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Africa

2003-11-14

AFRICA/LIBERIA - THE CHURCH IN FAVOUR OF DISARMAMENT OF LOCAL MILITIA. FIGHTING CONTINUES IN SEVERAL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY

Monrovia (Fides Service)- The Catholic Church in Liberia supports the process to disarm local militia and for this reason it has asked to be represented in the national Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation (DDR).
“The Church has already undertaken an awareness campaign on this problem” Consolata missionary Sisters in Harbel tell Fides. Harbel is 50 km south of Monrovia. “On Sunday 9 November during the homily the parish priest of Harbel appealed to young men to give up their weapons, stressing the need to put an end to violence and look to the future. The UN peace keeping force has announced that on 7 December it will start collecting weapons”.
The Council of Churches in Liberia, published a statement stressing the need to improve security because “peace is still fragile”. It also calls on the transition government led by Gyude Bryant to guarantee respect for a state of law, human rights, transparency and good government.
Peace does appear to be fragile, the Consolata missionaries agree: “Three days ago in Buchanan, 90 km from Monrovia, the radio reported a fierce battle between MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia) and troops loyal to exiled president Charles Taylor. But local people told our Sisters in a nearby mission that it was actually a battle among MODEL troops fighting over goods stolen from the people. In the heat of the battle the vehicles of local NGOs who assist the local people were stolen. The situation in Buchanan is now calm but violence may explode again any minute because MODEL rebels accuse Taylor’s men of holding 9 rebels captive ”.
“The situation in the interior is ever worse” the missionaries say. “The most affected areas are Nimba and Grand Gedeh, where whole villages have been destroyed. Attacks in Nimba are carried out by MODEL and those in Grand Gedeh are the work of LURD Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy”.
(L.M.) (Fides Service 14/11/2003 lines 37 words 420)

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