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Challenges in Lofa County

09 February 2004

In Lofa County, returning refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) urgently require relief and reconstruction assistance.

Ongoing conflict and civil unrest over the past 14 years has all but destroyed Lofa County in the north-west of the country. A focus of rebel activity during both wars, it was once described as the "breadbasket" of Liberia. Conflict has caused the people to flee and now, the towns are ruined and largely depopulated, the infrastructure is virtually non-existent and the fields remain uncultivated.

10,500 of the projected 15,000 UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) troops have already been deployed. As the security situation in Liberia improves, more and more Liberians refugees are returning from Guinea and Sierra Leone. There is an urgent need for programs to provide medical care facilities, infrastructure reconstruction, income generation opportunities and programs for disarming, demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating ex-combatants.

With funding from Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, UMCOR Liberia carried out a sleeping mat distribution and thanks to generous cash contributions from UMC members, further non-food aid items such as hygiene kits were distributed amongst IDPs in camps near the capital Monrovia. Many of these people originate from Lofa County where UMCOR hopes to focus future activities including rehabilitation of roads, schools and water/sanitation facilities, Food for Work and food security projects, apprenticeship/vocational skills training programs and school kit distribution.