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Liberia: nuns give eyewitness reports

 President Charles Taylor has gone - but missionaries working in Liberia are reporting scenes of chaos as thousands of people displaced by the fighting wander the streets in search of food and shelter. Sister Annella Gianoglio, a Consolata missionary, called the Missionary News Service in Rome from Harbel, around 45km from the capital, near the 'Robertsfield' international airport of Monrovia. She said: "Since last night an endless column of civilians is fleeing from the zone of Buchanan. We are seeing hundreds of people passing in front of our mission, here in Harbel, not far from the airport of Monrovia - men, women, elderly people and children walking under incessant rain transporting their meagre possessions". Sr Annella said thousands of people were arriving at the Firestone rubber plantations, in Harbel in search of shelter, food and assistance. "They are coming from the direction of Buchanan, but we do not know what is occurring over there. Those fleeing are joining the columns of displaced terrorised by the risk of new attacks. Many are people that already fled from Monrovia in the past days are once again desperately attempting to flee the fighting". MISNA said it had received unconfirmed reports that the rebels of the MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia), the armed group which controls the port of Buchanan, was advancing towards the capital. Meanwhile, religious sources in the capital said that shooting was heard throughout the night coming from the eastern sector of the city, in direction of the airport and that in the distance also heavy arms fire could be heard. Another missionary, Brazillian Sister Maria Inocencia told MISNA she had also seen an endless column of people walking along the road from the windows of her Consolata mission in Harbel. She said: "You should see these completely drenched elderly people, barely dragging themselves along the road after hours and hours under the incessant rain. You should see the profiles of the children that despite the cold follow them weighed down by the heavy bundles they carry on their heads. Undernourished little bodies, deformed by the affliction of a violent life full only of privations, moving aimlessly forward under a deluge." "Why do these people have to continue suffering this way? Maybe the women I see fleeing have relatives among the rebel lines they are escaping - young combatants, careless to everything and everyone and probably drugged. But where can these people run now after escaping from at least fifty places? Will they be condemned to wander for ever?". Source: MISNA