Having recently arrived in Liberia to assist in the camps of Internally Displaced Persons there are many things I can see that should be of vital importance to the United Nations in ensuring the well being of these communities. Public health, safety, security, food, and water are among the most important issues that should be addressed. Additionally the UN should keep logs of personal information, such as family size and relationships, should future need for this type of information arise. In an area where war related violence is still prevalent, I also feel it’s important to maintain safe environments for women and children.
The first thing that should be done is maintain safety zones for the current internally displaced persons. Although we are at the camp, there is no guarantee that we will remain safe from the fighting take place in almost all areas surrounding us. If we can have security forces or some guarantee that we will not be attacked, the IDP’s here can be made somewhat more comfortable and not have to be alert every second in constant fear. Several steps should be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the women and children currently residing in the camp.
The second issue that should be addressed is safety within the camp itself. As is well known, the rape of women within refugee camps is quite common. So once the camp is secure from outside dangers, it should also be made certain that the IDP’s will be safe within the camp. As humanitarian aid workers we should be here to assist people in a difficult transition, not hurt them physically and emotionally like they have been by their own countrymen currently engaged in war.
The third issue that needs to be dealt with carefully is food and water distribution. There have been incidences of difficulties arising from the distribution of food and water in other IDP camps in the past. Safety and security are important issues, but water and food may be the most vital. These people need to be nourished properly after their temporary residences are made safe.
And fourth, as much family information as possible should be collected from each IDP. Basic information such as family size, relationships among people, and medical conditions should be asked of every person here and documented for future use. In many cases food distribution and family recognition is dependent on a male head of household. The problem here is that many women have lost their husbands and cannot be given many necessities without them. Also, personal medical information is necessary so that we know if anyone needs a specific type of health care and/or medicine. So there should be methods with which to address this issue so that no family is denied important resources.
These four issues, I feel, should be seen with the utmost importance. I’m here to assist these people in any way I can and by resolving those problems the people here in this camp will not have as rough a time as they are currently facing.