sectors.
Over 1.7 million people are thought to be in need of humanitarian assistance. These include 500,000 IDPs, 38,000 combatants and dependants, some 15,000 children associated with the fighting forces.
Some 11,000 Sierra Leonean refugees, 38,000 Ivorian refugees, 150,000 Liberian returnees, 10,500 third country nationals are also in need.
And 750,000 school children, host communities, survivors of sexual violence, as well as vulnerable farm families also require support.
The signing of the Accra Peace Agreement on 17 August 2003 and other positive developments in the political and security situation brought increased signs of hope, greater humanitarian access and assistance.
Hopes for peace
The humanitarian community hopes that further progress and improvements in the operating environment will be made in 2004, enabling access to most parts of the country and increased humanitarian action.
During the second half of the year displaced persons are expected to begin returning home.
The overall goal of the humanitarian community will be to support the peace agreement and its implementation.
The main humanitarian priorities will be:
The humanitarian community also aims to improve its own capacity to manage information, coordinate, plan, assess and monitor activities; and to mainstream human rights and gender in all its interventions.
The success of humanitarian operations will depend on close collaboration between humanitarian organizations, the Government, peacekeepers, and neighbouring governments.
The Liberia CAP 2004 requests US$137,091,482 for non-food items. Liberia’s food requirements, worth US$ 40,365,726, are presented under the West Africa appeal.
* Food Requirements are reflected in the West Africa Regional Appeal