SRSG Karen Landgren, Please Act Now!

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Over a year ago a vehicle of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) slammed into a poor rural woman and her very young daughter in faraway Tappita, about 150 miles from Monrovia.  They both sustained broken legs and one of the mother’s legs had to be amputated.  The child also sustained broken teeth.  That was over a year ago and the mother and child are still languishing in Tappita, apparently forgotten!

The Daily Observer and the Liberian public knew nothing about this sad story until the mother’s brother, James Toeman, traveled to Monrovia and walked into our office to tell us what had happened to his sister and niece.

Our Senior Reporter C.Y. Kwanue wasted no time in reporting the story in yesterday’s newspaper. 

The Daily Observer management was grateful and impressed that UNMIL responded immediately to the story.  Matthew Elavanalthoduka, Officer-in-Charge of UNMIL’s Public Information, in a letter written the very next morning, referred to the article and stated that all UNMIL vehicles are insured. 

“Following the accident,” the letter continued, “UNMIL referred this matter to the insurance company and put the claimants in contact with the company.  UNMIL . . . has again followed up with the insurance company to facilitate urgent communication between the company and the claimants in this matter.”

Unfortunately, the UNMIL letter did not name the insurance company.  Otherwise we would have contacted the company to determine what it had done for these sick, destitute and hapless people.  Now here we are, over a year following the accident, and the victims can hardly move around because they were provided no crutches, nor has the child’s teeth been attended to.

UNMIL should know that most insurances companies do not rush to attend to accident victims, especially in a faraway place as Tappita.  We believe that if the company had gone to find the victims, something may have been done to attend to their urgent needs.  But a year later and no serious relief—not even crutches to help them walk?  

Surely UNMIL does not expect this woman and child, who cannot even walk, to travel to Monrovia to run behind an insurance company.  They most probably have never even heard of such a thing—an insurance company—nor perhaps ever travelled to Monrovia.  How would they get here in the first place?  Who would pay their fares?   How would they manage mobility-wise since their feet are injured and they have no crutches.  Where would they stay and how would they be able to find the insurance company?   

It is for these reasons that we feel compelled to appeal directly to Madam Karen Landgren, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), for her immediate, direct and compassionate intervention in this case, to bring some relief to these poor, injured and helpless people.

One last thing: about three weeks ago, just down the street from the Daily Observer office, an unattended UNMIL truck crossed Camp Johnson Road and ran up the sidewalk near the AMEU University, killing instantly a shoe shine boy who was sitting there.

We don’t know what has happened to that case, but we appeal again to the SRSG to look into it as soon as possible  and ensure that justice is done to this other unfortunate family, including children, if any, affected by the sudden and unexpected loss of their father.

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