Government to screen male IDPs

The Liberian government is to screen all able-bodied men in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps and plans to move all IDP camps at least 100 kms away from the capital, Monrovia, to minimize exposure of IDPs to danger, Reginald Goodridge, minister of information told reporters on Wednesday.

The precautionary security measures, the minister said, were to protect the IDPs following an attack on the Ricks camp, 20 km west of Monrovia, by armed fighters on Tuesday. The measures would also prevent the IDPs from being recruited by LURD, the minister added.

The announcement followed a report by the government Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) that at least 2,000 IDPs were abducted during the Tuesday raid on Ricks camp. The raid was conducted by rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and some IDPs were killed, LRRRC said in a statement that also called for a cessation of hostilities between government forces and the LURD.

There was heightened security in Monrovia on Thursday. Military sources said fighting was continuing on several fronts including Sasstown, a settlement just beyond the Po-River bridge, 25 kms west of Monrovia.

Early on Thursday morning, hundreds of IDPs including women and children from Virginia and Brewersville at the western suburbs of the capital city could be seen leaving their camps and moving towards the Bushrod Island side within the city.

Some of the IDPs told IRIN that the camps were not safe and heavy fighting was going on nearby. Bombardment from the Po-River and Sasstown could also be heard within the vicinity of the Virginia Checkpoint called Iron-Gate, on the western outskirts of the city.