SECURITY COUNCIL MUST NOT LOSE SIGHT OF URGENT NEED FOR SOLUTION TO LIBERIAN CONFLICT

From: UN New York, Apr 25 2003 04:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

Amid reports of brazen mercenary activities, political finger pointing and failing social services, the security situation has deteriorated so badly in Liberia that it is virtually impossible to reach desperate refugees and internally displaced persons, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report out today.

The Secretary-General's report, issued to the Security Council ahead of its meeting on Liberia on Monday, draws on the recent mission to the region by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the observations of the UN Office in Liberia and the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), among others.

"Whatever decision the Council may take in response to the present report," Mr. Annan writes, "it must not lose sight of the urgent need to find an early solution to the conflict in Liberia, whose deleterious effect is fast spreading throughout an already troubled sub-region."

Voicing serious concern, the Secretary-General says that Liberia's dire and volatile security situation has made it extremely difficult to reach internally displaced persons and third-country refugees who have fallen victim to abductions, conscriptions and various gross violations of human rights.

Among other observations, ECOWAS reports that its mediation and verification mission dispatched to Liberia in early April had been told by sources on the ground that some 60 per cent of the territory was now under rebel control. That mission confirmed the grave situation of refugees and noted that there was now no safe have for internally displaced persons who were constantly under attack by rebel groups and government security agents.

Amid a "fragile" political climate, characterized by threats to government opponents and widespread human rights abuses, ECOWAS says sanctions were being blamed for everything and used as a pretext for the government to not meet its responsibilities to the people. ECOWAS recommends that an international force should be brought in to maintain peace and security, particularly in light of the impending presidential and legislative elections, Mr. Annan says.

While stressing the urgent need for a solution, the Secretary-General, for his part, notes that there is a "glimmer of hope for the search for peace." He says he is encouraged by the decision of the Security Council to visit Liberia and its neighbours next month. He urges that every effort be made to persuade Liberia and the rebel movement Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) to listen to the pleas of the Liberian people, renounce violence and give peace a chance.


added by: Robert W. Kranz  April-2003