An upsurge of fighting forced Phebe Hospital & School of Nursing, near Gbarnga, in Bong County, to evacuate its staff and patients March 16-18. A ministry of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, Phebe coordinates 28 clinics and is the only referral hospital in central Liberia.
Heavy fighting is taking place in Gbarnga between government forces and the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. The rebels reportedly entered the area after they seized control of a bridge in the north. Fear has gripped civilians in the surrounding areas, forcing them to trek day and night toward Monrovia, Liberia's capital.
Phebe's 175 employees fled the area with their families, transferring some of the equipment, drugs and supplies to Totota, Salala and Monrovia. Medical director Emmanuel Sandoe said the hospital's evacuation will impact the entire region, affecting "every aspect of life, including health."
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