From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Liberia: LWF Assists IDPs Following Renewed Fighting

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Thu, 20 Dec 2001 07:31:23 -0600

Agencies Evacuate Strife-Torn Area

FREETOWN, Liberia/GENEVA, 20 December 2001 (LWI) - Through its
Department for World Service (DWS) program in Liberia, the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF) is assisting thousands of internally displaced
persons (IDPs) who have fled the northwestern part of the country
following renewed fighting between rebels and government forces.

According to reports from the LWF/DWS Liberia program, 5,000 people
fled Bopolu Camp in the lower part of Lofa County now called Gbarpolu
County, on December 7, when they heard the sound of heavy weaponry.
Conflict broke out at the end of November in Belle Fassama town, some
100 km north of Bopolu. About 2,000 people fled the town to Bopolu
camp. When the fighting closed in on the area with the rebels
advancing to Geingba, people fled the camp. The Liberian United for
Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel group has been waging war
in northern Liberia since 1998 but has intensified its attacks since
last September.

Most of the IDPs have moved towards the Tubmanburg area south of
Bopolu. Mainly women, children and elderly people are fleeing the
strife-torn area. LWF/DWS Liberia program, one of the main
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Bopolu, was the last
agency to evacuate the camp at midday on December 8. According to
media reports, the fighting broke out in Gbarpolu County as dissident
forces trying to overthrow President Charles Taylor's government
attacked two towns, forcing aid agencies to withdraw and thousands of
civilians to flee. The Liberian government has confirmed that there
is fighting and claims that about 60,000 civilians have been
displaced by the clashes.

The LWF/DWS program is assisting the IDPs arriving on the outskirts
of Tubmanburg with the construction of temporary shelter, water and
sanitation facilities as well as by distributing relief goods such as
cooking utensils and clothes. It is expected that the number of IDPs
will rise to 10,000 as people from other areas are also fleeing their

The Geneva-based Action by Churches Together (ACT) coordinating
office has issued an Alert to its network and released USD 44,500 in
rapid response funds for immediate use in assisting the people caught
up in this latest round of conflict. ACT partner Christian Concerned
Community is assisting new arrivals in Tubmanburg as well. ACT, a
worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need
through coordinated emergency response, is based with the LWF and
World Council of Churches.

Together with the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL), LWF/DWS has
worked in the West African country throughout the devastating civil
war during the 1990s. Food aid, shelter and medical assistance are
important aspects of this program. Rebuilding community
infrastructures, the program has facilitated new beginnings, with
integrated development projects aimed at increasing agricultural
production and stimulating income generation. The over 71,000-member
LCL joined the LWF in 1966.

An important contribution to rebuilding a peaceful Liberia is healing
the wounds of civil war within communities. The LWF/DWS Trauma
Healing and Reconciliation Program (THRP) seeks to reconcile victims
and perpetrators of the civil war and help them reintegrate into
civil society. THRP activities are embedded in a range of
rehabilitation initiatives including disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration, the reunification and resettlement of families and
displaced children, and reestablishing food security through
agricultural development and income generation for women. In addition
to direct help to traumatized people, the program seeks to improve
local capacity by organizing training-of-trainer courses.

A small metal cross made out of a cartridge casing by a group of
ex-fighters in the Liberian war, is fast becoming the program's most
successful product. More than 10,000 of these small symbols of peace
have been distributed worldwide.

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 133
member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5 million of the
64.3 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its
member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical
relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights,
communication, and the various aspects of mission and development
work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the
Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material
presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of
its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the
notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with

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