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Liberian Stories: Tales Of Ten Years Of War - 2003-07-24


The humanitarian group, Doctors Without Borders, says it’s trying to put – what it calls – a human face on the war in Liberia. It’s released a new report, called “Liberian Stories,” which is a collection of accounts of Liberians gathered over the last 10 years.

Stephane Goetghebuer is the operational director for Doctors Without Borders projects in Liberia. He says the report is a reminder of what thousands of Liberians have gone through trying to survive.

He says, "I think we speak about the Liberian war as being something a bit folkloric because it’s been going on for so long that we forget it’s a tragedy for the people."

He says the report contains many stories of murder, rape, displacement, abduction and looting. For example, one man tells what happened at a refugee camp: “The attack happened during the night. Most of the workers got killed. My little daughter of two got killed…. Everyone was running away, nothing was left.”

Or this man: “When they come they come with heavy firing. It’s only with the grace of God that you can escape. They fire indiscriminately. And when they come to peoples’ houses they loot everything.”

And this woman: “When the attack happened, my eight children fled in different directions. My two-year-old daughter has been sick for a long time, so I had to carry her across the swamp and I could not keep all the children together. After all the running the two year old got sicker and she later died.”

Mr. Goetghebuer says as the accounts indicate, refugee camps may provide little safety.

He says, "Sometimes they refuse assistance because giving assistance to them was making them a target for some armed people. So, they were refusing food while they were in need of food just by fear of becoming a target."

And he says escaping to a neighboring country is very difficult.

"It’s almost impossible or because they have to cross to many frontlines, too many troubled areas – or because the countries around it have closed their border," he says. "It’s really difficult now for them to leave the country. The population we have access to right now in Monrovia cannot leave Monrovia, leave Liberia. It would be too far, it would be too risky, impossible basically, to provide them food and water during this long, long trip that would bring them to a border."

Doctors Without Borders has been working in Liberia since 1990. It says it hopes the new report will stir international action to protect the civilian population.

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