The World Food Program (WFP) says it will provide a seven-day ration of food to 125 people who were wounded during the recent anti-government protests in Guinea, because the paralyzing strike is preventing relatives from bringing food to the hospital. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva, the WFP says the strike and general insecurity are having an impact on other humanitarian operations, as well.
WFP Spokesman Simon Pluess says the agency's humanitarian air service has been transporting medical supplies and humanitarian workers from other U.N. and aid agencies, as well as evacuating those wounded. He says WFP's school program also has been affected.
"Although most of the food has already been dispatched to school canteens in Upper and Middle Guinea, some 115,000 students, who normally benefit from school feeding programs are missing out, due to the fact their schools are closed because of the strike," noted Mr. Pluess. "And in the forest region, another 74,000 students supported by WFP emergency school feeding can at present not receive their meals."
The WFP says the insecurity temporarily delayed distributions to the Laine refugee camp, where many Liberian refugees are living. But WFP now has a three-month supply in place for some 15,000 refugees.
The U.N. refugee agency, which also cares for the Liberian refugees, says the general strike, which has paralyzed Guinea over the last two weeks, has limited its access to the camps.
However, UNHCR Spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says the agency plans to go ahead with a voluntary repatriation convoy on Saturday, security permitting.
"Tomorrow's convoy will take 460 returnees to Ganta in neighboring Liberia," she explained. "And our staff in Nzerekore, which is in the area where the camp is in Guinea, is discussing the security situation with the local authorities now, and trying to agree on a safe route for the convoy."
Pagonis says Saturday's repatriation will bring to 46,000 the number of refugees who will have been assisted to return to Liberia since the program started in October 2004.