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Children Die of Starvation in Liberia

September 27, 1995

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ At least 19 children have died and 400 others are threatened by starvation at a Liberian refugee camp, aid workers said Wednesday.

Three of the children died Tuesday night in the camp set up on an abandoned university campus near the central town of Gbarnga.

``The number may increase if no immediate effort is made ... and that means 400 children will eventually die,″ said Philip Kollie, a nurse who supervises the center.

The west African nation’s nearly six-year civil war appears to have come to an end, as warring factions have put together an interim government and monthlong cease-fire. But tens of thousands of people have been left homeless and food and medicine is still scarce.

Kollie said the makeshift camp is jammed with children and breast-feeding mothers lying hungry on worn mats, and the situation was growing worse.

The United Nations’ World Food Program announced Wednesday it would stop sending rice to Liberia.

``The (international) donors are sending signals that it’s time now that Liberians begin to avoid the dependency syndrome and grow their own food,″ said Gerard van Dijk, the agency’s director in Liberia.

Van Dijk said residents the capital, Monrovia, have in the last two weeks been turning down food donations of bulgur wheat.

The displaced people on the Cuttington University campus are victims of skirmishes three months ago between Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front and rival rebels loyal to Alhaji Kromah.

Both men now sit on the High Council, the interim government installed Sept. 1 to prepare for elections next year.

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