Headline grabbing crises in Libya and Japan should not distract people from other international emergencies, Ireland’s largest humanitarian aid organisation warned today.
Concern overseas director Paul O’Brien was speaking as the agency launched a Liberia response plan in response to the increasing influx of people fleeing heavy fighting in the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), labelled a “hidden emergency”.
“Right now people are focused on high profile crises in Libya and Japan. But this hidden emergency must not be forgotten and the world must not lose sight of other urgent humanitarian crises in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and, indeed, the wider Horn of Africa,” O’Brien said.
In the last two months, tens of thousands of people fled across the border into neighbouring Liberia since fighting began in the Ivory Coast.
Liberia, with a population of just 3.5 million, is still recovering from the devastating effects of its own 14-year civil war.
“Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and a huge influx like this will put an enormous strain on the local authorities and population,” O’Brien said. “The people fleeing the violence have few belongings and many of them will have been on the move for weeks.”
“At the same time, many local families in Liberia who are taking in these people are, themselves, in some of the poorest areas of the country. Access to food, water and shelter is critical now.”
“As the fighting in the Ivory Coast intensifies, the number of people crossing into Liberia is expected to rise over the coming months, and will be compounded by the arrival of the rainy season, making a hugely challenging crisis situation even worse.”
Donations to Concern can be made on their website at www.concern.net.
[Image: Global Voices Online]