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Missionary says hungry Liberians walking to streets looking for food

Following United Nations approval for intervention in Liberia, a missionary superior has described the dominant image in the capital Monrovia as "million or more tired souls with empty stomachs wondering around in search of something to eat".

300 Nigerian peacekeepers are due to fly into Monrovia on today - the first contingent of several thousand West African troops scheduled to be sent to Liberia by regional grouping Ecowas.

Fr Mauro Armanino of the Society of Missions of Africa (SMA) told MISNA that Liberians had waited for the announcement of international assistance with great anticipation.

"The population has more than doubled in few weeks and the little rice still on the market stalls has increased to inaccessible prices," he said. "The majority of people search for manioc to feed their families."

Fr Armanino spoke of the victims of famine "disappearing without trace", suggesting they were greater in number than victims of the fighting.

The BBC reports that aid organisations have warned of worsening living conditions in Monrovia where most people are without water.

People are now at as much risk from cholera and other diseases, as flying bullets

Fr Armanino said said President Charles Taylor, who has agreed to step down and go into exile next Monday (11 August), "is behaving like a 'lucid lunatic'".


President to stand down next week (The Age)
Taylor warned of losing exile offer (BBC)

4 Aug 2003