July 14, 2003 - The Arizona Republic: RPCV Dunn Marcos witnessed bloodshed in Liberia in 1980's

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 14, 2003 - The Arizona Republic: RPCV Dunn Marcos witnessed bloodshed in Liberia in 1980's

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RPCV Dunn Marcos witnessed bloodshed in Liberia in 1980's

Read and comment on this story from The Arizona Republic on RPCV Dunn Marcos who witnessed bloodshed in Liberia in 1980's. She is now resettlement director for the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix and assists more than 300 Liberian households are estimated in the state. Read the story at:

Valley Liberians hope for end to bloodshed*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Valley Liberians hope for end to bloodshed

Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 14, 2003 12:00 AM

Nelly Davis inches her long, floral skirt up her leg and the horror of the mayhem in Liberia reveals itself in her Phoenix apartment.

The scar, slightly smaller than a silver dollar, is from a bullet. She says it is nothing. No one can know the terror when rebels raped her 9-year-old daughter in front of her. Or when her brother was tortured and killed, lassoed to the back of a truck with electrical wire and dragged through the streets of Monrovia.

Nelly Davis has waited a long time for a miracle, and she sees one in President Bush's promise of humanitarian intervention for her native African country.

"God has answered our dream," she said. "I was so overwhelmed that Bush has sent people to bring peace to our country."

The action gives Davis and other Liberians in Arizona hope that Liberian President Charles Taylor finally will cede power and that families and friends left behind can live in peace after more than a decade of bloodshed.

From the hundreds of thousands who fled the country, a small percentage have been resettled in the United States including 143 in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security. However, many other Liberians came here as immigrants, and on student and business visas, said Robin Dunn Marcos, resettlement director for the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix. More than 300 Liberian households are estimated in the state.

There are fewer West African refugees than those who have come here from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

"The U.S. government has made it very difficult to come of late and it's been particularly hard for Liberian refugees," said Fred Klein, resettlement director for Lutheran Social Ministry in Tucson. "The U.S. attitude has been to encourage Liberians to return to Liberia."

Dunn Marcos said approval from the president and Congress, who determine nationalities and the numbers of refugees, is tighter since the terrorist attacks in September 2001.

She said many became refugees in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea.

They "are jumping between two forms of hell with absolutely no safety," as Liberian rebels pour into those neighboring countries, spreading the civil unrest.

Dunn Marcos witnessed the bloodshed in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1980s. When she returned to the camps in the early 1990s she chronicled the chilling devastation in her journal:

"We went to the mass graves on Duport Road in Paynesville, the 'Rest in Peace' signs lay upside down among the weeds. Hundreds of skeletons were buried there," she wrote in 1991 from Monrovia.

"We also went to the church, three blocks from my old house, where approximately 600 refugees were mercilessly slaughtered by AFL soldiers. The massacre occurred months ago. Blood stains were all over the walls and floor . . .

"Outside the church lay miscellaneous bones including a jaw bone bleached by the sun. The courtyard had been divided for the mass graves of adult remains and child remains. When I spoke to my brother that night, he asked why I went to the church - I don't know the answer."

Dunn Marcos discovered that the children she had befriended were forced to take up arms with soldiers.

They took one boy, she said, "they slit his wrist open, they took powder (to simulate gun powder) and mixed it with his blood and told him he was bulletproof."

"This war started in December '89," she said, "I kept thinking the U.S. would intervene in '90."

Even with President Bush poised to take action, Dunn Marcos worries whether he will send troops to stabilize the West African nation that has historical ties to the United States.

Freed American slaves founded the nation with a U.S.-style of Declaration of Independence after President Monroe sent soldiers to accompany them to West Africa.

In 1989, Charles Taylor led the National Patriotic Front of Liberia in an uprising against the President Samuel Doe government.

A quarter-million lives have been lost to civil war over the past decade in Liberia.

At times, it was difficult to discern who was who.

"We were in our home and saw a Red Cross van pass. We thought somebody was going to help us," recalls Orville Nance, who now lives in Tucson.

"We thought at least we'll have health workers. My wife looked and saw gunmen hanging out of the Red Cross van," Nance said.

"We grabbed our children and went to the swamp."

Nance fled Monrovia in 1996, lived in exile for three years in Sierra Leone and Gambia.

In 1999, Nance, his wife and three children were resettled in Tucson.

"My only wish," Nance said, "is that President Bush will make an effort to step in. It's not going to be another Somalia. I can see why people have fears, but the rebels will flee just from seeing them."

Reach the reporter at angela.pancrazio@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8126.

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