HL Deb 25 June 2003 vol 650 cc23-4WA
Lord Graham of Edmonton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What response they have made to the recent humanitarian crisis in Liberia. [HL3618]

Baroness Amos

The humanitarian situation in Liberia has deteriorated significantly in recent weeks. Increased fighting between government troops and rebel opposition forces came to within 5 kilometres of Monrovia between June 6 and 10. This led to the displacement of 200,000 civilians into Monrovia. There are reports of cholera and measles in Monrovia, and there are already food shortages. UN expatriate staff have been evacuated. Following the ECOWAS-brokered ceasefire on 17 June, it is essential that, as soon as possible, the Liberian parties arrange access to all areas from which humanitarian agencies have been excluded by fighting.

On 16 June, we allocated £1.5 million for support to humanitarian agencies in Liberia. Of this, £500,000 has been allocated to the ICRC emergency appeal for Liberia. This is in addition to £550,000 which was committed to the same appeal earlier in the year. We have also allocated £374,065 support to Merlin for the provision of emergency health care in Monrovia and other areas. This will supplement £450,000 committed to Médecins Sans Frontières for secondary health care provision in Monrovia in 2002. We expect to allocate the remaining balance to support other funding requests that strengthen the geographical and sectoral coverage of the relief programme. We are in regular contact with a number of organisations operating to meet humanitarian needs in Liberia, including Oxfam, Save the Children UK, Médecins Sans Frontières and World Vision. We expect to receive and fund proposals from these organisations in the near future.