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BOATLOAD OF LIBERIAN REFUGEES ALLOWED TO DOCK ON GHANA COAST.

Byline: The New York Times

After reports that desperate refugees fleeing Liberia's civil war aboard a freighter that had been refused entry to several West African countries had rioted and overwhelmed the ship's captain, Ghanaian officials agreed Sunday to allow the ship to dock.

The uprising, apparently by passengers trying to force the captain to land, occurred off the Ghanaian coast near the town of Axim. There, the Norwegian freighter, the Bulk Challenge, had been moored for more than 24 hours awaiting approval from a West African government to unload its 3,500 or more refugees.

After the reports of trouble, however, Ghanaian officials relented and allow the ship to head toward the port of Takoradi for refueling and medical assistance.

Earlier in the day, Ghanaian officials, following the lead of the Ivory Coast, denied permission for the ship to dock, and they sent two naval vessels to intercept the freighter and urge it to return to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where fighting has raged for more than a month.

The situation on the ship appeared grim, and early Sunday one woman was reported to have hemorrhaged to death for lack of medical treatment. ``Clearly, after eight days at sea, the situation aboard that boat is dire,'' said Rupert Colville, an official with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. ``The sanitation and medical situation is extremely bad.''

International relief experts said that many of those aboard, especially the 300 or so children, were in grave danger of succumbing to diarrhea, typhoid and pneumonia.

``There are people on board who have been drinking sea water for two or three days,'' Phil Doherty, an official with Doctors Without Borders, said.

International refugee officials warned Sunday that the freighter might represent merely the first wave of a coming tide of Liberians seeking to flee the killing and lawlessness of Monrovia.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 13, 1996
Words:308
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