accessibility & help

Liberia crisis 2003


  • In June 2003, the Liberian government and opposition groups signed an agreement, which ended 14 years of civil war.
  • With peace restored, those who had fled their villages were able to return home.  However, people lacked tools and seeds to cultivate their land and services to meet their basic needs.
  • Vital office equipment provided by the British Red Cross allowed the Liberian Red Cross to stay operational throughout the hostilities in 2003.
  • When the conflict came to an end, we helped our colleagues re-open their clinic and clinical laboratory in the capital Monrovia. We supported the community healthcare programme, which gave vulnerable people sanitation materials and important information about how to prevent common diseases such as diarrhoea.

The International Red Cross response

Group of children in doorway© InfoThe International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Movement’s lead agency in Liberia, helped internally displaced people, cared for people wounded in the conflict, protected detainees and helped reunite children with their parents.

During the 2003 hostilities, the ICRC distributed water and basic essentials such as blankets and plastic sheeting to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in and around Monrovia, and throughout the country. It also treated several thousand wounded combatants and civilians and re-established links between separated families.

In mid-November 2003, the ICRC began distributing tools such as shovels, hammers and wheelbarrows to 65,000 families in rural areas. The ICRC also provided these families with rice, beans and vegetable seeds, blankets, mosquito nets, clothing and soap.

Two children in front of Red Cross van© InfoThe ICRC worked alongside the Liberian Red Cross. In terms of health, the Liberian Red Cross developed a community-based health programme in all of its 15 branches. This involved giving vulnerable people important information and sanitation materials to prevent common diseases such as diarrhoea and HIV. By May 2004, some 35,000 people had received information on HIV through theatre performances, house-to-house visits and group discussions.

The Liberian Red Cross played a big part in responding to the hostilities by providing first aid to victims of the conflict, transporting the most seriously injured to hospital and helping to distribute vital aid.

Once the fighting ceased, tens of thousands of fighters were demobilised, including thousands of child soldiers who had no family to return to and no education to fall back on. The Liberian Red Cross developed a child advocacy and rehabilitation programme, which they launched in January 2005. Through this project, children received psychological support and counselling, and tuition in professional skills to help them re-integrate into the community.

The British Red Cross response

Two ladies laughing, carrying large sacks of grain© InfoDuring the hostilities in 2003, the Liberian Red Cross' headquarters and several of its branches were looted and vandalised. One of the main priorities for the British Red Cross was to provide the headquarters with office equipment to help it become operational again.

The British Red Cross supported the Liberian Red Cross by funding a health delegate to help develop the community-based health programme. We also enabled the Liberian Red Cross to re-open its health clinic and clinical laboratory in Monrovia. A financial consultant, supported by the British Red Cross, helped the National Society develop and standardise its finance management system.

Current emergencies

Protecting people in armed conflict