Guinea 'arms Liberian rebels'
By: By Greg Barrow - BBC United Nations correspondent
© BBC International

Government fighters say rebels receive weapons despite ban United Nations officials overseeing sanctions against Liberia have accused Guinea - a member of the UN Security Council - of supplying weapons to Liberian rebels.

Human rights groups argue that this illustrates the regional dimension of the conflict in West Africa and the need for the Security Council to consider extending its arms embargo to Liberia's neighbouring countries.

The Security Council is expected to extend the arms ban on Liberia for a further 12 months later on Tuesday.

Security Council members have been presented with a report that portrays the West African region containing Liberia and surrounding countries as an unstable and dangerous area where groups of young men have become accustomed to a life of chaos, banditry and lawlessness.

Although Liberia is the focus of existing UN sanctions, the report is highly critical of neighbouring countries for the support and assistance they provide to various rebel groups.

Neighbours 'unpunished'

It names Guinea as a country that has violated the existing UN arms embargo on Liberia by supplying weapons and military assistance to the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (Lurd).

Taylor says the arms ban stops him from fighting the rebels

Diplomatic sources say pressure is being put on the Guinean Government to end its support for a rebel group that is contributing to instability in the region, but it is unlikely to be named explicitly in a new UN resolution that extends the sanctions regime against Liberia for another 12 months.

Lobby groups like the New York-based Human Rights Watch say the failure of the UN Security Council to appreciate the regional dimension of the conflict in West Africa will undermine the effectiveness of the new resolution.

They say it still portrays Monrovia as the root of all evil in the region at a time when many of Liberia's close neighbours go unpunished despite clear evidence of their support for Liberian rebel groups.

Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK

added by: Robert W. Kranz  09-06-2003