§ The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Hilary Benn)
The humanitarian situation in Liberia has deteriorated significantly in recent weeks. Increased fighting between Government troops and rebel opposition forces came to within 5 km of Monrovia between 6 and 10 June. 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 this year. We have also allocated £374,000 to Merlin for the provision of emergency health care. This will supplement £450,000 already committed to Medecins Sans Frontieres for Secondary Health Care provision in Monrovia in 2002. 39WS We expect to allocate the 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, Medecins Sans Frontieres and World Vision. We expect to receive proposals from these organisations in the near future.