"AmeriCares for Liberia" Launches Long-Term Medical Relief Program For War-Trodden Persons Of West African Nation

AmeriCares Foundation
Wednesday, 3 December 2003

AmeriCares, one of the nation's largest international humanitarian relief organizations, will launch AmeriCares for Liberia December 5 by sending an emergency airlift to the suffering people of Liberia. This airlift is the beginning of a comprehensive and enduring relief and medical aid program that will help rebuild the healthcare infrastructure of Liberia devastated by decades of war.

The AmeriCares relief team will depart from Newark Airport on the evening of the 5th to unite with a DC-8 cargo jet in Maastricht, the Netherlands. From there the airlift will fly on to the Liberian capital of Monrovia, landing on December 8.

AmeriCares for Liberia has three primary objectives: save lives by providing urgently needed medicines and supplies; begin the reconstruction of decimated medical facilities; and provide medical professionals to begin urgently needed training of local doctors and nurses.

Overwhelmed by civil war, human atrocity and the virtual collapse of all basic services, Liberia now is home to more than 500,000 displaced persons. The lifesaving cargo comprised of donated antibiotics, cholera medications, thousands of doses of oral re-hydration salts, water purification tablets, pediatric medicines and bandages, is designated to help this desperate situation. The aid will be distributed to clinics in and around Monrovia.

In addition to medical provisions, AmeriCares for Liberia is also transporting the first two of six emergency structures (manufactured by Sprung Structures of Calgary, Canada), which will be erected as field hospitals and clinics.

Curtis Welling, president and chief executive officer of AmeriCares, said: "AmeriCares has made its reputation by going where we are needed. In partnership with strong local relief organizations, notably Africare, we are prepared to commit our resources to Liberia at this critical time in its history. Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of donors and corporations, to whom we owe a huge debt."

This will be the third AmeriCares airlift of lifesaving supplies since the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Liberia made certain parts of Liberia safe. AmeriCares delivered two emergency airlifts in September and October with more than 140,000 pounds of medical supplies valued at $2.6 million in preparation for this launch.

Julius E. Coles, president of Africare, a partner organization to AmeriCares, said: "AmeriCares is helping to bring world attention and aid from global private and public sectors to this small nation that has suffered an unimaginable injustice. We are especially pleased with AmeriCares for Liberia's long-term pledge to improve a desperate situation by helping to rebuild the nation's healthcare infrastructure."

Steve Winter MD, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Norwalk Hospital and AmeriCares board member, said: "Charles Taylor's reign of terror has left in its wake a country without doctors and medicines or the most rudimentary of healthcare protocols. We are here for the long haul to assist in rebuilding this decimated infrastructure. This mercy program will bring immediate relief right to the people who need it the most."

AmeriCares for Liberia plans to maintain a sustained presence in Liberia, which ironically means "land of liberty", by continuing to provide relief and medical aid and by extending its reach within Liberia as security increases.

For more information, or to contact AmeriCares Foundation, see their website at: www.americares.org

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