Violence ebbs in Liberia thousands huddle for safety inside stadium UN

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying at the national stadium in Monrovia is now estimated to be as high as 30,000.Although local agencies are working to provide high-protein biscuits, shelter materials and water and sanitation facilities, a new danger may be emerging as cases of measles and diarrhoea are now being reported among the desperate population at the sports complex as well as in the other spontaneous IDP camps that dot the city. OCHA said that health agencies are concerned that the situation could result in epidemics if the war continues and these areas become inaccessible.Since last week, tens of thousands of people have been pouring into central Monrovia to flee the fighting on the outskirts of the city between government troops and the country’s main rebel group, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). Among them were about 115,000 people living in the IDP camps that ringed the city.Although fighting appeared to have died down Wednesday morning after sporadic shooting in the western and eastern suburbs, it remains extremely difficult for humanitarian workers to operate in Monrovia, as personnel have been threatened and vehicles have been looted, OCHA reported. Yesterday, the UN refugee agency evacuated its remaining international staff from the Liberian capital.As widespread insecurity has stymied humanitarian efforts to deliver relief goods and supplies, fear and panic among the frightened population has driven up the cost of basic commodities. OCHA reported that prices of rice and petrol continue to skyrocket in one of the world’s poorest countries. Hundreds of people queued in front of Western Union Offices today to collect money sent to them by relatives and friends abroad.

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