Franciscan Mission Ransacked In Liberia

MONROVIA, JULY 24, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The mission of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary in Monrovia was ransacked — at least three times in one night.

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Religious sources contacted by MISNA missionary agency, specified this morning that there was an attack on the night of July 21, by a group of armed men. The attackers repeatedly broke into and ransacked buildings in the complex managed by the religious Congregation.

The three sisters who run the mission, two U.S. citizens and one Mexican, are unharmed.

The Missionaries of Mary represent one of the most well known missionary institutes in Liberia for their dedicated work in the area of health, and particularly in training health workers.

Father Josè Antonio Soria, who works at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, said: “We are without water, electricity, food and especially medicines: we have no choice but to discharge patients with less serious complaints to cope with the emergency.”

In a statement sent to MISNA by the Association of the Brothers for Distant Sick (AFMAL), Father Soria explained that the hospital has become a point of reference for the population, particularly after thousands of Liberians poured into the southern part of the capital where the building is situated.

The hospital faces the sea: it has 140 beds, which become 200 in emergencies; these always coincide with armed conflict,” Father Soria added.
Of the 80 registered doctors in Liberia, only 26 are currently working at full capacity and they are operating in “extreme” conditions. “The catchment area is vast,” the statement ends.

“Of three million Liberians, over one million are in Monrovia, and they are concentrated in the south of the city, which is also seeing an influx of refugees from Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. Used to a population of 350,000 inhabitants, Monrovia is now overcrowded and its services, which have always been inadequate, are unable to meet the need,” the priest said.

“Schools, churches, shops have been occupied by refugees who are utterly dispossessed: children reach hospital with severe malnutrition and anemia, pneumonia, malaria.” Often “we have to assign three to one bed through lack of space,” he concluded.

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ZENIT Staff

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