Thursday, 26 June 2003

Monrovia (Fides Service) – “Liberia’s only hope now is for an international intervention” a missionary in Monrovia tells Fides Service. For the past few days in various city districts of the capital there has been fresh fighting between troops loyal to President Charles Taylor and the LURD rebels, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. The Missionary, whose name we prefer not to disclose for security reasons, says “Today there seems to be a lull in the fighting. But we have no illusions, the parties are only taking a breather, consolidating their positions. Sacking of civilian homes continues”.
It is estimated that about 200,000 people have fled their homes; many have taken refuge in embassies hoping to obtain a visa so they can leave the country.
“It is time for the international community to intervene, at least to separate the warring parties and prevent further violence” says the missionary. “The people can’t take any more. The intervention comes too late anyway. Many lives could have been saved if they had intervened earlier”.
The British Ambassador to the United Nations has suggested sending a US led international peacekeeping force to Liberia. But the American Ambassador in Monrovia replied that before any US troops are sent, the fighting must stop. A UN delegation went to Ghana to meet the warring parties and obtain a lasting cease fire.
“Separating the belligerents is only the first step” says the missionary. “It is necessary to help Liberia to put aside the logic of armed bands. Taylor is accused by the international community of various crimes, but Liberians do not trust the rebels either because they commit the same crimes and atrocities as the President’s men. This makes it all the easier for Taylor to play the part of the national saviour.”
The missionary concludes: “The United Nations must go a step further than the culture of humanitarian emergency, which is certainly a first indispensable step, it must promote wide ranging projects which can pull the country put of the abyss into which it has fallen. What is needed in Liberia, as in other situations, is a political project”. LM (Fides Service 26/6/2003 EM lines 32 Words: 362).

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