Brief respite for Liberian exiles

Takoradi - Thousands of Liberian war refugees, many sick after a week at sea, were brought ashore from a crippled freighter yesterday and put in heavily-guarded quayside tents at this Ghanaian port, witnesses said.

"They have all been brought down and kept in tents which were erected on the quay yesterday. The military are everywhere," said a witness.

Nearly 4,000 passengers fleeing violence and anarchy in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, are unwanted by the country's neighbours who say they are fed up with its six-year-old civil war and refugee problem.

The refugees' respite ashore is likely to be only temporary - just long enough for repairs to be carried out to the vessel.

As the passengers, including hundreds of women and children, left the rusting Nigerian freighter Bulk Challenge, Ghana made clear in a statement that it was sticking to its decision not to admit the refugees.

It cited the need to avoid undermining decisions taken last week on halting renewed civil war in Liberia by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) of which Ghana holds the rotating presidency.

"Care must be taken in order not to create a panic situation in Monrovia which will unduly generate more exodus of Liberians into neighbouring countries which are already saddled with playing host to hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

"The vessel which is anchored just outside the harbour will be expected to set sail for Monrovia or wherever the captain would decide," it added.

Ivory Coast, saying hundreds of the passengers were Liberian gunmen, forced the Bulk Challenge back to sea last Thursday after emergency repairs.

Sierra Leone has blocked another vessel, the fishing boat Victory Reefer, with 700 refugees off Freetown.

There were also signs yesterday of international anger at the treatment of the Liberian refugees, particularly the freighter passengers - many of them sick, suffering diarrhoea and packed together on board with only one toilet.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadaka Ogata, pleaded: "Unless the door is open to them, a lot of people, many of them women and children, may die." She said the UNHCR was prepared to help countries that grant asylum to the Liberians.

Emma Bonino, the European Union's humanitarian affairs commissioner, said: "I am deeply shocked at the sight of thousands of helpless and hopeless civilians who are being sent from one port to another, and denied the right to proper refuge and assistance."

The commission said its European Community Humanitarian Office would provide emergency assistance to refugees and money for the few aid agencies still operating in Liberia. It did not say how much it would give.

A witness said more than 200 soldiers of the African Ecomog peace- keeping force stationed in Liberia were among the passengers. In Monrovia Ecomog chief of staff, Brigadier-Gabriel Anyankpele, confirmed that soldiers were on board and the shooting incident on Sunday in which two passengers died.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam