Civilians Still Under Siege

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Monrovia, August 1, 2003 - Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still besieged in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Over the past two weeks, teams from the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have treated 400 war wounded. In Samuel Doe stadium, where 40,000 people have sought shelter, MSF teams are carrying out over 250 consultations a day. In an attempt to continue addressing these needs, two charter planes of humanitarian aid arrived in Monrovia today.

"Our international volunteers and Liberian teams are working under extremely difficult conditions," explains Dr. Mercedes Tatay from the MSF emergency desk in Paris. "But these conditions only reflect the desperate situation of the civilians who are living under intense bombing and gunfire. We have no way of estimating how many war wounded or cholera patients do not have access to healthcare because of the fighting."

The MSF teams in Monrovia treated 700 cholera patients in the first two weeks of July. It is impossible to measure the extent of the epidemic in the capital as the fighting over the last few days has made it practically impossible to access cholera treatment centers and rehydration points.

Food is becoming more and more scarce in the capital and prices have soared: the price of a bowl of rice has already multiplied ten fold.

Another MSF Liberian team continues to work in an IDP camp of 60,000 people in Bong county. They have not received any food distribution since May. Three quarters of the country is still cut off from humanitarian aid.

The 68 tons of logistic and medical materials are destined for the hospitals and health facilities run by MSF.

MSF currently has 11 international volunteers, including a surgeon and an anesthetist, and 300 Liberian staff working in Monrovia.