Dire situation unfolding as rebels move on Liberias capital UN agencies warn

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was forced to evacuate its three remaining international staff yesterday, after the situation descended into chaos over the weekend when deadly skirmishes between government forces and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) reached the suburbs and refugee camps dotting the outskirts of Liberia’s besieged capital city. UNHCR said it is very concerned about its national staff and their families living in Monrovia, as well as the fate of some 15,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in the area.Other agencies are also struggling to cope with Monrovia’s influx of displaced persons. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of yesterday, the Government had registered some 5,000 internally displaced persons at the national stadium. Local staff of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to supply the people at the sports complex with high-protein biscuits, water and sanitation facilities, and shelter materials.Meanwhile, amid the panic sparked by the resurgence in fighting, the price of petrol and rice – where and when they are available – is reported to have more than doubled in Monrovia. The World Food Programme (WFP), which had been forced to suspend deliveries to perhaps 115,000 displaced persons in camps around the capital, has called on the warring parties to rapidly open humanitarian corridors so that aid could be delivered. The Liberian Red Cross has been distributing blankets, mats and jerry cans to displaced persons sheltering at schools in the city centre.For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has warned that conflict in the region was worsening an already immense humanitarian crisis, with devastating health consequences for women and girls, in particular.”Health care is virtually non-existent,” said UNFPA’s representative in Liberia, Deji Popoola. “Even in the few places where public services are functioning, teachers, nurses and other public sector employees have not been paid for 15 months.”The health crisis is exacerbated by the inability of international humanitarian agencies to gain access to more than 80 per cent of Liberia’s territory. The agencies implored the international community, and other parties to take urgent action to address the mounting disaster. read more

Calgary philanthropist says fiscal crisis is all of our responsibility

Calgary philanthropist says fiscal crisis is all of our responsibility As the province works on a budget that is expected to have major cuts, a prominent Calgary businessman and philanthropist is reminding Albertans this is not a new situation, nor one we haven’t overcome before.Jim Gray, Chairman of Brookfield Asset Management, believes the current state of oil prices is part of the ebb and flow of the economy.“We’re going to have these corrections periodically,” he said. “When this one’s over, there’ll be another one in five or 10 years, for sure.”Gray has experienced multiple oil price collapses in his almost 60 years in Alberta and said 2015 is going to be a tough year, but not one we won’t be able to get through.He also believes that it is not solely on the government to help our province get out of its current slump.Gray said it’s important for Albertans to live within their means, something that many weren’t doing when the price of oil was at $100 per barrel.As for the budget, Gray thinks there will be major cuts, but that they will help the province save for the future and like everyday residents, the government must also budget and live within its means.“We’ve got to budget for a very realistic price, I’ve noticed that this government is going to budget for $52 a barrel for this budget that’s coming out,” he said. “I think that’s eminently responsible.”The provincial budget is expected to be released by the end of March. by News Staff Posted Mar 3, 2015 6:04 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more