IRC Resumes Activities in Liberia's Lofa County as Fighters Disarm
The IRC is in the process of reopening its office in Voinjama, the main town in Liberia’s remote Lofa County. The plans come after the United Nations Mission in Liberia this week began disarming and demobilizing former combatants in the remote province. The IRC was forced to cease its activities and evacuate Lofa in March 2003 as heavy fighting rocked the area.
"After such a long hiatus, we are excited to be operational and reestablish links with the community," said IRC Country Director Nicky Smith.
The IRC plans to resume full operations in Voinjama within three weeks when the security of the area is more certain. The IRC will then reestablish primary healthcare, education, gender-based violence, and environmental health services to surrounding communities. In the interim, the IRC is launching a series of programs associated with the UN disarmament process in Lofa. Given the high concentration of child combatants in Lofa, the IRC is establishing two interim care centers for the children who have found themselves caught up in this brutal conflict. In stark contrast to the large demobilization camps provided for the adult combatants, these two centers are similar to boarding houses and provide a safe environment for the children to play and recover from their experiences. Social workers from the IRC provide supervision and psycho-social counseling as IRC tracing agents attempt to locate the children’s families.