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Boy severely beaten for picking biscuit from an UNMIL vehicle

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A teenage boy in the central Liberian town of Gbargar, Bong County who was said to have been severely beaten by two UN officers for picking a piece of biscuit from a UN vehicle has now been transferred to the John F. Kennedy memorial hospital in Monrovia for further treatment.

The incident which occurred on 4th December allegedly involved soldiers of the Bangladeshi contingent of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL. UNMIL in a statement issued said it takes the allegations extremely seriously, while dispatching a fact-finding team, led by the Force Provost Marshall (the highest ranking member of the military police). And had been instrumental in the boy’s transfer.

The victim, 13, year-old Reuben Wennah was said to have been severely flogged by officers of the Bangladeshi contingent serving in UNMIL at CARI in Bong County. Little Wennah told our Bong County correspondent from his Phebe Hospital bed in Suakoko that before the Christmas, he and his friends had gone to the CARI Water Plant – an isolated area where the soldiers are assigned, to look for food. There, they saw a piece of biscuit on the hood of the Bangladeshi vehicle and decided to take it.

He added that upon taking the biscuit, three of the UNMIL soldiers grabbed and mercilessly flogged him until he became unconscious. Thirteen year- old Reuben indicated that the soldiers stepped in his stomach and consistently gave him heavy kicks. According to him, when he was taken from the water plant to the nearby town, he was afraid to explain his ordeal to his parents and kept it to himself; but later fell seriously ill and was taken to the Phebe Hospital by his parents.

The child reportedly bled from his noise, ears, as well as vomited blood, creating the suspicion among health workers that his condition may have been as result of Ebola. He was subsequently admitted into the hospital’s isolation unit. Upon gaining consciousness, he was consistently asked by doctors to explain what had actually happened before explaining the episode.

The alleged flogging has been seriously condemned by many in Bong County, describing the brutal action as a complete human rights violation by the UN peacekeepers.

A delegation of UNMIL personnel from Monrovia visited little Reuben and took him to town, as they continue investigation into the incidence.

The Mother of little Reuben, Comfort Lawah told our correspondent that her son has already taken six units of blood as a result of the beating, but was still vomiting with thick blood prior to his admission at the J.F.K. Hospital.

Our correspondent said the feet, stomach and other body parts of the little boy continue to swell, while doctors are recommending advanced medication. It can be recalled that some five years ago, the Bangladeshi soldiers assigned at the Engineering Section of UNMIL allegedly flogged a citizen of sergeant Kollie Town in a mattress, result to his death same week.

Meanwhile, Bong County Acting Development Superintendent Anthony Sheriff has admonished citizens to remain calm as they continue to conduct investigation into the alleged flogging of the child.

By Papa Morris from Suakoko, Bong County-Edited by George Barpeen

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