|Medical Assistance to Self-settled Refugees (Tropical Institute Antwerp, 1998)|
|3. The refugee-crisis: between self-reliance and pragmatic assistance|
In June 1990 fighting spread all over Liberia and in particular to Bong and Loffa counties. Some 20,000 refugees fled to west Yomou, some 13,000 to Macenta and some 16,000 to east Guu (Wave 3 in Figure 5). These refugees were mainly KpellLoma and Kissi. Most of the Gbande from Loffa county fled to the Mende areas of Sierra Leone (Figure 4). Kinship relations with the host population continued to determine where refugees settled. PARL was extended to cover these new areas. In Macenta, MOH, MSF and Mission Philafricaine organised medical assistance, while in Guu, MOH did this alone, funded by UNHCR.
By July 1990 the take-over of Monrovia by NPFL looked imminent. This prospect worried the governments of several West African countries. The United States of America and the United Nations were reluctant to intervene. In August 1990, member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set up a Nigeria-led, multinational peacekeeping force named ECOMOG (ECOWAS-Monitoring Group). ECOWAS also installed an Interim Government in Monrovia, led by Amos Sawyer. ECOMOG prevented NPFL from taking over Monrovia, but had little impact on the war outside the capital: NPFL controlled over 95% of Liberia. Apart from Monrovia, ECOMOG controlled a corridor along the coast, between Monrovia and Sierra Leone. The inhabitants from Monrovia could flee to Sierra Leone through this corridor, but as the security situation inside Liberia deteriorated, many refugees, both rural and urban, continued to arrive in Guinea. They joined the ranks and settlement-areas of the previous waves.
In the meanwhile, NPFL split in a mainstream NPFL, headed by Charles Taylor, and a faction led by Prince Johnson: the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). In September 1990 Prince Johnson would abduct President Samuel Doe from the ECOMOG compound and kill him.4
During this period, several humanitarian agencies provided aid in the territory controlled by NPFL, as well as in Monrovia itself. These efforts helped to keep a large proportion of the population inside Liberia, in their own homes or as internally displaced people. Without this assistance inside Liberia the number of refugees in Guinea would probably have been bigger.